I am not sure what led me to decide to read this book. I am not fond of Griffith's films. I am aware of his historical importance, but I have never been drawn to his movies. They seem old fashioned, somewhat Victorian. As far as silent films are concerned, I prefer works from the 1920's. Nevertheless, I was really impressed by Schickel's biography. He tells the story of Griffith's life - his struggles as an actor and writer, his triumphs as a filmmaker, and his decline as an artist. And all of this is set against the backdrop of the emergance of film as an art form - of which Griffith was a leading pioneer.
Schickel's D.W. Griffith: An American Life is a great read. It is full of detail, balanced, and sympathetic. I would recommend it. I even found myself saddened by the end of the book. One day, I also hope to read Arthur Lennig's massive biography of Griffith, which is still in the works and is yet unpublished.
Currently, I am reading Marion Meade's biography of the writer Dorothy Parker, which is titled Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This? I am about a third of the way through, and am enjoying it a good deal. This is the third Marion Meade book I will have read. The other two are Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin: Writers Running Wild in the Twenties and Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase (a biography).