Customer Discussions > biography discussion forum

Best Biography?


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-25 of 455 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Jan 2009 09:15:36 GMT
Who's autobiography/biography is the best you've ever read?

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jan 2009 18:14:57 GMT
Dirtbike Kid says:
I guess to a large extent it depends on your view of the subject. I've read several bios of Thomas Hardy, and he comes across as such a miserable little man I can't say I enjoyed reading any of them. Off the top of my head, I enjoyed reading John Scarne's autobiography, as well as A.J.P Taylor's "A Personal Memior."

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Jan 2009 12:46:13 GMT
Last edited by the author on 14 Jan 2009 12:47:08 GMT
I've read lots of biographies, but just within the past 12 months the best has been Eric Sykes' autobiography, where he admits that he has had a charmed life but still tells it well, and the worst Patrick McGoohan's, whose author has to admit that he's never properly spoken to his subject and so tells it very badly.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Jan 2009 23:23:51 GMT
Last edited by the author on 17 Jan 2009 23:24:46 GMT
hbw says:
One that sticks in my mind, although I read it some years ago, is "Journey from Obscurity" by Harold Owen (brother of Wilfred).

More recently, John Campbell's "The Grocer's Daughter" (Part I of his biography of Margaret Thatcher) struck me as an outstanding example of the biographer's craft.

Pushing the definition of biography, I'd also like to nominate "Flush", the biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's dog, by Virginia Woolf.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jan 2009 00:42:15 GMT
Martin says:
Probably the best rock biography that I've read is Barry Miles' brilliant account of the life and times of the late, great Frank Zappa, one of the industry's true originals. It provides an absolutely intriguing insight into his mindset and what made him stand out so vividly from the crowd, as well as the largely overlooked place of importance he occupied at the cutting edge of rock and the esteem in which he was held by so many in the business. Complex, difficult, anti-social, uncompromising, visceral and maybe too darned clever for his own good he may have been, but there can be no denying his genius and lasting legacy, and Miles articulates all of this quite splendidly.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jan 2009 23:35:08 GMT
DN PERKS says:
I have read many biographies but a few stand out including-
Anthony Blunt-His Lives; a wonderful tour de force about an arch-dissembler.
Like A Fiery Elephant by Jonathan Coe about the writer B.S. Johnson
and.......Claire Tomalins biography of Pepys which is near perfect

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jan 2009 09:15:22 GMT
Chris says:
Biographies have long been a favourite read of mine - some of the best I've read has been Chadwick's biography of Michael Ramsey, William Griffin's biography of C S Lewis, Alison Weir's biographies of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and others by her, and the diaries of Kenneth Williams are a fascinating read. I've not long finished Rowan's Rule, about the Archbsihop of Canterbury. I recommend this wholeheartedly.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Jan 2009 18:18:32 GMT
Warren218 says:
Geoff Emerick's account of recording the Beatles was very good, suppose more of a diary than autobiog. Good read even if ur not into the Beatles plus it's not too techie either.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Jan 2009 06:25:03 GMT
S. Emecz says:
If you like Sherlock Holmes then the biography of Bertram Fletcher Robinson is a fascinating read as it details his friendship with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the Holmes author and the story behind how his involvment in The Hound of The Baskervilles made Holmes a worldwide phenomenon. Relatively unknown outside Holmes circles BFR sadly died very young but in his short life was editor at Vanity fair and wrote many stories, articles and plays.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2009 13:29:00 GMT
MONTGOMERY says:
INDIRA: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi - Katherine Frank

INDIRA GANDHI, the daughter of Jawahalal Nehru (the first Prime Minister of India), had to overcome a variety of obstacles (including tuberculosis, which killed her mother) en route to becoming India's longest serving Prime Minister.

Though coming from a political dynasty, Indira Gandhi avoided direct involvement in politics for most of her life. She preferred to remain in the shadows, sometimes acting as an aide to her father, with whom she had a complex relationship. (While each could easily pour out their thoughts and feelings to one another in letters - in person, their relationship was often strained.)

This book makes for very compelling reading. I could hardly stop reading it once I took the plunge. You get a palpable sense of who Indira Gandhi was (publicly and privately), the devotion she inspired among her people, and the legacy she gave to India. I highly recommend this biography.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2009 15:25:04 GMT
Ben Bridges says:
My wife says that the best autobiography she's read to date was COMPANY OF HEROES, about Harry Carey Jr's time working with the legendary movie director John Ford. I don't have a favourite, mainly because the status of "celebrity" has become so devalued. I always laugh when I remember Michael Parkinson's comment, "Whenever I had guests coming on my show to plug their autobiography, I always used to begin the interview with the same question: 'Have you read it yet?'"

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2009 19:26:11 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Jan 2009 19:34:18 GMT
Celil Parker says:
Yeah, Martin R. Lewis,

Frank Zappa is a fascinating figure.

However, another life, from the 19th century this time, of previously unplumbed musical depths, was that of Emma Hale Smith, the first (and only legal) wife of the polygamous Mormon "prophet", Joseph Smith Junior. The best biography of this strong, stalwart, and musical woman (after whom my own dear departed mother, née Emma Frances Roach, was named) is by co-authors Linda King Newall and Valeen Tippetts Avery, "Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith", 2nd (rev.) ed., University of Illinois Press, 1994. Seldom has a biography, after several feebler efforts already had been published by others, opened up so much astonishing new information about a figure.

