5 thrilling biographies to add to your Audible checkout
From Hamilton to Musk, the lives of these notable figures leap off the page and into your earbuds.
About to embark on one more summer road trip before the fall? Need a break from fiction and a bit of personal inspiration? For those on the go with a preference for listening over reading, we've compiled five of the best biographies to download from Audible. Averaging between 10 and 36 hours long, these bios are sure to leave you awestruck and swept up in their virtual pages.
Ron Chernow's 'Alexander Hamilton'
Can't stop humming the catchy songs from American composer Lin-Manuel Miranda's "Hamilton"? Want to know more about the historical figure behind the Broadway smash hit? American author Ron Chernow's 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton is an absolute must-listen for anyone with a modicum of interest in one of the United States' most influential founding fathers.
Narrated by Scott Brick, an American actor with more than 600 audiobook credits to his name, the story of Hamilton's life and accomplishments covers everything from his early years in the Caribbean to his adventures during the Revolutionary War and his groundbreaking ideas and policies as America's first treasury secretary.
"This is an excellent biography of a fascinating character, with wonderful narration, and beautiful writing," gushed one reviewer on Audible. "It is also the perfect length. I only wish all biographies were as enjoyable as this. The story is detailed without ever becoming dry or boring. There is a theme running through the story, but the author demonstrates the theme, as opposed to coercing the reader into alignment. I have listened to many of the American historical biographies available on Audible, and this is the best so far."
Walter Isaacson's 'Einstein: His Life and Universe'
American author Walter Isaacson's 2007 biography on Albert Einstein is highly praised for both its engrossing historical detail and entertaining, intimate reveal of the personal life of one of the 20th century's greatest scientific minds.
"He had a willingness to be rebellious, to think differently, to question authority, and that gave him the imagination to see things that other people had never thought of," Isaacson, who combed through the physicists' personal papers at the official Albert Einstein archives of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said in an interview. "I realized that that was connected to his daily personality, his love life and personal life, so I wanted to show how his personality connected with his physics."
The audio version of the book, which has since been turned into an Emmy-nominated series on the National Geographic Channel, is narrated to perfection by veteran American actor Edward Herrmann.
"Although extremely long, at over 21 hours, this audio book is well written and well read," praised one critic. "With all of the time I invested in listening, when the end came I felt as if I was saying goodbye to an old friend. Very much worth the time and effort to listen."
Brian Jay Jones' 'George Lucas: A Life'
Cinephiles interested in raising the curtain on the life of American director George Lucas should download the audio book version of Brian Jay Jones' "George Lucas: A Life." Narrated by Jay Snyder, the 18-hour recording takes listeners from Lucas' childhood to the birth of the "Star Wars" franchise, concluding with his sale of Lucasfilm in 2012 and the premiere of "The Force Awakens."
"It’s for more than just fans of Star Wars or Indiana Jones. Readers might know a little about Lucas, but perhaps not much beyond what he’s done beyond those movies," Jones said in an interview. "But Lucas is actually a really big story – he’s the story of modern filmmaking. This book is for those who want to know more about the trials and tribulations that go with filmmaking, and how Lucas really kicked down the door for creator-driven films."
"I was engaged throughout," wrote one critic. "Lucas came off as a quiet, sometimes remote, but all the same engaging character who had a genius for attracting the best people and for innovating the look, sound and making of films."
Karen Stabiner's 'Generation Chef'
What does it take to make your mark in the culinary world and open a world-class gourmet eatery? American author Karen Stabiner chronicles first-hand the risky, high-pressure world of gourmet startups by focusing on Jonah Miller, an award-winning chef and owner of "Huertas" in New York City. The restaurant, which features a menu drenched in the Mediterranean-infused traditional dishes of Northern Spain, serves as the backdrop for a story chronicling Miller's early years, culinary education and impassioned desire to carve his own path in the industry.
As Stabiner notes, it's a profession no one should pursue lightly. "Jonah was 26 when he opened his restaurant and at the end of the first week, he looked like my grandfather,” she said in an interview. "It’s repetitive, it’s physical, it’s challenging."
Narrated by Cady McClain, the book impressively packs a lot of thrills into its 11-plus-hour running time. "I am a big Food Network fan and this book takes you even deeper into the world behind the counter of the restaurant industry," wrote one fan. "The story flows as an emotional roller coaster of big dreams and real worries."
Ashlee Vance's 'Elon Musk'
With "Elon Musk," American author Ashlee Vance delves deep into the life and history of the man who made electric cars cool, wants to put a battery in every home, and one day hopes to send humans on Mars.
"I really got this up-close view of how relentless he is, and how he has this really unusual mix of technological savvy, business savvy, marketing savvy, hustle, smarts, all dumped into this one character," Vance told The Fuse. "I wouldn’t want to compete against him."
Narrated by Fred Sanders, the audiobook version of Musk's biography spans 13 hours and chronicles the entrepreneur's upbringing in South Africa, early startups like PayPal, and future vision for growing his empire of companies from SpaceX to Tesla. It also offers an unfiltered look at the personal side of Musk that rarely shows itself at public events and in product announcements.
"How deeply humane, how inspiring, how essentially American!," praised one listener. "Up to this point Elon Musk has a legacy and his life and achievements will inspire generations to come. But I want to thank Ashlee Vance for embarking on such a project and delivering in such an elegant form. One of the best biographies I've read – unbiased, unintimidated and above all timely. We still need heroes."
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