The Conquest of New Spain, by Bernal Diaz del Castillo (1632)
An eyewitness account of Hernan Cortes’s battles against the Aztecs.
Life of Mr Richard Savage, by Samuel Johnson (1744)
An unforgettable portrait of a minor poet who wasted his money and his talent on cards and drink. But he was Sam Johnson’s friend.
My Early Life, by Winston Churchill (1930)
In 1929 Churchill was voted out of office and set to writing his autobiography. A wonderful story of his education.
Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell (1938)
Orwell served with the Trotskyites during the Spanish Civil and observed at first hand how Communism ate its own children.
Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl (1946)
A deeply moving book about why some lived and some died amidst the horrors of Auschwitz.
Hiroshima, by John Hersey (1946)
This slim book traces the lives of six people who survived the world’s first atomic bomb blast.
If this is a man, by Primo Levy (1947)
A poignant meditation on the meaning of humanity by a man who spend the last year of World War II in Auschwitz.
Wild Swans, by Jung Chang (1991)
A family history of three generations of Chinese women, spanning the era of the warlords, the Revolution and the Cultural Revolution.
Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela (1995)
The best-selling autobiography of the great man who became the first black president of South Africa after serving 27 years in prison.
John Adams, by David McCullough (2001)
The life and character of John Adams, America’s second president. An incredibly popular biography