new in biographies

The Best New Biographies of 2023

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CJ Connor is a cozy mystery and romance writer whose main goal in life is to make their dog proud. They are a Pitch Wars alumnus and an Author Mentor Match R9 mentor. Their debut mystery novel BOARD TO DEATH is forthcoming from Kensington Books. Twitter: @cjconnorwrites |

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Read on to discover nine of the best biographies published within the last year. Included are life stories of singular people, including celebrated artists and significant historical figures, as well as collective biographies.

The books included in this list have all been released as of writing, but biography lovers still have plenty to look forward to before the year is out. A few to keep your eye out for in the coming months:

  • The World According to Joan Didion by Evelyn McDonnell (HarperOne, September 26)
  • Einstein in Time and Space by Samuel Graydon (Scribner, November 14)
  • Overlooked: A Celebration of Remarkable, Underappreciated People Who Broke the Rules and Changed the World by Amisha Padnani (Penguin Random House, November 14).

Without further ado, here are the best biographies of 2023 so far!

Master Slave Husband Wife cover

Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom by Ilyon Woo

Ellen and William Craft were a Black married couple who freed themselves from slavery in 1848 by disguising themselves as a traveling white man and an enslaved person. Author Ilyon Woo recounts their thousand-mile journey to seek safety in the North and their escape from the United States in the months following the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act.

The art thief cover

The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession by Michael Finkel

Written over a period of 11 years with exclusive journalistic access to the subject, author Michael Finkel explores the motivations, heists, and repercussions faced by the notorious and prolific art thief Stéphane Breitwieser. Of special focus is his relationship with his girlfriend and accomplice, Anne-Catherine Kleinklaus.

King cover

King: A Life by Jonathan Eig

While recently published, King: A Life is already considered to be the most well-researched biography of Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. published in decades. New York Times bestselling journalist Jonathan Eig explores the life and legacy of Dr. King through thousands of historical records, including recently declassified FBI documents.

Why Willie Mae Thornton Matters cover

Why Willie Mae Thornton Matters by Lynnée Denise

This biography is part of the Why Music Matters series from the University of Texas. It reflects on the legendary blues singer’s life through an essay collection in which the author (also an accomplished musician) seeks to recreate the feeling of browsing through a box of records.

Young Queens cover

Young Queens: Three Renaissance Women and the Price of Power by Leah Redmond Chang

Historian Leah Redmond Chang’s latest book release focuses on three aristocratic women in Renaissance Europe: Catherine de’ Medici, Elizabeth de Valois, and Mary, Queen of Scots. As a specific focus, she examines the juxtaposition between the immense power they wielded and yet the ways they remained vulnerable to the patriarchal, misogynistic societies in which they existed.

Daughter of the Dragon cover

Daughter of the Dragon: Anna May Wong’s Rendezvous with American History by Yunte Huang

Anna May Wong was a 20th-century actress who found great acclaim while still facing discrimination and typecasting as a Chinese woman. University of California professor Yunte Huang explores her life and impact on the American film industry and challenges racist depictions of her in accounts of Hollywood history in this thought-provoking biography.

Twice as hard cover

Twice as Hard: The Stories of Black Women Who Fought to Become Physicians, from the Civil War to the 21st Century by Jasmine Brown

Written by Rhodes Scholar and University of Pennsylvania medical student Jasmine Brown, this collective biography shares the experiences and accomplishments of nine Black women physicians in U.S. history — including Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first Black American woman to earn a medical degree in the 1860s, and Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders.

Larry McMurtry cover

Larry McMurtry: A Life by Tracy Daugherty

Two years after the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s death, this biography presents a comprehensive history of Larry McMurtry’s life and legacy as one of the most acclaimed Western writers of all time.

The Kneeling Man cover

The Kneeling Man: My Father’s Life as a Black Spy Who Witnessed the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. by Leta McCollough Seletzky

Journalist Leta McCollough Seletzky examines her father, Marrell “Mac” McCollough’s complicated legacy as a Black undercover cop and later a member of the CIA. In particular, she shares his account as a witness of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel.

Are you a history buff looking for more recommendations? Try these.

  • Best History Books by Era
  • Books for a More Inclusive Look at American History
  • Fascinating Food History Books

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Best Biographies » New Biography

Browse book recommendations:

Best Biographies

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The best new biographies. We scrutinized the bookshelves to bring you the best of the recent biographies. "There’s no rubric for what makes a great biography—they just provide a sense of what it means to be human"—Elizabeth Taylor, author, critic and chair of the National Book Critics' Circle biography committee.

Marcus Aurelius: The Stoic Emperor by Donald J. Robertson

Marcus Aurelius: The Stoic Emperor

By donald j. robertson.

Read expert recommendations

“In another Yale series, Ancient Lives, there’s a new biography of the 2nd-century Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius, whose book, Meditations , is often recommended for those interested in the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. It’s by Donald Robertson, a cognitive behavioural psychotherapist and a firm believer that Stoicism has much to teach us in our daily lives.” Read more...

Nonfiction Books to Look Out for in Early 2024

Sophie Roell , Journalist

Who Is Big Brother?: A Reader's Guide to George Orwell by D J Taylor

Who Is Big Brother?: A Reader's Guide to George Orwell

By d j taylor.

“On the subject of political dystopias, Orwell biographer D.J. Taylor has a new book out about him: Who is Big Brother? A Reader’s Guide to George Orwell . You’ll learn a lot about Orwell’s life and how it made its way into his books.” Read more...

Maurice and Maralyn: A Whale, a Shipwreck, a Love Story by Sophie Elmhirst

Maurice and Maralyn: A Whale, a Shipwreck, a Love Story

By sophie elmhirst.

“ Maurice and Maralyn by Sophie Elmshirst is about an ordinary couple from Derby who set out to sail around the world in the early 1970s. The reason we know about them is that theirs turned into a survival story: their boat was sunk by a sperm whale and they were left adrift on a raft in the Pacific Ocean for 118 days. It’s an easy and engaging read: I started it one evening after dinner and stayed up to finish it just after midnight.” Read more...

We Are Free to Change the World: Hannah Arendt’s Lessons in Love and Disobedience by Lyndsey Stonebridge

We Are Free to Change the World: Hannah Arendt’s Lessons in Love and Disobedience

By lyndsey stonebridge.

We Are Free to Change the World by Lyndsey Stonebridge is an excellent, well-written book that shows why Hannah Arendt is still an important and sometimes controversial thinker today.

The Genius of their Age: Ibn Sina, Biruni, and the Lost Enlightenment by S. Frederick Starr

The Genius of their Age: Ibn Sina, Biruni, and the Lost Enlightenment

By s. frederick starr.

“Also hailing from central Asia are the main protagonists of The Genius of Their Age: Ibn Sina, Biruni and the Lost Enlightenment by S. Frederick Starr. It’s a dual biography of Ibn Sina (aka Avicenna) and Biruni, key figures in the flowering of science and philosophy that took place in the Islamic world in the Middle Ages. Both men were born in the 10th century in modern-day Uzbekistan. This is an important period for anyone interested in the history of science, a missing gap in Western curricula (at least in my day).” Read more...

Schubert: A Musical Wayfarer by Lorraine Byrne Bodley

Schubert: A Musical Wayfarer

By lorraine byrne bodley.

“Other biographies published recently include one about the Austrian composer Franz Schubert (1797-1828). It’s called Schubert: A Musical Wayfarer by Lorraine Byrne Bodley, a professor of musicology at Maynooth University. Schubert famously died aged just 31, but striking early in the book is how old that was compared to some of his siblings. This book is written so it’s accessible to non-musicians, but this is a serious work of scholarship.” Read more...

Notable Nonfiction of Fall 2023

Ian Fleming: The Complete Man by Nicholas Shakespeare

Ian Fleming: The Complete Man

By nicholas shakespeare.

“Another is Nicholas Shakespeare’s biography of Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond books. Ian Fleming: The Complete Man is an authorized biography and offsets some of the more negative accounts of his life as a train wreck which ended early (he died of heart disease at age 56)…Both my parents were Dutch and I suppose like others around the world we half-believed that James Bond/Ian Fleming was a typical mid-20th century Englishman. With this book, we find out a bit more what Fleming was actually like.” Read more...

Elon Musk by Walter Isaacson

by Walter Isaacson

“Isaacson sat at the feet of Musk – literally, in the same room as Musk – for two or three years, I think. The whole second half of the book is about the last three years, so it’s very detailed. It’s very much reporting. He doesn’t step back except right at the end, and then to make a rather general point about how you need the good and the bad in order to have a genius…Isaacson doesn’t say, ‘I’m now going to make a judgment on what’s happened.’ It’s very much an account of being with this extraordinary, tempestuous entrepreneur…It’s a long book with very short chapters. It’s quite punchy, in that sense of ‘OK now we’re moving on’ which gives you a bit of an impression of what it must be like to live with or work with Elon Musk. But it doesn’t then step back and say how significant it is.” Read more...

The Best Business Books of 2023: the Financial Times Business Book of the Year Award

Andrew Hill , Journalist

Vergil: The Poet's Life by Sarah Ruden

Vergil: The Poet's Life

By sarah ruden.

“One interesting book for fans of the great epic poem of the Augustus years, the Aeneid, is a literary biography of its author, Vergil. Vergil: The Poet’s Life is by American scholar and translator Sarah Ruden. Other than his poem, we don’t know much about the author, so Ruden has to do a lot of heavy lifting, but why not? Ruden recently translated the Aeneid , and you can also read her Five Books interview about Vergil.” Read more...

Spinoza: Life and Legacy by Jonathan Israel

Spinoza: Life and Legacy

By jonathan israel.

Spinoza: Life and Legacy is a new biography of the 17th-century Dutch-Jewish philosopher, Baruch Spinoza , by historian Jonathan Israel. Israel is a leading historian of early modern Europe, and an expert on the Dutch Republic, the tolerant—by 17th-century standards—world in which Spinoza grew up. His parents had fled Portugal because of the Inquisition and, as Israel points out, that "dark Iberian context was a crucial factor in Spinoza's background, early life, and formation and likewise an essential dimension for understanding his thought generally." The book builds on Steven Nadler's biography of Spinoza , and at more than 1,200 pages is absolutely not for beginners. Rather, it's for those seeking to think deeply—and disagree with Israel at times, no doubt—about Spinoza and his life and thought.

