Obituary Notes: Christina Vella; William Powell

Christina Vella, author of "several colorful works of narrative history, notably Intimate Enemies: The Two Worlds of the Baroness de Pontalba, a tale of wealth and scandal in 19th-century France and New Orleans," died on March 22, the New York Times reported. She was 75. Intimate Enemies established Vella "as a meticulous historian with a flair for description and an eye for the telling detail."

Her other books include The Hitler Kiss: A Memoir of the Czech Resistance (co-authored with Radomir Luza); Indecent Secrets: The Infamous Murri Murder Affair; and George Washington Carver: A Life. She had recently completed a biography of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey.

"History is above all a human drama, and peering into it can be as exciting as opening a diary you find in an attic," Vella told Contemporary Authors in 2006, adding: "Any analysis of great movements in history is far more fascinating and trustworthy if we can distinguish individual faces among the masses and hear their voices within the din of abstract ideas."


William Powell, who wrote the infamous The Anarchist Cookbook, "a diagram- and recipe-filled manifesto that is believed to have been used as a source in heinous acts of violence since its publication in 1971," died July 11, 2016, the New York Times reported. He was 66. Powell's family reported his death on Facebook last year, "but few if any obituaries followed. His son Sean said that the people who needed to know had been told, and that the family had not thought of reaching out to newspapers," the Times wrote.

With the recent theatrical release of American Anarchist, a documentary about Powell, his death was noted in the closing credits and drew attention. Director Charlie Siskel, who interviewed Powell for the film in 2015, told the Times: "What interested me was: How do you go through 40 years of your life with his dark chapter in the background? How does one sleep at night or get through the day?"

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