Home—WI. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Citadel Press/Kensington Publishing, 850 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022.
Freelance journalist and author.
Reasons to Believe: New Voices in American Fiction (criticism), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1988.
Creative Conversations: The Writer's Guide to Conducting Interviews, Writer's Digest Books (Cincinnati, OH), 1990.
Dharma Lion: A Critical Biography of Allen Ginsberg, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1992.
Crossroads: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1995.
There but for Fortune: The Life of Phil Ochs, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1996.
Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life, Crown (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor) Allen Ginsberg and Louis Ginsberg, Family Business: Selected Letters between a Father and Son, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2001.
Michael Schumacher, a freelance journalist, is the author of a number of nonfiction books and biographies that came about as a result of his work as an interviewer and chronicler of popular culture. His first title, Reasons to Believe: New Voices in American Fiction, appeared in 1988, at a time when a fresh crop of novelists was being heralded as harbingers of a new American literary scene. The work was composed from a series of eighteen conversations Schumacher conducted with several of these rising young writers. Interweaving an overview of their life, analysis of their prose, and critical appraisals into his profiles, Schumacher discusses artistic motivations and publishing issues in dialogues with Tama Janowitz, Jay McInerney, Jayne Anne Phillips, and Bret Easton Ellis, among others.
Reasons to Believe also contains the transcripts of Schumacher's talk with an older short-story writer, Raymond Carver, whom many of the new writers considered their literary mentor; tragically, it was Carver's final interview given before his death in 1988. Some editors and other publishing professionals who were crucial to the emergence of the New Voices writers were also interviewed for the book. A Publishers Weekly reviewer granted that, though hopeful writers may find Schumacher's interviews insightful, "they are generally cursory, superficial, and too infrequently original."
Schumacher utilized what he learned from his first book, as well as what he learned as a working journalist, and organized his insights as Creative Conversations:The Writer's Guide to Conducting Interviews. Published in 1990, the work offers a start-to-finish guide for the neophyte interviewer. Schumacher provides an overview of strategies for conducting research as well as various interview techniques commonly used by journalists and biographers. He also discusses interview etiquette, and offers anecdotes from memorable discussions he himself has carried out, such as the Carver profile. In her Booklist review of Creative Conversations, Deanna Larson-Whiterod praised the work as containing a wealth of "dependable advice on the entire interview process."
Based on extensive interviews, Schumacher's Dharma Lion: A Critical Biography of Allen Ginsberg chronicles the life of Allen Ginsberg, an American poet associated with the iconoclastic Beat literary scene of the 1950s. Ginsberg, who died of liver cancer five years after this 1992 biography was published, enjoyed tremendous success during his career, and became an important influence on writers and styles that followed him. Known for the subversive verve in his verse as well as for his frank, rebellious public persona, Ginsberg was one of the few American poets who was able to draw huge crowds to hear him read his work.
Schumacher's biography chronicles the difficult early life that inadvertently fostered such talent. Born in 1926 in New Jersey, Ginsberg endured a childhood devastated by his mother's schizophrenia and subsequent hospitalization. Growing up Jewish during the time of the Holocaust also fueled his loneliness and alienation, and as he entered adulthood the realization that he was gay only added to his despair. As Schumacher recounts, it was a move to San Francisco, a healthy love relationship, and a wise therapist that provided him with the impetus to lead the life he wished. Schumacher interviews those who knew Ginsberg from his early days as friend to Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and several other fellow iconoclasts in the Beat movement. He also recounts some of the more memorable moments of Ginsberg's career, including an obscenity trial that attempted to censor his most famous poem, Howl, and his leadership of a crowd of protesters chanting the meditative "Om," en masse, outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
Ginsberg's conversion to Buddhism inspired the biography's title, for the poet's spiritual mentor referred to him as the Lion of "Dharma," or ideal truth. Noting that while Schumacher "explores Ginsberg's activism and polemics at great length, and criticizes his work with fine, telling detail, his style tends toward the academic," explained Los Angeles Times Book Review contributor Gerald Nicosia, going on to dub Dharma Lion a "comprehensive biography." Rhoda Koenig, reviewing the work for New York, asserted that "Schumacher is at times too smooth and uncritical, but he provides a feast of anecdote and an engaging portrait of the protester-poet." Schumacher also serves as editor of the letters exchanged between Ginsberg and his father, published in 2001 as Family Business: Selected Letters between a Father and Son.
