Colin Powell is the embodiment of the American dream. He was born in Harlem to immigrant parents from Jamaica. He knew the rough life of the streets. He overcame a barely average start at school. Then he joined the Army. The rest is history–Vietnam, the Pentagon, Panama, Desert Storm–but a history that until now has been known only on the surface. Here, for the first time, Colin Powell himself tells us how it happened, in a memoir distinguished by a heartfelt love of country and family, warm good humor, and a soldier’s directness. MY AMERICAN JOURNEY is the powerful story of a life well lived and well told. It is also a view from the mountaintop of the political landscape of America. At a time when Americans feel disenchanted with their leaders, General Powell’s passionate views on family, personal responsibility, and, in his own words, “the greatness of America and the opportunities it offers” inspire hope and present a blueprint for the future. An utterly absorbing account, it is history with a vision. “The stirring, only-in-America story of one determined man’s journey from the South Bronx to directing the mightiest of military forces . . . Fascinating.” — The Washington Post Book World Read more

Has there ever been someone who accomplished so much and at the same time thought less of herself? Before she had even turned forty, Florence Nightingale was the darling of the British public, the heroine of the Crimea. Who Was Florence Nightingale? Florence Nightingale was born in Florence, Italy, on May 12, 1820. Part of a wealthy family, Nightingale defied the expectations of the time and pursued what she saw as her God-given calling of nursing. During the Crimean War, she and a team of nurses improved the unsanitary conditions at a British base hospital, greatly reducing the death count. Her writings sparked worldwide health care reform, and in 1860 she established St. Thomas’ Hospital and the Nightingale Training School for Nurses. A revered hero of her time, she died on August 13, 1910, in London.

Florence Nightingale’s father was William Edward Nightingale (having changed his original surname, “Shore”), a wealthy landowner who would be associated with two estates—one at Lea Hurst, Derbyshire, and the other at Embly, Hampshire. Florence was provided with a classical education, including studies in mathematics along with German, French and Italian. Read more

Winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Biography
An extraordinarily frank, honest, and generous book by one of America’s most famous and admired women, Personal History is, as its title suggests, a book composed of both personal memoir and history. It is the story of Graham’s parents: the multimillionaire father who left private business and government service to buy and restore the down-and-out Washington Post, and the formidable, self-absorbed mother who was more interested in her political and charity work, and her passionate friendships with men like Thomas Mann and Adlai Stevenson, than in her children.
It is the story of how The Washington Post struggled to succeed — a fascinating and instructive business history as told from the inside (the paper has been run by Graham herself, her father, her husband, and now her son). Read more

For his biographies of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson, Robert A. Caro has twice won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography, has three times won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Best Nonfiction Book of the Year and for Best Biography of the Year, and has also won virtually every other major literary honor, including the National Book Award, the Gold Medal in Biography from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Francis Parkman Prize, awarded by the Society of American Historians to the book that best “exemplifies the union of the historian and the artist.” In 2010, he received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama. Read more

It is difficult to read the opening pages of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs without feeling melancholic. Jobs retired at the end of August and died about six weeks later. Now, just weeks after his death, you can open the book that bears his name and read about his youth, his promise, and his relentless press to succeed. But the initial sadness in starting the book is soon replaced by something else, which is the intensity of the read–mirroring the intensity of Jobs’s focus and vision for his products. Few in history have transformed their time like Steve Jobs, and one could argue that he stands with the Fords, Edisons, and Gutenbergs of the world. This is a timely and complete portrait that pulls no punches and gives insight into a man whose contradictions were in many ways his greatest strength. –Chris Schluep Read more

In this fast-paced biography Sonia Purnell tells the story of Virginia Hall, an American spy who worked undercover in France during World War II for Britain’s Special Operations Executive (SOE). Hall’s story is a surprising one: she began her life in the United States with a mother who wished for the perfect debutante. Hall, however, was more comfortable studying languages, and found herself living abroad and working for the State Department when she lost half her leg in a hunting accident. This setback didn’t slow down Hall at all: she named her wooden prosthetic Cuthbert, drove ambulances in France, and was recruited by a recently formed SOE as a spy in occupied France. Hall posed as a newspaper reporter, enlisting civilians for the French Resistance and establishing an underground network of allies and becoming one of the most important spies during World War II. Purnell does an amazing job bringing Hall’s exploits to life and has crafted a gripping and cinematic biography for an unsung hero of wartime espionage. –Alison Walker Read more

“Barbara Bush was the wife of one president and the mother of another, but as Susan Page shows, was far more interesting than that. In the nick of time, Page managed to interview Mrs. Bush at length, gain access to her diaries, and acquire other information that many earlier authors did not have in order to bring us this highly readable portrait, which expands our understanding of this strong, decisive woman, whose influence spanned an era.” – Michael Beschloss, New York Times bestselling author of Presidents of War Read more

From a single, abbreviated life grew a seemingly immortal line of cells that made some of the most crucial innovations in modern science possible. And from that same life, and those cells, Rebecca Skloot has fashioned in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks a fascinating and moving story of medicine and family, of how life is sustained in laboratories and in memory. Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five in Baltimore, a poor African American migrant from the tobacco farms of Virginia, who died from a cruelly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 in 1951. A sample of her cancerous tissue, taken without her knowledge or consent, as was the custom then, turned out to provide one of the holy grails of mid-century biology: human cells that could survive–even thrive–in the lab. Known as HeLa cells, their stunning potency gave scientists a building block for countless breakthroughs, beginning with the cure for polio. Meanwhile, Henrietta’s family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and their discovery decades later of her unknowing contribution–and her cells’ strange survival–left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion. For a decade, Skloot doggedly but compassionately gathered the threads of these stories, slowly gaining the trust of the family while helping them learn the truth about Henrietta, and with their aid she tells a rich and haunting story that asks the questions, Who owns our bodies? And who carries our memories? –Tom Nissley Read more

“A confident and substantial book…It has torque and velocity…It makes a sweet sound, like a well-struck golf ball. I found it exhilarating, depressing, tawdry, and moving in almost equal measure. It’s a big American story.” —The New York Times

Based on years of reporting and interviews with more than 250 people from every corner of Tiger Woods’s life—many of whom have never spoken about him on the record before—a sweeping, revelatory, and defining biography of an American icon. Read more

In Madonna: An Intimate Biography, author J. Randy Taraborrelli’s scrupulously researched and completely balanced unauthorized biography of one of the world’s most celebrated entertainers, the reader is allowed to draw his or her own conclusions. Indeed, the portrait bestselling author Taraborrelli paints here is of a truly complex woman, one who is driven and determined to succeed at any cost, yet who displays remarkable vulnerability when it comes to matters of the heart. Read more