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WHAT T IS THE BEST BIOGRAPY YOU EVER READ?


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Posted on Feb 20, 2009 11:12:57 AM PST
David Graham says:
There are so many to choose from that I can't narrow it down to one, so I'll give a top 10
1. Boswell's "Life of Johnson" - still a terrific read over two centuries later, full of great anecdotes, humor, wise aphorisms, and keen observations about a remarkable man. The book paints Johnson "warts and all".
2. "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali - this is a "page turner" that is revealing of the life of a remarkable woman from a Muslim east African origin.
3. "Truman" by David McCullough - a beautifully researched and engagingly told story about a remarkable president and man of integrity
4. "A Beautiful Mind" by Sylvia Nasar (about mathematician/Nobel prize winner John Nash) - two paragraphs into the book and you are hooked.
5. "The Kennedys" by Peter Collier and David Horowitz - a fair and revealing look at a famous family, with their desires to improve the world yet all too human moral failings; The style of writing is easy to follow and the reporting is quite honest.
6. "The Agony and the Ecstasy" by Irving Stone - a wonderful biography about the gifted yet troubled genius Michelangelo
7. "Pablo Neruda" by Adam Feinstein - a thoughtful, reflective account about the famous Chilean poet/statesmen and his work.
8. "Albert Schweitzer" by James Brabazon - a sympathetic account about a an amazing man, his work in music, and in missionary medicine
9. "Jack: C.S. Lewis and his times" by George Sayer - A fine account by a good friend about a prolific writer
10. "Geronimo" by Angie Debo - a superb biography of the Apache leader's life

Posted on Feb 22, 2009 12:47:05 PM PST
Miles by Miles Davis, by far my favorite biography. He really tells it like it was back when he was beginning and doesn't hold anything back.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 22, 2009 4:40:08 PM PST
Chimonsho says:
The Macaulay biog is an inspired choice, unlike so many others here which are predictable. I adimire John Clive, "Macaulay: the shaping of the Historian;" too bad Clive never got to writing vol. 2.

Posted on Feb 22, 2009 8:30:37 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Feb 23, 2009 11:43:21 AM PST]

Posted on Feb 24, 2009 7:59:18 AM PST
Caminante says:
Ron Chernow's bio of Alexander Hamilton has got to be one of the best biographies out there. It's a huge book, but I think his style is superb.

Posted on Feb 24, 2009 10:43:30 PM PST
M. Felicia says:
Anne Frank's Diary

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 24, 2009 10:49:37 PM PST
Benjamin Franklin, hands down. Try & find the oldest one published that is still available. (ie: closer to the truth) This was TRULY an amazing man.

Posted on Feb 24, 2009 11:35:29 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 24, 2009 11:35:49 PM PST
William Yate says:
Hands down, the honor goes to:

Johannes Brahms by Jan Swafford

You could fall in love with the biography and the man even if you've never heard a note of his music, even if you don't like classical music. A couple honorable mentions:

William Manchester's Churchill
Joseph Frank's 5-volume Dostoevsky (long, but ZERO filler: compelling throughout)
Arthur and Barbara Gelb's Eugene O'Neill (only volume one, of a projected three, came out; does anyone know if we are to get the later volumes?)

Posted on Feb 25, 2009 1:14:31 AM PST
Ian Walthew says:
Patrick French's "The World is What it Is - The authorized biography of V.S Naipaul." This biography of a living literary figure has, I think, set a new standard. Compelling, even if you have never read a word of V.S Naipaul's work. www.ianwalthew.com

Posted on Feb 25, 2009 1:51:41 PM PST
I don't read biographies as much as I once did. However, I remember "The Autobiography of Malcomb X" written with Alex Haley as one of the most powerful books I had ever read. Every "white" person should read this book. Another book I have strong memories of is "Life Plus 99 Years" by one of the Loeb/Leopold killers of his trial and subsequent life in prison. I'm almost certain it is out of print.

Posted on Feb 25, 2009 2:14:02 PM PST
My choice would be the Adams book by David McCoulough (sp)

Posted on Feb 25, 2009 5:24:00 PM PST
The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell

Posted on Feb 25, 2009 5:28:06 PM PST
for me, it would definitely be "The Great Escape" and "Maus".