(If you're looking for a more introductory approach to Spinoza, our interview about him is with Steven Nadler )

Ramesses the Great: Egypt's King of Kings by Toby Wilkinson

Ramesses the Great: Egypt's King of Kings

By toby wilkinson.

“Other biographies out these past three months include Ramesses the Great by Toby Wilkinson, the Cambridge Egyptologist…Both rulers spent a lot of time and energy building their reputations, which may be why we’re reading about them three millennia…later” Read more...

Notable Nonfiction of Early Summer 2023

Straits: Beyond the Myth of Magellan by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

Straits: Beyond the Myth of Magellan

By felipe fernández-armesto.

Straits: Beyond the Myth of Magellan is historian Felipe Fernandez-Armesto's takedown of the Portuguese explorer whose disastrous expedition was the first to circumnavigate the globe.

Rebels Against the Raj by Ramachandra Guha

Rebels Against the Raj

By ramachandra guha.

🏆 Winner of the 2023 Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography

The foreigners who fought against Franco in Spain are much feted in literature and the popular imagination, those who helped India fight for its independence from the British Empire not so much. In this book, Indian historian Ramachandra Guha tells the story of seven of them (five Brits and two Americans), rescuing them from obscurity.

G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century by Beverly Gage

G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century

By beverly gage.

🏆  Winner of the 2023 NBCC Biography Award

“Hoover answered to no voters. The quintessential ‘Government Man,’ a counselor and advisor to eight U.S. presidents, of both political parties, he was one of the most powerful, unelected government officials in history. He reigned over the Federal Bureau of Investigations from 1924 to 1972. Hoover began as a young reformer and—as he accrued power—was simultaneously loathed and admired. Through Hoover, Gage skilfully guides readers through the full arc of 20th-century America, and contends: ‘We cannot know our own story without understanding his.'” Read more...

The Best Biographies of 2023: The National Book Critics Circle Shortlist

Elizabeth Taylor , Biographer

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler by Rebecca Donner

All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler

By rebecca donner.

🏆  Winner of the 2021 National Book Critics Circle award for biography

🏆  Winner of the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld award for biography

The highly acclaimed biography of Mildred Harnack, an American doctoral student living in Germany during the rise of the Third Reich, who became an important anti-Nazi activist and later a spy for Allied forces during the Second World War. Arrested by the Gestapo in Sweden, she was tried by a Nazi military court and finally executed on the orders of Adolf Hitler. In All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days , Harnack's great-great-niece reconstructs her story in an astonishing work of nonfiction that draws together letters, intelligence documents and the testimony of survivors to create this remarkable story of moral courage.

King: A Life by Jonathan Eig

King: A Life

By jonathan eig.

“I was excited to see a new biography of Martin Luther King Jr. by American journalist and biographer Jonathan Eig. Like many foreigners who spend time in the US, I was aware who Martin Luther King Jr. was and his importance, but not the details nor why he shared a name with a 16th-century German monk (whom my history professors at Oxford seemed to think important). This biography is highly readable and, according to the introduction, draws on new information, particularly on Mike’s father.” Read more...

The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World by Jonathan Freedland

The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World

By jonathan freedland.

“This book is extraordinary because Rudolf Vrba and a fellow inmate, Alfred Wetzler, were the first Jews ever to break out of Auschwitz. Jonathan Freedland is a fiction writer too—he writes thrillers under the name Sam Bourne—so there is an element of thriller in the way that he describes this escape and the build-up to it. It is incredibly heart-in-your-mouth compelling. But it’s a bigger story than just one man’s breakout. Vrba goes on to try and put the word out about what’s going on in Auschwitz and saves many lives in the process. The book is memorializing one man’s heroism.” Read more...

The Best Nonfiction Books: The 2022 Baillie Gifford Prize Shortlist

Caroline Sanderson , Journalist

The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science by John Tresch

The Reason for the Darkness of the Night: Edgar Allan Poe and the Forging of American Science

By john tresch.

✩ Finalist for the  Los Angeles Times  Book Award for biography

✩ Nominated for the Edgar Award for best work of criticism or biography

John Tresch, a professor of history of art and science at the Warburg Institute, situates the iconic American author in an era "when the lines separating entertainment, speculation and scientific inquiry were blurred." The troubled horror writer embraced contradiction, exposing the hoaxes of contemporary scientific fraudsters even as he perpetuated his own.

Peerless among Princes: The Life and Times of Sultan Süleyman by Kaya Şahin

Peerless among Princes: The Life and Times of Sultan Süleyman

By kaya şahin.

A new biography of Süleyman (often called 'the Magnificent' in the West, but not in this book), the Ottoman sultan who ruled from 1520 to 1566.  He was one of the most powerful men in the world but to the modern reader, his life seems utterly tragic. The book is by Kaya Şahin, a historian at Indiana University, who is able to bring his knowledge of Turkish sources to the story. Another aim of the book is "to restore Süleyman's place among the major figures of the sixteenth century"—which also included Henry VIII, Charles V and Francis I (Europe), Ivan IV (Russia), Babur and Akbar (India), Shah Ismail and Shah Tahmasb (Iran).

Kennan: A Life between Worlds by Frank Costigliola

Kennan: A Life between Worlds

By frank costigliola.

Kennan: A Life between World s is an excellent biography of George Kennan, the American diplomat and Russophile who first raised alarm bells about Stalin after World War II, authoring an anonymous article in Foreign Affairs and "The Long Telegram". His biographer Frank Costigliola brings to life a man who loved Tolstoy and Chekhov, was devastated at never knowing his mother, and spent most of his life opposing the policy of containment towards the Soviet Union that he's best known for.

The Man Who Understood Democracy: The Life of Alexis de Tocqueville by Olivier Zunz

The Man Who Understood Democracy: The Life of Alexis de Tocqueville

By olivier zunz.

🏆  Winner of the Grand Prix de la Biographie Politique 2022

An excellent biography of Alexis de Tocqueville , the 19th-century French politician and author of Democracy in America and The Ancien Regime and the Revolution .

Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne by Katherine Rundell

Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne

By katherine rundell.

🏆  Winner of the 2022 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction

🏆  Winner of the 2023 British Book Award for Non-Fiction: Narrative

“Rundell is a children’s author who also specializes in Renaissance literature and makes the case that Donne should be as widely feted as William Shakespeare, his contemporary. She writes, ‘Donne is the greatest writer of desire in the English language. He wrote about sex in a way that nobody ever has, before or since: he wrote sex as the great insistence on life, the salute, the bodily semaphore for the human living infinite. The word most used across his poetry, part from ‘and’ and ‘the’, is ‘love”.” Read more...

Award Winning Biographies of 2022

The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine by Janice P. Nimura

The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women and Women to Medicine

By janice p. nimura.

✩ Finalist for the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for biography

A dual biography of Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, the United States' first female physicians and the founders of the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, a hospital staffed entirely by women in antebellum America. Through the story of their lives, says the Wall Street Journal , we encounter "a rough-hewn, gaudy, carnival-barking America, with only the thinnest veneer of gentility overlaying cruelty and a simmering violence."

Pessoa: A Biography by Richard Zenith

Pessoa: A Biography

By richard zenith.

The Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa wrote prolifically throughout his life, but often under a series of assumed names and identities, which he called 'heteronyms.' Relatively unknown during his lifetime, he left a cache of more than 25,000 papers which are still being studied, translated and published almost a century after his death. Here, the renowned translator and Pessoa scholar offers an insight into Pessoa's teeming imagination and polyphonous genius by tracing the back stories of his alter egos, recasting them as projections of Pessoa's inner tensions—social, sexual, and political.

Mike Nichols: A Life by Mark Harris

Mike Nichols: A Life

By mark harris.

✩ Shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle award for biography

A  New York Times- bestselling biography of the Hollywood director Mike Nichols, one of America's most prolific and versatile creative figures, by the author of Pictures at a Revolution  and  Five Came Back . Born Igor Peschkowsky to a Jewish family in 1930s Berlin, Nichols immigrated to the United States as a child, where his incredible drive saw him rise through the social ranks; by 35 he lived in a New York City penthouse overlooking Central Park, with a Rolls Royce, a string of Arabian horses, and a circle of friends that included Richard Burton and Jackie Kennedy. Mark Harris draws on interviews with more than 250 of Nichols' contemporaries to tells this story of a complicated man and his tumultuous career.

Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer's Enduring Message to America by Keisha N. Blain

Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer's Enduring Message to America

By keisha n. blain.

✩ Nominated for the NAACP Image Award for an outstanding biography or autobiography

The historian and best-selling author Keisha N. Blain examines the life and work of the Black activist Fannie Lou Hamer, positioning her as a key political thinker alongside leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Rosa Parks.

Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser by Susan Bernofsky

Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser

By susan bernofsky.

The first English-language biography of Robert Walser, one of the great literary talents of the twentieth century. In Clairvoyant of the Small, Susan Bernofsky—his award-winning translator—offers a diligently researched and delicately written account of his life and work, setting him in the context of 20th century European history and modernist literature.

Queen of Our Times: The Life of Elizabeth II by Robert Hardman

Queen of Our Times: The Life of Elizabeth II

By robert hardman.

The Queen of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II, has been on the throne for 70 years, making her the world's longest-reigning monarch other than Louis XIV of France (1643-1715: he came to the throne aged 4). Lots of events are taking place in the UK to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee, including a number of new books about her life. We have an interview with royal biographer Robert Lacey on the best books about the Queen but it dates from a few years ago. Robert Hardman's Queen of Our Times came out this year and offers a detailed look at her life from birth. The book is readable, chatty almost, and a good corrective to anyone who has watched the Netflix drama The Crown , whose "questionable accuracy" Hardman points out.

Dostoevsky in Love: An Intimate Life

Dostoevsky in Love: An Intimate Life

Dostoevsky in Love: An Intimate Life by Alex Christofi tells the story of the great Russian novelist's life by brilliantly intertwining it with his own words, taken from where Dostoevsky's fiction is drawn from his own lived experience. And it was quite some life: amongst other ups and downs, Dostoevsky was nearly executed and spent four years in a Siberian labour camp. You can read more in our interview with Alex Christofi on the best Fyodor Dostoevsky books .

Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said by Timothy Brennan

Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said

By timothy brennan.

Places of Mind is a biography of Edward Said , the Palestinian intellectual who shot to prominence with his damning critique of how Westerners write about the East, Orientalism , in 1978. The biography is written by his student and friend Timothy Brennan.

The Van Gogh Sisters by Willem-Jan Verlinden

The Van Gogh Sisters

By willem-jan verlinden.

We've heard much about the crucial role that Theo van Gogh played in the life of his brother, Vincent. But Vincent also had three sisters who were a big influence on him. In fact, it was an argument with his eldest sister, Anna, that was the reason he left the Netherlands. This is their story.

Critical Lives: Hannah Arendt by Samantha Rose Hill

Critical Lives: Hannah Arendt

By samantha rose hill.

***🏆 A Five Books Book of the Year ***

“This book is brilliant. It’s written by Samantha Rose Hill, who must know as much as anyone about Hannah Arendt. She’s dived into Arendt’s surviving papers, notebooks, and even poetry, spending many hours in the archive. And what’s so great about this as a biography is that Hill has done something that biographers rarely do—she’s been highly selective in what she’s included. As a result, we don’t get the feeling of being overwhelmed by details of an individual life but rather get to understand what really mattered.” Read more...

The Best Philosophy Books of 2021

Nigel Warburton , Philosopher

Up from the Depths: Herman Melville, Lewis Mumford, and Rediscovery in Dark Times by Aaron Sachs

Up from the Depths: Herman Melville, Lewis Mumford, and Rediscovery in Dark Times

By aaron sachs.

“A biography about writing biography! Very meta, and very much in the interdisciplinary tradition of American Studies. In his gorgeous braid of cultural history, Cornell University professor Sachs entwines the lives and work of poet and fiction writer Herman Melville (1819-1891) and the philosopher and literary critic Lewis Mumford (1895-1990), illuminating their coextending concerns about their worlds in crisis. Sachs brilliantly provides the connective tissue between Melville and his biographer Mumford so that these writers seem to be in conversation with one another, both deeply affected by their dark times.” Read more...

Mr. B: George Balanchine’s Twentieth Century by Jennifer Homans

Mr. B: George Balanchine’s Twentieth Century

By jennifer homans.

“It’s a biography of a man who almost walks with the 20th century, so you get all that history. Balanchine was of Georgian heritage and grew up in Tsarist Russia. Early on, he was selected to go into the Imperial Ballet School, so he’s on that track. Then, the Russian Revolution happens and everything falls into turmoil on all fronts. There’s a lot of hunger, violence, and chaos…Balanchine eventually winds up in America, where he meets well-connected benefactors and cultural managers. They feel that American ballet hadn’t yet achieved the same level of institutional high standing as Europe. They have the ambition to rectify that and are keen to use people like Balanchine and others who had come over to the US. Eventually, Balanchine sets up the New York City Ballet Company, which, in effect, becomes the country’s national ballet.” Read more...

The Best Nonfiction Books: The 2023 Baillie Gifford Prize Shortlist

Frederick Studemann , Journalist

The Grimkés: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family by Kerri K. Greenidge

The Grimkés: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family

By kerri k. greenidge.

“Greenidge, a professor at Tufts University, brings her unique, perceptive eye to African American civil rights in the North. Sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimke have been exalted as brave heroines who defied antebellum Southern piety and headed northward to embrace abolition. Greenridge makes the powerful case that, in clinging to this mythology, a more troubling story is obscured. In the North, as the Grimke sisters lived comfortably and agitated for change, they enjoyed the financial benefits of their slaveholding family in South Carolina. Greenidge not only provides a revisionist history of the Grimke sisters, but she also extends the Grimke family story beyond the 19 th century.” Read more...

Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life by Clare Mac Cumhaill & Rachael Wiseman

Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life

By clare mac cumhaill & rachael wiseman.

The story of four mid-20th century philosophers based in Oxford—Elizabeth Anscombe, Iris Murdoch , Philippa Foot and Mary Midgley . With many men who typically dominated academic philosophy away fighting World War II, they were able to make their own mark, arguing for a greater place for metaphysics in philosophical discourse.

The Best Biographies of 2023: The National Book Critics Circle Shortlist , recommended by Elizabeth Taylor

The Best Biographies of 2023: The National Book Critics Circle Shortlist - G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century by Beverly Gage

G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century by Beverly Gage

The Best Biographies of 2023: The National Book Critics Circle Shortlist - The Grimkés: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family by Kerri K. Greenidge

The Grimkés: The Legacy of Slavery in an American Family by Kerri K. Greenidge

The Best Biographies of 2023: The National Book Critics Circle Shortlist - Mr. B: George Balanchine’s Twentieth Century by Jennifer Homans

Mr. B: George Balanchine’s Twentieth Century by Jennifer Homans

The Best Biographies of 2023: The National Book Critics Circle Shortlist - Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life by Clare Mac Cumhaill & Rachael Wiseman

Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life by Clare Mac Cumhaill & Rachael Wiseman

The Best Biographies of 2023: The National Book Critics Circle Shortlist - Up from the Depths: Herman Melville, Lewis Mumford, and Rediscovery in Dark Times by Aaron Sachs

Up from the Depths: Herman Melville, Lewis Mumford, and Rediscovery in Dark Times by Aaron Sachs

Talented biographers examine the interplay between individual qualities and greater social forces, explains Elizabeth Taylor —chair of the judges for the 2023 National Book Critics Circle award for biography. Here, she offers us an overview of their five-book shortlist, including a garlanded account of the life of J. Edgar Hoover and a group biography of post-war female philosophers.

Talented biographers examine the interplay between individual qualities and greater social forces, explains Elizabeth Taylor—chair of the judges for the 2023 National Book Critics Circle award for biography. Here, she offers us an overview of their five-book shortlist, including a garlanded account of the life of J. Edgar Hoover and a group biography of post-war female philosophers.

We ask experts to recommend the five best books in their subject and explain their selection in an interview.

This site has an archive of more than one thousand seven hundred interviews, or eight thousand book recommendations. We publish at least two new interviews per week.

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The best memoirs and biographies of 2022

Heartfelt memoirs from Richard E Grant and Viola Davis, childhood tales of religious dogma, and vivid insights into Agatha Christie and John Donne

The best books of 2022

C elebrity memoirs often follow the same trajectory: a difficult childhood followed by early professional failure, then dazzling success and redemption. But this year has yielded a handful of autobiographies from famous types determined to mix things up. Richard E Grant’s vivacious and heartfelt A Pocketful of Happiness (Gallery) recounts a year spent caring for his late wife, Joan Washington, who was diagnosed with lung cancer shortly before Christmas in 2020, and the “head-and-heart-exploding overwhelm” that followed. The book interweaves hospital appointments with memories of the couple’s courtship plus showbiz stories of Grant at the Golden Globes, or hijinks on the set of Star Wars. This juxtaposition of glamour and grief shouldn’t work, but it does.

Minnie Driver’s Managing Expectations (Manila) comprises spry and amusing autobiographical essays that detail pivotal moments in the actor’s life. These include her experience of becoming a mother, cutting off all her hair on a family holiday in France and the time her father sent her home to England from Barbados alone, aged 11, including a stopover at a Miami hotel, as punishment for being rude to his girlfriend (Driver got her revenge by buying up half the gift shop on her dad’s credit card). She also recalls the disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein bemoaning her lack of sex appeal, which she notes was rich from a man “whose shirts were always aggressively encrusted with egg/tuna fish/mayo”.

Diary Madly, Deeply The Alan Rickman Diaries Edited by Alan Taylor Canongate, £25

Alan Rickman’s Madly, Deeply (Canongate) diaries provide insight into the inner life of the late actor who, despite his many successes, frets over roles turned down and rails at the perceived ineptitude of script writers, directors and co-stars. He nonetheless keeps glittering company, hobnobbing with musicians, prime ministers and Hollywood megastars, and almost single-handedly keeps the tills ringing at the Ivy. And while he seethes at critics’ reviews of his own work, his assessments of less-than-perfect films and plays are so deliciously scathing, they deserve a book of their own.

Viola Davis

In Finding Me (Coronet), the actor Viola Davis gives a clear-eyed account of her deprived childhood and her rise to fame, along with the violence, abuse and racism she endured along the way. The book is not so much a triumphant tale of overcoming adversity as a howl of fury at the injustice of it all. Davis may now be able to survey her career from a place of Oscar-winning privilege, but she doesn’t hesitate in calling out her industry and its ingrained racial bias, which leads to white actors landing plum roles and “relegates [Black actors] to best friends, to strong, loudmouth, sassy lawyers and doctors”. In The Light We Carry (Viking), the follow-up to her bestselling memoir Becoming, Michelle Obama also touches on the impossible-to-meet expectations that dog anyone trying to make it in a world that sees them as different, or deficient. “I happen to be well acquainted with the burdens of representation and the double standards for excellence that steepen the hills so many of us are trying to climb,” she writes. “It remains a damning fact of life that we ask too much of those who are marginalised and too little of those who are not.”

Homelands: The History of a Friendship by Chitra Ramaswamy homelands-hardback-cover-9781838852665

Away from the world of global fame and its attendant scrutiny, the journalist Chitra Ramaswamy’s touching memoir Homelands (Canongate) documents the author’s friendship with 97-year-old Henry Wuga, who escaped Nazi persecution as a teenager and began a new life in Glasgow. Interwoven with Wuga’s recollections is Ramaswamy’s own family story – she is the daughter of Indian immigrant parents – through which she digs deep into matters of identity, belonging and the meaning of home. Similar themes are explored in Ira Mathur’s multilayered Love the Dark Days (Peepal Tree), which, set in India, Britain and the Caribbean, reads like a fictional family saga as it leaps back and forth in time. The book charts the lives of the author’s wealthy, dysfunctional forebears against a backdrop of patriarchal hegemony and a collapsing empire.

