10 In-Depth Biographies About Fascinating People

Whether the subject is a president or a pop star, a good biography can be both entertaining and educational. Of course, you'll learn about the life of the person the book is about. But you'll also find things you might not have known about the time they lived in, the personal philosophy they followed, and the field they worked in. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

10 In-Depth Biographies About Fascinating People

Title Author Subject
1. Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom David W. Blight Frederick Douglass
2. Charles Dickens Claire Tomalin Charles Dickens
3. Crown of Thistles Linda Porter Mary, Queen of Scots
4. The Santa Claus Man Alex Palmer John Duval Gluck Jr.
5. Model Woman Robert Lacey Eileen Ford
6. Barack Obama- The Making of the Man David Maraniss Barack Obama
7. Young J. Edgar Kenneth D. Ackerman J. Edgar Hoover
8. Becoming Beyoncé J. Randy Taraborrelli Beyoncé Knowles
9. For All the Tea in China Sarah Rose Robert Fortune
10. The Brothers Stephen Kinzer John Foster Dulles & Allen Dulles

10 Great Biographical Films

  1. Schindler's List (1993)
  2. The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)
  3. Frida (2002)
  4. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
  5. Milk (2008)
  6. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
  7. The Post (2017)
  8. Lincoln (2012)
  9. Malcolm X (1992)
  10. The Imitation Game (2014)

What is History for?

In Depth

Biographies allow readers to delve deep into the personal life of a historical figure or celebrity that they admire. These works of nonfiction help us understand these people's mindsets and how they overcame the many difficulties they faced throughout their lives, and sometimes their stories can even completely change our perspective of the world. With that in mind, here are ten in-depth biographies about fascinating people from all sorts of time periods, listed in no particular order.

First up, at #1, we have "Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom" by David W. Blight. The titular historical figure was an escaped slave who went on to become one of the most prominent activists of 19th century America. Blight takes a close look at Douglass' personal life, recounting the events that led to his freedom all the way to him being mentored by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and famously advocating against slavery until his death in 1895.

Next, at #2, is "Charles Dickens" by Claire Tomalin. Born into a middle-class family and forced into a life of hardship due to his father's overwhelming debts, Charles Dickens had to overcome a lot of difficulties before he became a famous writer, who's best known for works such as "Oliver Twist" and "A Christmas Carol." In this biography, Tomalin describes the ups and downs of Dickens' journey towards success, citing instances of his charitable acts while also acknowledging his many shortcomings, such as his secret affair with Ellen Ternan.

In this biography, Tomalin describes the ups and downs of Dickens' journey towards success, citing instances of his charitable acts while also acknowledging his many shortcomings, such as his secret affair with Ellen Ternan.

At #3 is "Crown of Thistles" by Linda Porter. It chronicles Mary Queen of Scots' rise to power and her rivalry with her cousin Elizabeth. Porter provides a lot of insight on the relationship between the aforementioned rivals' families and their struggle for power over both England and Scotland. The book covers most of the events leading up to Mary's reign all the way to her eventual death, and people interested in British history are sure to enjoy the copious amounts of information it provides about both the Tudors and Stewarts.

Next up, at #4, we have "The Santa Claus Man" by Alex Palmer. During the Jazz Age, John Duval Gluck Jr. managed to convince the U.S. Post Office to forward children's letters addressed to Santa to his own organization. Gluck supposedly created the Santa Claus Association in order to spread the holiday cheer and answer Christmas letters that would have otherwise been destroyed by postal workers. The story follows the rise and fall of this organization and how the person behind it all was eventually exposed as a con man.

At #5 is "Model Woman" by Robert Lacey. In 1946, Eileen Ford, with the help of her husband Jerry, founded one of the most recognized modeling agencies in the world. Lacey chronicles the life of Eileen, from childhood all the way to when she broke into the fashion industry and created the internationally-renowned agency, Ford Models. It's an inspiring tale about a successful and well-respected businesswoman who took great care of the people that she hired.

It's an inspiring tale about a successful and well-respected businesswoman who took great care of the people that she hired.

Next, at #6, is "Barack Obama: The Making of the Man" by David Maraniss. It recounts the early days of former president Barack Obama. This book focuses less on his political career and more on his personal life and the events that helped shape him. It's an unbiased and well-researched biography that provides some insight on Obama's upbringing and his compelling journey towards self-discovery.

At #7 is "Young J. Edgar" by Kenneth D. Ackerman. It explores J. Edgar Hoover's career during the First Red Scare. Back in 1919, 24-year-old Hoover was recruited by then-Attorney General Palmer to help identify suspected communists and anarchists, who would then be arrested in a series of controversial raids. It's an interesting look into the former FBI Director's life during and after the aforementioned raids, and the author attempts to get readers to reflect on the morality of the methods that have been used to crack down on terrorism.

Next up, at #8, we have "Becoming Beyonce" by J. Randy Taraborrelli. Using information gathered through interviews with people who have, at some point, been associated with Beyonce Knowles, Taraborrelli writes about the beloved celebrity's rise to fame. The book delves deep into her life and the difficulties that she and her family faced prior to and during her time as a member of Destiny's Child. It's an eye-opening work that fans of Beyonce, especially those unfamiliar with her early career, are sure to enjoy.

Using information gathered through interviews with people who have, at some point, been associated with Beyonce Knowles, Taraborrelli writes about the beloved celebrity's rise to fame.

At #9 is "For All the Tea in China" by Sarah Rose. The story follows Robert Fortune, a Scottish botanist who was recruited by the East India Company to travel to China and steal the secrets of tea production. In order to safely enter the country and achieve his mission, he disguised himself as a wealthy Chinese merchant with an entourage of locals. Fortune's daring heist broke China's monopoly on tea in the 19th century, making it more accessible to people around the world.

Finally, at #10, we have "The Brothers" by Stephen Kinzer. During the early years of the Cold War, John Foster Dulles was the secretary of state, and his brother Allen Dulles was the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. This joint biography takes a closer look at how the brothers helped shape the United States' foreign policy during the Cold War era. It also shows how their questionable decisions led to America's strained relationship with nations such as Iran and Vietnam.