Biography or Autobiography

Finalists have been announced since 1980.


2015 David I. Kertzer The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe

An engrossing dual biography that uses recently opened Vatican archives to shed light on two men who exercised nearly absolute power over their realms.

More details
2014 Megan Marshall Margaret Fuller: A New American Life

A richly researched book that tells the remarkable story of a 19th century author, journalist, critic and pioneering advocate of women’s rights who died in a shipwreck.

More details
2013 Tom Reiss The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo

A compelling story of a forgotten swashbuckling hero of mixed race whose bold exploits were captured by his son, Alexander Dumas, in famous 19th century novels.

More details
2012 John Lewis Gaddis George F. Kennan: An American Life

An engaging portrait of a globetrotting diplomat whose complicated life was interwoven with the Cold War and America’s emergence as the world’s dominant power.

More details
2011 Ron Chernow Washington : A Life

A sweeping, authoritative portrait of an iconic leader learning to master his private feelings in order to fulfill his public duties.

More details
2010 T.J. Stiles The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

A penetrating portrait of a complex, self-made titan who revolutionized transportation, amassed vast wealth and shaped the economic world in ways still felt today.

More details
2009 Jon Meacham American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House

An unflinching portrait of a not always admirable democrat but a pivotal president, written with an agile prose that brings the Jackson saga to life.

More details
2008 John Matteson "Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father"
More details
2007 Debby Applegate The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher
More details
2006 Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
More details
2005 Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan de Kooning: An American Master
More details
2004 William Taubman Khrushchev: The Man and His Era
More details
2003 Robert A. Caro Master of the Senate
More details
2002 David McCullough John Adams
More details
2001 David Levering Lewis W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963
More details
2000 Stacy Schiff Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov)
More details
1999 A. Scott Berg Lindbergh
More details
1998 Katharine Graham Personal History
More details
1997 Frank McCourt Angela's Ashes: A Memoir
More details
1996 Jack Miles God: A Biography
More details
1995 Joan D. Hedrick Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life
More details
1994 David Levering Lewis W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race 1868-1919
1993 David McCullough Truman
1992 Lewis B. Puller Fortunate Son: The Healing of a Vietnam Vet
1991 Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith Jackson Pollock
1990 Sebastian de Grazia Machiavelli in Hell
1989 Oscar Wilde by the late Richard Ellmann (Alfred A. Knopf)
1988 David Herbert Donald Look Homeward: A Life of Thomas Wolfe
1987 David J. Garrow Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
1986 Elizabeth Frank Louise Bogan: A Portrait
1985 Kenneth Silverman The Life and Times of Cotton Mather
1984 Louis R. Harlan Booker T. Washington: The Wizard of Tuskegee, 1901-1915
1983 Russell Baker Growing Up
1982 William McFeely Grant: A Biography
1981 Robert K. Massie Peter the Great: His Life and World
1980 Edmund Morris The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
1979 Leonard Baker Days of Sorrow and Pain: Leo Baeck and the Berlin Jews
1978 Walter Jackson Bate Samuel Johnson
1977 John E. Mack A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T. E. Lawrence
1976 R. W. B. Lewis Edith Wharton: A Biography
1975 Robert Caro The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York
1974 Louis Sheaffer O'Neill, Son and Artist
1973 W. A. Swanberg Luce and His Empire
1972 Joseph P. Lash Eleanor and Franklin
1971 Lawrance Thompson Robert Frost: The Years of Triumph, 1915 -1938
1970 T. Harry Williams Huey Long
1969 Benjamin Lawrence Reid The Man From New York: John Quinn and His Friends
1968 George F. Kennan Memoirs
1967 Justin Kaplan Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain
1966 Arthur M. Schlesinger A Thousand Days
1965 Ernest Samuels Henry Adams, three volumes
1964 Walter Jackson Bate John Keats
1963 Leon Edel Henry James
1962 (No Award)
1961 David Donald Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War
1960 Samuel Eliot Morison John Paul Jones
1959 Arthur Walworth Woodrow Wilson
1958 Douglas Southall Freeman George Washington, Volumes I-VI
1957 John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage
1956 Talbot Faulkner Hamlin Benjamin Henry Latrobe
1955 William S. White The Taft Story
1954 Charles A. Lindbergh The Spirit of St. Louis
1953 David J. Mays Edmund Pendleton 1721-1803
1952 Merlo J. Pusey Charles Evans Hughes
1951 Margaret Louise Coit John C. Calhoun: American Portrait
1950 Samuel Flagg Bemis John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy
1949 Robert E. Sherwood Roosevelt and Hopkins
1948 Margaret Clapp Forgotten First Citizen: John Bigelow
1947 William Allen White The Autobiography of William Allen White
1946 Linnie Marsh Wolfe Son of the Wilderness
1945 Russell Blaine Nye George Bancroft: Brahmin Rebel
1944 Carleton Mabee The American Leonardo: The Life of Samuel F B. Morse
1943 Samuel Eliot Morison Admiral of the Ocean Sea
1942 Forrest Wilson Crusader in Crinoline
1941 Ola Elizabeth Winslow Jonathan Edward
1940 Ray Stannard Baker Woodrow Wilson, Life and Letters. Vols. VII and VIII
1939 Carl Van Doren Benjamin Franklin
1938 Marquis James Andrew Jackson, 2 vols.
1938 Odell Shepard Pedlar's Progress
1937 Allan Nevins Hamilton Fish
1936 Ralph Barton Perry The Thought and Character of William James
1935 Douglas S. Freeman R. E. Lee
1934 Tyler Dennett John Hay
1933 Allan Nevins Grover Cleveland
1932 Henry F. Pringle Theodore Roosevelt
1931 Henry James Charles W. Eliot
1930 Marquis James The Raven
1929 Burton J. Hendrick The Training of an American: The Earlier Life and Letters of Walter H. Page
1928 Charles Edward Russell The American Orchestra and Theodore Thomas
1927 Emory Holloway Whitman
1926 Harvey Cushing The Life of Sir William Osler, 2 vols.
1925 M. A. Dewolfe Howe Barrett Wendell and His Letters
1924 Michael Idvorsky Pupin From Immigrant to Inventor
1923 Burton J. Hendrick The Life and Letters of Walter H. Page
1922 Hamlin Garland A Daughter of the Middle Border
1921 Edward Bok The Americanization of Edward Bok
1920 Albert J. Beveridge The Life of John Marshall, 4 vols.
1919 Henry Adams The Education of Henry Adams
1918 William Cabell Bruce Benjamin Franklin, Self-Revealed
1917 Laura E. Richards and Maude Howe Elliott assisted by Florence Howe Hall Julia Ward Howe


