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What are your favorite biographies?


saleen998
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What are the best biographies you would recommend? I've read quite a few which are really great. My top five are

 

  1. Walt Disney by Neil Gabler

  2. Adolf Hitler by John Toland

  3. Einstein by Ronald Clark

  4. The Virgin Way by Richard Branson

  5. Call me Ted by Ted Turner

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The Chernow books I have read have been great, Alexander Hamilton and the House of Morgan. In both books Chernow discovered, or obtained access, to material no one perviously had.

 

I have all of Chernow's other books and will be reading them soon.

 

Also Feynman's books, Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman and What do You Care What Other People Think are somewhat autobiographical and superb reads.

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Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson

 

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

 

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

 

 

 

All three of them have made a difference to my outlook on life and investing.

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Chernow's Washington: A Life. It is so good I don't want to finish it. I keep re-reading chapters.

 

Walter Isaacson's Benjamin Franklin.

 

Snowball was good.

 

Janet Lowe's short bio on Munger was good. 

 

Ed Thorp's autobiography was excellent.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just finished: Gorbachev: His Life and Times by William Taubman

https://www.amazon.com/Gorbachev-Life-Times-William-Taubman/dp/0393647013/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1527084124&sr=8-1&keywords=gorbachev+taubman

 

Detailed, well researched and fairly balanced (IMO).

Fascinating account of the last Soviet period.

 

Useful for those interested in capitalism versus other potential systems, international politics or the man himself who remains an enigma.

 

Some highlights:

 

-The Soviet regime contained the seeds of its own destruction and despite its inclination for authority and self-preservation nominated Gorbachev, a man who accelerated the chain reaction. Fascinating.

 

-Interestingly, the introduction of glasnost increased the popularity of Gorbachev for a while but created a context that strenghtened oppositions (on both sides of the spectrum) and eventually undermined the potential perestroika reforms. Reforms threatened the central state that held the system together.

 

-The Chernobyl disaster revealed how the system was rotten from the inside.

 

-The rivalry between Gorbachev and Yelstin, the unusual populist champion of change, is very well covered.

 

-Transition to a democratic system requires a solid institutional foundation.

 

-Ethnic discontent can destabilize a cautious and calculated approach.

 

-The way Putin ("black box") eventually consolidates his power with oligarchs is alluded to. State strengthened at the expense of individual freedoms. This happens to be the norm, rather than the exception, in regime "changes".

 

-Gorbachev's goal was to play the game in order to change it using a "dual consciousness". In the end, he was overwhelmed by the task.

 

-The author concludes by qualifying Gorbachev as a "tragic hero".

 

-After 693 pages, you can come up with your own conclusion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shoe Dog was pretty fun and a very quick read.  (Phil Knight of Nike)

 

 

I gave up about half way through this book.I found the book being in chronological order, as well including so many minute details and stories, super boring.

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Too many...

 

But if you haven't, you should probably read 'With the Old Breed' by E.B. Sledge. It's a memoirs.

 

Thanks for the tip. Impressive read. 'Defying Hitler' was another good WWII memoir, written by a 'nobody' in Germany who describes the rise of Hitler during the interbellum. 'Night' by Eli Wiesel was also a crazy read.

 

FWIW like many others I really enjoyed 'Titan' and 'Snowball'. I found the Isaacson books to be a bit boring, I didn't even finish 'Einstein' and I'm in doubt as to whether I should buy the da Vinci book. 'Faraday, Maxwell and the electromagnetic field' was great. 'The Wright Brothers' was enjoyable. The Shannon book and Thorp book were also ok.

 

At some point I'll probably try a few other Chernow books.

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Too many...

 

But if you haven't, you should probably read 'With the Old Breed' by E.B. Sledge. It's a memoirs.

 

Storm of Steel is a good one if your a war enthusiast.

 

'American Caesar' (about Douglas MacArthur) and 'Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War' and  by William Manchester are also recommended.

 

'Strong Men Armed' and 'Helmet for my Pillow' by Robert Leckie, about the U.S. Marines in the Pacific during WWII were also very good, as was 'Ghost Soldiers' by Hampton Sides.

 

I also quite liked the biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird ("American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer").

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I've read the Leckie book 100% due to BOB.

 

The thing that I found compelling about Steel is that it more or less just copies and pastes from the notes that junger took during the war. Much different style than the others that i feel are edited.

 

The feel of Steel in my view is much more like reading the raw un-polished thoughts where as the others explains things to the readers and is just a different style.

 

But Im a sucker for letters and diaries vs a polished book.

 

 

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Too many...

 

But if you haven't, you should probably read 'With the Old Breed' by E.B. Sledge. It's a memoirs.

 

Thanks for the tip. Impressive read. 'Defying Hitler' was another good WWII memoir, written by a 'nobody' in Germany who describes the rise of Hitler during the interbellum. 'Night' by Eli Wiesel was also a crazy read.

 

FWIW like many others I really enjoyed 'Titan' and 'Snowball'. I found the Isaacson books to be a bit boring, I didn't even finish 'Einstein' and I'm in doubt as to whether I should buy the da Vinci book. 'Faraday, Maxwell and the electromagnetic field' was great. 'The Wright Brothers' was enjoyable. The Shannon book and Thorp book were also ok.

 

At some point I'll probably try a few other Chernow books.

 

I also loved "Faraday, Maxwell....'" but I am an EE professor, so I like anything on Faraday, Maxwell, Hertz, and Heaviside!

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The Snowball: Warren Buffett by Alice Schroeder

A Curious Discovery by John Hendricks

The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green by Janet Wallach

The Match King: Ivar Kreuger by Frank Partnoy (author of FIASCO, a Munger recommendation)

Ponzi by Donald Dunn

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That sounds great. I ordered Storm of Steel. I already had it on a list somewhere, but there's a better chance I'll get to it within the next decade if I own it..

 

 

Another worthy read i found is Poilu. This one actually is about a French barrel maker who actually kept 19 notebooks throughout the war. By Louis Barahas.

 

As I read these stories its hard to imagine we live on the same planet. He lives through Verdun. Hard to imagine some of this stuff is less than 100 years ago.

 

Here's a The Great War video on him.

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