The Last Days (Ebury) by Ali Millar and Sins of My Father (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) by Lily Dunn each tell harrowing stories of families torn apart by religious dogma. Millar, who grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness on the Scottish borders, reflects on a childhood haunted by predictions of Armageddon and blighted by her eating disorder. As an adult she marries, within the church, a controlling man and has a baby, though at 30 she makes her escape and is “disfellowshipped”, meaning she is cut off for ever from her family. Meanwhile, Dunn recalls losing her father to a commune in India presided over by the cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, where disciples were encouraged to “live in love”, meaning they could engage in guilt-free sex. Dunn’s book is her attempt to pin down this charismatic, mercurial and unreliable figure and the ripple effects of his actions on those closest to him. In Matt Rowland Hill’s scabrously funny Original Sins (Chatto & Windus), it is the author who is the agent of chaos. The son of evangelical Christians, Hill shoots heroin at the funeral of a friend who died from an overdose, and tries to score drugs on a visit to Bethlehem. Were his account a novel, you might accuse it of being too far-fetched.

In Kit de Waal’s first autobiographical work, Without Warning and Only Sometimes (Tinder Press), the author recalls how she and her four siblings would go to bed hungry while their father blew his earnings on a new suit, and her mother would work off her rage by collecting empty milk bottles and throwing them at a wall in the back yard. After a bout of depression in her teens, De Waal eventually found comfort and escape in literature. Her book is a brilliant evocation of the times in which she lived, when children learned to make their own entertainment and adults didn’t talk about their feelings, and a funny and tender portrait of a complicated family.

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The Crane Wife b y CJ Hauser

The Crane Wife (Viking), by the American author CJ Hauser, began life as a confessional essay about the time she travelled to the gulf coast of Texas to study whooping cranes 10 days after breaking off her engagement. Published in the Paris Review, the essay blew up online, prompting Hauser to expand her thoughts on love and relationships into this thoughtful and fitfully funny book. Across 17 confessional essays, we find her furtively spreading her grandparents’ ashes at their old house in Martha’s Vineyard, contemplating breast reduction surgery and reflecting on her relationships with a high-school boyfriend and a divorcee who is clearly still in love with his ex.

Finally, some excellent biographies. Agatha Christie: A Very Elusive Woman (Hodder & Stoughton) by Lucy Worsley is a riveting portrait of the queen of crime viewed through a feminist lens. The book acknowledges Christie’s flaws, most notably in her views on race, while portraying her as ahead of her time in putting women at the centre of her stories and showing how older women “have more to offer the world than meets the eye”. Super-Infinite (Faber), winner of this year’s Baillie Gifford prize, is a biography of the 17th-century preacher and poet John Donne by Katherine Rundell, the children’s novelist and Renaissance scholar. Ten years in the writing, the book approaches its subject with wit and vivacity, bringing to life Donne’s inner world through his verse.

The Escape Artist- The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz

Jonathan Freedland’s The Escape Artist (John Murray) is a remarkable account of the life of Rudolf Vrba, a prisoner at Auschwitz who was put to work in “Kanada”, a store of belongings removed from inmates which revealed that the line fed to them was a lie: they were not there to be resettled but murdered. Vrba and his friend Fred Wetzler pledged to escape and tell the world about the Nazis’ industrialised murder, hiding beneath a woodpile for three days before slipping through the fence to freedom. The horror of this story lies not just in its account of “cold-blooded extermination” but in the slowness of authorities to react to the Vrba-Wetzler report, which laid out the workings of Auschwitz, complete with maps showing the chambers. Freedland recalls the words of the French-Jewish philosopher Raymond Aron, who, when asked about the Holocaust, said: “I knew, but I didn’t believe it. And because I didn’t believe it, I didn’t know.”

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Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator. Full review >


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The 14 fall 2023 pop culture memoirs and biographies we're most excited to read

From Barbra to Peloton instructors, there's no shortage of great pop culture reads this fall.

Here at EW, we're pop culture junkies.

If there's a behind-the-scenes story or a personal hot take from a celeb, we are here for it. Chances are, if you're reading this you are too. And this fall, there is no shortage of engrossing, juicy new memoirs and biographies shedding light on all corners of the entertainment industry.

From Old Hollywood (Charlie Chaplin, Lena Horne, Greta Grabo) to the music industry (Barbra Streisand, Britney Spears, Geddy Lee) to the virtual gym (Cody Rigsby), pop culture figures across the gamut are telling their stories (or receiving new evaluation) in a slew of new titles hitting shelves this season.

Here are the 14 pop culture memoirs and biographies we're most excited about in fall 2023.

Ideal Beauty: The Life and Times of Greta Garbo by Lois W. Banner

Historian and biographer Lois Banner ( Marilyn: The Passion and The Paradox ) takes one of Hollywood's most enigmatic figures as her latest subject. Drawing on over a decade of research in archives across ​​Sweden, Germany, France, and the United States, Banner examines the shadowy personal life of the woman most famous for stating, "I want to be alone." While Garbo captivated audiences with her beauty and mysterious persona, this book offers an insightful portrait of her private life, interrogating her feminism, sexuality, mental health, and more. Garbo rose to fame on the silent screen, but this new biography gives voice to her life in unparalleled fashion. (Sept. 5) — Maureen Lee Lenker

XOXO, Cody by Cody Rigsby

With XOXO Cody , the beloved Peloton instructor shows he has range. His memoir aims to make readers laugh and tear up in equal measure. He delivers his hot takes and humorous advice about living life right while also diving into the difficult moments in his life that shaped the adult he is. As he delves into growing up gay and his issues with his parents, Rigsby provides an opportunity for folks to get to know him better. XOXO Cody is inspiring and raw, but also a great reminder that laughing our way through something is a solid option. (Sept. 12) — Alamin Yohannes

Leslie F*cking Jones by Leslie Jones

Saturday Night Live alum Leslie Jones is known for her disarming frankness, and in her new memoir, Leslie F*cking Jones , the comic invites readers even deeper inside her brutally honest thoughts. Jones' sense of humor is intact even as she opens up about her experiences with childhood sexual abuse, abortion, and family tragedy, as well as the racism and sexism she's fought in stand-up comedy and from online trolls who made her life hell after she was cast in the women-led Ghostbusters . SNL fans will be especially interested in her tales from the show, including who she did and did not get along with, and hilarious details of an unaired sketch about killing Whoopi Goldberg . (Sept. 19) —Jillian Sederholm

Sondheim: His Life, His Shows, His Legacy by Stephen M. Silverman

Stephen Sondheim may have died in 2021, but his spirit lives on among the Broadway faithful. This month alone marks the premiere of the third Sondheim revival since his passing, as well as the premiere of Here We Are , a posthumous presentation of the Luis Buñuel-inspired musical he was working on until the end. Somewhere between a biography and a coffee-table book, Stephen M. Silverman's new title makes a perfect companion to our current age of Sondheim remembrance. The master of the modern musical is chronicled with textual highlights of his life story (with Sondheim's sardonic wit on display in frequent direct quotes), but also helpfully accompanied by many, many photos of his legendary Broadway career — and the actors, artists, and celebrities he crossed paths with along the way. (Sept. 19) — Christian Holub

Thicker Than Water by Kerry Washington

In her memoir, Kerry Washington bares it all. After a long-kept family secret is revealed, the actress and producer looks back at her life to share what she has overcome and learned over the years. From past traumas to wisdom she's received through her roles, Washington is bringing fans into her world like never before. Through these stories, she tells readers of her fight to redevelop her own understanding of family as she started her own. Thicker Than Water is a poignant and captivating exploration of how she became the woman she is today. (Sept. 26) — A.Y.

Worthy by Jada Pinkett Smith

Though Jada Pinkett Smith has spent the last couple of years peeling back the layers on Red Table Talk , she still feels like people misunderstand her. In Worthy, she attempts to tell her story, her way. From Baltimore to Hollywood, and through suicidal ideation to self-acceptance and healing, Pinkett Smith recounts her journey to reflection and healing. (Oct. 4) — Yolanda Machado

Thank You: Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin by Sly Stone

In the late '60s, Sly Stone was the embodiment of cool, an impossibly stylish funk master and preternatural hitmaker. He was also a man who carted around a violin case filled with cocaine wherever he'd go. If his drug use could conjure magic in the studio, it also destroyed the Sly and the Family Stone frontman's relationships, wiped out his earnings, and made him a recluse. Now 80 years old and sober, the living legend is finally releasing his memoir, a cautionary tale and the story of one of rock's true great visionaries. (Oct. 17) — Jason Lamphier

The Woman in Me by Britney Spears

Britney Spears is finally ready to tell her story the way she's never been able to before. One of the world's biggest and most misunderstood pop icons is releasing her memoir, The Woman In Me , a little over two years after revealing harrowing details in open court about how her life wasn't her own under the conservatorship of her father for over 13 years. Now that the court-ordered conservatorship has been dissolved, Spears' chronicles her "brave and astonishingly moving story about freedom, fame, motherhood, survival, faith, and hope," allowing her fans to finally see the woman behind the music. (Oct. 24) — Sydney Bucksbaum

Being Henry: The Fonz...and Beyond by Henry Winkler

The guy who played one of the coolest characters ever on-screen is also known as one of the nicest ever off it. So how exactly did mild mannered Henry Winkler transform himself into the Fonz? The Emmy-winning actor takes us inside his original Happy Days audition as part of a memoir that goes through Winkler's entire career — from The Lords of Flatbush through Barry . And yes, he explains in full detail why in the world he jumped that damn shark. (Oct. 31) —Dalton Ross

Lena Horne: Goddess Reclaimed by Donald Bogle

Donald Bogle, revered historian of Black Hollywood, tackles one of the most iconic Black Golden Age stars — Lena Horne. Using a combination of interviews, press accounts, studio archives, and historical research, Bogle offers up a lush portrait of Horne, from her professional triumphs and bitter disappointments to her activism and role in breaking barriers for Black performers and Black women throughout her career. Bogle tells Horne's story accompanied by stunning photographs in this coffee table-style book that allows for never-before-published images of Horne to shine. (Oct. 31) — M.L.L.

