Biography & autobiography

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The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective

Samuel Johnson Prize 2008

by Kate Summerscale

The dramatic story of the real-life murder that inspired the birth of modern detective fiction.


Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father

Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography 2008

by John Matteson

"An amazing story [told] with clarity and intelligence ... colorful and insightful."—Martin Rubin, Los Angeles Times Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography 

Louisa May Alcott is known universally....


The Secret Scripture: A Novel

Irish Book Award for Best Novel 2009, James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction 2008

by Sebastian Barry

An epic story of family, love, and unavoidable tragedy from the two-time Man Booker Prize finalist

Sebastian Barry 's novels have been hugely admired by readers and critics, and in 2005 his novel A Long Long...


My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq

National Book Critics Circle for Memoir/Autobiography 2008

by Ariel Sabar

In a remote corner of the world, forgotten for nearly three thousand years, lived an enclave of Kurdish Jews so isolated that they still spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Mostly illiterate, they were self-made...


The World Is What It Is

National Book Critics Circle for Biography 2008

by Patrick French

The first major biography of V.S. Naipaul, the controversial and enigmatic Nobel laureate: a stunning writer whose only stated ambition was greatness, in pursuit of which goal nothing else was sacred.

Beginning...


I've Got a Home in Glory Land

Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction 2007

by Karolyn Smardz Frost

It was the day before Independence Day, 1831. As his bride, Lucie, was about to be "sold down the river" to the slave markets of New Orleans, young Thornton Blackburn planned a daring--and successful--daylight...


Soldier's Heart

Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest 2007

by Elizabeth D. Samet

Elizabeth D. Samet and her students learned to romanticize the army "from the stories of their fathers and from the movies." For Samet, it was the old World War II movies she used to watch on TV, while her students...


Imperial Life in the Emerald City

Samuel Johnson Prize 2007

by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

The Green Zone, Baghdad, 2003: in this walled-off compound of swimming pools and luxurious amenities, Paul Bremer and his Coalition Provisional Authority set out to fashion a new, democratic Iraq. Staffed by...


Young Stalin

Costa Book Award for Biography 2007, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography 2007

by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Based on ten years' astonishing new research, here is the thrilling story of how a charismatic, dangerous boy became a student priest, romantic poet, gangster mastermind, prolific lover, murderous revolutionary,...


Brother, I'm Dying

National Book Critics Circle for Memoir/Autobiography 2007

by Edwidge Danticat

From the age of four, award-winning writer Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph as her “second father,” when she was placed in his care after her parents left Haiti for America. And so she...


Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer

National Book Critics Circle for Biography 2007

by Tim Jeal

"A magnificent new life . . . [and] a superb adventure story. . . . There have been many biographies of Stanley, but Jeal's is the most felicitous, the best informed, the most complete and readable and exhaustive,...


Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase to Catch Lincoln's Killer

Edgar Allan Poe Award Best Fact Crime 2007

by James L. Swanson

The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history. From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, led Union cavalry and detectives on a wild twelve-day chase through...


The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography 2007

by Debby Applegate

No one predicted success for Henry Ward Beecher at his birth in 1813. The blithe, boisterous son of the last great Puritan minister, he seemed destined to be overshadowed by his brilliant siblings—especially...


Walt Disney

Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography 2006

by Neal Gabler

The definitive portrait of one of the most important cultural figures in American history.

Walt Disney was a true visionary whose desire for escape, iron determination and obsessive perfectionism transformed...


A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare

Samuel Johnson Prize 2006

by James Shapiro

1599 was an epochal year for Shakespeare and England

Shakespeare wrote four of his most famous plays: Henry the Fifth, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, and, most remarkably, Hamlet; Elizabethans sent off an army...


The Lost

National Book Critics Circle for Memoir/Autobiography 2006

by Daniel Mendelsohn

In this rich and riveting narrative, a writer's search for the truth behind his family's tragic past in World War II becomes a remarkably original epic—part memoir, part reportage, part mystery, and part scholarly...


Stuart: A Life Backwards

Guardian First Book Award 2005

by Alexander Masters

In this extraordinary book, Alexander Masters has created a moving portrait of a troubled man, an unlikely friendship, and a desperate world few ever see. A gripping who-done-it journey back in time, it begins...


Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her

Agatha Award for Best Non-Fiction 2005

by Melanie Rehak

A plucky “titian-haired” sleuth solved her first mystery in 1930. Eighty million books later, Nancy Drew has survived the Depression, World War II, and the sixties (when she was taken up with a vengeance...


Them: A Memoir of Parents

National Book Critics Circle for Memoir/Autobiography 2005

by Francine du Plessix Gray

Tatiana du Plessix, the wife of a French diplomat, was a beautiful, sophisticated "white Russian" who had been the muse of the famous Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. Alexander Liberman, the ambitious son of...


American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer

Duff Cooper Prize 2008, Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography 2006, National Book Critics Circle for Biography 2005

by Martin J. Sherwin & Kai Bird

J. Robert Oppenheimer is one of the iconic figures of the twentieth century, a brilliant physicist who led the effort to build the atomic bomb for his country in a time of war, and who later found himself confronting...