What are the best American historical biographies of all time?

asked by Anonymous
352 contributors
36 solutions
  1. 42

    #1Theodore Rex

    Theodore Rex
    Theodore Rex is the second volume of Edmund Morris' biography of Theodore Roosevelt. It begins and ends with Roosevelt's time as two-term president of the US. This book is published in 2002 by Random House Trade Paperbacks.
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    Justin Greene
    Written on April 9, 2018
    "I really enjoyed volume 1 of this series and couldn't wait to get into this one. Very thorough with a ton of historical context."
  2. 38

    #2John Adams

    John Adams
    As told by the multi-awarded historian David McCullough, this Pulitzer Prize-winning book is the story of John Adams, founding father and second president of the United States. 

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    Christopher Jimenez
    Written on March 12, 2018
    "As there are many biographies out there, needless to say, it is difficult to determine which ones are the absolute best, but this biography of John Adams is of truly excellent quality. Adams might not have the name recognition of other early presidents or founding fathers, but this book delves into various aspects of his personal life and sheds some light on his character. The average reader will probably learn quite a bit."
  3. 36

    #3Truman

    Truman
    Truman by David McCullough is a biography of Harry S. Truman, who was the president of the United States during the historic events of World War II and the Cold War.
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    Ishan Rangan
    Written on March 8, 2018
    "Truman is a really great read that is hard to put down. It should be on everybody's book list. "
  1. 34

    #4Lincoln

    Lincoln
    Lincoln is a biography written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Herbert Donald. It chronicles the life of the 16th president of the United States, from his childhood in Kentucky to his presidency during the Civil War.
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    Olivia Franklin
    Written on February 28, 2018
    "A great, thorough biography. It does a great job of showing Lincoln's evolution over his life and the political decisions he had to make to keep the country together. "
  2. 31

    #5Alexander Hamilton

    Alexander Hamilton

    Written by the multi-awarded historian Ron Chernow, this Alexander Hamilton biography is a comprehensive account of Hamilton's life and accomplishments that helped shape newborn America into what it is today. 

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    Matthew Graham
    Written on March 1, 2018
    "This is a very interesting biography. It is well done and very thorough. I wish it gave a bit more on the others he interacted with."
  3. 29

    #6His Excellency: George Washington

    His Excellency: George Washington

    Joseph J. Ellis' account of George Washington's life focuses on three aspects: Washington's service in the military, his generalship during the American revolution, and his time as the first president of the United States. 

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    Anna Ortiz
    Written on March 10, 2018
    "Historical subjects usually don't interest me but I thought I would give His Excellency: George Washington a shot. I found it rather dry and full of commonly known facts."
  4. 26

    #7Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

    Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

    Benjamin Franklin: An American Life is Walter Isaacson's in-depth biography detailing the life of the legendary American hero, from his scientific advancements, his media works, businesses, and his role as a founding father.

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    Brian Larson
    Written on March 1, 2018
    "This book is great for taking a look at Benjamin Franklin's life. He was a fascinating man, and this book goes into detail about many aspects of his life. He's the only person on money who wasn't a president. And on the highest amount of paper money no less. This book made me like him even more."
  5. 25

    #8American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

    American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House
    American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House is a biography written by Jon Meacham. It narrates the life of Andrew Jackson as the 7th president of the United States and founder of the Democratic Party. 
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    Anna Soto
    Written on February 26, 2018
    "I'm very interested in biographies and non fiction. This has been on my to read list for a wjhile"
  6. 15

    #9With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln

    With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham Lincoln
    The author of this book, Stephen B. Oates shares all his Civil War knowledge with everyone, focusing in the role Abraham Lincoln played in such war and every decision that it had to be made once the war was over. 




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    Alexander Hicks
    Written on March 25, 2018
    "Boring. I got this for a class in the Civil War I took and I had to finish it. Or at least skim through it. Just a bunch of details and no life. Lincoln was no saint so stop treating him as such. He’s no non-violent Martin Luther King or even Henry Thoreau. He has so much blood on his hands so tell me a little bit about that man."
  7. 13

    #10The Power Broker

    The Power Broker

    The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York is a biography written by Robert A. Caro on the life of Robert Moses, a public official from New York. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1975.