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2009 7:12:01 PM PST
"Going Out A Champion: The Coach Joe Ellis Story" will hold your attention from the first to the last page. It's the story of a coach with an abundance of love, determination, the will to live and the will to win, despite his daily battle with colon cancer. His high school boys basketball team rallies around him and allows him to realize his lifetime dream...a state championship, 2 months before his physical death. The book tells about the disciplinary struggles and health issues he dealt with as a student/athlete, his family life, and his coaching career. It is also, at its heart, a love story between Joe and his wife, who were high school sweethearts because they both played basketball, they both wore uniform #24, and they both had the same last name of Ellis. This book is a "must read".

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2009 8:01:44 AM PST
A few I enjoyed immensely (I can't pick just one.):
"Samuel Pepys: The Unequaled Self", by Claire Tomalin;
"The Skeptic; A Life of H. L. Mencken"; by Terry Teachout;
"Benjamin Franklin", by Walter Isaacson;
And two page turning musicial bios:
"Bing Crosby: A Pocketful Of Dreams: The Early Years 1903-1940" by Gary Giddins (Where is the promised Vol. 2 ?!);
"My Young Years", By Arthur Rubinstein

Posted on Feb 28, 2009 10:13:18 AM PST
John Adams by David McCullough is as 'good as it gets' especially when you get Abigail along with it.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2009 11:15:57 AM PST
Curious George:
Just got it last week, and it's next on my list. (I already read the companion volume, "1776".

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2009 12:07:41 PM PST
W. Bachmann says:
Thanks fir the recommendation - a fabulous read !
William B.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 28, 2009 1:40:16 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 28, 2009 1:43:28 PM PST
I would have to concur with Weldon C. Follis' vote for "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. This is a must read for any History major. Another life altering biography I've read is Peter Ackroyd's "Shakespeare, The Biography." I've always doubted William Shakespeare's authorship, thinking it was a pseudonym for Edward de Vere, but after reading this book, I've completely changed my mind.

Posted on Mar 1, 2009 8:57:52 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 1, 2009 8:59:14 AM PST
a customer says:
David McCullough does not describe himself as a historian or a biographer but as a "writer." While his books are entertaining, his work has not advanced the frontiers of historical understanding. You will never encounter anything resembling argument or analysis in his works. He treads over well-worn territory and has little original to say -- to historians. In brief, he writes for a popular audience. He has an enviable felicity of style which has made him very rich. And more power to him! He has definitely gotten people to read history.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2009 9:04:39 AM PST
a customer says:
TEAM OF RIVALS certainly reveals Goodwin's fluid style of writing at its best. But it is derivative in the extreme. Look at Burton Hedrick's book of Lincoln's war cabinet to see what I mean. Her past career as a plagiarist always makes me queasy. How do I know she has not cribbed from the many sources she has used?

The best book on Shakespeare's life and times is by Jonathan Bate (too little documentation survives to write a "biography"). Peter Ackroyd is a novelist, not a Shakespearean scholar.

Posted on Mar 2, 2009 6:56:15 AM PST
roy jenkins book on churchill. and john adams by david macculough

Posted on Mar 2, 2009 8:56:55 AM PST
JSP8 says:
JAMES JOYCE by Richard Ellmann. Hands down.

Posted on Mar 2, 2009 9:39:57 AM PST
J. Peterson says:
Definitely Robert Massie's work on Peter the Great (Peter the Great: His Life and World

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2009 10:31:15 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 2, 2009 11:02:11 AM PST
tudorguy, From what I've read, Doris had four other researchers help with her previous book. How do I know the full story and what's behind it? I don't. Not that I don't have doubt running in through the back of my mind when I read her work, I just don't believe in discharging people entirely. I enjoyed her book immensely.

"The best book on Shakespeare's life and times is by Jonathan Bate." I like Jonathan Bate actually. Thank you, though, for the recommendation. "(too little documentation survives to write a "biography") - Understandably so, but with all the research I've done, sidled beside the work that I've read, in a historical research sense (since that is what I'm interested in), I give credit to Shakespeare. The Biography reaffirmed my concluded thoughts and offered further insight. I don't like denying people the credit they deserve. There is something grossly sad when people brush aside those who respectfully deserve admiration.
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Discussion in:  Biography forum
Participants:  765
Total posts:  1159
Initial post:  Dec 31, 2008
Latest post:  Mar 26, 2013

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