15 Tell-All Memoirs and Biographies

The writers of these juicy tell-all memoirs and biographies don't hold back—making for fascinating reads!

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'Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath' by Mimi Alford

In June of 1962, Mimi Alford, then 19, nabbed a coveted spot as a summer intern in the Kennedy White House. She soon began an affair with the president that continued, she says, until his death in 1963.  "Everyone has a secret," she writes. "This is mine." Silent for 41 years, until she was outed by the New York Daily News, Alford recounts her tale of being swept away by JFK in this page-turner. (amazon.com

'Below Stairs' by Margaret Powell

As fans of Downton Abbey already understand, no one knows more about what's going on "upstairs," than the staff working "downstairs." And Abbey creator Julian Fellowes took some of the inspiration for his sudsy PBS series from this classic memoir, first published in 1968. Author Margaret Powell, once a lowly kitchen maid, provides a compelling portrait of a life spent in service in grand 1920s British homes. (amazon.com)

'Upper Cut: Highlights of My Hollywood Life' by Carrie White

Ever have a good gossip with your hairstylist? Then you can appreciate this memoir by Carrie White, who, in the 1960s and 70s, created the coifs of Elizabeth Taylor, Goldie Hawn, Cybill Shepherd and other luminaries. White not only dishes on the famous names whose hair has passed through her fingers, but also about her own wild times—partying with Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix and dating Jack Nicholson. (amazon.com)

'MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend' by Rachel Bertsche

It's tough to admit you have no friends or, at least, none nearby. But that's just what Rachel Bertsche does in her memoir about searching for a new bestie. Finding herself lonely in a new city, Bertsche goes on 52 "friend-dates" over the course of a year. She cops to desperation, awkward "friend-flirting" and even "speed-friending" in this charming debut. (amazon.com)

'What the Butler Winked At' by Eric Horne

What’s the tight-lipped butler really thinking? Find out in this memoir by Eric Horne, who served as the butler in great English manor homes from the 1860s until just after World War I. (amazon.com)

'Full Service' by Scott Bowers

Author Scotty Bowers holds nothing back as he recalls his heady days in 1940s Hollywood, and a string of male and female lovers that included Vivien Leigh, Cary Grant, and even abdicated King of England Edward VIII. (amazon.com)

'Mob Daughter' by Karen Gravano

The daughter of mafia hit man Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, and star of VH1’s Mob Wives, dishes about growing up in a world of crime and secrets. (amazon.com)

'The Wrecking Crew: The Inside Story of Rock and Roll's Best-Kept Secret' by Kent Hartman

In the 1960s and 70s, Los Angeles session musicians The Wrecking Crew laid down tracks for classics such as “He’s a Rebel,” “Surfer Girl,” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.’ Author Kent Hartman shares their little-known tale.(amazon.com)

'Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss' by RoseMarie Terenzio

For the last five years of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s life, RoseMarie Terenzio served as his loyal personal assistant and confidante. Here, she tells the story of Kennedy and his wife, Carolyn Bessette, as she knew them.(amazon.com)

'That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor' by Anne Sebba

Right on the heels of Madonna’s film W.E. about the love of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, biographer Anne Sebba delves deeper into Simpson’s story.(amazon.com)

'Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail' by Cheryl Strayed

The author recounts her lone hike from the Mojave Desert to Washington state, complete with heat, blizzards, rattlesnakes and bears.(amazon.com)

'Unorthodox' by Deborah Feldman

Writer Deborah Feldman chronicles her struggle to break free of life as she knows it as a member of the strict Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism. (amazon.com)

'Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch' by Sally Bedel Smith

The new biography provides an up-close look at the famously private monarch as she celebrates 60 years on the throne.(amazon.com)

'Furious Love' by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger

This juicy biography looks back at the “the marriage of the century,” the turbulent, passionate union of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. (amazon.com)

'Hemingway's Boat' by Paul Hendrickson

Author Paul Hendrickson draws on previously unpublished interviews with Ernest Hemingway’s sons to paint a complicated portrait of the troubled writer from his years as the toast of the literary world to his suicide in 1961.(amazon.com)

 

Want MORE? Check out this slideshow of fascinating health memoirs and biographies.
 

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First Published February 22, 2012

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