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Biography & autobiography

American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant

I wish that “American Ulysses” delved more deeply into Grant’s contradictions, yet agree with its final tally. White delineates Grant’s virtues better than any author before, and they outweighed his flaws.

Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs

In the introduction, editors Samuel Zipp and Nathan Storring extol Jacobs’ “radical pragmatism.” This phrase captures her vivid force more deeply than all of Kanigel’s prose, and it’s why the best aspects of her work will always stay fresh.

The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life

“The Pigeon Tunnel” finds its 84-year-old author in fine form and good humor. His personal revelations are mild and therefore perhaps disappointing, but fans of le Carré will be mostly content he chose to expose himself to the light of public scrutiny at all. May he continue to soar for some time still.

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life

Much of Jackson’s writing is a weird, rich brew, and Franklin captures its savor. I may have been captivated by Stanley Hyman’s personality, but after this biography, I will go back and read Jackson herself.

How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight

“How to Make a Spaceship” is like the vessel it portrays: imperfect and a bit patched together, but ultimately flight-worthy and impressively ambitious.

Greetings from Utopia Park

Hoffman supplies no easy answers. She doesn’t regret her childhood, which comes across at times like a state of magic, but thoughtfully and with great grace, she alters what she learned in her past to fit what she truly needs now.

Born to Run

There are surely stories left to tell, but Springsteen, in his endless quest to craft the perfect setlist, has selected those that best fit his narrative.

Based on a True Story: A Memoir

Fans can be grateful that Macdonald has written the rare celebrity memoir that, through so much blatant falsehood, presents the truest picture of himself.

A Life in Parts

The highs here—and there are many—are meth-less but addictive.

A Life Everlasting

A Life Everlasting might not be for those more comfortable in memoir storytelling, but Gray brings the reader a topic that is engaging, compelling, and, forgive the pun, vital.


At its core, Uproot is the memoir of a DJ who accidentally found himself an underground icon at the beginning of the digital future.

Darling Days

Though passionately felt and described, his struggles can feel overdetailed; they’d benefit from the insights of an older, wiser narrator. To make reference to Vivian Gornick, it’s too much situation, not enough story.

My Own Words
Kirkus Reviews : My Own Words (October 04, 2016)

Only the most dedicated Ginsburg fans, and there are many, will devour everything here, but most readers will find items of interest from this icon of women’s rights.

The Blue Touch Paper: A Memoir

Darling Days

The author unflinchingly negotiates “a vortex of damage”, discovering forgiveness and the redemptive powers of art.


Hinterland reveals Mullin to be as shrewd and sceptical a political operator as they come, but fiercely principled and blessed with rare insight, too.

Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939

Mr. Ullrich offers a fascinating Shakespearean parable about how the confluence of circumstance, chance, a ruthless individual and the willful blindness of others can transform a country — and, in Hitler’s case, lead to an unimaginable nightmare for the world.

The Huntress: The Adventures, Escapades, and Triumphs of Alicia Patterson: Aviatrix, Sportswoman, Journalist, Publisher

The heyday of print journalism may be long gone, but thanks to this rollicking biography, the path-breaking Alicia Patterson will continue to inspire another generation of newshounds.

A Truck Full of Money: One Man's Quest to Recover from Great Success

“A Truck Full of Money” gives us a sensitive and vivid portrayal of bipolar disorder, often capturing English’s manic stages in long, colorful quotes that careen riotously from topic to topic.

The Accidental Life: An Editor's Notes on Writing and Writers

Editing success is all in the mix, McDonell writes, and the mix he achieves in “The Accidental Life” is just so.