Adult Book Lists: Meet Someone New: Interesting and Influential People You May Not Know

[Printable book list]

Aung San Suu Kyi / B AUNGSANS
The Lady and the Peacock by Peter Popham
Noble laureate and daughter of a Myanmarese revolutionary, Aung San Suu Kyi led one of the largest resistance movements against her country's oppressive leadership and became one of the first women serving in major roles in Myanmar's government.

Ansel Adams / B ADAMS
Ansel Adams: a Biography by Mary Street Alinder
Ansel Adams was a major environmentalist and talented photographer, whose black and white images of the American West and Yosemite National Park still captivate audiences decades after they were taken.

John James Audubon / B Audobon
Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of the Birds of America by William Souder
Audubon was a self taught painter, self-styled frontiersman, and talented naturalist who documented and drew America's bird species in extraordinary detail and produced Birds of America, still regarded as one of the finest ornithological studies ever produced.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer / B BONHOEFF
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who worshipped and studied in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance. Later, he returned to Germany and hatched a plot to assassinate Hitler.

John Brown / B BROWN
A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown's War Against Slavery by Marrin Albert
John Brown was an enigmatic firebrand who believed he was appointed by God to oppose slavery and liberate slaves. His raid on Harper's Ferry and subsequent execution are credited as a major factor spurring the start of the Civil War.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau / 551.46 COUSTEAU
The Silent World by Marrin Albert
Legendary nautical pioneer and inventor of scuba, Jacques Cousteau recounts his adventures in early underwater exploration.

Paul Dirac / B DIRAC
The Strangest Man: the Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom by Graham Farmelo
Paul Dirac was an early discoverer of the properties of quantum mechanics. A colleague of Einstein, he successfully predicted the existence of antimatter and became the youngest theoretician to win the Nobel Prize.

John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles / 327.12730092 KINZER
The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War by Stephen Kinzer
John Foster Dulles served as Secretary of State while his brother Allen served as director of the nascent CIA after WWII. Together, they helped steer American foreign policy and espionage during the tense, early days of the Cold War and set paradigms that dominated policy for years afterwards.

Thomas-Alexandre Dumas / B DUMAS
The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss
Meet the real Count of Monte Christo. Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, the man behind the legends, was the son of a black slave , who rose from bondage to a member of the aristocracy, became a general, and led troops during some of the heaviest fighting of the Napoleonic Wars.
(Also available in ebook)

Fannie Lou Hamer / B HAMER
This Little Light of Mine by Kay Mills
Fannie Lou Hamer was a civil rights activist who was instrumental in ending segregation and extending voting rights. A sharecropper's daughter, she helped organize Mississippi's Freedom Summer and spoke at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.

John Harrison / 526.62 SOBEL
Longitude: the True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel
John Harrison was an English inventor and clock-maker who developed a clock accurate enough to be used to calculate longitude. This dramatically improved maritime navigation and allowed for safer and faster exploration and trading across the world's oceans.

John Hay / B HAY
All the Great Prizes: the Life of John Hay, from Lincoln to Roosevelt by John Taliaferro
John Hay was an American politician and official who served in government for nearly fifty years at the turn of the 20th century. He served as Lincoln's secretary and later as Secretary of State under McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. He helped shape policies after the American Civil War and bore witness to the major changes of the Industrial Revolution and the Gilded Age.

Henrietta Lacks / B LACKS
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Henrietta Lacks was a poor black southern farmer, whose cells were taken without her knowledge and used extensively for groundbreaking scientific research and medical cures. Decades later, her family sought to come to terms with her lack of recognition for the work done with her cells and with the grim history of medical experimentation on African Americans without their consent.
(Also available in ebook)

Katherine Mayfield / B MAYFIELD
The Undertaker's Daughter
Katherine Mayfield recounts her experiences growing up in a funeral home as the daughter of a small-town funeral home director.

Golda Meir / B MEIR
Golda by Elinor Burkett
The "Iron Lady" of Israel, Golda Meir served as one of the first women leaders of a Western democracy and as the prime minister of Israel in the critical days following the 1967 Six-Day War.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan / B MOYNIHAN
Daniel Patrick Moynihan: a Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary by Elinor Burkett
Daniel Patrick Moynihan was an American politician and diplomat who served under four presidential administrations and remains the longest serving senator from the state of New York. His letters offer a window into some of the most pivotal moments of the mid 20th century from JFK's assassination to the Vietnam War.

Sally Ride / B RIDE
Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space by Lynn Sherr
Sally Ride was a physicist and astronaut who became the first American woman in space. She later served as a physics professor and helped with the investigations of the Challenger and Columbia disasters.

James Murray and Dr. William Chester Minor / 423 WINCHEST
The Professor and the Madman: a Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Lynn Sherr
Simon Winchester recounts the strange relationship of two eccentric but brilliant men who helped create the Oxford English Dictionary.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth / B LONGWORT
Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker by Stacy A. Cordery
The daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, Alice Longworth was a socialite and Washington insider for the first half of the twentieth century. She was a controversial firebrand who spoke critically of FDR, threw lavish salons during the Kennedy and Johnson years, had an affair with a senator, and remained a behind-the-scenes wielder of influence in the capital for decades.

Wernher von Braun / 621.4356092 WARD
Dr. Space by Bob Ward
Wernher von Braun was a brilliant German aerospace engineer and chief architect of Hitler's infamous V2 rockets. After World War II and with much controversy, he relocated to the United States and served as a pioneering rocketry inventor who helped the US win the Space Race and land men on the moon.

Samuel Zemurray / B ZEMURRAY
The Fish That Ate the Whale: the Life and Times of America's Banana King by Rich Cohen
Samuel Zemurray was a New Orleans businessman who made his fortune in the banana trade. He served as head of the controversial United Fruit Company , which has been accused of exploitative colonialism and had a major impact on the economic and political development of the so-called Central American banana republics.