Charlie Chaplin vs. America: When Art, Sex, and Politics Collided by Scott Eyman

While Charlie Chaplin's life has been chronicled many times, biographer Scott Eyman ( John Wayne: The Life and Legend; Cary Grant: A Brilliant Disguise ) drills down on Chaplin's fall from grace and exile from America in the back half of the Little Tramp's career. In the wake of the Red Scare and Chaplin's own sexual scandals, he was denied re-entry into the United States in 1952 following a trip to Europe. Eyman examines the events leading to this exile, the political turmoil at play, and Chaplin's years making his final two films in London. It's both a fascinating historical study and a cautionary tale about the perils of hysteria and extremism pervading government practices. (Oct. 31) — M.L.L.

My Name Is Barbra by Barbra Streisand

For years now, Barbra Streisand has spoken of her long-gestating memoir, and it's finally here. In her inimitable way, Streisand tells the story of her life, from her childhood in Brooklyn to her legendary Broadway breakout in Funny Girl to her success in Hollywood as an actress and director. Full of her signature frankness and dry humor, the memoir gives fans an unprecedented look at Streisand's life, from her personal struggles to her professional triumphs, all with a reminder that through the decades, nobody was going to rain on her parade. (Nov. 7) — M.L.L.

My Effin' Life by Geddy Lee

Living in the limelight may be the universal dream for some, but for Rush frontman Geddy Lee, it's simply another chapter in his effin' excellent life. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer — who played bass, keyboards, and sang on the progressive rock band's biggest hits — holds nothing back in his highly-anticipated memoir. From being named after his grandfather who was murdered during the Holocaust to sharing intimate tales of life on the road with bandmates Alex Lifeson and the late Neil Peart, Lee puts aside the alienation and gets on with the fascination surrounding his extraordinary life in an honest, hilarious, and heartfelt way all his own. (Nov. 14) — Emlyn Travis

The Path to Paradise: A Francis Ford Coppola Story by Sam Wasson

If he had only made The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola would already be remembered as one of the most successful American directors of all time. But his ambitions always went far beyond that, and the filmmaker promises he has one more masterpiece on the way in the form of the mysterious utopian magnum opus Megalopolis . This new book by Sam Wasson (who already proved himself one of the great modern chroniclers of the New Hollywood era with the Chinatown making-of story The Big Goodbye ) chronicles the road to heaven Coppola trod after descending to Hell with Apocalypse Now. The Vietnam War epic is already the subject of much reporting, but Wasson boasts unprecedented access to Coppola's personal archive — as well as a first-hand look at the making of a movie we can't wait to see. (Nov. 28) — C.H.

Related content:

  • RuPaul gets emotional announcing new memoir about his life before Drag Race : 'I reveal so much of myself'
  • Patrick Stewart's 'intense' theater training led to him having a tantrum on Star Trek set
  • David Letterman auditioned for Airplane! against his better judgment: 'I can't act'

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Spring 2024 Adult Preview: Memoirs & Biographies

Among the season’s most anticipated biographies and memoirs are experimental works from familiar names, personal histories that reframe the American past, and debut memoirs from Christine Blasey Ford, Leslie Jamison, and RuPaul.

All the Worst Humans: How I Made News for Dictators, Tycoons, and Politicians

Phil Elwood. Holt, June 25 ($28.99, ISBN 978-1-250-32157-2)

Elwood, a former PR professional in Washington, D.C., pulls back the curtain on his work for the Qatari government, Muammar Gaddafi, and other clients.

Alphabetical Diaries

Sheila Heti. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Feb. 6 ($27, ISBN 978-0-374-61078-4)

Heti follows up Pure Colour with a formal experiment in which she rearranges sentences from 10 years’ worth of personal journal entries in alphabetical order.

Burn Book: A Tech Love Story

Kara Swisher. Simon & Schuster, Feb. 27 ($30, ISBN 978-1-982163-89-1)

Swisher recounts her career reporting on the tech industry, from covering the rise of Silicon Valley in the early 1990s to sit-downs with Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and other titans who’ve shaped the 21st century, for better and worse.

The House of Hidden Meanings: A Memoir

RuPaul. Dey Street, Mar. 5 ($29.99, ISBN 978-0-06-326390-1)

The trailblazing drag performer and television host chronicles his turbulent San Diego, Calif., childhood, early days in the Atlanta and New York City punk scenes, and unlikely ascent to stardom.

Night Flyer: Harriet Tubman and the Faith Dreams of a Free People

Tiya Miles. Penguin Press, June 18 ($28, ISBN 978-0-593-49116-4)

National Book Award winner Miles seeks to render the larger-than-life abolitionist on a human scale by focusing on Tubman’s relationships with the natural world and other enslaved women.

Not Your China Doll: The Wild and Shimmering Life of Anna May Wong

Katie Gee Salisbury. Dutton, Mar. 12 ($32, ISBN 978-0-593-18398-4)

Salisbury debuts with a biography of actor Wong, who in the 1920s became the first Asian American star of a major motion picture.

One Way Back: A Memoir

Christine Blasey Ford. St. Martin’s, Mar. 19 ($29, ISBN 978-1-250-28965-0)

Blasey Ford documents her life before, during, and after she accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault at his 2018 Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

What Have We Here? Portraits of a Life

Billy Dee Williams. Knopf, Feb. 13 ($32, ISBN 978-0-593-31860-7)

The Star Wars star chronicles his Harlem childhood, early theater career, and onscreen achievements.

Splinters: Another Kind of Love Story

Leslie Jamison. Little, Brown, Feb. 20 ($29, ISBN 978-0-316-37488-0)

For her debut memoir, the author of The Empathy Exams takes a microscope to her fraying marriage, comparing it to her parents’ own bond and examining her feelings about motherhood in the process.

Whiskey Tender: A Memoir

Deborah Taffa. Harper, Feb. 27 ($32, ISBN 978-0-06-328851-5)

Taffa interweaves an account of growing up on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico in the 1970s and ’80s with reflections on major events in the history of Native relations with America’s European settlers and their descendants.

Memoirs & Biographies longlist

Abrams Press

Cactus Country: A Boyhood Memoir by Zoë Bossiere (Apr. 17, $27, ISBN 978-1-4197-7318-1) recounts how the author began living as a boy after moving with their family to an Arizona trailer park as an 11-year-old, before arriving at a more complicated gender identity as they grew older.

Joyce Carol Oates: Letters to a Biographer by Joyce Carol Oates, edited by Greg Johnson (Mar. 5, $28.95, ISBN 978-1-63614-116-9), collects Oates’s correspondence with writer Johnson, covering the details of her writing practice, private travels, and musings on art and culture.

Slow Noodles: A Cambodian Memoir of Love, Loss, and Family Recipes by Chantha Nguon (Feb. 20, $29, ISBN 978-1-64375-349-2) weaves more than 20 recipes into Nguon’s account of her family’s experiences during the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s.

The Moment: Thoughts on the Race Reckoning That Wasn’t and How We All Can Move Forward Now by Bakari Sellers (Apr. 23, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-06-308502-2). The CNN commentator and former South Carolina state representative recounts his reaction to the 2020 police killing of George Floyd and reflects on subjects from voting rights to policing.

The Editor: How Publishing Legend Judith Jones Shaped Culture in America by Sara B. Franklin (May 28, $30, ISBN 978-1- 982134-34-1). In the first biography of Jones, Franklin examines the Knopf editor’s work on such classics as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and The Art of French Cooking , pulling from interviews with her colleagues and previously unseen personal papers.

Dancing on the Edge: A Journey of Living, Loving, and Tumbling Through Hollywood by Russ Tamblyn and Sarah Tomlinson (Apr. 9, $28.99, ISBN 979-8-212-27331-2). Tamblyn discusses his life as a teen actor in the 1950s and ’60s, sharing anecdotes about his friendship with Neil Young, his 1958 Academy Award nomination, and the breakdown of his marriage.

I Will Show You How It Was: The Story of Wartime Kyiv by Illia Ponomarenko (May 7, $28.99, ISBN 978-1-63973-387-3) sees the Ukrainian war correspondent providing a firsthand account of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Accordion Eulogies: A Memoir of Music, Migration, and Mexico by Noé Álvarez (May 28, $26, ISBN 978-1-64622-089-2). In his second memoir, Álvarez writes of traversing the U.S. with his accordion in an attempt to better understand his late Mexican grandfather, who was also an accordion player.


Thunder Song: Essays by Sasha taqwsˇəblu LaPointe (Mar. 5, $27, ISBN 978-1-64009-635-6) delves into the author’s Indigenous heritage, interweaving autobiography with anthropological research and reflections on art and music.

Outofshapeworthlessloser: A Memoir of Figure Skating, F*cking Up, and Figuring It Out by Gracie Gold (Feb. 6, $28.99, ISBN 978-0-593-44404-7). 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Gold reveals the private struggles with bulimia and suicidal ideation that accompanied her ascent in the public eye.

Traveling: On the Path of Joni Mitchell by Ann Powers (May 14, $35, ISBN 978-0-06-246372-2). NPR music critic Powers delivers a wide-ranging volume on the singer-songwriter that combines the author’s reflections and interviews with Mitchell’s contemporaries.

The Yankee Way: The Untold Inside Story of the Brian Cashman Era by Andy Martino (May 21, $30, ISBN 978-0-385-54999-8) draws from two years’ worth of interviews with Yankees general manager Cashman to deliver an inside look at the team’s 1998 and 2000 World Series victories, ego clashes, and more.

Rebel Girl: My Life as a Feminist Punk by Kathleen Hanna (May 14, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-06-282523-0). The Bikini Kill frontwoman reflects on her adolescence in Washington State, the formation of the band, and her friendships with famous musicians including Kurt Cobain and Joan Jett.

A Darker Shade of Blue: A Police Officer’s Memoir by Keith Merith (Mar. 26, $21.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-77041-679-6) chronicles the author’s years as a Black man working for Canada’s York Regional Police and shares strategies for police reform.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Candy Darling: Dreamer, Icon, Superstar by Cynthia Carr (Mar. 19, $30, ISBN 978-1-250-06635-0). In the first full biography of Warhol superstar Darling, Carr documents the artist’s Long Island childhood, celebrity connections, and untimely death in 1974.

Never Say You’ve Had a Lucky Life: Especially If You’ve Had a Lucky Life by Joseph Epstein (Apr. 16, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-66800-963-5). The former American Scholar editor discusses his early life in Chicago, U.S. Army service, and exploits in New York City’s literary scene.

