A powerful biography or autobiography always has a moral. Whether it’s a rise and fall story, a story of redemption, a story of power corrupting, a story of love—every biography of a man or a woman teaches the reader. These books will motivate, inspire, and amaze you. Read them, and they will surely change the way you look at life.
Note: The list is in no particular order. All the books are amazing reads in their own way.
1. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
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, Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography is the definitive portrait of the greatest innovator of his generation.
2. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is the traditional name for the unfinished record of his own life written by Benjamin Franklin from 1771 to 1790. Franklin’s range of interests and accomplishments are brilliantly recorded in his autobiography, considered one of the classics of the genre. Covering his life up to his prewar stay in London as representative of the Pennsylvania Assembly, this charming self-portrait recalls Franklin’s boyhood, his determination to achieve high moral standards, his work as a printer, experiments with electricity, political career, experiences during the French and Indian War, and more. Related in an honest, open, unaffected style, this highly readable account offers a wonderfully intimate glimpse of the Founding Father sometimes called “The wisest American.”
3. The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi
The Story of My Experiments with Truth is the autobiography of Mohandas K. Gandhi, covering his life from early childhood through to 1921. It was written in weekly instalments and published in his journal Navjivan from 1925 to 1929.
4. Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
Imagine Christ, Buddha, or Krishna telling their life story in their own words. That’s what you get when you read Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. It’s a great book for those seeking for answers about the purpose of their lives. In order to get the complete essence of this book one needs to have faith very little will do. Even if you do not have, you must read it with an open and critical mind.
5. Hard Choices by Hillary Rodham Clinton
“Hard Choices” is the insightful memoir of the hard political choices Hillary Clinton had to make during her four years as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. This detailed chronicle captures the difficulties of international diplomacy directly from Clinton’s unique perspective. Clinton’s incomparable resume includes: attorney, First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State and accomplished author. This noteworthy 656-page book is broken out into the following six parts: 1. A Fresh Start, 2. Across the Pacific, 3. War and Peace, 4. Between Hope and History, 5. Upheaval, and 6. The Future We Want.
6. Playing It My Way by Sachin Tendulkar and Boria Majumdar
Sachin Tendulkar is an Indian sportsman and former professional cricketer. He has been playing the game since he was eleven years old and debuted in a Test match against Pakistan at the age of 16. He has represented Mumbai domestically and India at an International level for close to 24 years. Among several other notable achievements, he is the only player to have scored one hundred international centuries, to have completed more than 30,000 runs in international cricket and the first batsman to score a double century in an One Day International. The book is in Sachin’s own words as told to his co-writer Boria Majumdar, senior sports journalist and cricket historian who worked closely with Sachin.
7. The Soul of a Butterfly by Muhammad Ali
Recently deceased, Muhammad Ali is an American professional boxer. From early in his career, Ali was known as an inspiring, controversial and polarizing figure both inside and outside the boxing ring. The book is nothing short of fantastic. It takes you on a journey through the remarkable learnings of this great man and moves you to tears at some points. It’s not a very intense read and as the publisher mentions, its more of a compilation of abstract values Ali has learned and picked up over his life. He talks about these values and peppers them with anectodes and incidents in his life.
8. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
The famously taciturn South African president reveals much of himself in Long Walk to Freedom. A good deal of this autobiography was written secretly while Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years on Robben Island by South Africa’s apartheid regime. Among the book’s interesting revelations is Mandela’s ambivalence toward his lifetime of devotion to public works. It cost him two marriages and kept him distant from a family life he might otherwise have cherished. Long Walk to Freedom also discloses a strong and generous spirit that refused to be broken under the most trying circumstances ,a spirit in which just about everybody can find something to admire.
9. Edison: A Biography by Matthew Josephson
Older biographies are better in my experience. This one is 50+ years old and that’s right in the sweet spot. It didn’t have to be trendy, it didn’t have to psychoanalyze, it didn’t have to be political correct or controversial. It just had to be a sweeping, conclusive picture of the man. Modern enough to be historically accurate, old enough to still have respect for ambition. No question, this is a big book but I learned a lot. For instance, I had no idea that Edison had been mostly deaf (and that that deafness fueled and improved many of his sound inventions). I didn’t know about his friendship with Henry Ford or what a shrewd businessman Edison was. If you like big biographies, read this.
10. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
If a novelist were to attempt to invent an authentic young narrator, situation, and story arc, that writer could do no better than the teen Anne Frank did with her diary. ANNE FRANK: THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL is at once instructive, inspiring, and immensely engaging. Readers of any age will feel moved by Anne’s great fears and everyday problems. Teens and pre-teens will identify strongly with her struggles to be understood, or to be left alone, and will thrill with her as young love unfolds. This is essential reading for young people learning about World War II, and it’s a meaningful book about the inner life of teens.
11. The Story of My Life by Hellen Keller
The Story of My Life was written while Helen Keller, then in her early twenties, was a student at Radcliffe College. It is a moving story of the education of a child with the extreme handicap of being deaf and blind. The book begins with a rather vague description of young Helen’s earliest memories, before she became deaf and blind at the age of nineteen months, but most of it narrates her teaching by Anne Sullivan of the Perkins Institute for the Blind.
12. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder
The book is a biography about the man who is known popularly as The Oracle of Omaha. Warren Buffet has never before taken the time to sit with a writer, answer their questions about his life and work, and give them information about his wife, children and the people in his life. In all of his years in business he has treated his investors as partners, and has been an honest investor apart from being a speaker, board member and essayist.
13. Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama
The son of a black African father and a white American mother, Obama was only two years old when his father walked out on the family. Many years later, Obama receives a phone call from Nairobi: his father is dead. This sudden news inspires an emotional odyssey for Obama, determined to learn the truth of his father’s life and reconcile his divided inheritance.Written at the age of thirty-three, Dreams from my Father is an unforgettable read. it illuminates not only Obama’s journey, but also our universal desire to understand our history, and what makes us the people we are.
14. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Malcolm X
Malcolm X became one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. In this riveting account, he tells of his journey from a prison cell to Mecca, describing his transition from hoodlum to Muslim minister. Here, the man who called himself “the angriest Black man in America” relates how his conversion to true Islam helped him confront his rage and recognize the brotherhood of all mankind.
15. The Moon’s a Balloon by David Niven
The Moon’s a Balloon takes readers back to David Niven’s childhood days, his humiliating expulsion from school and to his army years and wartime service. After the war, he returned to America and there came his Hollywood success in films such as “Wuthering Heights” and “Around the World in 80 Days”.
I hope you like my list of Autobiographies/Biographies of the greatest personalities that inspired and helped people all around the globe.
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