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Old 12-30-2009, 11:53 AM
Location: Victoria TX
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To parallel the other thread, what biographies did you enjoy reading that were about non-entertainmentn figures?

I loved "Nietzsche's Kisses" by Lance Olsen, about the last days of Nietzsche's life, with lots of flashbacks---a book that reads like a novel.

"The Education of Henry Adams" is a wonderfully readable auto-biography of a part of the life of that descendant of the presidents.
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Old 12-30-2009, 12:05 PM
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I'm not a biography person but one of my favorites is William Manchester's biography of Winston Churchill - The Last Lion. I wish he'd been able to finish the series.
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:00 PM
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"Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World" by Tracy Kidder is the biography of Dr. Paul Farmer, a humanitarian and infectious disease specialist who started TB clinics in impoverished countries starting with Haiti. It is inspiring, informative and thought provoking. I have always enjoyed Tracy Kidder's ability to immerse himself and therefore his readers into the lives of his subjects and Dr. Farmer is probably the most awe-inspiring man that I could want to "spend time with".
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Old 12-31-2009, 04:44 AM
Location: North Carolina
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I read two autobiographies of geisha's (who were both inspired to write them after being unhappy with the fictional "Memoir's of a Geisha") - "Geisha of Gion" and "Autobiography of a Geisha". One is about a high class geisha, the other about a low class geisha - two very different stories and while you have to excuse the writing style (they are, after all, written by amatuer writers and then translated into English), they are both equally very interesting.

My other favorite is David Starkey's "Henry, Virtuous Prince" - but that's probably only interesting if you're really into Tudor history.
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Old 12-31-2009, 04:52 AM
Location: in the southwest
13,394 posts, read 44,465,431 times
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Originally Posted by pinetreelover View Post
Tracy Kidder
I loved Tracy Kidder's House. Basically it is the biography of the birth of a new home, and all of the hopes, thoughts, plans and physical construction that go into it.

Right now I am enthralled with Stanley Olson's biography of John Singer Sargent. Olson's dense, witty and entertaining portrait of Sargent is also a vivid (and sometimes caustic) look at the Edwardian era. The footnotes alone keep me busy, it is a well-researched and colorful study of the artist.

I did not want David McCullough's John Adams to end. This bio is less fact-filled, comprehensive scholarship than it is a series of compelling vignettes which, strung together, bring to life a vitally important Founding Father.
I loved reading the correspondence as well as envisioning the many journeys that Adams and his family made.
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Old 12-31-2009, 11:28 AM
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The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Politican Genius of an American Icon by John Ferling. I read this only with the intention of quickly filling myself in on the politics of the revolutionary era for a project I was doing, and I found myself thoroughly enjoying this book. (It is not a detailed military history, by the way.) My education and 4th of July oratory had left me with the impression that GW was a combination big stiff and plaster saint, and this biography certainly blew that away.
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Old 01-03-2010, 10:27 AM
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I remember listening to an NPR interview of someone who wrote a biography of Ted Kennedy but I can't remember which one. I just remember thinking I didn't know much about him and that was all sort of stereotypes and the interview made me think maybe he is really different than I thought and I should give it a read. I did just check NPR's website though and I can't find which one it is. Apparently there are 2 main ones and one that seems like an autobiography of sorts.

While looking on NPR I saw this interview Best Books of 2009 which has this as a best pick
Out of all of the '30s-themed books I read this year, my pick for the best nonfiction book is Kirsten Downey's biography of Frances Perkins, The Woman Behind the New Deal.
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Old 01-03-2010, 01:16 PM
Location: Tennessee
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Infidel - Ayaan Hirsi Ali
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Old 01-03-2010, 05:52 PM
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I love just browsing in the library's biography section. They have books about real people, not just 'famous figures' and most are so interesting. I can't recall the names of many of them but one I read was so sad...about a woman from Korea I believe...she was born to an unmarried woman, but a good mom. Somehow she got put up for adoption (maybe because the mom could not take care of her) and the people who adopted her (USA) were religious--a minister and his wife. Everyone thought they were the perfect parents but the girl was abused for years.

She married an abusive man, too. They had a child and the woman and this child eventually escaped the abusive life and the woman went on to great things educationally and career wise.

Another good one was about a girl/woman called Cupcake. She was a victim of her childhood, again, and grew up into drugs, abuse and violence. For years she was a drug addict but eventually went on to great things.
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Old 01-03-2010, 08:38 PM
Location: Piedmont NC
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Default Jeffrey Zaslow's The Girls from Ames

Nonfiction account of 11 girls who became friends as children, and the friendship(s) that has sustained them for 40 years. Good read. Hard to believe a man was able to put this together, but he did a good job. Zaslow also wrote The Last Lecture, the life lessons of Randy Pausch.

The Girls from Ames is appealing on a number of different levels. I found myself in awe of a friendship the 10 of them (one died) have nurtured all of these years, and enjoyed seeing how the girls grew into the women they have become. The themes are universal. You'll see yourself, your families, and your friends.
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