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    Cheryl Carpenter
    Written on May 14, 2018
    "Want to understand the subtle politics and the reasons why NYC became what it is? This is the book for you! I really don't know what to say about this book. It's monumental, brilliantly written and strangely enthralling. I would never have believed that a book about parks, highways, and bridges, many, many, of each, would be so interesting. Of course they all revolve around Robert Moses, who is fascinating and also despicable. He is however, an example of how to amass power, and how to use it, for better and for worse. "
  8. 11

    #11American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson

    American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson

    Years after his retirement from the public eye, and even with his political career over, Thomas Jefferson was still a very popular man, and his house was a very important tourist destination even when he was still alive. This book, tries to explain his character, and what allowed him to become one of the most popular presidents of all time. 

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    Nicole Alvarado
    Written on March 23, 2018
    "American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson gives the reader a more complex and inside look into the man Thomas Jefferson was. Written in a way that isn't textbookie or boring, this book transports the reader into the mindset of what drove Thomas Jefferson to make the choices he did and help form a better understanding of who he was. Overall, reading this I was better able to grasp a little more on who Thomas Jefferson was outside of the history books and how events in his life shaped this complex man,"
  9. 7

    #12Undaunted Courage

    Undaunted Courage

    Undaunted Courage: The Pioneering First Mission to Explore America's Wild Frontier is a historical non-fiction book written by Stephen E. Ambrose. This was originally published in 2006.

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    Melissa Larson
    Written on April 29, 2018
    "I like to read thrilling stories and it is all the more interesting when it is real life adventure. But the most saddening part is it ends up in tragedy for a person who wanted to take a successful adventure trip across North America. I bet this is going to be an interesting read."
  10. 6

    #13Mornings on Horseback

    Mornings on Horseback

    Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt is a biography written by David McCullough. This book is a National Book Award-winning biography.

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    Sandra Turner
    Written on April 3, 2018
    "This book is enlightening and extremely interesting. This book provides in depth descriptions of the people closest to Teddy Roosevelt. Definitely a good read."
  11. 2

    #14Washington: A Life

    Washington: A Life

    Washington: A Life is a biography written by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Rob Chernow. It chronicles the life of the founding father and the first man to be the president of the United States of America, George Washington.

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    Samuel Hunt
    Written on March 6, 2018
    "I know there are probably dozens of biographies out there about our first president, but this one stands out in my opinion. Eloquently written, and filled with insights and revelations. A great read!"
  12. 1

    #15Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

    Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

    In this book, popular historian Doris Kearns Goodwin explains what made Abraham Lincoln such a political genius: the 16th president of the United States, had the ability to put himself in the place of other men, something that allowed him to lead the United States through the Civil War. 

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    Emily Bradley
    Written on April 18, 2018
    "This book is terrific. I am inspired by Abraham Lincoln and this book made me feel validated. It is well researched and makes you understand how Lincoln became the beloved man he is. He was smart, articulate, thoughtful and a very capable politician."
  13. 0

    #16Hands of Stone

    Hands of Stone
    Hands of Stone: The Life and Legend of Roberto Duran is a biography by Christian Guidice about the life of one of the best-known boxing icons. The book is the first biography about Duran and has become a basis of films about the boxer.
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    Marilyn Jensen
    Written on March 19, 2018
    "Love this biography of a legend and hero. This book is so captivating and interesting and will keep you on your toes going thru his life."
  14. 0

    #17The Patriarch

    The Patriarch

    The Patriarch is a book by David Nasaw that tells the story of Joseph Kennedy. It is the summary of his journals which are only allowed to be read by Nasaw. The book is about Joseph Kennedy's story and how he describes the former president.

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    Diane Carpenter
    Written on March 16, 2018
    "The book looks very interesting. Seems like a great layout and the cover is very attention grabbing. "
  15. 0

    #18Clara Barton: Founder of the American Red Cross

    Clara Barton: Founder of the American Red Cross

    Clara Barton: Founder of the American Red Cross is written by Augusta Stevenson and illustrated by Frank Giacoia. This features the childhood life of Clara Barton, organizer of the Red Cross in 1881.

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    Carmen Nieto
    Written on March 30, 2018
    "Clara Barton proved that even shy people can do great things and overcome their fears. It is very inspirational! "
  16. 0

    #19Rocket Men

    Rocket Men

    Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon is a biography written by Craig Nelson that narrates the story behind the men of Apollo 11 and their mission on the moon. It became a New York Times bestseller.

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    Anthony Woods
    Written on March 23, 2018
    "IT IS GOOD"
  17. 0

    #20Eleanor Roosevelt: Fighter for Social Justice

    Eleanor Roosevelt: Fighter for Social Justice

    Eleanor Roosevelt: Fighter for Social Justice is written by Ann Weil and illustrated by Gray Morrow. This tells the childhood of Eleanor Roosevelt who later on became the wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt, a US president.