For Schumacher's next two projects, he explored the life and careers of two vastly different musical legends. Crossroads: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton is an in-depth look at the life and song of this blues and rock guitarist considered by many to be among the greatest living virtuosos. Clapton was born in England in 1945, and raised by his grandparents after his teenaged mother abandoned him. He taught himself to play guitar, and by the mid-1960s had begun a stellar trajectory that included stints with the Yardbirds, Cream, and Blind Faith; Clapton then went on to a Grammy-winning solo career. A friend of such musical luminaries as Bob Dylan, the guitarist also earned notoriety for his well-publicized personal life. He became involved with the wife of Beatle George Harrison, whom he later married briefly, was plagued by alcohol and drug addiction, and his toddler son died from a fall out of a high window in 1991. Clapton, as Schumacher relates, often used such difficulties as artistic inspiration, infusing his work with emotional resonance. A Kirkus reviewer praised Crossroads as "an evenhanded biography that humanizes the guitar hero," while Booklist contributor Mike Tribby deemed the biography "a necessary addition to the pop-music library."
There but for Fortune: The Life of Phil Ochs tracks the career path of a far different musical artist: folk singer Phil Ochs. Schumacher was compelled to rely heavily on interviews with friends, family, and associates for this work because Ochs committed suicide twenty years before the book's 1996 publication. As the profile recounts, Ochs rose to prominence during the folk music boom of the early 1960s, but never achieved the commercial success of many of his contemporaries, including Joan Baez and Peter, Paul & Mary. Schumacher's interviews reveal the extent of the manic depression that ultimately ended Ochs's career, as well as the musician's support of the civil rights crusade and the anti-war movement. Allowed access to Ochs's journals, Schumacher also quotes from the surveillance file on Ochs compiled by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. As a Publishers Weekly review observed of the biography, "it seems odd, if not ludicrous, that the FBI once considered him a potential threat to American society; as Schumacher shows, he was, in fact, more of a threat to himself." Robin Lippincott, writing in the New York Times Book Review, called There but for Fortune "a heartfelt portrait of Ochs's life and times."
Schumacher chronicles another iconoclast whose personal life has not been without its difficulties in Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life. Although not authorizing Schumacher's biography, Coppola does contribute extensive recollections for the tome, which contributions Schumacher added after his main text was completed. Hailed as one of the greatest names in contemporary American filmmaking, but condemned by others as a self-aggrandizing shark, Coppola is the mastermind behind such classics as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now. Known for his contempt of Hollywood studio status quo, Coppola, as Schumacher relates, has struggled over the course of his career to break new ground—and at times, has met with astonishing failure.
A Filmmaker's Life relates many of the hardships in Coppola's personal life, including a bout with polio during his youth, the financial difficulties he caused his family because of his artistic vision, and the death of his son Gian-Carlo in a 1986 boating accident. "However unwise it was for Schumacher to invite his subject's collaboration, which turns the book into another exercise in Coppola self-promotion, the resulting quotations from Coppola and his close friends and family members prove to be the liveliest material" in the volume, asserted New York Times Book Review writer Joseph McBride, adding elsewhere that Schumacher "gives ample evidence that Coppola's finest attribute as an artist is his penchant for taking risks." A Publishers Weekly review offered a similarly positive appraisal, noting that the biography's "real strength lies in its flavorful behind-the-scenes recreation of the making of all of Coppola's movies."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 15, 1988, Brad Hooper, review of Reasons to Believe: New Voices in American Fiction, p. 359; May 15, 1990, Deanna Larson-Whiterod, review of Creative Conversations: The Writer's Guide to Conducting Interviews, p. 1773; April 1, 1995, Mike Tribby, review of Crossroads, p. 1371.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1995, review of Crossroads: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton, p. 309.
Library Journal, September 15, 1996, Lloyd Jansen, review of There but for Fortune: The Life of Phil Ochs, p. 71; August, 1999, Stephen Rees, review of Francis Ford Coppola: A Filmmaker's Life, p. 93.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, November 29, 1992, Gerald Nicosia, "The Beat of His Own Drummer," pp. 4, 13.
Newsweek, October 12, 1992, David Gates, "On Parnassus for Fifteen Minutes," p. 80.
New York, October 26, 1992, Rhoda Koenig, "The Howling," pp. 95-96.
New York Times Book Review, September 15, 1996, Robin Lippincott, review of There but for Fortune, p. 31; December 12, 1999, Joseph McBride, "Offers He Should've Refused," p. 42.
