Smart People Read Biographies

Friday, December 19th, 2014

Smart people read biographies, Ryan Holiday says, because they’re some of most actionable and educational reading you can do, so he recommends his favorites:

  1. Plutarch’s Lives, Plutarch – Aside from being the basis of much of Shakespeare, he was one of Montaigne’s favorite writers.
  2. The Power Broker, Robert Caro – Like Huey Long and Willie Stark, Robert Moses was a man who got power, loved power and was transformed by power.
  3. Socrates: A Man for Our Times, Napoleon: A Life, Churchill, Paul Johnson – Paul Johnson is the kind of author whose sweeping judgements you can trust, so you leave this book with what feels like a very solid understanding of who his subjects are a people.

He recommends many more.


  1. Slovenian Guest says:

    And I recommend the Men of Yore posts by AAB:

    “A series about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it’s their nature: to grow and push outwards.”

    Almost a hundred are featured already, such as…

    Men of Yore Adrian Carton de Wiart
    Men of Yore John Blashford-Snell
    Men of Yore Hesketh Hesketh-Prichard

    Those three should be especially interesting or already familiar to regular Isegoria readers!

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