2015 Thomas Brothers Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism

The masterfully researched second volume of a life of the musical pioneer, effectively showing him in the many milieus where he lived and worked in the 1920s and 1930s.

2015 Stephen Kotkin Stalin: Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928

A superbly researched tour de force of pre- and post-revolutionary Russian history told through the life of Joseph Stalin.

2014 Leo Damrosch Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World

A seminal work that illuminates the famous yet enigmatic satirist who was also a crucial figure in 18th century Anglo-Irish politics.

2014 Jonathan Sperber Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life

An impressively researched work that provides a fresh perspective on Marx and his ideas by placing him in the social and intellectual swirl of the 1800s.

2013 Michael Gorra Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece

An elegant and enlightening book that brings together the complicated life of a great author and the evolution of his great novel, "The Portrait of a Lady."

2013 David Nasaw The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy

A monumental work that tells the story of the relentless tycoon who created a dynastic family that helped shape modern American history and also suffered immense tragedy.

2012 Mary Gabriel Love and Capital: Karl and Jenny Marx and the Birth of a Revolution

An enlightening, richly researched book on the saga of Marx, his family and the ideas and historical events they helped to shape.

2012 the late Manning Marable Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

An exploration of the legendary life and provocative views of one of the most significant African-Americans in U.S. history, a work that separates fact from fiction and blends the heroic and tragic. (Moved by the Board to the History category.)

2011 Alan Brinkley The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century

A fresh, fair minded assessment of a complicated man who transformed the news business and showed busy Americans new ways to see the world.

2011 Michael O'Brien Mrs. Adams in Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon

A graceful account of a remarkable journey by Louisa Catherine Adams, the wife of a future president, who traveled with a young son across a Europe still reeling from warfare.

2010 John Milton Cooper, Jr. Woodrow Wilson: A Biography

A magisterial work that corrects erroneous perceptions and casts important new light on one of the most pivotal and enigmatic American presidents, fully placing the man in the context of his times.