Publishers Weekly, October 21, 1988, Penny Kaganoff, review of Reasons to Believe, p. 52; March 13, 1995, review of Crossroads, p. 57; July 29, 1996, review of There but for Fortune, p. 79; November 1, 1999, review of Francis Ford Coppola, p. 61.
School Library Journal, July, 1990, John Lawson, review of Creative Conversations, p. 98.*
German race car driver
Michael Schumacher reigns in the elite, highly competitive, and glamorous world of Formula One (F1) auto racing. He has broken the world records for most wins and most championship points in F1, and tied the record for most wins in 2002 with his fifth championship title. Arguably the greatest F1 driver in history, Schumacher is also one of the highest-paid athletes in the world.
Schumacher was born January 3, 1969 in Hurth, Germany. His father Rolf managed a go-kart track there and "Schumey," as he is known, got his start driving go-karts at age four. Unlike many elite drivers, Schumacher did not come from a wealthy family to back his career. Instead, he capitalized on what he had—access to a track. The Schumacher's lived meagerly, and winter was the worst time for them—there was not a huge call for go-karts in the winter. When Schumacher hit his first major payday at age twentyone, he gave his father a suitcase of money. Despite his humble beginnings, Schumacher lives with his wife, Corinna, and their two children in Vufflens-le-Chateau, Switzerland. He earns roughly $80 million per year and travels to races in his private jet. Schumacher's younger brother, Ralf, is also an elite F1 driver for the Williams-BMW team.
Like many European racing drivers, Schumacher got his start on the go-kart circuits there. He was German junior go-kart champion in 1984 and European Kart champion in 1987. After graduating to the Formula Three (F3) league, he was German F3 champion in 1990. He got his first chance to race F1 that year as an alternate for the Jordan team. Jailed for punching a London cabbie, Jordan driver Bertrand Gachot was unable to make it to the track, and Schumacher filled in. Schumacher made his debut in the Belgium Grand Prix, qualifying in seventh position. After just one race and a legal battle, the Benetton team wrested Schumacher away from Jordan.
Schumacher won his first race back in Belgium, and finished third overall in his first year in F1, an amazing start for a rookie. He won the 1994 world championship by a single point after a controversial collision with Damon Hill in the final race. He took the title more legitimately in 1995. In 1996, he joined the Italian Ferrari team, which had not won a world championship in two decades.
Despite a season plagued by technical and dependability problems from the car, Schumacher managed to place third in the world championship in 1996. After battling for the 1997 championship with Canadian driver Jacques Villeneuve, Schumacher was disqualified from second place for trying to run Villeneuve off the track. Schumacher returned the next year to finish second behind Finland's Mika Hakkinen and the highly competitive McLaren-Mercedes team.
A crash in 1999 at the British Grand Prix at Silver-stone, England almost took Schumacher out of racing. "You see the wall coming. You know the speed you do," he recalled online at CBSNews.com, "and you think, 'Oh, that's gonna hurt.'" And it did. A broken leg sidelined him for most of the season, and he considered retiring. Despite the crash, Schumacher finished the season in fifth place.
F1 is the most technically-advanced league in auto racing, with cars that are designed like jet planes and run in excess of 200 mph. Schumacher is the numberone driver and teammate Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello is number two on the most elite team in auto racing. Estimates of what Ferrari spends each year to race its two cars range between $170 and $285 million. In comparison, other teams on leagues such as NASCAR and Indy rarely spend more than $15 million per year, per car. Ferrari employs 550 people to work exclusively on the two cars.
Schumacher is known for his remarkably smooth driving style, his control on the track, and most notably his mastery of curves. "I have this natural ability of knowing how fast I can go into this corner, without going out too often," he said online at CBSNews.com. "It's an instinct." His biggest fear is driving under wet conditions, and he has twice crashed on a wet track, but he is known for excelling in the rain. He also is impeccably fit. He works out four hours per day before going to the test track to drive.