Wild Life: Finding My Purpose in an Untamed World by Rae Wynn-Grant (Apr. 2, $28, ISBN 978-1-63893-040-2) traces Grant’s trajectory from her childhood in the San Francisco Bay Area to becoming a prominent ecologist, cataloging the trials and triumphs of being a Black woman scientist.

Grand Central

Make It Count: My Fight to Become the First Transgender Olympic Runner by CeCé Telfer (June 18, $30, ISBN 978-1-5387-5624-9). Jamaica-born athlete Telfer discusses her coming-of-age, her coming out, and her path to becoming the first openly trans woman to win an NCAA championship.

Brother. Do. You. Love. Me. by Manni Coe, illus. by Reuben Coe (May 7, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-77840-144-2), focuses on Manni’s removal of his brother, Reuben, who has Down syndrome, from a dreary English care home so the two could live together in a farm cottage.

My Mama, Cass: A Memoir by Owen Elliot-Kugell (May 7, $30, ISBN 978-0-306-83064-8) details the artistic and personal achievements of the author’s mother, musician Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas.

Radiant: The Life and Line of Keith Haring by Brad Gooch (Mar. 5, $37.50, ISBN 978-0-06-269826-1). Biographer Gooch draws on new research from the late artist’s archives to delve into Haring’s life, work, and 1980s New York City milieu.

Amphibious Soul: Finding the Wild in a Tame World by Craig Foster (Apr. 17, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-06-328902-4). The star and subject of the documentary My Octopus Teacher discusses his return to the Cape of Good Hope, where he was born, to conduct oceanic research.

Dear Mom and Dad: A Letter About Family, Memory, and the America We Once Knew by Patti Davis (Feb. 6, $21.99, ISBN 978-1-324-09348-0) mixes anecdotes from Davis’s personal life with reflections on the thorny legacies of her parents, Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

On a Move: Philadelphia’s Notorious Bombing and a Native Son’s Lifelong Battle for Justice by Mike Africa Jr. (July 9, $32.50, ISBN 978-0-06-331887-8). Africa, whose parents were members of the Black liberation group MOVE, writes of being born in jail and being raised by his grandmother, and recounts the 1985 bombing of his parents’ commune by Philadelphia police.

Gri ef Is for People by Sloane Crosley (Feb. 27, $27, ISBN 978-0-374-60984-9). The essayist portrays her grief and confusion after her best friend died by suicide.

Melville House

Death Row Welcomes You: Visiting Hours in the Shadow of the Execution Chamber by Steven Hale (Mar. 19, $28.99, ISBN 978-1-61219-928-3). Journalist Hale collects his reporting on Tennessee’s death row inmates after the state resumed executions in 2018, including his experiences befriending some of the prisoners.

Chop Fry Watch Learn: Fu Pei-mei and the Making of Modern Chinese Food by Michelle T. King (May 14, $29.99, ISBN 978-1-324-02128-5) braids together a biography of Taiwanese chef Fu, who helped popularize Chinese cooking with her television appearances in the mid-20th century, and stories from King’s own childhood in a food-centric Chinese American household.

The Age of Magical Overthinking: Notes on Modern Irrationality by Amanda Montell (Apr. 9, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-66800-797-6) follows up Montell’s Cultish with a blend of memoir and cultural criticism that takes aim at the information age’s assistance of distorted thinking.

Beckett’s Children: A Literary Memoir by Michael Coffey (July 30, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-68219-608-3). The former co-editorial director of PW draws on his experiences as an adoptee and a father to examine the works of Samuel Beckett and poet Susan Howe, in light of unsubstantiated rumors that Beckett was her father.

Nothing Ever Just Disappears: Seven Hidden Queer Histories by Diarmuid Hester (Feb. 6, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-63936-555-5) delves into lesser-known periods in the lives of notable queer artists, including James Baldwin, Josephine Baker, E.M. Forster, and Derek Jarman.

Penn State Univ.

With Darkness Came Stars by Audrey Flack (Feb. 27, $37.50, ISBN 978-0-271-09674-2) contains the groundbreaking photorealistic painter’s musings on her contemporaries, art practice, legacy, and motherhood.


In True Face: A Woman’s Life in the CIA, Unmasked by Jonna Mendez (Mar. 5, $30, ISBN 978-1-5417-0312-4) follows the author’s career arc from secretary to spy, recounting some of her most treacherous tours of duty and culminating in her promotion to the CIA’s chief of disguise.

Random House

How to Make Herself Agreeable to Everyone by Cameron Russell (Mar. 19, $29, ISBN 978-0-593-59548-0). The supermodel recounts her entry into the modeling industry at 16, subsequent disillusionment, and eventual resolution to organize for labor rights with her fellow models.

Feh by Shalom Auslander (July 23, $29, ISBN 978-0-7352-1326-5). The novelist delivers his first work of nonfiction since 2007’s Foreskin’s Lament , a memoir about his struggle to shake off generational guilt.

Double Click: Twin Photographers in the Golden Age of Magazines by Carol Kino (Mar. 5, $29, ISBN 978-1-9821-1304-9). This dual biography covers the lives and careers of Frances and Kathryn McLaughlin, twin New York City magazine photographers in the 1930s and ’40s who acquired success before women were nudged back toward domestic duties in the ’50s.

Seven Stories

Breaking the Curse: A Memoir About Trauma, Healing, and Italian Witchcraft by Alex Difrancesco (June 4, $18.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-64421-384-1) swirls together self-help and memoir as the author reflects on the ways alternate spirituality helped bring them peace after addiction and transphobic attacks.

St. Martin’s

Rise of a Killah by Ghostface Killah (May 14, $35, ISBN 978-1-250-27427-4) takes an illustrated look at the life of the rapper and Wu-Tang Clan cofounder.

The Story Game by Shze-Hui Tjoa (May 21, $17.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-1-959030-75-1). Singaporean writer Tjoa excavates memories lost to PTSD in this memoir of her childhood that’s structured as a mystery.

Union Square

Inconceivable: Super Sperm Donors, Off-the-Grid Insemination, and Unconventional Family Planning by Valerie Bauman (Apr. 16, $27.99, ISBN 978-1-4549-5143-8) describes the author’s plunge into an underground community of off-book sperm donors as she sought to become a single mother.

Ghosted: An American Story by Nancy French (Apr. 16, $29.99, ISBN 978-0-310-36744-4). French delivers a memoir about her difficult childhood in Appalachia, which she escaped by marrying a stranger and moving to New York City, where she started ghostwriting memoirs for conservative politicians.

This article has been updated with further information.

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Times of San Diego

Times of San Diego

Local News and Opinion for San Diego

MarketInk: PR Pro John Freeman Expands Business with ‘Legacy Book’ Biographies

Rick Griffin

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John Freeman

Longtime San Diego public relations consultant John Freeman, a former sports and media journalist with the San Diego Union-Tribune, has ventured into writing, editing and publishing biographies, which he calls “legacy books.”

Since 2019, Freeman, a San Diego native and current Mission Hills resident, has produced 12 such books on notable San Diegans that are written as first-person narratives. The books are among the services he provides as part of Point PR Communications , Freeman’s PR consultancy.

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“I’ve spent much of my professional life interviewing and writing about interesting people who enjoy talking about their lives,” Freeman, 72, told Times of San Diego. “They talk and I listen, and after a process of gently shaping the narrative, the result is lively, insightful book of memories that they’re proud to give as family legacy gifts to family members and friends.”

Freeman said he charges a negotiable monthly fee, as the writing process varies from two to six months. The completed memoirs are published on Amazon in either soft- or hard-cover. Then, Freeman’s clients order their preferred quantity with the bookselling giant.

“The stories aren’t only about their business successes, but more about their personal triumphs, setbacks and challenges,” said Freeman. “In short,  they’re heartfelt reflections on their well-lived lives.”

Freeman’s first legacy book was “Hopes and Dreams” with Frank Hope, noted architect of the original San Diego Stadium, and his wife Barbara.

Legacy book

Additional book titles and profile subjects have included: “Ted Talks” with San Diego sports broadcaster Ted Leitner; “Down Deep” with Charlie MacVean, who skippered the submarine U.S.S. Seawolf during perilous Cold War missions; “A Velvet Gavel” with San Diego’s Lawrence Irving, a highly-respected federal jurist and mediator who led the record-setting $7.2 billion Enron settlement; “House Calls,” a collection of true-life ER tales by Dr. Gresham Bayne, considered as the “godfather of home-care medicine.”

A 1969 graduate of Point Loma High School, Freeman also graduated from the University of Arizona. His early career included publishing and editing jobs with the New York Yankees and National Basketball Association, before returning to San Diego in the mid-1980s.

He wrote for the San Diego Tribune (1984-92), followed by the merged San Diego Union-Tribune (1992-97). In recent years, he has worked in marketing communication roles in the wind energy and luxury yachting industries (2001-2012) and with the University of San Diego Extension (2013-2015). He founded Point PR in 2016.

His late father, Don Freeman, spent 55 years at The San Diego Union-Tribune as a popular columnist.

“Like my father did, I get a kick out of talking to people about their lives,” Freeman said, noting that his subjects are typically in their 50s, 60 and 70s. “By then, they’ve achieved some success and they’re more than willing to leave a lasting legacy.”

Former KPBS GM Tom Karlo Hands Off CapRadio Rescue Duties

Tom Karlo, a former general manager of KPBS who ended his retirement last year to rescue financially troubled CapRadio , is leaving now that the Sacramento-based National Public Radio affiliate has a “stronger foundation.”

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Last week, the station announced that Karlo will step down as interim president and general manager at the end of February and serve as a consultant and special advisor to new interim president and general manager Frank Maranzino, the station’s director of technology. The announcement was made following an emergency board of directors meeting held Feb. 15.

“This moment is bittersweet for me. I will serve as a consultant for a couple of months to help Frank with the transition,” Karlo told Times of San Diego. “It’s a good time to hand off leadership duties and look ahead to my return to retirement.”

Karlo spent his entire 47-year career at KPBS, San Diego’s public broadcasting TV and radio station headquartered at San Diego State University, including the last 12 years as general manager. He retired in December 2020.

However, in August 2023, Karlo came out of retirement at the urging of Sacramento State President Luke Wood, who previously worked at SDSU with Karlo.

