Pulitzer Prize winning Biography or Autobiography Books, 2000-2012

The Pulitzer Prize is the most prestigious literary U.S award named after Hungarian-American publisher, journalist, and philanthropist- Joseph Pulitzer- given each year for achievements in journalism, literature and musical composition by Columbia University in New York City. There were only eight categories when first Pulitzer prizes were awarded in 1917. Now, almost a century later, Pulitzer prizes are awarded annually in twenty-one categories (14 for journalism categories and 7 for letters, drama, and music).

The most powerful and influential publisher, Joseph Pulitzer, specified History and Biography or Autobiography as two categories he wished to honor in his 1904 will. Since 1917, each year a winner has been announced, with the exception 1962 when 89 different authors awarded with Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.  In this category, four authors Douglas Southall Freeman, Allen Nevins, David McCullough and Robert A. Caro have twice achieved a Pulitzer Prize.

Dedicating to all the book lovers, we’re presenting here a list of the “Pulitzer Prize winning books for Biography or Autobiography” from the years 2000-2012 in descending order.  Take a look:

2012 >>

George F. Kennan: An American Life by John Lewis Gaddis : Selected by the nytimes as a notable book of the year, Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis delivers a revelatory biography of the most influential American diplomat of the Cold War era. The author began this magisterial history almost thirty years ago, interviewing Kennan frequently and gaining exclusive access to his voluminous archives. This is a landmark work of history and biography that reveals the vast influence and rich inner landscape of a life that both mirrored and shaped the century it spanned.




2011  >>

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow : A well-received biographer Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of the Father of our nation-George Washington. In this unique biography, author takes us on a page-turning journey through his troubled boyhood, his achievements in the French and Indian War, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, his heroic deeds with the Continental Army, his creation of Mount Vernon, and his splendid performance as America’s first president.

2010 >> 

The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles: This groundbreaking biography is thoroughly researched and gracefully written by the T.J Stiles that presents the dramatic story of Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt, an aggressive American man who, through his intelligence and strong determination, did more than perhaps any other individual do to make modern capitalism. This award-winning book explains a dubious life, from Vanderbilt’s humble birth during the administration of George Washington to his death as one of the wealthiest men in the history of America.




2009 >>

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham : One of our most noteworthy yet hazily remembered presidents, Andrew Jackson was an orphan who rose from nothing to found the Democratic Party and create the modern presidency. With his influential personality and his mystical connection to the public, Andrew Jackson gave voice to the expectations and the intimidations of a restless, changing nation facing challenging times at home and threats overseas.  Jon Meacham in American Lion has delivered the definitive human portrayal of a prominent president who forever changed the American presidency–and America itself.

2008 >>

Eden’s Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father by John Matteson: This biography is a remarkable, clear, colorful and insightful story of Bronson and Louisa’s tense yet loving relationship. Won Pulitzer Prize for this groundbreaking book in 2008, John Matteson   described in this book that how Louisa challenged her father who desired perfection, for the world and from his family with her mercurial moods. This amazing story adds dimensions to Louisa’s life, her work, and the relationships of fathers and daughters.

2007 >>

The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate : Debby Applegate has written the definitive biography of the blithe, energetic and mercurial son of the last great Puritan minister, he seemed destined to be overshadowed by his brilliant siblings—especially his sister, Harriet Beecher Stowe, who penned the century’s bestselling book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Even currently, when religion and politics are again colliding and adultery in high places still commands headlines, Beecher’s story of how he found international fame and became the fathers of modern American Christianity sheds new light on the culture and conflicts of contemporary America.

2006 >>

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin : One of the iconic figures of the 20th century, J. Robert Oppenheimer was a brilliant physicist, who led the attempt to make the atomic bomb for his nation in a time of war, and who later found himself facing the moral consequences of scientific advancements. In this deeply informative, magisterial and finest biography, the author capture Oppenheimer’s life and times, from his early occupation to his vital role in the Cold War.

2005 >>

de Kooning: An American Master by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan :  The first major biography of de Kooning, one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, is a trustworthy and brilliant exploration of the art, life, and world of an American figure. Ten years in the making, and derived from formerly unobserved letters and documents as well as on hundreds of interviews, this is a fresh, richly detailed, and masterful portrait that inspire many artists.

2004 >>

Khrushchev: The Man and His Era by William Taubman :  This is the definitive biography of the first mercurial Soviet Union ruler after Stalin’s death- Khrushchev- who became the one of the most complex and foremost political figures of the 20th century. Combining a page-turning historical description with incisive political and psychological analysis, this book brims with the life and experience of a man whose story personified his time. Shortlisted for the National Books Critics Circle Award, this book shows the life of Khrushchev who left a contradictory stamp on his country.

2003 >>

Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert Caro : Brilliantly weaving rich element into a fascinating narrative, this biography is the continued part of riveting political biography Robert A. Caro’s life. Caro fives a galvanizing as well as definitive portrait of Johnson’s brilliance, charm, and ruthlessness that enabled him to become the youngest and most powerful Majority Leader in history. Moreover, it also shows how he used his incomparable legislative genius–seducing both Northern liberals and Southern conservatives–to pass the first Civil Rights legislation since Reconstruction.

2002 >>

John Adams by David McCullough : David McCullough’s enthralling and powerful biography unfolds the adventurous life journey of John Adams, the brilliant, ferociously independent, often quick-tempered, always honest Yankee patriot. An amazing, often surprising story of a man who rose to become the second president of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an avoidable war and who married to the wise and brave Abigail Adams is one of the most touching love stories in American history.

2001 >>

W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and The American Century, 1919–1963 by David Levering Lewis : Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize biography by Lewis treats the early and middle facets of a crucial fifty-year long and intense period that shows how Du Bois changed forever the way Americans feel about themselves.

2000 >>

Vera, Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov by Stacy Schiff : Set in prewar Europe and postwar America, this is the Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Nabokov’s’ fifty-two-year marriage. Stacy Schiff’s Véra is hailed by critics as both “monumental”(The Boston Globe) and “utterly romantic”(New York magazine), brings to shimmering life one of the greatest literary love stories of our time.


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