Genre Spotlight: Highly Rated Memoirs & Biographies

These highly-rated biographies and memoirs will inspire and fascinate, even more than novels can—because the stories they tell are true.

 

Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter: A Memoir (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $9.99)

The Glass Castle meets The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother in this dazzlingly honest and provocative family memoir by former child actress and current Fox Business Network anchor Melissa Francis.

When Melissa Francis was eight years old, she won the role of lifetime: playing Cassandra Cooper Ingalls, the little girl who was adopted with her brother (played by young Jason Bateman) by the Ingalls family on the world’s most famous primetime soap opera, Little House on the Prairie. Despite her age, she was already a veteran actress, living a charmed life, moving from one Hollywood set to the next. But behind the scenes, her success was fueled by the pride, pressure, and sometimes grinding cruelty of her stage mother, as fame and a mother’s ambition pushed her older sister deeper into the shadows.

Diary of a Stage Mother’s Daughter is a fascinating account of life as a child star in the 1980’s, and also a startling tale of a family under the care of a highly neurotic, dangerously competitive “tiger mother.” But perhaps most importantly, now that Melissa has two sons of her own, it’s a meditation on motherhood, and the value of pushing your children: how hard should you push a child to succeed, and at what point does your help turn into harm?

 

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase to Catch Lincoln’s Killer (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $14.99)

The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history.

From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, led Union cavalry and detectives on a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia, while the nation, still reeling from the just-ended Civil War, watched in horror and sadness.

James L. Swanson’s Manhunt is a fascinating tale of murder, intrigue, and betrayal. A gripping hour-by-hour account told through the eyes of the hunted and the hunters, this is history as you’ve never read it before.

 

I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography of Jackie Robinson (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $14.99)

The Autobiography of a Boy of Summer Who Became a Man for All Seasons

Before Barry Bonds, before Reggie Jackson, before Hank Aaron, baseball’s stars had one undeniable trait in common: they were all white. In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke that barrier, striking a crucial blow for racial equality and changing the world of sports forever. I Never Had It Made is Robinson’s own candid, hard-hitting account of what it took to become the first black man in history to play in the major leagues.

I Never Had It Made recalls Robinson’s early years and influences: his time at UCLA, where he became the school’s first four-letter athlete; his army stint during World War II, when he challenged Jim Crow laws and narrowly escaped court martial; his years of frustration, on and off the field, with the Negro Leagues; and finally that fateful day when Branch Rickey of the Brooklyn Dodgers proposed what became known as the “Noble Experiment”—Robinson would step up to bat to integrate and revolutionize baseball.

More than a baseball story, I Never Had It Made also reveals the highs and lows of Robinson’s life after baseball. He recounts his political aspirations and civil rights activism; his friendships with Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, William Buckley, Jr., and Nelson Rockefeller; and his troubled relationship with his son, Jackie, Jr.

Originally published the year Robinson died, I Never Had It Made endures as an inspiring story of a man whose heroism extended well beyond the playing field.

 

Me, Myself & Bob (5/5 stars, currently priced at $4.99)

Larry. Bob. Archibald. These Veggie Tales stars are the most famous vegetables you’ll ever eat. Oops, meet.

Their antics are known around the world. But so much of the Veggie Tale story hasn’t been told.

In Me, Myself, and Bob, Phil Vischer, founder of Big Idea and creator of Veggie Tales, gives a behind-the-scenes look at his not-so-funny journey with the loveable veggies.

From famed creator to bankrupt dreamer, Vischer shares his story of trial and ultimate triumph as God inspired him with one big idea after another.

 

Radical Integrity: The Story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $7.99)

You’ll be inspired by this story of a German pastor and theologian who gave his life to oppose Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime.

Born into a prominent German family, Dietrich Bonhoeffer died in a Nazi prison camp, hanged for his plot against the man who’d plunged the world into war.

Find out what made Dietrich Bonhoeffer the man he was—compassionate minister, brilliant thinker, opponent of the heresies of Nazism and Aryan superiority.

This easy-to-read biography details both Bonhoeffer’s life and his powerful theology—of “cheap” versus “costly” grace.

 

A Patch of Ground (4.5/5 stars, currently priced at $9.99)

A poignant, often humorous, recollection of the siege of Khe Sanha pivotal turning point in the American war in Vietnam.

Under constant bombardment from the enemy, Michael Archer and his cadre of young Marines Orr, Pig, Old Woman and Savage, just to name a few managed to survive and, in the process, learn about manhood, sacrifice and the darkest recesses of fear and loneliness.

 

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