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Find more Top 10 Biographies
Booklist’s 10 most-favored biographies since the June 2007 spotlight on the perennially popular nonfiction genre recount lives that together span eight centuries and an occupational range of even greater breadth, from Renaissance monarch to contemporary book editor.
Amerigo: The Man Who Gave His Name to America
. By Felipe Fernandez-Armesto. 2007. Random, $24.95 (1-4000-6281-0).
Amerigo Vespucci got his name put on a couple of continents based on letters he may never have written. On the other hand, he really was a pimp, flimflam man, diplomat, and business agent for the Medici.
The Diana Chronicles. By Tina Brown. 2007. Doubleday, $27.50 (9780385517089).
Brimming with new information and insights, this responsible, eloquent, and honest book—even about the late Princess of Wales’ out-of-control side—will last for a long time to come.
Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father. By John Matteson. 2007. Norton, $29.95 (9780393059649).
While Bronson Alcott took innovative ideas to ruinous extremes, his daughter Louisa May became the destitute family’s diligent wage-earner and author of one of the world’s most beloved novels.
Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist. By Nancy Goldstein. 2008. Univ. of Michigan, $35 (9780472116249).
“The first and only” African American woman cartoonist of her time was a prominent and glamorous activist, whose cartoons in black newspapers played an influential role in the struggle for racial equality.
The Man Who Created Sherlock Holmes: The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. By Andrew Lycett. 2007. Free Press, $28 (0-7432-7523-3).
Lycett reveals how the creator of literature’s scientific rationalist par excellence, Sherlock Holmes, paradoxically found in spiritualism a replacement for the faith he abandoned after childhood.
Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu. By Laurence Bergreen. 2007. Knopf, $27.95 (1-4000-4345-X).
The famous thirteenth-century Italian explorer enjoyed remarkable experiences as a guest in the realm of the real Kublai Khan and reported them with more than a concern for “mere facts.”
Nureyev: The Life. By Julie Kavanagh. 2007. Pantheon, $37.50 (0-375-40513-5).
Sexy, audacious Russian defector Nureyev utterly transformed dance in the age of rock and roll—an artistic revolution Kavanagh expertly chronicles.
The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventures, and the Dawn of Empire. By Susan Ronald. 2007. HarperCollins, $26.95 (9780060820664).
Ronald gives the oft-limned life and reign of Elizabeth I new interest by focusing on the monarch’s specific influence on the founding of what became the vast British Empire.
The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food. By Judith Jones. 2007. Knopf, $24.95 (9780307264954).
The entertaining, wondrously informative remembrances of the rich life of the cookbook editor who discovered Julia Child recount experiences that food and book lovers alike will admire and envy.
Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War. By Michael J. Neufeld. 2007. Knopf, $35 (0-307-26292-8).
In the most comprehensively researched and judicious biography of von Braun yet published, Neufeld argues that von Braun’s greatest strengths lay in spotting talent, motivating, and persuading.
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