“I felt compelled because of my good friend Luke Wood. Also, if CapRadio went under, it would be a serious loss for Northern California,” Karlo said. “I was willing to do my part and step in as a strong supporter of public media.”

Capital Public Radio, as it is officially known, operates two NPR-affiliated radio stations, including news-talk KXJZ-FM (90.9) and jazz-and-classical music KXPR-FM (88.9). CapRadio also operates North State Public Radio, two stations owned by Chico State.

In recent months, Karlo has overseen layoffs and navigated the aftermath of a devastating audit detailing years of financial mismanagement by the previous leadership. Following the audit’s release, Sac State officials announced the university would oversee CapRadio finances.

In public statements, Wood has credited Karlo with preventing financial ruin for the radio operation that is licensed to Sac State, which also is an underwriter.

“Under Tom’s guidance, the station tackled significant challenges and has emerged on a much stronger foundation,” Wood said in a statement. “Tom worked tirelessly to stabilize operations and rally community support during a difficult time. Listenership is up, donations are up, our contract with NPR is now secured through 2028. He’s helped pave the way for rightsizing the budget. Ten years from now, when we look back and CapRadio is still going strong, it will be because of Tom Karlo’s time as GM at CapRadio.”

According to Karlo, “CapRadio is in a much better place than it was six months ago, but there is a long road ahead for the organization, which is still in a precarious financial position that came with ambitious expansion plans. It will take a couple more years to figure out how to handle a current debt that came with two expensive leases of Downtown Sacramento facilities that are still unoccupied.

“Overall, we’ve made good progress. The staff was reduced by 40 percent and we’ve implemented efficiencies and automation that increased local news service. Also, there have been significant increases in membership, car donation and contributions from major donors. Plus, audience growth is up 20 percent the last few months.”

Karlo said he expects the CapRadio board to begin later this year a nationwide search for a new president-GM. “The search will happen when the severe debt problem is stabilized,” he said. “I am grateful to President Wood and Sacramento State for all of their support, because CapRadio would not have a future without them. Personally, I’m eager for my own return to retirement life.”

Health Care Communicators Accepting Entries for Awards

The Health Care Communicators of Southern California , a professional networking group, is accepting entries for its 2024 Finest Awards program that recognizes excellence in healthcare marketing, advertising and communications for work completed between Jan. 1, 2023 and Dec. 31, 2023. Deadline for entries is Feb. 26. Entry cost is $125 for members and $150 for nonmembers.

Award categories include public relations campaigns, advertising, digital marketing, multi-media, writing, publications, collateral and design, special events, analytics and “off-the-wall.” Awards will be presented at a luncheon on Friday, May 17 at the El Adobe de Capistrano restaurant, 31891 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

HCCSC also is accepting nominations for its annual Communicator of the Year award. The COTY award is open to all professionals at any level who works in a marketing communication capacity in healthcare or other health-related fields in Southern California. This includes professionals from public relations, marketing, advertising, healthcare or media professions. Eligible nominees have consistently demonstrated excellence in healthcare communication through service to their organization and-or to the healthcare industry as a whole. There is no entry fee for COTY nominations.

For more information on HCCSC, visit .

San Diego AMA Hosts ‘Branding in the Age of AI’

The American Marketing Association’s San Diego chapter will host “Branding in the Age of AI,” a networking and educational program featuring a panel discussing the intersection of artificial intelligence and branding from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22, at Downtown Works, 550 West B St., 4th Floor in downtown San Diego.

Panelists will include Alexandra Watkins, founder of Eat My Words, a Point Loma-based marketing naming firm, and author of “Hello, My Name is Awesome, How To Create Brand Names That Stick;” Mike Matamala, San Diego digital marketing expert and creative director with Enlyte and AstroBrand Media; Bobby Buchanan, founder and creative director, Buchanan Brand + Design of San Diego. The moderator will be Tom McFadden, president of Jacob Tyler , a San Diego brand and marketing agency.

The public is invited to attend. Cost to attend is $30 for members and $40 for nonmembers. Parking is not included. For more information, send an email to  [email protected]  or visit .

Rick Griffin  is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.

11 Famous Black Inventors Who Changed Your Life

From Madam C.J. Walker’s hair care products Mark Dean’s computer innovations, the creations from these Black inventors continue to impact everyday life.

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In 1821, Thomas L. Jennings, who was emancipated from slavery, became the first Black inventor to be granted a U.S. patent. He opened the door for many other African Americans inventors—like Madam C.J. Walker , Frederick McKinley Jones , Patricia Bath , and Mark Dean —to similarly make their marks.

These 11 famous Black inventors developed ingenious products, machinery, and technology that continues to impact everyday life.

Keep Reading: How Lonnie Johnson Invented the Super Soaker • These Black Doctors and Nurses Broke New Ground in Health Care

Thomas L. Jennings

a man in a suit sits and looks forward

The first African American U.S. patent recipient, Thomas L. Jennings was working as a tailor and businessman in New York City when he invented a process for dry-cleaning delicate clothing known as “dry-scouring.” Jennings applied for a patent in 1820 and received his history-making approval the following year. With the money he earned from his invention, the formerly enslaved person donated to abolitionist causes and even reportedly freed his still-enslaved family members.

Sarah Boone

sarah boone posing in dress and with hand on her hip

In 1892, Sarah Boone patented a design improvement to Elijah McCoy ’s ironing board. The North Carolina native wrote in her application that the purpose of her invention was “to produce a cheap, simple, convenient, and highly effective device, particularly adapted to be used in ironing the sleeves and bodies of ladies’ garments.”

Alexander Miles

alexander miles looks to the left, he wears a suit jacket, collared shirt and tie with a large full beard

Anyone who’s ridden modern elevators has Alexander Miles to thank for the stair alternative’s automatic doors. Prior to his design’s 1867 patent, riders had to manually open and close two sets of doors when entering and exiting elevator cars. If a passenger happened to forget to close one of the doors, subsequent elevator riders risked a potentially fatal fall down the elevator shaft. Because, as the adage goes, necessity is the mother of invention, Miles created a mechanism that forced both elevator doors to close simultaneously, thus preventing dangerous accidents.

Elijah McCoy

elijah mccoy looks at the camera, he wears a jacket over a collared shirt and tie and has a full beard

Of the 57 patents Elijah McCoy —reportedly the namesake for the popular, complimentary phrase “the real McCoy”—received over his lifetime, the portable ironing board might be one of the most timeless. As the story goes, having to iron on uneven surfaces frustrated his wife, Mary Eleanor Delaney, and so he created the ironing board to make her life a little easier. McCoy received the patent for this particular creation in May 1874. He is also the man behind another major invention beloved by homeowners: the lawn sprinkler.

Read More about Elijah McCoy

Madam C.J. Walker

madam cj walker sits in the driver seat of an early car with the top down, a woman sits in the passenger seat, both women wear hats

Philanthropist and entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker was born to formerly enslaved sharecroppers and orphaned at just 7 years old. After later suffering hair loss from a scalp condition, Walker invented an innovative line of Black hair care products in 1905 that led to her distinction as one of America’s first self-made millionaires. Her highly successful cosmetics brand is still around today.

Read More about Madam C.J. Walker

Related: How Madam C.J. Walker Invented Her Hair Care Products

Garrett Morgan

black and white photo of garrett morgan, he looks at the camera and wears a wool jacket, collared shirt and tie, he has a medal on his jacket lapel

Garrett Morgan was a prolific Black inventor whose early patent for an improved sewing machine design provided financial security for him and his family. The Kentucky native was also concerned about the welfare of others. His “safety hood,” patented in 1914, was a breathing device that filtered out harmful elements and became the prototype for the World War I–era gas mask. He also created a more sophisticated traffic signal by adding a warning light, similar to what we use on streets today.

Read More about Garrett Morgan

Frederick McKinley Jones

frederick mckinley jones smiles at the camera while sitting at a table with a pencil in hand, paper and equipment rests on the table in front of him, behind is a bookshelf, he wears a collared shirt and patterned tie

Before Frederick McKinley Jones developed the automatic refrigeration equipment used in long-haul trucks that transport perishables in the late 1940s, the only way to keep food cold en route to delivery destinations was by using ice. Thanks to his invention, grocery stores were able to buy and sell products (many of which you probably purchase regularly) from far distances without the risk of them spoiling during transport. Jones’ technology was also used to transport blood during World War II .

Read More about Frederick McKinley Jones

Alice H. Parker

alice parker looks at the camera, she wears a dark top and necklace

1895-death unknown

The central heating furnace design that Alice H. Parker patented in December 1919 made use of natural gas for the first time to keep homes warm and toasty. Inspiring her innovation: the limited efficiency of fireplaces (along with the smoke and ash they produce) during the cold winters at her Morristown, New Jersey, house. Many modern homes still employ a similar forced air heating system for which her idea was a precursor.

Marie van Brittan Brown

marie van brittan brown looks to the right in sketch, she wears a collared shirt

Another New York City resident, Marie Van Brittan Brown created an early version of the modern home security system. Feeling unsafe due to her neighborhood’s high crime rate, the full-time nurse rigged a motorized camera to record her home entryway and project images onto a TV monitor. Also included in her setup was a two-way microphone in order to communicate with visitors without opening the door, as well as a panic button to notify police of any potential emergency in progress. After filing to patent the closed circuit TV security system in 1966, Brown received her approval in December 1969.

Patricia Bath

patricia bath smiles at the camera, she stands in front of a black background with white logos and wears a gray suit jacket with an orange, red, and black scarf, he holds one hand across her chest

A true visionary, Patricia Bath became the first Black female doctor to receive a medical patent when she invented a laser cataract treatment device called a Laserphaco Probe in 1986. It was one of several firsts the ophthalmologist achieved. The co-founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness patented her invention in 1988. Now used around the world, Bath’s device has improved sight for millions of people.

Read More about Patricia Bath

mark dean looks at the camera, he wears a blue collared shirt


We have Mark Dean to thank for several computer innovations that we might take for granted today. The color PC monitor (that you might be using right now) is just one of them. With more than 20 patents to his name, Dean also led the IBM team that created the first gigahertz chip, a groundbreaking innovation that can handle a billion calculations per second, and co-created a system to allow peripheral devices like monitors and printers to plug directly into computers.

