Friday, November 30, 2012

Spotlight on Historical Biography

Steven Spielberg's Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role, is both well-reviewed and turning an impressive box office profit. Bill O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln (written with co-author Martin Dugard) remains on the bestseller lists a year later, and has been joined by his Killing Kennedy. It's no secret that readers here in Dubuque and across the nation enjoy reading about the significant people and events of American history.

Joining Mr. O'Reilly on the best seller lists this week is Jon Meacham's Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power. Mr. Meacham's fourth book, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Biography. His writing is characterized by his careful research and attention to accuracy, but it's his focus on the people behind history that so many readers find appealing. Mr. Meacham is not alone in his skills, and today we've gathered together a few other notable authors of historical biography. 

Doris Kearns Goodwin
Ms. Goodwin is probably best known for Team of Rivals: the political genius of Abraham Lincoln, which served as the basis for Spielberg's film. Her eye toward the relationships of her subjects brings a fresh perspective to their familiar lives. Ms. Goodwin was also the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize for History in 1995 for No Ordinary Time; Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Her writing career began with a book on Lyndon Johnson, during whose presidency she worked as a White House Fellow and assistant to the President. In fact, Stephen King consulted with Ms. Goodwin about her experiences as he worked on 11/22/63.

David McCullough
Mr. McCullough's engaging and highly respected histories and biographies, his work as the host of American Experience and as a narrator on several historical documentaries have earned him two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. He's known for his positive tone and ability to explain the large events of history through their impact on the individual. Try his biography of John Adams or Mornings on Horseback, the story of Theodore Roosevelt's youth.

Ron Chernow
Mr. Chernow worked as a journalist and as a member of a Think Tank specializing in finances before becoming a popular and well-regarded author. He's received a National Book Award for The House of Morgan, as well as a Pulitzer Prize for Washington: a life. His writing has a great attention to detail, and tends to be a little quieter and thoughtful in tone. He often uses his experience in finances to write about those who have had a significant impact on our nation's economics, as in his biography of Alexander Hamilton.

Other authors you might enjoy:

Please stop by the Recommendations Desk on the first floor, check out NoveList Plus on the library's website, or visit W. 11th & Bluff next week for more reading suggestions. Or submit a Personal Recommendations request, and we'll create a reading list just for you!

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