For a musician (mostly an hymnist and singer), it simply is amazing how much musical activity Emma H. Smith had. She is remembered, aside from putting up with her horny and unprincipled, good-looking, polygamous pseudo-prophet husband's philandering and various scams, but how many know that Emma Smith was involved in countless efforts of hymnody, after that first famous Mormon hymnal of hers, which she produced before the split between the L.D.S. pagan and R.L.D.S. Christian Mormon groups was to occur? She went on to contribute to hymnody in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for years after the exodus to the Gringo West of the "Utah Mormons" under J. Smith Jr.'s polygamous and polytheistic successor, Brigham Young. Emma's life was hard, tumultuous, and faithful to an heroic degree.

Due to Emma's influence, there was a monotheistic and Trinitarian variant of Mormonism (the R.L.D.S. Church, now calling itself the Community of Christ), plus lots of fine hymns in the hymnody of the L.D.S. and R.L.D.S. groups alike that have come down through the years. Both the L.D.S. heathen Mormon cult and the R.L.D.S. Christian Mormon sects owe a lot of their musical clout to Emma H. Smith.

Brava, Emma! And a resounding "Brava!" to each of the co-authors of this fine biography!

C.-P. Gerald ("Jerry") Parker (Rouyn-Noranda, QC., Dominion of Canada)

Posted on 6 Feb 2009 16:43:24 GMT
Lloyd says:
Try Switzerland on All Fours.

Posted on 6 Feb 2009 17:13:08 GMT
I ve just read this book in less than a day , couldn t put it down once i'd started.
The book is about Harry's ( a smooth fox terrier) account of his fantastic 250 mile walkies across the Swiss Alps.Encountering weather from all extremes and amazing scenery.The book is very cleverly written and contains wit and some moments where Harry takes the dangers of the Alps in his stride.
Definatly worth checking this book out . I m going to treat myself to Harry's first book "Harry's mountain walks in Liechtenstein" and maybe a S
Swiss holiday!!!

Posted on 9 Feb 2009 16:00:59 GMT
I've read Switzerland on All Fours too; absolutely excellent!

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Feb 2009 10:46:54 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Feb 2009 10:49:46 GMT
strangelad says:
RE: Eric Sykes
It was good but very frustrating, he tending to skirt around interesting stories, like John Lennon coming over with wine, I felt it could have been far far bigger and far more interesting (not that it wasn't, he just has so much to tell).

Posted on 11 Feb 2009 10:48:51 GMT
strangelad says:
The Moon's a Balloon by David Niven, possibly the greatest autobiography ever written, closely followed by Lucky Man by Micheal J Fox.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Feb 2009 00:05:29 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Feb 2009 00:05:47 GMT
E. W. says:
Claire Tomalin's "Jane Austen" - and "Moments of Being", albeit not an autobiography in the classical sense, by Virginia Woolf.

Posted on 13 Feb 2009 13:10:37 GMT
C. Whitehead says:
The unequalled self by Claire Tomalin - the life of Samuel Pepys - you can just smell London in the 17th century throughout this book - it is easily one of the best accounts of his life - indeed one of the best accounts of anybody's life - the prose flows along - i was never bored and very sad when I came to the end.

Posted on 13 Feb 2009 13:44:52 GMT
Josephine, A Life of the Empress by Carolly Erickson. Not being a great fan of non fiction I really enjoyed this book as it almost reads like a work of fiction. I hope that the trend for authors to switch between factual history and historical fiction continues, Alison Weir's fiction books being superb as well as her historical biographies.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Feb 2009 16:07:02 GMT
FDJ says:
Straight Life -The story of Art Pepper

Posted on 19 Feb 2009 20:57:09 GMT
S. Renhard says:
"Stuart - A Life Backwards" by Alexander Masters is life-changing. Read it, read it, read it.

Posted on 20 Feb 2009 22:51:39 GMT
S. Chelydra says:
Robert C. Tucker's books on Stalin are definitely the biographies that meant the most to me. I read them after I'd spent some time (even some quality time, believe it or not) with a bunch of serious Stalinists, who were not only sophisticated ideologues but also brilliant community organizers when they put their minds to it, before the usual cult-like dementia set in and ruined everything. It was global communist history repeating itself, in microcosm. Tucker's first Stalin book especially, about his early years, is a profoundly convincing psychological study that explained something I really needed to understand at that point - making a connection between what shapes an individual's inner life how that individual later reshapes the world. I don't remember actually shedding tears as I read it, but it was certainly tragic and emotionally affecting, as well as solid, informative work. The opening of the Soviet archives mean that newer biographers have had access to far more facts, but Tucker's books have a timeless human quality that will never go out of date even if they're now allowed to go out of print.

Posted on 22 Feb 2009 03:00:51 GMT
Rainbowdog says:
A quick magnificent seven autobiographies I've read:
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight - Alexandra Fuller,
Clinging to the Wreckage - John Mortimer,
Moab Is My Washpot - Stephen Fry,
Clive James - Unreliable Memoirs,
Goodbye to All That - Robert Graves,
Long Walk to Freedom - Nelson Mandela,
Kingdom of Fear - Hunter S. Thompson.

Posted on 22 Feb 2009 19:58:18 GMT
Have you read 'Life At The Edge' by Jan Greenman about her (now 17year old) son Luke who has ADHD and Aspergers syndrome. I couldn't put it down (I wrote it) it's a fascinating story of a boy who in his own words 'face fits, behaviour doesn't' and is selling across the world now. Not bad for a self-published mum. Luke is due to present the politics show on BBC1 at 12noon (I think) next Sunday the 1st March. You can see him on youtube ~ 'lukes life with labels'.
‹ Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... 19 Next ›
[Add comment]
Add your own message to the discussion
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Prompts for sign-in
 


Recent discussions in the biography discussion forum (205 discussions)

 

This discussion

Participants:  325
Total posts:  455
Initial post:  13 Jan 2009
Latest post:  21 Aug 2014

New! Receive e-mail when new posts are made.
Tracked by 18 customers

Search Customer Discussions