Top 10 Books on General Biographies

 

A biography can be defined as the story of someone’s life told through someone else. The basic difference between a biography and an autobiography is that the former is written by someone about someone else, while the latter is written by the person himself.

An autobiography is an insight into the writer’s mind, while a biography is nothing more than a perspective of the subject through the eyes of the writer.

An autobiography can be sort of a daily diary that someone keeps, e.g. “The Diary of Anne Frank”; a biography is a more detailed analysis into the character of the subject, his actions, inactions, thought-process, environment leading to certain actions, etc., e.g. “A Life of Mahatma Gandhi”.

 

Life of Mahatma Gandhi

The book is Louis Fischer's memorable biography of Mahatma Gandhi, the man who led the fight for Indian independence from British rule. It is one of the popular books on general biographies.

Read it For:
Fisher was an American journalist who knew the Mahatma very well and understood his unique strategy of satyagraha (passive resistance), which earned him the admiration of millions throughout the world.
Don't Read it For:
the writer shows imperialistic tendencies when talking about the general Indian populace.
What makes this book stand out?:
inspired the awarding winning Ben Kingsley starrer “Gandhi”.

Fire and Fury

Since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, the country―and the world―has witnessed a stormy, outrageous, and absolutely mesmerizing presidential term that reflects the volatility and fierceness of the man elected Commander-in-Chief.

Read it For:
Michael Wolff reveals what happens behind-the-scenes in the first nine months of the most controversial presidency of the United States of America.
Don't Read it For:
Nature of the book is debatable and controversial
What makes this book stand out?:
Brilliant reporting on behalf of the author.

The Trial of Adolf Hitler

In this book, David King tells the true story of the criminal proceedings that followed when Hitler and nine other suspects were tried for high treason. Reporters from as far as Argentina and Australia came to Munich to report on this four-week spectacle. By the end of the trial transforms the blunders of the Beer Hall Putsch into a victory for the newly founded Nazi Party. This is the true story of how a little known Austrian, transforms himself from a hoodlum into the charismatic leader of the Nazi party.

Read it For:
based on authentic trial transcripts, police files and some five hundred newly discovered documents, giving an accurate picture of the time.
Don't Read it For:
delves into the gory details, and records uncensored views of Hitler regarding anti-semitism, racism etc.
What makes this book stand out?:
the amount of research done to reproduce the accurate events and proceedings is phenomenal making it one of the 10 best-selling books on general biographies.

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

Constantly rewriting his own story, Malcolm X became a leader a criminal, a minister, and an icon, all before being killed by assassins' bullets at age 39. By his tireless work and countless speeches, he empowered many black Americans to create and build better lives for themselves and establish stronger communities while creating the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death, he became a symbol of both reconciliation and resistance for millions around the world.

Read it For:
the life of Malcolm X has been very well depicted and well traced without any gap, painting a complete picture of the revolutionary reader.
Don't Read it For:
Gory details of the Ku Klux Klan’s activities
What makes this book stand out?:
The book won the Pulitzer Prize for History (2012).
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Steve Jobs: The exclusive biography

Isaacson provides an extraordinary account of Jobs' professional and personal life. Drawn from three years of exclusive and unprecedented interviews Isaacson has conducted with Jobs as well as extensive interviews with Jobs' family members and key colleagues from Apple and its competitors

Read it For:
use of detailed interviews to get the inside picture of Steve Jobs and his work.
Don't Read it For:
Slow storytelling of the book.
What makes this book stand out?:
Definitive portrait printed of one of the greatest innovators of the modern era.

Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination

the 6th on this list of books on general biography is Neal Gabler’s book on Walt Disney. Theis a definitive portrait of one of the most important figures in twentieth-century American entertainment and cultural history

Read it For:
the well-written style of the book.
Don't Read it For:
narrative becomes slow in some places.
What makes this book stand out?:
bringing special attention to Disney and his impact on popular culture as a person and as a brand.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Elon Musk puts a spotlight on the technology and the vision of Elon Musk, the renowned entrepreneur and innovator behind SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity, who sold one of his Internet companies, PayPal, for $1.5 billion.

Read it For:
How dot-coms are made and sold; basically, see Silicon Valley in action.
Don't Read it For:
Presence of certain technical jargon makes it a little hard to understand.
What makes this book stand out?:
tells the story behind the real-life inspiration for Iron Man.

Leonardo da Vinci

Walter Isaacson tells a story that connects da Vinci’s art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy.

Read it For:
a fresh take on da Vinci’s already well-documented life.
Don't Read it For:
the imagery of 16th century Italy and how it behaved with da Vinci.
What makes this book stand out?:
The book is based on da Vinci’s own notes and newly released information about him making it one of the best reads on the list of books on general biographies.

Muhammad Ali: his life and times

Written by Thomas Hauser, this book is based on history’s greatest boxer, Muhammad Ali. It speaks of his life in and outside the ring. He was known for his speed and agility inside the ring and for his charm and principles outside the ring. This made him the most respected champion sportsman of all time. It is one of the 10 bestselling books on general biographies of all time.

Read it For:
Getting an insight into the life of Muhammad Ali.
Don't Read it For:
The account of thrills in Manila is written in detail which could be gory for a few readers.
What makes this book stand out?:
the lifelike feel of the books. Makes you actually believe that you are there. Very detailed.

Darwin: A life of a tortured evolutionist

it speaks of Darwin who is the man that formulated the theory of evolution which we all follow to date. The man who spoke of survival of the fittest. His life wasn’t always easy as a biologist. He faced a lot of backlash for what he said from everybody around him. The authors very skilfully take us through his life in this book.

Read it For:
how he used his work in the fight against slavery.
Don't Read it For:
his gambling and gluttony side at Cambridge.
What makes this book stand out?:
Not sugar coating the life of Darwin in any way and staying very true to facts.

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