Top 10 Historical and Political Biographies 2014

Top 10 Historical and Political Biographies 2014

1. Boris Johnson – The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History

In his new book to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death, Boris Johnson explores the recipe for the perfect leader. Johnson’s admiration for Churchill is clearly profound, and he doesn’t want people to forget the scale of his achievements. Johnson presents his own eccentric take on Churchill’s full and fascinating life, and – despite hundreds of books having been written on Churchill before – his distinctive writing style ensures the “Boris effect” will grip the nation once more with this fascinating read.

2. General Sir David Richards – Taking Command

One of the most well-known British generals of modern times, General Sir David Richards retired last year after four decades of service in the British Army. He served in the Far East, Germany, Northern Ireland and East Timor, and his candid account of his eventful career gives the reader a real insight into the life of a soldier over the past 40 years. He has played a key role in many military endeavours, so his words are both thought-provoking and compelling and, unlike some of the drier accounts of military life, injected with warmth and humour throughout.

3. Dennis Skinner – Sailing Close to the Wind: Reminiscences

At 80 years old, Skinner has watched Prime Ministers come and go since he entered the House of Commons back in 1970. He remains as wry and witty as ever, and is as passionate now as he’s ever been about what he stands for. Regarded with much affection by Labour activists, he has many great stories to tell. Skinner has always resisted writing an autobiography until now, so supporters will enjoy these never-before-heard tales of political life over the last half century.

4. Andrew Roberts – Napoleon the Great

With the approach of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, Andrew Roberts puts forward his arguments for why the ruler deserves the title of ‘the Great’, in a book that would undoubtedly please Napoleon if he were around today. Roberts chiefly praises Napoleon for his achievements as a soldier, as well as the profound changes he made in France to transform it into the modern state it is today; but he also emphasises the ruler’s charismatic personality.The book is meticulously detailed, and manages to bring the Napoleon story up-to-date.

5. Hillary Rodham Clinton – Hard Choices: A Memoir

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s account of her four years as America’s 67th Secretary of State gives the reader real insight into the crises and decisions she faced during this time. Her former rival, Barack Obama, asked her to become Secretary of State after he was elected as President. They were presented with many challenges to overcome together – from the financial crisis to revolutions across the Middle East. Clinton doesn’t hold back with her views as she draws on conversations with world leaders. Her descriptions are said to offer a ‘master class’ in international relations, as she makes a passionate case for human rights.

6. George W. Bush – 41: A Portrait of My Father

Many books have been written about various US leaders – but never before has a President written a book about his father; another President. He was the 41st President and his career saw combat service in the Pacific during World War II, as well as his work in the Texas oil industry. The story is told through George W. Bush’s own words, taking the reader back to his childhood and exploring his father’s influence. A unique and intimate take on the former leader by the man who knew him best.

7. Mark Bostridge – Vera Brittain and the First World War: The Story of Testament of Youth

Vera Brittain and the First World War tells the fascinating story of the author behind Testament of Youth – the first of three books that covered her experience of war, and now one of the most treasured memoirs of the era. Mark Bostridge’s book looks at the early versions of Testament of Youth in the wake of the new film adaptation, which is being produced by the makers of Harry Potter. Bostridge explores the effects of the war on Brittain – both on her personal life, her writing and her ultimate decision to become a pacifist. Incorporating up-to-date research, the book is a must for anyone planning on watching the film.

8. Ben Macintyre – A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Kim Philby’s story is one of the most fascinating tales of spies, betrayal and deceit from the Cold War period, and one that Ben Macintyre brings to life brilliantly in this new biography. A double agent, Philby was a high ranking member of the British Intelligence Service who secretly fed information to the Soviet Union at the start of the Cold War. Focusing on Philby’s close friendships with Nicholas Elliot of MI6 and the CIA intelligence chief James Jesus Angleton, this book highlights the depth of the mystery and betrayal in Philby’s tale. Ben Macintyre is known for his sharp, insightful explorations in his biographies, and this one doesn’t disappoint, walking the line between a compelling story and insightful account.

9. Robert Gates – Duty

Republican Robert Gates’s account of his time in the Bush and Obama administrations makes for a fascinating read. Although somewhat catty at times, it is also entertaining and allows the reader to come away from the book with more information on the world’s military capital. Gates was US Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011, and prior to that was Director of the CIA. He’s the only Secretary of Defense to serve under both a Republican and Democratic president, so his book provides a no-details-spared account of his eventful tenure.

10. Andrew Cuomo – All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has released a memoir, complete with 16 pages of photographs. It gives the reader truthful glimpses into both his personal and political life – from the breakdown of his marriage to pivotal political moments. Cuomo also discusses the relationship he had with his father, former Governor Mario Cuomo. The book makes for an insightful read: he reflects on the necessary lessons learned along the way, in terms of duty, family, justice, politics and resilience, and uses the book to outline his political philosophy.

Which political and historical autobiographies will you be adding to your Christmas wish-list? Check out our full range of biographies and autobiographies here.