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A deeper, darker look at James Beard, food oracle and gay man: A new biography traces the influence he wielded as a writer and the pain he endured for his sexuality in an unwelcoming world

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    “Beard is a very complicated and in some ways a messy figure,” said Mr. Birdsall, a writer and former chef whose work focuses on queer influence in American food and homophobia in the culinary world. “I wanted to understand that — the personality or psychology of somebody who had a huge impact on American cultural life, yet lived with such fear of being exposed.”

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