Read More about Mark Dean

Headshot of Adrienne Donica

Adrienne directs the daily news operation and content production for She joined the staff in October 2022 and most recently worked as an editor for Popular Mechanics , Runner’s World , and Bicycling . Adrienne has served as editor-in-chief of two regional print magazines, and her work has won several awards, including the Best Explanatory Journalism award from the Alliance of Area Business Publishers. Her current working theory is that people are the point of life, and she’s fascinated by everyone who (and every system that) creates our societal norms. When she’s not behind the news desk, find her hiking, working on her latest cocktail project, or eating mint chocolate chip ice cream. 

Black Inventors

inventor garrett morgan helping responders lift the body of a tunnel disaster victim while wearing his safety hood device on his back

Frederick Jones

lonnie johnson stands behind a wooden lectern and speaks into a microphone, he wears a black suit jacket, maroon sweater, white collared shirt and tie, behind him is a screen projection showing two charts

Lonnie Johnson

lewis howard latimer stares at the camera in a black and white photo, he wears a suit with a patterned tie and wire framed glasses

Lewis Howard Latimer

patricia bath smiles at the camera, she stands in front of a black background with white logos and wears a gray suit jacket with an orange, red, and black scarf, he holds one hand across her chest

George Washington Carver

black and white photo of madam cj walker

Henry Blair

stephen hawking smiles at the camera while sitting in his wheelchair in front of a green chalkboard with written equations, he wears a dark suit jacket and blue collared shirt with white pinstripes

22 Famous Scientists You Should Know

George Washington Carver Photo

7 Facts on George Washington Carver

Catherine Dior, the Namesake of ‘Miss Dior,’ Finally Gets Her Spotlight in The New Look

The World War II heroine inspired so much more than a floral fragrance.

maisie williams as catherine dior in the new look

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As Miss Dior: A Story of Courage and Couture author Justine Picardie writes in her biography of the late Catherine, she was “more or less invisible to Christian’s acolytes,” in spite of her enormous importance not only to Christian as family but to Paris itself, the home of his atelier. As The New Look depicts, Catherine became a Resistance operative during World War II, having fallen in love with a fellow Resistance member named Hervé des Charbonneries, whom she’d met while shopping in Cannes. By 1941, she was throughly embedded in their shared cause: She’d adopted the code name “Caro,” and was vital to the underground intelligence network until her sudden arrest in 1944, when the Gestapo captured and tortured her in an attempt to secure the secrets she carried. She never gave them up. Shuttled from a French prison to the women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück (and beyond, to camps and factories including Torgau, Abteroda, and Markkleeberg), Catherine was finally freed amid Allied invasion in April 1945, and she returned to Paris—and her brother—in May 1945, the same month as Germany’s surrender.

maisie williams as catherine dior in the new look

By the time Christian debuted his first haute couture collection, christened “The New Look” by Harper’s BAZAAR editor-in-chief Carmel Snow, the year was 1947; he’d opened the House of Dior in Paris; and Catherine had immersed herself not in fabric but in flowers. She and Hervé had launched a fresh-flower business in the wake of the war, a job Catherine would continue even as her brother’s name became not simply synonymous with Paris couture but with fashion the world over. After his death in 1957, she continued to run a rose farm in Provence, even as she safeguarded the Dior brand into a new millennium.

Catherine might have admired her brother’s designs (and inspired his first fragrance), but she never did become the face of either. Picardie writes in Miss Dior that she believes this distance between Catherine the woman and Dior the luxury house was intentional: “I have come to believe that Catherine was possessed of a rare grace and inner strength that would have protected her from the jostling fashion crowd, with their sharp elbows, narrowed eyes, and stiletto heels. Catherine knew who she was. She had walked to hell and back. She loved her brother, and applauded his success, but she did not need the protection or disguise of his clothes. In the images that show Catherine wearing a Dior dress—for example, in the garden at Les Naÿssès, a glass of wine in her hand, or at the christening of her godson Nicolas, cradling him close—she still looks entirely herself.”

miss dior perfume

This is the “Miss Dior” The New Look aims to spotlight—in some respects, for the first time ever—as embodied by former Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams. The actress, 26, is the same age as Catherine was when the Gestapo first arrested her in 1944, and she lost approximately 26 pounds in order to embody the emaciated Catherine who escaped years later. As Williams told Harper’s BAZAAR UK , “Every day of filming was a reminder that we were portraying a story of the horrors that humans are capable of inflicting on one another, but also the magic and the hope and the love... Ultimately, we wanted to make a show that was uplifting.” Perhaps this message, more than any iconography of the Dior brand, is what Catherine would have most sought to communicate. As reported in a Vogue article on the younger Dior’s “quiet” influence, she spoke only rarely about how she survived the war, preferring instead to focus on the singular belief that kept her going: “Love life.”

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What Is Bridgit Mendler Doing Now? All About Her Life and Career After Disney

Following roles on Disney Channel and her music career, Bridgit Mendler has gotten a number of impressive degrees from MIT and Harvard

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Patrick R. Murphy/Getty

Bridgit Mendler has certainly had an impressive career since starring on Disney Channel. 

Following acting roles on hit shows such as Wizards of Waverly Place and Good Luck Charlie , Mendler continued to make a name for herself with her singing career. 

After starring in the hit Disney Channel original movie Lemonade Mouth , on which she performed a number of songs for the soundtrack, she released her debut single "Ready or Not" in 2012 followed by her debut album Hello My Name Is… later that year. 

Though she continued to release music and act in the years following, her career took a completely different direction as she pursued higher education at schools such as MIT and Harvard.

Most recently, Mendler gave an exciting life update as she announced that she will serve as the CEO of Northwood Space, a startup on a mission to create a "data highway between earth and space."

From her career to her personal life, here’s everything to know about what Bridgit Mendler is doing now. 

Does Bridgit Mendler still act? 

Adam Taylor/Disney Channel via Getty

Though Mendler said goodbye to Disney Channel in 2014 when Good Luck Charlie ended, she continued to star in a handful of films and shows, including on NBC’s Undateable from 2015 to 2016 and in a recurring role on Nashville in 2017. She also starred in the 2018 film Father of the Year alongside David Spade . 

Her latest acting role was in 2019 when she starred in Netflix’s holiday series Merry Happy Whatever alongside Dennis Quaid and former Disney Channel alumna Ashley Tisdale. The show ran one season before it was canceled in April 2020. 

Has Bridgit Mendler released new music? 

Chris McKay/Getty

After releasing her debut studio album Hello My Name Is… with Hollywood Records in 2012, Mendler released two additional EPs, Live in London (2013) and Nemesis (2016). The latter EP was released independently under the Black Box record label. 

Speaking with MTV News about Nemesis in 2016, she noted that the EP had a “tinge of darkness” that her early music didn’t have. “I feel like I've poured the most of myself of anything I've done into this project. That's been a very therapeutic process,” Mendler added of the EP. “You add layers to who you are, add different textures and colors. Maybe some are more dark and unfamiliar, but then that winds up being a new way we can know each other.”

Following the EP’s release, Mendler embarked on a North American tour from 2016 to 2017, including several stops with Lemonade Mouth costar Hayley Kiyoko serving as the opening act. 

Though she released several singles in 2017, including "Temperamental Love" and "Diving,” Nemesis marked her last EP and tour. 

Where did Bridgit Mendler go to school?

Jamie McCarthy/Getty

Around the same time Mendler began hitting the breaks on her music career, she began studying at the University of Southern California, where ultimately she earned a degree in anthropology in 2016. 

Mendler continued her academic career the following year when she was announced as one of the 2017 MIT Media Lab's Director's Fellows. In 2018, she revealed that she had started a graduate program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). 

"As an entertainer, for years I struggled with social media because I felt like there was a more loving and human way to connect with fans," she wrote at the time , though she promised to “continue to put out music” as well. “It is a part of me and I also want to continue to connect with my fans in that way,” she said of performing. “It will likely be at a slower pace but know that I am working on it!”

Though new music never came, she continued with her education. After earning her master’s degree from MIT in 2020, she is currently working toward receiving a Doctor of Philosophy - PhD from MIT, per her LinkedIn . Additionally, her profile shows that she is working toward a Doctor of Law - JD at Harvard Law School, where she was also the co-president of Harvard Space Law Society from 2022 to 2023.  

Is Bridgit Mendler married?

Bridgit Mendler/Instagram

On top of all of her professional successes, Mendler has also had some personal milestones. In October 2019, she married her husband Griffin Cleverly. Mendler first announced her engagement to Cleverly on Instagram that April after more than two years of dating.

The couple tied the knot in an intimate beach wedding surrounded by friends and family, including her Good Luck Charlie costars and her Lemonade Mouth costar Naomi Scott, who served as one of her bridesmaids. 

"It was magical," Mendler told Extra of the nuptials. "There was a great sunset and there was actually even this dude who built a sandcastle behind us while we were getting married — in his board shorts, constructing this beautiful, amazing sandcastle. While we are doing our vows, I could just see him in my eye line."

Does Bridgit Mendler have kids?

Bridgit Mendler/X

In February 2024, Mendler revealed that she became a mom . “I’m a mama to a sweet 4yo boy,” she wrote on X . "Started fostering in 2021 adopted near Christmas of 2022. I’m so lucky — being a parent is the biggest gift and most defining experience there is.” 

Though she didn’t share any more details about her family, she did share a sweet photo of her son looking out at the ocean on a beach. 

What does Bridgit Mendler do now?

Mindy Best/Getty

Mendler gave a big update on her life in early 2024 as she announced her new business venture. On her X profile, she revealed that she will serve as the CEO of Northwood Space, a startup on a mission to create a "data highway between earth and space."

"We are designing shared ground infrastructure from first principles to expand access to space. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but that’s the fun part," wrote the Good Luck Charlie alumna in her announcement. The company has already received $6.3 million in funding, per Mendler's tweet.

The multi-hyphenate said she developed the idea for the company after spending time with her family in New Hampshire during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"While everybody else was making their sourdough starters, we were building antennas out of random crap we could find at Home Depot … and receiving data from [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] satellites," Mendler told CNBC .

According to the outlet, the company will be a joint venture with her husband, who will serve as the startup's chief technology officer.


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