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    Eugene Olson
    Written on March 20, 2018
    "I initially purchased this book for my kids. I thought that it would help tell history in terms of something that would appeal to children. I was very glad with my choice and it helped me to even learn some new facts that I didn't know prior to reading this with my children. Overall, this book is great for children and adults alike"
  18. 0

    #21George Washington: Our First Leader

    George Washington: Our First Leader

    George Washington: Our First Leader is a biography written by Augusta Stevenson and illustrated by E. Joseph Dreany. It features the narrative on the childhood of George Washingon and his preparation to lead the country.

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    Lauren Castro
    Written on March 31, 2018
    "It seems a bit of an embellished story for an important historical figure. Some events need fact checking."
  19. 0

    #22Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight

    Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight

    Neil Armstrong: A Life of Flight is a biography written by Jay Barbree about the first astronaut who stepped on the moon. It has a foreword by John Glenn, and this version was published in 2014. Barbree interviewed Armstrong for the book.

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    Sharon Palmer
    Written on March 27, 2018
    "If you're going to read any biography at all, you have to read about the first man on the moon. Neil Armstrong is an amazing man whose story needs to be heard."
  20. 0

    #23Benjamin Franklin: Young Printer

    Benjamin Franklin: Young Printer

    Benjamin Franklin: Young Printer is written by Augusta Stevenson and illustrated by Ray Quigley. This tells the childhood biography of Ben Franklin as a young printer who grew up to become a founder of the United States.

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    Albert Gray
    Written on March 18, 2018
    "Benjamin Franklin: Young Printer is a fine book on the genius himself but breaks down the historical figure's acheivments in terms young minds can understand. This is a great book for kids that makes learning history fun and entertaining."
  21. 0

    #24Benjamin Franklin

    Benjamin Franklin

    Benjamin Franklin is a book by Carl Van Doren that tells the story of how the inventor Benjamin Franklin helped not just his fellow countrymen but almost all of the people using his inventions and his thirst for knowledge. 

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    Anika Lobo
    Written on April 9, 2018
    "This is a great historical biography. It provides a lot of detailed information about Benjamin Frankin's inventions and things he did to help his fellow countryman. It is written for youth, but it still enjoyable for an adult to read. And it will inspire youth to have a thirst for knowledge. "
  22. 0

    #25We Pointed Them North

    We Pointed Them North
    We Pointed Them North: Recollections of a Cowpuncher is a biography of E.C. Abbott written by Helena Huntington Smith. It had illustrations from Nick Eggenhofer. It is about a Texan cowboy who moved to Montana.
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    Andrew Pierce
    Written on March 18, 2018
    "A great story to read. If you want to know what life as a cowboy was really like, pick this up."
  23. 0

    #26Amelia Earhart: Young Aviator

    Amelia Earhart: Young Aviator

    Amelia Earhart: Young Aviator is a biography written by Beatrice Gormley and illustrated by Meryl Henderson about the childhood life of Earhart up to her mysterious disappearance. This is suitable for kids.

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    Arnav Das
    Written on March 21, 2018
    "Amelia Earhart: Young Aviator is a really interesting biography because of the way her life ended up. It describes most of her life well but the ending speculation makes it an amazing read."
  24. 0

    #27Five Days in November

    Five Days in November

    Five Days in November is a book by Clint Hill that tells the story of JFK assassination. After 50 years of his death, investigator Clint Hill released this book will more than 150 photographs that commemorate JFK's death.  

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    Phillip White
    Written on March 5, 2018
    "I don't really read books anymore and I think most people can say the same but this is a classic look at the american history and shows some interesting photographs, it was sad to hear that JFK was assassinated and this book looks at the events 50 years after, as new investigation is undertook. It's sad such a good president was assassinated."
  25. 0

    #28Rocketman

    Rocketman

    Rocketman: Astronaut Pete Conrad's Incredible Ride to the Moon and Beyond is a biography written by Nancy Conrad and Howard A. Klausner about Pete Conrad. It has an introduction from astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

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    Samuel Hernandez
    Written on March 21, 2018
    "A good and really well documented book to discover who was the third man on the Moon. We learn how an amazing and skilled astronaut was Pete Conrad. "
  26. 0

    #29An Hour Before Daylight

    An Hour Before Daylight

    An Hour Before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood is a non-fiction historical biography written by Jimmy Carter. This political book is first published in 2000. 

