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Laurence Bergreen books in order

Laurence Bergreen is an American award-winning biographer, historian, and chronicler of exploration.

After graduating from the prestigious Harvard University in 1972, Bergreen worked in journalism, academia and broadcasting before releasing his first biography, James Agee: A Life in 1984.

Columbus: The Four Voyages (2011) was a New York Times bestseller; with his books being translated into over 25 languages across the globe.

Bergreen currently resides in New York City and is represented by Suzanne Gluck of WME.

More about Laurence Bergreen

Genres: Biographies, History, Memoirs

Born: 1950

United States


Non Series

  • James Agee: A Life (1984)
  • As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin (1990)
  • Capone: The Man and the Era (1994)
  • Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life (1997)
  • Voyage to Mars: NASA's Search for Life Beyond Earth (2000)
  • Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe (2003)
  • Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu (2007)
  • Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492-1504 (2011)
  • Casanova: The World of a Seductive Genius (2016)

Detailed book overview

Non Series

James Agee: A Life

This is a biography of James Agee, an American novelist, critic, poet and screenwriter.

In this biography are discussions on his youth, education, marriages and infidelity, literary career, wasteful and extravagant lifestyle, and early death.

The book also analyzes Agee's role in American letters.

Author: Laurence Bergreen
First Release: 1984
ISBN: 978-0140080643
Publisher: Penguin Books
As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin

Despite not being able to read or write music, only capable of playing the piano in the key of F-sharp major, Irving Berlin (1888–1989) was the most successful and most representative songwriter in America during the first half of the twentieth century; composing hits such as "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "Cheek to Cheek," "Let's Face the Music and Dance," "Puttin' on the Ritz," "White Christmas," "Anything You Can Do," "There's No Business Like Show Business," and "God Bless America."

Winner of the Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award, As Thousands Cheer accurately looks at Berlin's extensive and productive career; his self-doubt and late-blooming misanthropy; and the imperious control he exerted over his legacy of song.

This is a biography about the man who despite composing 1500 songs and receiving several accolades, couldn’t overcome the fear that he wasn't quite good enough.

Author: Laurence Bergreen
First Release: 1990
ISBN: 978-0306806759
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Capone: The Man and the Era

In this impressive history of Prohibition and its most infamous gangster, celebrated biographer Laurence Bergreen takes us through the gritty streets of Chicago where Al Capone built his evil empire.

Bergreen shows the disreputable and elegant sides of the age, the rise of Prohibition, the illegal liquor trade and the battleground that was Chicago.

Well beyond the Capone mythology however is a paradox: a ruthless and merciless killer, thief, pimp, and a racketeer who was also a dedicated son and father; a self-styled Robin Hood who propelled to the top of organized crime.

In an extraordinary time rose a man who reigned supreme over all. Capone, Al Capone.

Author: Laurence Bergreen
First Release: 1994
ISBN: 978-0684824475
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life

The founding father of jazz, Louis Armstrong was one of the most iconic cultural figures of the twentieth century.

He may have been a household name thanks to his musical innovation and ebullient nature, but very little was known about his extravagant life.

Drawing on an extensive and previously unexplored archive of Armstrong's writings and recordings, celebrated biographer Laurence Bergreen paints a personal and controversial picture of the legendary Pied Piper of American music.

For all his accomplishments, Armstrong's career was also highlighted by a fierce struggle with the Depression, the 1930s Chicago gangsters and intense racial prejudice.

Author: Laurence Bergreen
First Release: 1997
ISBN: 978-0767901567
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Voyage to Mars: NASA's Search for Life Beyond Earth

This is the story about a group of visionary Mars scientists and what exactly fuels their zealous search for life in the universe.

Acclaimed author Laurence Bergreen Bergreen takes us inside the minds of the world's last great explorers as they align our understanding of the nature of the universe and ourselves.

It is an exciting, arousing and dramatic narrative based on a testing and demanding intellectual quest to push the limits of science.

Author: Laurence Bergreen
First Release: 2000
ISBN: 978-1573221665
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe

Ferdinand Magellan made a brave circumnavigation of the globe in the sixteenth century.

The three-year odyssey was characterized with sex, violence and an astonishing adventure.

In this biography, celebrated author and journalist Laurence Bergreen provides various honest, firsthand accounts that will bring to life this groundbreaking and exalted tale of discovery.

Ferdinand Magellan’s historic 60,000-mile ocean voyage across the globe not only changed the way explorers navigate the vast oceans, but also dared to change history itself!

Author: Laurence Bergreen
First Release: 2003
ISBN: 978-0060936389
Publisher: Perennial / HarperCollins
Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu

Marco Polo was the earliest bridge between East and West being the first European to thoroughly travel throughout Asia.

His famous journeys took him across the boundaries of the known world, along the deadly Silk Road, and into the court of Kublai Kahn where he won the trust of the most feared and lambasted leader of his day.

Polo introduced the rich cultural heritage of China to Europe, launching centuries of Western fascination with Asia.

In this concoction of history, biography and travelogue, celebrated author Laurence Bergreen separates myth from history, as he provides the most authoritative account yet of Polo's remarkable adventures.

Author: Laurence Bergreen
First Release: 2007
ISBN: 978-1400078806
Publisher: Vintage
Columbus: The Four Voyages, 1492-1504

While on a 1492 voyage searching for a trading route to China, Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas in a move that would forever change the events in world history.

Despite this famous voyage cross the Atlantic, Columbus made three more voyages within a decade; with each of them conceived to prove that he could not only sail to China in a matter of weeks but also convert those he found there to Christianity.

These subsequent voyages, which were more adventurous, violent and ambiguous, exhibited Columbus's eerie sense of the sea, his artistry, delusion, and impressive navigational skills.

And although he almost never lost a sailor, the voyages left Columbus broken in body and spirit.

Author: Laurence Bergreen
First Release: 2011
ISBN: 978-0143122104
Publisher: Penguin Books
Casanova: The World of a Seductive Genius

Having been deserted by his mother, who was an actress and courtesan, Casanova was raised by his illiterate grandmother, coming of age in a Venice filled with spies and political intrigue.

He had an unquenchable intellectually curiosity, which is no surprise that his reading of forbidden books saw him end up in jail.

After masterminding a dramatic escape from I Piombi, becoming the only person to have escaped the most infamous prison in Venice, Casanova fled to France where he flattered his way to the royal court and invented the national lottery that still exists to this day.

As he traversed Europe, he arrived in St. Petersburg where he was admitted to the court of Catherine the Great. He corresponded with Voltaire and met Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte whom he helped as they created the timeless opera Don Giovanni.

He also wrote the twelve-volume Story of My Life, arguably the greatest memoir of the era.

Author: Laurence Bergreen
First Release: 2016
ISBN: 978-1476716503
Publisher: Simon & Schuster