First released in 2012, Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith (subtitled The Life of a Modern Monarch) is a brilliant biography of one of the most important figures in history, Queen Elizabeth II. In 1962, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary was crowned the Queen of the United Kingdom (and also Canada, Australia, and New Zeeland). It was an immense responsibility for a 25-year-old woman who also had to raise her children.
Bob Dylan in America by Sean Wilentz is part a biography and part a cultural-historical study. Originally released in 2010, the book not only chronicles Dylan’s life journey and music career in the early 60’s, but it also explores the social, political, and cultural background at that time. Wilentz portrayed many aspects that gave influence on Dylan’s works, from the folk revival, to Beat literature, to the nation social-political situation.
The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto Che Guevara (subtitled Notes on a Latin American Journey) is a monumental memoir by the iconic and legendary Cuban revolutionary figure. The book captures 23-year-old Che Guevara’s experience when he went in an enlightening motorbike adventure out of his home country, Argentina. He explored places in South America where he witnessed injustice and exploitation on the people. This revelation then inspired the young physician to dedicate himself in the Cuban revolution.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X as Told to Alex Haley is a biography of one of the most influential civil rights activist in 60’s America. The book was written based on interviews that took place between 1963 and 1965. Besides Malcolm X’s life history, the biography also elaborates on his spiritual journey and his black pride philosophy and nationalism.
Originally published in 1993, Ramones: An American Band by Jim Bessman is a well-written biography of Ramones, iconic American punk rock band with indisputable influence in music. Bessman is a music journalist who actually knew the band. And it gave him vast access to Ramones and their inner circle. With such access, Bessman conducted many interviews where he collected valuable stories and anecdotes from the band members and their family, friends, and crew.
First published in 195, Hammer of the Gods by Stephen Davis (subtitled The Led Zeppelin Saga) is a controversial biography of legendary rock band, Led Zeppelin. Davis used to be a journalist for the Rolling Stone magazine and joined the band for two week while they did their U.S. tour in 1975. Davis did numerous interviews with the band members, tour crews, friends, and even lovers. From those interviews, Davis retells many colorful and shocking stories of unbelievable “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” madness connected with Led Zeppelin. All band members and most people around them denied most of the stories. However, who is telling the truth here?