A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person’s life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, relationships, and death, it portrays a person’s experience of these life events.
Unlike a profile, a biography presents a subject’s life story, highlighting various aspects of his or her life, including intimate details of experience, and may include an analysis of the subject’s personality.
Here we try to introduce you with 10 best biographies of all time through a single list.
10 Best Biographies:
1. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton is not only the inspiration for a hit Broadway musical, but also a work of creative genius itself.
This massive undertaking of over 800 pages details every knowable moment of the youngest Founding Father’s life: from his role in the Revolutionary War and early American government to his sordid (and ultimately career-destroying) affair with Maria Reynolds.
He may never have been president, but he was a fascinating and unique figure in American history.
2. Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston
A prolific essayist, short story writer, and novelist, Hurston turned her hand to biographical writing in 1927 with this incredible work, kept under lock and key until it was published 2018.
It’s based on Hurston’s interviews with the last remaining survivor of the Middle Passage slave trade, a man named Cudjo Lewis. Rendered in searing detail and Lewis’ highly affecting African-American vernacular.
This biography of the “last black cargo” will transport you back in time to an era that, chillingly, is not nearly as far away from us as it feels.
3. Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert
Though many a biography of him has been attempted, Gilbert’s is the final authority on Winston Churchill considered by many to be Britain’s greatest prime minister ever.
A dexterous balance of in-depth research and intimately drawn details makes this biography a perfect tribute to the mercurial man who led Britain through World War II.
4. E=mc²: A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis
This “biography of the world’s most famous equation” is a one-of-a-kind take on the genre: rather than being the story of Einstein, it really does follow the history of the equation itself.
From the origins and development of its individual elements (energy, mass, and light) to their ramifications in the twentieth century, Bodanis turns what could be an extremely dry subject into engaging fare for readers of all stripes.
5. Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario
When Enrique was only five years old, his mother left Honduras for the United States, promising a quick return.
Eleven years later, Enrique finally decided to take matters into his own hands in order to see her again: he would traverse Central and South America via railway, risking his life atop the “train of death” and at the hands of the immigration authorities, to reunite with his mother.
This tale of Enrique’s perilous journey is not for the faint of heart, but it is an account of incredible devotion and sharp commentary on the pain of separation among immigrant families.
6. Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera
Herrera’s 1983 biography of renowned painter Frida Kahlo, one of the most recognizable names in modern art, has since become the definitive account on her life.
And while Kahlo no doubt endured a great deal of suffering (a horrific accident when she was eighteen, a husband who had constant affairs), the focal point of the book is not her pain.
Instead, it’s her artistic brilliance and immense resolve to leave her mark on the world — a mark that will not soon be forgotten, in part thanks to Herrera’s dedicated work.
7. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Perhaps the most impressive biographical feat of the twenty-first century, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is about a woman whose cells completely changed the trajectory of modern medicine.
Rebecca Skloot skillfully commemorates the previously unknown life of a poor black woman whose cancer cells were taken, without her knowledge, for medical testing — and without whom we wouldn’t have many of the critical cures we depend upon today.
8. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Christopher McCandless, aka Alexander Supertramp, hitchhiked to Alaska and disappeared into the Denali wilderness in April 1992.
Five months later, McCandless was found emaciated and deceased in his shelter — but of what cause? Krakauer’s biography of McCandless retraces his steps back to the beginning of the trek, attempting to suss out what the young man was looking for on his journey, and whether he fully understood what dangers lay before him.
9. Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang
Though many of us will be familiar with the name Mao Zedong, this prodigious biography sheds unprecedented light upon the power-hungry “Red Emperor.”
Chang and Halliday begin with the shocking statistic that Mao was responsible for 70 million deaths during peacetime — more than any other twentieth-century world leader. From there, they unravel Mao’s complex ideologies, motivations, and missions, breaking down his long-propagated “hero” persona and thrusting forth a new, grislier image of one of China’s biggest revolutionaries.
10. Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts
Here’s another bio that will reshape your views of a famed historical tyrant, though this time in a surprisingly favorable light.
Decorated scholar Andrew Roberts delves into the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, from his near-flawless military instincts to his complex and confusing relationship with his wife.
But Roberts’ attitude toward his subject is what really makes this work shine: rather than ridiculing him, he approaches the “petty tyrant” with a healthy amount of deference.
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