These days, when people speak of ‘celebrity autobiographies,’ they usually mean life accounts written by Hollywood luminaries. And while there have been some great additions to this genre, there are also some timeless classics penned by celebs that have little or nothing to do with the glitz and glamor of Tinseltown. Here are three of the best of these:
Autobiography of Mark Twain: This epic undertaking by one of America’s greatest, if not the greatest, literary minds of all time took nearly 40 years to complete. It can often seem rambling and meandering, as Twain approached the project with the notion that he should only write about things he found interesting at the time.
Twain’s fascinating autobiography spans a life of international travel and adventure, from his early years in Tennessee, Florida and Missouri, to time spent abroad in Vienna and Florence, to reflections on his unrivaled literary career. Much of it is dictated.
Twain ordered that his autobiography remain under wraps until 100 years after his death. Alas, much of it was published much sooner than that, although the first of a three-volume set of the complete work was released in 2010, exactly a century after the great author’s death.
Barack Obama, “Dreams From My Father”: This controversial early-life autobiography of the man who would become the first African-American president of the United States was released in 1995 as Obama was about to embark upon one of the most remarkable political careers in U.S. history. The fascinating account follows Obama’s life from his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia through his drug-fueled party years at Occidental College to more serious academic pursuits at Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review.
From there, it recounts his early work as a community organizer helping oppressed residents of Chicago housing projects. As the title suggests, the book also deals with Obama’s unique multi-racial background as the son of a white mother from Kansas and a Kenyan father. It concludes with a touching account of his first visit to Africa, where he met relatives in Kenya and reflected upon his promising future.
Jackie Robinson, “I Never Had It Made”: This outstanding autobiography chronicles the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Major League Baseball’s first African-American player. Long before that historic spring of 1947, Robinson was a trailblazer. He was the first four-letter athlete in UCLA history, for example.
But as the title states, Robinson’s path in life was never easy. From battling racism while serving in the army during World War II to a frustration-filled career in the Negro Leagues to the harrowing first few seasons as a Brooklyn Dodger, Robinson’s tale is one of hardship after hardship, bravely endured, and ultimate victory and vindication– and an immortal place in the history of not only America’s pastime, but also of America itself.