2010 Blake Bailey Cheever: A Life

An absorbing, impeccably researched exploration of the famed writer John Cheever, illuminating his greatness as well as flaws, told in a compelling voice worthy of the subject.

2009 H.W. Brands Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt

A richly textured and highly readable exploration of the inner Roosevelt, presented with analytical acuity and flashes of originality.

2009 Steve Coll The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century

An epic tale extending far beyond Osama Bin Laden and the calamity of 9/11, rooted in meticulous research and written with an urgency, clarity and flair that entertains as easily as it educates.

2008 Martin Duberman The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein
2008 Zachary Leader The Life of Kingsley Amis
2007 Arthur H. Cash John Wilkes: The Scandalous Father of Civil Liberty
2007 David Nasaw Andrew Carnegie
2006 Joan Didion The Year of Magical Thinking
2006 Megan Marshall The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism
2005 Stephen Greenblatt Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
2005 William Souder Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of The Birds of America
2004 James Gleick Isaac Newton
2004 Hayden Herrera Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work
2003 Nicholas Dawidoff The Fly Swatter
2003 Lewis Lockwood Beethoven: The Music and the Life
2002 Jimmy Carter An Hour Before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood
2002 Jean Edward Smith Grant
2001 H.W. Brands The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
2001 Christoph Wolff Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician
2000 Bobbie Ann Mason Clear Springs: A Memoir
2000 Dava Sobel Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love
1999 Francine du Plessix Gray At Home with the Marquis de Sade: A Life
1999 Sylvia Nasar A Beautiful Mind
1998 James H. Jones Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public-Private Life
1998 Sam Tanenhaus Whittaker Chambers: A Biography
1997 Kim Barnes In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country
1997 Hershel Parker Herman Melville: A Biography, Volume 1, 1819-1851
1996 John Loughery John Sloan: Painter and Rebel
1996 Maynard Solomon Mozart: A Life
1995 Roger K. Newman Hugo Black: A Biography
1995 Stacy Schiff Saint-Exupery: A Biography
1994 Deborah Baker In Extremis: The Life of Laura Riding
1994 Edmund White Genet: A Biography
1993 James Gleick Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman
1993 Walter Isaacson Kissinger
1992 Michael Shelden Orwell: The Authorized Biography
1992 William S. McFeely Frederick Douglass
1991 Patricia O'Toole The Five of Hearts: An Intimate Portrait of Henry Adams and His Friends1880-1918
1991 Joseph Frazier Wall Alfred I. Du Pont: The Man and His Family
1990 Jill Ker Conway The Road From Coorain
1990 Reynolds Price Clear Pictures: First Loves, First Guides
1990 Geoffrey C. Ward A First-Class Temperament: The Emergence of Franklin Roosevelt
1989 Peter Gay Freud: A Life For Our Time
1989 Arnold Rampersad The Life of Langston Hughes: Volume II, 1941-1967: I Dream a World
1989 Neil Sheehan A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam
1988 Kenneth S. Lynn Hemingway
1988 John McCormick George Santayana: A Biography
1987 Joseph Frank Dostoevsky: The Stir of Liberation, 1860-1865
1987 Leonard L. Richards The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams
1987 A.M. Sperber Murrow: His Life and Times
1986 John Hope Franklin George Washington Williams: A Biography
1986 Frida Scheps Weinstein A Hidden Childhood: A Jewish Girl's Sanctuary in a French Convent, 1942-1945
1985 Howard M. Feinstein Becoming William James
1985 Michael Mott The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton
1984 Fred Kaplan Thomas Carlyle: A Biography
1984 Kenneth Manning Black Apollo of Science: the Life of Ernest Everett Just
1983 Ted Morgan Churchill: Young Man in a Hurry, 1874-1915
1983 Richard Norton Smith Thomas E. Dewey and His Times
1982 Gay Wilson Allen Waldo Emerson
1982 David McCullough Mornings on Horseback
1981 Justin Kaplan Walt Whitman: A Life
1981 Ronald Steel Walter Lippmann and the American Century
1980 Ernest Samuels Bernard Berenson, The Making of a Connoisseur
1980 Meryle Secrest Being Bernard Berenson
1980 Geoffrey Wolff The Duke of Deception