Schumacher made a strong debut in 2000, winning the first three races of the season. After a mid-season slump, he came back with an emotional win in Italy, Ferrari's home country, and seized his third world championship title. He was the first Ferrari driver in twenty-one years to claim the championship. He won the championship again in 2001, but with a more dominant season. He won nine out of the season's sixteen races, and broke a slough of records in the process. He broke the fifty-one career-win record held by Alain Prost , and tied late driver Graham Hill's record of five career wins at Monte Carlo.
|1969||Born January 3 in Hurth, Germany|
|1973||Begins driving go-karts|
|1991||Grand Prix debut with Jordan in Belgium, qualifies seventh on unfamiliar circuit|
|1992||Joins Benetton after legal tussle|
|1994||Wins world championship by a single point after controversial collision in final race with Damon Hill|
|1995||Marries Corinna Besch|
|1997||Daughter Gina-Maria is born|
|1999||Son Mick is born|
|1999||Breaks leg in Silverstone Grand Prix|
|2000||Becomes first Ferrari world champion in 21 years|
|2001||Breaks Alain Prost's record for most wins and most points|
|2002||Ties Juan Manuel Fangio's record of five world-championship titles|
Awards and Accomplishments
|1984||German junior go-kart champion|
|1987||European Kart champion|
|1990||German Formula 3 champion; first place, Macau Grand Prix|
|1991||12th place, F1 World Championship|
|1992||Third place, F1 World Championship|
|1993||Fourth place, F1 World Championship|
|1994-95||First place, F1 World Championship|
|1996||Third place, F1 World Championship|
|1997||Disqualified for second place, F1 World Championship|
|1998||Second place, F1 World Championship|
|1999||Fifth place, F1 World Championship|
|2000-02||First place, F1 World Championship|
After achieving almost every significant record in auto racing, Schumacher finished in first place for the world championship in 2002. He holds the records for fastest laps (51) and career points earned (945). He finished in the top three in every race of the 2002 season, another record. His fifth world-championship title tied him with five-time winner Juan Manuel Fangio . "I always say that statistics aren't my first priority," Schumacher is quoted as saying in Auto Racing Digest. "But it does mean something to me to have this number on my account. Actually, I'm delighted about this, but I will enjoy it much more when I'm retired and sitting on the sofa, having a cigar and a beer, and think about it."
Knutson, Dan. "F1: The best there ever was." Auto Racing Digest (February-March 2002): 36.
Schwarz, Steve. "Formula One: The 2002 Formula One season—a year of crisis." Sports Network (November 14, 2002).
"Driver bio: Michael Schumacher." Unofficial Formula One Home Page. http://www.formula1.com/drivers/bio.html (January 15, 2003).
"F1 Driver factfiles: Michael Schumacher." CNNSI.com. http://www.cnnsi.com (January 15, 2003).
"Grand Prix drivers: Michael Schumacher." GrandPrix.com. http://www.grandprix.com/gpe/drv/schmic.html (January 15, 2003).
"Michael Schumacher: On the fast track." CBSNews.com. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/05/07/60II/printable508224.shtml (January 15, 2003).
"Schumacher wins in Monaco." CNNSI.com. http://www.cnnsi.com (January 15, 2003).
Sketch by Brenna Sanchez
Professional race car driver
Born January 3, 1969, in Huerth-Hermuelheim, Germany; son of Rolf (a bricklayer and go-kart track worker) and Elisabeth (a go-kart track worker); married Corinna Betsch (an office worker), 1995; children: Gina-Maria, Mick.
Addresses: Management—Weber Management GmbH, Traenkestrasse 11, Stuttgart, DE 70597, Germany.
Joined Benetton's Formula One racing team, 1991; won first race, 1992; won first two Formula One championships, 1994 and 1995; joined Ferrari's Formula One team, 1996; won five straight championships, 2000-04.
Awards: Formula One champion, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004.
One of the world's richest, most famous athletes, Michael Schumacher has won more Formula One auto-racing championships than any other driver. Some fans enjoy hating Schumacher because of his controversial racing tactics, but he has a lot of fans too, and his success has won him grudging respect from others. He may not be well-known in the United States, but that is only because American car-racing fans prefer Indianapolis 500 racing to the European-dominated Formula One. Outside America, he is the popular sport's biggest star.
Ever since he was a little boy, Schumacher has been racing. His father, Rolf, a bricklayer, also worked part-time at a go-kart track with his mother, Elisabeth. They would let Michael ride a go-kart around the track on off hours while they worked, and by the time he was five, they noticed that he was very good at it. He won his first club championship at age six. Though his family was not well-off, he would keep his often inferior karts going by scavenging parts from other boys' wrecked karts.
As he got older, Schumacher began racing sports cars. In 1988, race team sponsor Wilhelm Weber noticed his talent and invited him to join his team. In a sign of how certain Weber was that Schumacher would be a star, he allowed the young racer to come on the team without providing a sponsor to fund his car, which was a rare move. Weber has been Schumacher's manager ever since. Three years later, Weber convinced Formula One team owner Eddie Jordan to let Schumacher race for Jordan's team once as a substitute. He made his debut in the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix, and quickly proved his skill. Within a week, he signed a contract—with a different team, Benetton.
