Please recommend me a good biography...

...must be scientist etc. not some superficial actor or sports bod.

Paul Lake’s book detailing his rise fall and rise again in sport, whilst battling mental health and suicide issues, is a gripping read

ghost written by his wife, the excellent Jo Lake 

Graham Farmelo

The Strangest Man: The hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius

Dirac was a great physicist. His friendship with the more flamboyant Werner Heisenberg is really entertaining  


"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!"

About Nobel prize winner Dr Richard Feynman, interesting as hell and funny as fuck, you’ll love it.

Not really on point but origins by Lewis dartnell is ace. 

On an even more out there rec The Atmosphere of Heavens re Dr bellows is great and a bit odd

What Teclis said.  It’s brilliant.  Available as audiobook too

Anything by Jenny Uglow (especially Lunar Men) or Caroline Moorehead (especially Martha Gellhorn), or Clare Tomalin (especially Samuel Pepys).  

Thanks all... ...Jenny Uglow's Nature's Engraver is on the pile. I've just amazoned all your suggestions and it's bloody difficult to reduce the list, which is a good thing. 

The most worrying thing is that I'm a bit thick... ...there are too many subject names on that list that I had not known about:

Patrick White

Tom Crean

Paul Lake (sportsman, so I'm excusing myself over this one)

Origins (I do like a 'biography' of things)

I have two books arriving today from Amazon, am v excited.

The Lander and German Federalism

Liberalism: The life of an idea.

Cant decide which to read first.  Ho hum!

have you read the Andrea Wulf Humboldt bio?

if not then that one


Merkz... ...that's spooky as I bought that from Barters yesterday along with A Beautiful Mind about John Nash.

Wizard -the life and times of Nikola Tesla by Marc Seifer

Tesla was in Dr who the other week.  He is ace. Fluffs will presumably like the idea of the oscillator... 

You would like ‘The man who knew infinity’, about one of the greatest mathematicians ever.  It’s a great human story too

Further sciencey ones (again not really bios):

Fermat's last theorem by Simon Singh (actually pretty much anything by Simon Singh)

Quantum Theory Can't Hurt you and We Need to Talk About Kelvin both by Marcus Chown (the latter possibly the best book title ever)

Prime Obsession by John Derbyshire

If we are just doing science/maths books then “The Mathematical Tourist” should be compulsory reading at schools so if you haven’t read it yet, do so.

On Bios, Simon Winchester has done a couple of banging odd ones.  Particularly like the Dr of Crowthorne about the bloke who wrote half the OED

Wangster... ...why do you keep suggesting 'odd' and 'weird' bios... ...are you trying to tell me summat?

Well, probably.  I would hope after all these years I have a pretty good sense of the sorts of things you find interesting, but, further, they are the sort of weird things that I find interesting and I wouldnt recommend something I hadn't enjoyed.


For proper eldritch try The Third Man Factor by John Gieger...

I feel like I have offended you Fluffs, if so, I apologise

You haven't offended me, you big dollop... ...I just had to do something else, can you imagine!

Killing Time: autobiography of the brilliant philosopher Pail Feyerabend and a sometime ‘bad boy’ of the philosophy of science. 

Although an autobiography: Carrying the Fire, by Michael Collins is terrific.

Robert Caro’s books about Lyndon Johnson and his “The Power Brokerl, a study of Robert Moses.

William Taubman’s “Khrushchev: The Man and his Era”.

Jung Chang’s book about Chairman Mao.

Is he related to my all time favourite Australian, Angela?

Laz I've read Taubman’s book on Khrushchev... was the first time I felt like I had an insight into the mind of the soviet political machine... ...a brilliant book.

Rhialto... ...I need another clue to your suggestion (I've been drinking so I'm slow... ...slower)

I read the Ross Terrill bio of Mao years back if you want to move on from science 

What fascinates me is the level of detail in most of these biographies...

...I know some had the advantage of access to previously unseen family papers but many are stunning pieces of research placed into the contemporary setting with brilliant aplomb.