Biography & Memoir Book Reviews


A well-wrought memoir that turns simple observations and memories into powerful illustrations of grief and illness.
A writer recounts the emotions and memories of losing her mother and battling cancer. Read full book review >
BOYS IN THE TREES by Carly Simon
Released: Nov. 24, 2015

"Memoirs by rock icons of the 1960s and '70s are flying fast and furious these days. This is one of the best, lively and memorable. Check the new album that accompanies the book, too."
Understated but revealing memoir by the long-absent but still much-played pop star. Read full book review >

THE VIOLET HOUR by Katie Roiphe
Released: March 8, 2016

"Never overly sentimental, this is a poignant and elegant inquiry into mortality."
How five artists dealt with that carriage that kindly stopped for them. Read full book review >
THE MEDICI by Paul Strathern
Released: March 15, 2016

"A fantastically comprehensive history covering the breadth of the great learning, art, politics, and religion of the period."
The prolific author continues to do what he does best—bring history to wondrous life—with this thorough history of the Medici family, the stimulus and backbone of the Renaissance. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 5, 2016

"Moore will probably not change minds about the Iron Lady, but readers inclined to be as fair-minded as he will find much of interest in his account of her years in power."
British historian/writer Moore delivers the second volume in his authorized biography of the pioneering—and divisive—prime minister. Read full book review >

Released: March 1, 2016

"A fascinating, well-told story by an author fully committed to his subject. Egan's impeccable research, uncomplicated readability, and flowing narrative reflect his deep knowledge of a difficult and complex man."
The story of Thomas Meagher (1823-1867), an Irishman radicalized by the famine who became a hero on three continents. Read full book review >
THE PROFITEERS by Sally Denton
Released: Feb. 16, 2016

"Filled with stories of cronyism and influence peddling, Denton's riveting and revealing book will undoubtedly displease the so-called 'boys from Bechtel,' who refused to talk to Denton, referring her to the company website."
Investigative journalist Denton (The Plots Against the President: FDR, A Nation in Crisis, and the Rise of the American Right, 2012, etc.) offers an ambitious "empire biography" of the Bechtel family and the secretive, privately held construction company-turned-diversified international conglomerate that has been "inextricably enmeshed" in U.S. foreign policy for seven decades. Read full book review >
ONE BREATH by Adam Skolnick
Released: Jan. 12, 2016

"A worthy addition to the growing body of literature on adventures that test the limits of nature and mankind."
A fatality spurs an inquiry into an extreme sport, illuminating the risks—as well as the rewards—of free diving. Read full book review >
WORLDS APART by David Plante
Released: Aug. 25, 2015

"An understated, observant, and earnest memoir from an acclaimed novelist."
The second installment of American novelist Plante's memoir (Becoming a Londoner, 2013, etc.) of his long love affair with Nikos Stangos (1936-2004), the Greek-born editor of the publishing house Thames and Hudson. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A fresh look at Eleanor Roosevelt and a fascinating exploration of a cherished, mutually beneficial friendship."
A significant new exploration of the enormously important friendship between two activist crusaders in advancing the cause of civil rights for blacks and women. Read full book review >
Faith, Doubt, Mystery by James J. Tracy
Released: Sept. 3, 2015

"A sympathetic but unflinchingly honest testament of indoctrination and embattled faith."
An affecting account of one man's experiences with the Catholic faith. Read full book review >
The Double Life of Laurence Oliphant by Bart Casey
Released: Dec. 8, 2015

"An engrossing portrait of an emblematic Victorian."
A rollicking biography of a classic 19th-century figure, featuring imperial adventure, high diplomacy, literary fame, and an eccentric cult focused on bizarrely sublimated sexuality. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Jason Gay
November 17, 2015

In the 1990s, copies of Richard Carlson’s Don't Sweat the Small Stuff (and its many sequels) were seemingly everywhere, giving readers either the confidence to prioritize their stresses or despondence over the slender volume’s not addressing their particular set of problems. While not the first book of its kind, it kicked open the door for an industry of self-help, worry-reduction advice guides. In his first book, Little Victories, Wall Street Journal sports columnist Gay takes less of a guru approach, though he has drawn an audience of readers appreciative of reportage that balances insights with a droll, self-deprecating outlook. He occasionally focuses his columns on “the Rules” (of Thanksgiving family touch football, the gym, the office holiday party, etc.), which started as a genial poke in the eye at the proliferation of self-help books and, over time, came to explore actual advice “both practical and ridiculous” and “neither perfect nor universal.” The author admirably combines those elements in every piece in the book. View video >