Schumacher won his first Formula One race in 1992 and another the next year. He won the world championship in 1994, becoming the first German champion. He dedicated his win to his mentor Ayrton Senna, the champion racer who had died that year in the San Marino Grand Prix. Schumacher won eight races on the way to the title, even though he was banned from two for breaking two minor rules.
The 1994 championship was decided in the season's final race, in a dramatic fashion that gave Schumacher a reputation in some circles as a poor sport. He was two points ahead of rival Damon Hill in the championship standings when the last race began. Seconds ahead of Hill in the race, Schumacher brushed against the racetrack's wall, and Hill moved to pass him. Schumacher swerved and crashed into Hill, knocking both drivers out of the race—which preserved Schumacher's lead and gave him the championship. Schumacher claimed he had lost control of his car, but much of the racing press believed he had crashed into Hill on purpose. The rivalry between Schumacher and Hill lasted into 1995, when Schumacher repeated as champion, this time unsullied by controversy.
For the 1996 season, Schumacher left Benetton for the Ferrari team and a rumored base salary of $25 million. It was Ferrari's attempt to make a comeback, since the team's last championship had been in 1979. Schumacher, hobbled by a car that broke down a lot, lost the title to Hill in 1996. But the next year, he vied for the championship with a new rival, Jacques Villeneuve. In what seemed like a repeat of his 1994 season, he began the last race slightly ahead of Villeneuve in the standings, and again, when his rival tried to pass him, he crashed into him. But Villeneuve's car shrugged off the crash, while Schumacher was knocked out of the race. This time, Schumacher was punished for a deliberate collision; his second-place finish was officially deleted from the standings.
Bad luck plagued Schumacher the next two seasons. In 1998 he again went into the last race with a chance to win the championship, but he punctured a tire and lost. In 1999, he severely broke a leg in a crash during the British Grand Prix and finished fifth in the final season standings.
Then, Schumacher made a comeback, winning the championship in 2000, 2001, and 2002 by taking first place in nine races each of the first two years and eleven races the third. "Schumacher's combination of raw speed, racecraft, tactical awareness and sublime skill in the rain sets him apart from the pack," wrote Kate Noble of Time International.
With his success, Schumacher's controversial racing style became somewhat more accepted. "By the end of last season," quipped Sports Illustrated writer Jeff MacGregor in a 2003 profile, "what had formerly been referred to as Michael Schumacher's 'willingness to commit the professional foul' was being extolled by backpedaling journalists as his 'canny race craft.' " Still, in 2002, Formula One began changing its rules to try to limit Schumacher's runaway success.
It did not work. Schumacher won the championships in 2003 and 2004 as well, for a total of seven championships, including five straight. He won 13 races in 2004, for a total of 83 wins in his career. He and his Ferrari teammate, Rubens Barrichello, so completely dominate Formula One that the sport is commonly criticized for no longer being competitive enough to interest fans. In 2005, Formula One will again change its rules to try to rein in Schumacher. But he insists he has not made the sport boring. Something very special is happening with Ferrari, Terry McCarthy of Time quoted him as saying. I think people want to see who is going to be the first to beat us, too.
Schumacher is now the most successful Formula One driver ever. He makes about $80 million per year (half in salary, half in sponsorships and endorsements), and he is one of the two highest-paid athletes in the world, behind only golfer Tiger Woods. The racing press in Great Britain and France often nicknames him the "Red Baron" and caricatures him as an unfeeling German, but others say he has shown a wide range of emotion, seeming ecstatic after big wins or weeping in 2000 after he tied the number of wins (41) achieved by his idol, Senna.
Five feet, eight inches tall and weighing 164 pounds in 2003, Schumacher works out obsessively, giving him a stamina that may account for much of his success in his physically demanding sport. His brother, Ralf, is also a Formula One driver. Schumacher and his wife, Corinna, have two children and live in Vufflens, Switzerland.
AP Worldstream, October 26, 2004.
Halifax Daily News, October 28, 2004.
Sports Illustrated, July 17, 1995; April 28, 2003, pp. 55-62.
Sunday Telegraph (London, England), October 24, 2004.
Time, July 26, 2004, p. 56.
Time International, September 3, 2001, p. 52.
"Michael Schumacher Biography," mSchumacher.com, http://www.mschumacher.com/biography.html (November 28, 2004).