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    Alice Carlson
    Written on April 27, 2018
    "I'm not a big fan of biographies, so I did a search of the best American historical biographies of all time; just so I could read one that I knew would be good. I decided on this one and was not disappointed. Great read!"
  27. 0

    #30Lincoln: A Photobiography

    Lincoln: A Photobiography

    Lincoln: A Photobiography from Houghton Mifflin social studies, and is authored by Russell Freedman. This is a biography of Abrahan Lincoln that received the Newbery Medal award.

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    Gregory Hunter
    Written on March 27, 2018
    "Lincoln: A Photobiography lacks the detail and historical insight to be considered a great book. It's worth is as a supplement to other material that covers the life of Lincoln."
  28. 0

    #31Gods and Generals (The Civil War Trilogy)

    Gods and Generals (The Civil War Trilogy)

    Renowned historical novelist Jeff Shaara's Gods and Generals is the first novel from his Civil War Trilogy. The novel served as a prequel to his father Michael Shaara's 1974 novel The Killer Angels. The book was published in the year 2000 by Birlinn. 

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    Janet Stephens
    Written on April 25, 2018
    "I bought Gods and Generals as a gift to one of my friends because they love reading historical biographies. I have to say they loved this book and it makes a great gift to reader's."
  29. 0

    #32Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field

    Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field

    Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field is a book by Nancy Forbes and Basil Mahon that tells the story of how helpful is the discovery of Electromagnetic Field is to our lives. The book reminds us that it should not be taken for granted.

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    Enrique Vega
    Written on March 30, 2018
    "The two boldest scientists of the modern era. This book tells you everything you want and need tot know about them. They are probably not well known outside this book but they have influenced many things you see in this world today. What a great read, it is also suitable for young adults as they can learn a lot from them and electromagnetic field if they are into those things. "
  30. 0

    #33First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong

    First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong

    First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong is a biography written by James R. Hansen detailing the life of the first man who stepped on the moon. It is the basis of the upcoming film of the same name.

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    Jason Duncan
    Written on March 14, 2018
    "This is a very good biography about an American icon. I enjoyed it a bunch, but some parts went a little too in-depth, and I actually like detailed biographies. I could have done with less detail about Neil Armstrong's family tree and very small details about his mother, but overall it was a great read."
  31. 0

    #34Only the Paranoid Survive

    Only the Paranoid Survive

    Only the Paranoid Survive is a book by Andrew Groove that tells how Groove made adjustments so that his company will not fall under the struggles of the business world. He also gave tips on how other leaders can do the same.

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    Maria Welch
    Written on April 3, 2018
    "I was in the need for the best American historical biographies of all time. I found Only the Paranoid Survive, a great book by Andrew Groove. It shows the struggles of the business world and was what i was looking for."
  32. 0

    #35The Trouble Begins at 8 (Mark Twain Biography)

    The Trouble Begins at 8 (Mark Twain Biography)

    The Trouble Begins at 8: A Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West is a biography written by Sid Fleischman on the life of Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain.

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    Mildred Welch
    Written on March 22, 2018
    "I wanted the best American historical biographies ever made. I found out about The Trouble Begins at 8 (Mark Twain Biography). The biography is written by Sid Fleischman on the life of Samuel Clemens, the real name of Mark Twain."
  33. 0

    #36Thomas Jefferson: Third President of the United States

    Thomas Jefferson: Third President of the United States

    Thomas Jefferson: Third President of the United States by Helen Albee Monsell and illustrated by Kenneth Wagner focuses on the childhood of Tom Jefferson. The book is published in 1989 by publisher Aladdin.

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    Bobby Simpson
    Written on March 30, 2018
    "I love reading about the history of our great nation. Anything that gives me some insight into our greatest leaders is something that I am going to read. This book focuses on Thomas Jefferson during his childhood and helps you understand the man that would become president. It really puts a lot of things into perspective. A really great book full of information that not many people know."

Summary

Best What are the best American historical biographies of all time
RankSolutionsTypeVotesPrice
1Theodore RexBooks 42 Paid
2John AdamsBooks 38 Paid
3TrumanBooks 36 Paid
4LincolnBooks 34 Paid
5Alexander HamiltonBooks 31 Paid
6His Excellency: George WashingtonBooks 29 Paid
7Benjamin Franklin: An American LifeBooks 26 Paid
8American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White HouseBooks 25 Paid
9With Malice Toward None: A Life of Abraham LincolnBooks 15 Paid
10The Power BrokerBooks 13 Paid
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