Dev Tyagi

Which is the world’s best autobiography? Here’s top 10 of all time.

June 10, 2017

Albert Einstein is known to have  famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. But if just for a second you deep-dive into the famous Einstein declaration, you will do well to ponder about ‘knowledge’. Just what constitutes knowledge?

Many will say pure observation, others will point toward reading. Many will emphasize about the need to  learn from life’s lessons. While all of these are correct, the classicists will agree that assimilating knowledge isn’t possible unless you keep your mind’s eye open toward gathering information from all possible sources. And therefore, what better way to gather knowledge other than that of reading books, rather, an autobiography!


While we don’t need to be told what an autobiography means, it has to be said that when you imbibe lessons from valuable  experiences of individuals who have attained fame, made a name for themselves using intelligence and skill, you can go a long way to improve your own life.

An autobiography is a person’s own essay about his life journey, best expressed from the chords of the heart, enabling readers to form a base on which the story teller and the audience can walk hand-in-hand.

reading a book

The world is no stranger to a range of astonishingly successful autobiographies of personalities that hail from versatile fields of Business enterprise, Politics, Sports, Art& Culture, Science and Music.

books library

What’s Up Life takes great pleasure in sharing a list of some brilliant autobiographies whose success have spanned generations and whose impact can be felt even now, long after they’ve been brought out to the world.

My Experiments with Truth- Mahatma Gandhi

A revealing account of the “Father of India”, ‘My Experiments with Truth’ is Mahatma Gandhi’s personal life account that touches upon his learning’s, practice of truth, the incessant qualities that moved and inspired Gandhi Ji to make inroads to the path of peace and non-violence whilst helping an India struggling under the clutches of the British to work toward its independence.

mahatma gandhi autobiography

Anyone who is moderately familiar with Mahatma Gandhi’s noble qualities and self-righteous personality and someone who is fond of reading will take to reading ‘My Experiments with Truth’ akin to a fish taking to the pond. Replete with moving experiences from the life of a true crusader of peace, the book echoes Gandhi Ji’s fight in India’s freedom struggle and retells his arduous attempt toward strengthening his shining character.

gandhi autobiography

The autobiography sold over 50,000 copies and was originally published in 1927.

The Road Ahead- Bill Gates

There’s a Microsoft in each one of our lives and there are multiple ways in which Bill Gates’ ingenuity has impacted our world. Whether you are an old school cat favoring the P.C over the laptop or a hep technology savvy cool-head, you cannot not encounter Microsoft and its multifarious role in your personal and professional life.

bill gates story

Bill  Gates wrote his life’s account ‘The Road Ahead’ together with Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold summarizing the implications of personal computing revolution. Among the best known entrepreneurs of the world, Bill Gates avidly narrates a future decorated and protected by the enormous rise of technology and the arrival of a global information superhighway in this page turning Microsoft memoir.

The autobiography sold over 2.5 million copies and was originally published in 1995.

Faster than Lightening- Usain Bolt

Who doesn’t know Usain Bolt? The marvelous Jamaican has become a household name by emerging as unarguably the greatest sprinter in the modern sport. Regarded as the ‘fastest person ever timed’, he is the first man to hold both 100 meter and 200 meters world records since fully automated measurements became a compulsory feature of sprinting since 1977.

faster than lightning book

Usain Bolt’s life account, ‘Faster than Lightening’ is an aptly named narrative focusing on his fantastic athletic achievements, the motivations of his life and touches upon the physical challenges that Bolt came to master in order to emerge as the world class athlete that we all know him today.

The autobiography sold approximately a million copies and was originally published in 2012.

The Diary of a Young Girl- Anne Frank

One of the most touching and sensitive stories of the gory horrors of the second world war, Anne Frank was a young 16 year old German born diarist and writer who lost her life under the brutal Nazi reign.

the diary of a young girl

Sent to the treacherous Auschwitz concentration camp after a dreadful three day journey, Anne Frank’s ‘Diary of a Young Girl’ captures the vivid and entertaining diary entries of the young girl who went into hiding at the ‘secret annex’ at Amsterdam just as the Nazis began to storm The Netherlands to further up their conquest of Western Europe.  The book repaints the story of Anne as a young girl, about her feelings at adolescent age and emphasizes about Anne’s fears about life in general, her faith in god and of her perception of all things sweet and beautiful. So successful and moving was Frank’s autobiography’s impact that several documentary movies have been based on Anne’s life account.

