A neighbor of mine has asked me if I have any advice on good biographies for her book club. I’m thinking something published by a trade press, American or European history, and well-written and interesting enough to keep intelligent non-specialists engaged. Since this is a women’s book club, biographies of women would be especially useful, but all suggestions are welcome.
In a quick e-mail to my neighbor, I recommended Laurel Thather Ulrich’s A Midwife’s Tale(1990), and Blanche Wiesen Cook’s Eleanor Roosevelt, vol. I. (1992). (I probably should have warned her that the Cook bio is 600+ pages!) My guess is that this book club will want to be able to read and hear the voice of the subject, so while I admire Camilla Townsend’s accomplishments as a historian in Pocahontas and the Powhatan Dilemma(2004), and her Malintzin’s Choices: An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico (2006), my guess is that an audience of non-experts will feel that the subject of their book is rather elusive.