Some of the topics I care about:
The Years of Lyndon Johnson - the story of how LBJ rigged the 1948 election for Senate and rose to power
Here's an excerpt from an interview with the author of both books:
> During all these years I did come to understand stuff about power that I wanted people to know. You read in every textbook that cliché: Power corrupts. In my opinion, I’ve learned that power does not always corrupt. Power can cleanse. When you’re climbing to get power, you have to use whatever methods are necessary, and you have to conceal your aims. Because if people knew your aims, it might make them not want to give you power. Prime example: the southern senators who raised Lyndon Johnson up in the Senate. They did that because he had made them believe that he felt the same way they did about black people and segregation. But then when you get power, you can do what you want. So power reveals. Do I want people to know that? Yes.
I actually haven't read his LBJ series yet, and I'm really looking forward to it.
(I also think it's one of the best descriptions of why the romanticized simple life of a subsistence farmer misses how incredibly hard their lives are. There'a a ~4 page section describing what life was like for farmers in Hill country in E. Texas before electrification, and it's so incredibly similar to how our farmers live now. )
To give you a taste: His opponents (a large, well-funded and established competitor) stymied his attempt to get permission to build a bridge across a river. Undeterred, Sam built two piers. One from each side of the river. They told him he couldn’t build a bridge. No one ever told him he couldn’t build piers.
He was probably too good at what he set out to do but he built an empire that still exists today out of bananas that were destined for garbage.
(While writing i realized that since last one year my outlook towards reading has shifted to politics like anything)
"A truck full of money" About Paul English the founder of Kyak.com. 'One mans quest to recover from great success"
Another Tracy Kidder biography is
"Mountains beyond Moutains"
this book traces the life of physician and anthropologist Paul Farmer
It isn't really a biography, but soul of a new machine is really interesting story about 80s computer companies. He won a pulizer for it.
He is a Thai Buddhist monk, who is responsible for introducing mindfulness/insight mediation to the west.
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!
by Richard Feynman
Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
My Life and Work by Henry Ford
My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla by Ben Johnston and Nikola Tesla
The Autobiography of Charles Darwin by Charles Darwin
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
T. E. Lawrence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mint_(book)
Władysław Szpilman: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pianist_(memoir)
Primo Levi: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_This_Is_a_Man
I go back to some greats like Benjamin Franklin as well, but the books on the margin lacking polish can be more interesting.
Gleick's Isaac Newton is also fantastic.
https://www.amazon.com/Autobiography-Yukichi-Fukuzawa/dp/023... - great perspective on a period of massive intellectual/cutural/political change in Japan
https://www.amazon.com/Annie-Besant-Lives-Modern-Women/dp/01... - interesting to see change and continuity in the life of someone extremely capable and influential
Also Taiko by the same author is a fictionalized version of the 3 kingdoms period, told from an interesting perspective.
Left to Tell - Immaculée Ilibagiza's life, story of survival of the Rwandan Genocide and a tale of how to live on after such tragedy and how to forgive the unforgiveable.
Longitude - essentially a biography of John Harrison, the man who solved the longitude problem (and probably thereby made the success of the British Empire)
X, Y & Z - a brilliant biography of all the French, English and Polish codebreakers of WW2
Agent Zigzag - the story of the man who betrayed everyone and could possibly have killed Hitler if he was allowed
William Pitt the Younger (Robin Reilly) - possibly one of the most difficult periods in British History saw one of the best British Prime Ministers to date
Kukuczka - the story of how he became one of the world's most impressive climbers despite communist oppression
The Galileo Affair: A Documentary History - a highly interesting book that brings the necessary documents to the table to help understand a topic that is often treated in a very facile way
Ivan III and the Unification of Russia - a great book for understanding the basis on which Russia was built
Xenophon's Anabasis - what a load of fun. How to lead a failed army back home and gorge on mad honey
A lot about American and international politics during the Manhattan Project that is very insightful.
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Kevin Mitnick - Ghost In The Wires
Kenneth Roman - The King of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy and the Making of Modern Advertising
Walter Isaacson - Steve Jobs
Alan Deutschman - The Second Coming of Steve Jobs
James Wallace - Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire
Alice Schroeder - The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life
Richard Branson - Losing My Virginity
Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo
Born Standing Up (Steve Martin's autobiography)
Best book on entrepreneurship journey, I have ever read.
The book is a heartfelt autobiography.
The last two are especially good as audiobook autobiographies read by the author.
To understand how modern digital ecosystem came to be I cannot think of a better combination than Isaacson's "Innovators" and "The Dream Machine" by Waldrop.
Could you recommend a better biography from that period?
I think those biographies are more pop than his fans like to think and more academic than his detractors might imagine.
Things that happened, happened. Most of all when reading popular biographies I want to be introduced to real things that happened, and if some of that draws my interest, I can then dig in to more academic sources.
The popular biographies offer the '100 feet' view over their subject and the society in which they lived in, and should not be disparaged if they succeed in doing that in a readable and entertaining manner.
That's a rare thing, though. The adjective should probably be used neutrally way more often than derogatorily.
I suppose the the biographies would need a more detailed critique of what people did not like in them to say anything particular about one of them.
Jobs biography alone does not give a sufficient image of the man, for example. But when combined with "Becoming Steve Jobs" the picture is more well rounded. That does not mean I did not enjoy the book.
Walter Isaacson books
Biography of Malcolm X
Deng Xiaopeng and the Transformation of China
The Power Broker
Locke: A biography by Roger Woolhouse ; the father of classical liberalism in a time of upheaval in England, interactions with the king, banishment to Holland, promoted religious toleration
The Double Helix: James Watson; scientific discovery in 1950s Cambridge, the thrill of the race to be first, controversy with Rosalind Franklin
The Caro books on Lyndon Johnson; insight into the ugly guts of politics, what it takes to win & the course of mid-20th century American history
The Mark Levison book on the Beatles is amazing - the only volume he has finished takes ~700 pages to get to the release of their first single. Arguably the most important cultural phenomenon of the 20th century.
Andrew Hodge's biography of Alan Turing
If even half of it is true, he had enough adventures for a lot of movies.
Also such a fun read.
A true engineer at heart. His comeback in life is very similar to that of Steve Jobs. Man was a true genius.
Hands down one of the most inspiring and motivating biographies I've read.
Memoirs of Jacques Casanova
Autobiography of Benvenuto Cillini
Learning the ups & downs of a human, who tried to change the world, and delivered the religion of Islam.