The autobiography sold over 30 million copies worldwide and was originally published in 1950.

A Brief History of Time- Stephen Hawking

No other man, in his lifetime has had such tremendous impact on theoretical physics, cosmology and general relativity apart from Sir Stephen Hawking, the 74 year old wheel-chair bound scientist and space expert. ‘A Brief History of Time’ is a record- breaking understudy of pretty much everything from the ‘Big Bang’ to ‘Black Holes’ and reflects Hawking’s path breaking study toward the field of complex mathematics.


Hawking’s enlightening account on cosmology also discussed the possibility of time travel and wormholes, giving worldwide audiences a slice of his genius and intellectually stimulating brain.

The autobiography has sold over 10 million copies in last 20 years and was first published in 1988.

Wings of Fire- APJ Kalam

India’s missile man, a science revolutionary, an ingenious innovator and a man deeply respected not just by India but world-over by renowned scientists, scholars, authors, researchers and generally, space enthusiasts, APJ Kalam is a name that connotes great respect and unmatched adulation.

missile man

In his autobiography, ‘wings of fire’, Kalam reflected on his  personal life journey, the early struggles, hardships, lucks, fortitude he had whilst he was finding his feet in the field of engineering and the manifold challenges he undertook to make astronomically successful inroads toward space research, missile and nuclear programs.

The autobiography has sold over 50,000 copies and was first published in 1999.

Long Walk to Freedom- Nelson Mandela

There are only a handful of personalities who are measured in the same breadth of respect and affinity around the world as Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. South Africa’s greatest revolutionary, the late great Nelson Mandela is in that rear league.

nelson mandela autobiographyAn anti-apartheid hero, a champion of civil and human rights and a tireless crusader of non violence and equality, Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ reflects upon the Protean’s own struggles in his early life, his life as a jailed revolutionary fighting for equality, the tough times spent in prison and finally, the revolution that created South Africa as we know it.

The autobiography sold over 2.5 million copies and was first published in 1994.

My autobiography- Charlie Chaplin

charlie chaplin biography

Without doubt, he was the greatest entertainer the world has ever known. Clever and innovative, harmless and sensitive, Chaplin’s portrayal of the ‘little tramp’ and his exploits made audiences laugh till they cried and cried all the more till they erupted into a wave of laughter. No other comedian has had such mind boggling impact on the genre of comedy and silent cinema as this British icon.

In “My autobiography”, Chaplin dwells on the story of his childhood, the challenge of identifying and perfecting his talent, his subsequent and successful film career and ultimately, his worldwide fame.


The autobiography has sold an estimated million copies and was first published in 1964.


Mein Kampf – Adolf Hitler

Most people will remember Hitler as a tyrant, but it is important to dwell into the mind of one of the greatest evil men ever born on the face of the earth. Barbaric, cruel and unapologetic-ally conniving, Adolf Hitler’s enigmatic personality captivated an entire generation of power hungry Germans in the 1930s who ultimately elected the Austria born former corporal as Germany’s Fuhrer. Responsible for approximately 6 million deaths during the second world war, Hitler remains among the most hated men ever in history.

mein kamph

‘Mein Kampf’, translating to ‘my struggle’ traces Hitler’s early life behind the bars for the major military coup he staged at Munich, his impassioned love for Germany which he saw as the Fatherland he had been chosen to save, his very vocal hatred of harmless Jews and what he sought to achieve from the formation of the great Third Reich.

Hitler’s manic autobiography sold 10 million copies alone in Europe at the end of the second world war. Recently, reintroduced in Germany in January 2016, the autobiography received 15000 advance orders, followed by sales of around 4000 copies.

Moonwalk- Michael Joseph Jackson

Enigmatic, exciting and strangely controversial, Michael Jackson continues to inspire, augment discussion and create mesmeric interest around his life, 7 years after his death.

mookwalk biography

As a star at his pomp he was nothing less than pure magic on the stage, with his penetrating vocals and magical melodies swaying millions of hearts around the world. But off it, he was as vulnerable to life’s sorrows and hardships as any of us.

‘Moonwalk’, aptly named after Jackson’s iconic dance move traces Michael’s journey to international super-stardom tracing his humble beginnings. The book recounts the epic hit record Thriller (1982) and how it’s show-stopping success changed Michael’s life all over and even brought him closer to some never seen before lows of life.

The autobiography has sold an approximate 4,50,000 copies and was first published in 1988.

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