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Biography & Autobiography

On March 24, 2021, IBPA announced the following three finalists in the BIOGRAPHY category. Register to attend the virtual award ceremony on May 13th to learn which book wins Gold.

Watch the following video to see which of the three finalists below won gold, and which won silver.


See below for the list of 2024 winners in the BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY category, for books with a copyright date of 2023.

Under the Naga Tail: A True Story of Survival, Bravery, and Escape from the Cambodian Genocide
2024 Gold Winner

Author: Mae Bunseng Taing with James Taing

Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press

ISBN: 9798886450187

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Forced from his home by the Khmer Rouge, Mae Taing struggles to endure years of backbreaking work, starvation, and ruthless cruelty from his captors—supposed freedom fighters who turned against their own people. Mae risks death to escape into the dark tropical jungles, trekking across a relentless wilderness crawling with soldiers.

Always Moving Forward: A memoir of friends, family, and building Humana
2024 Silver Winner

Author: David A. Jones with Bob Hill

Publisher: Old Stone Press

ISBN: 9781938462634

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In 1961, David A. Jones and another young lawyer borrowed $1,000 each to build a nursing home. That modest investment turned into Humana: first the largest nursing home company in the U.S., then the largest hospital corporation, and today one of the nation’s largest health insurance and integrated care companies.

Gentleman of Jazz: A Life in Music
2024 Silver Winner

Author: Ramsey Lewis with Aaron Cohen

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

ISBN: 9798200951727

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An evocative tour of Lewis’s life from the club circuit of the early 1960s and recording with Chess Records to working with producer Maurice White and musicians such as Stevie Wonder. In this deep dive into an exceptional life and expansive career, Lewis takes us through the artistic challenges, offers insight and perspective on his own musical growth and the creative process, and describes his eventual foray into symphonic composition and performance.


See below for the list of 2023 winners in the BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY category, for books with a copyright date of 2022.

Century's Witness: The Extraordinary Life of Journalist Wallace Carroll
2023 Gold Winner

Author: Mary Llewellyn McNeil

Publisher: Whaler Books

ISBN: 978-1-7378864-4-0

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Century’s Witness tells the story of Wallace Carroll, one of the most respected and influential journalists of the 20th Century.  Filled with “you are there” stories and interviews, Century’s Witness is “the best roadmap I know if we aim to restore journalism’s power to persuade and inform,” according to Jon Sawyer, executive director, the Pulitzer Center.

Lady of the Army: The Life of Mrs. George S. Patton
2023 Silver Winner

Author: Stefanie Van Steelandt

Publisher: Minnegate Press

ISBN: 979-8-9869280-0-5

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Lady of the Army tells the story of Beatrice Ayer Patton, the woman who shaped the man, fortified the soldier, and created the legend. If anyone considered an army wife to be merely the kite’s tail, Beatrice had the perfect retort, "How high can a kite soar without its tail?”

Saving Wildlife: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Dr. Kurt Benirschke
2023 Silver Winner

Authors: Rolf Benirschke with James Lund

Publisher: San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Press

ISBN: 978-1-935442-82-0

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Physician scientist. Wildlife conservationist. Visionary leader. Family man. The inimitable Dr. Kurt Benirschke ("Dr. B") was a trailblazer―passionate about gathering and sharing knowledge to make the world a better place for both humans and wildlife. This heartfelt and engaging memoir, written by Dr. B's son Rolf Benirschke, describes his fascinating life and many adventures. With vivid detail, it captures Dr. Benirschke's accomplishments, from his early years as a young doctor learning English in a new country to his world-changing role as the founder of the San Diego Zoo's research division, which established the wildlife conservation movement in zoos as we know it today.



See below for the list of 2022 winners in the BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY category, for books with a copyright date of 2021. 

Note: In 2022 the Biography category was changed to Biography & Autobiography. For earlier autobiographies, please see the Memoir category.

Leeteg: Babes, Bars, Beaches and Black Velvet Art
2022 Gold Winner

Author: CJ Cook with Michael Ashley

Publisher: South Pacific Dreams

ISBN: 978-0-9984224-2-8

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In 1933 Edgar Leeteg, the American Gauguin, left California for Tahiti with oil paints and a few brushes. He conquered the South Pacific art scene and its nightlife. Hard-drinking, constantly womanizing, and endlessly painting, Leeteg the Legend, the original “Tiki Man,” started the black velvet craze linked to South Pacific-themed restaurants.

Find a Trail or Blaze One: A Biography of Dr. Reatha Clark King
2022 Silver Winner

Author: as told to Kate Leibfried

Publisher: Beaver's Pond Press

ISBN: 978-1-64343-757-6

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The story of Reatha Clark King shines a light on a woman who broke barriers in the pursuit of knowledge and justice. She shattered the corporate glass ceiling, shaped a university, and advocated for underestimated students. This book is a loving and grateful tribute from the countless people Reatha inspired.

Life Lived Wild: Adventures at the Edge of the Map
2022 Silver Winner

Author: Rick Ridgeway

Publisher: Patagonia

ISBN: 9781938340994

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Rick Ridgeway calculates that he’s spent over five years of his life sleeping in tents: “Small tents pitched in the world’s most remote regions.” Whether at elevation or raising a family at sea level, those years taught him, he writes, “to distinguish matters of consequence from matters of inconsequence.” 


See below for the list of 2021 winners in the BIOGRAPHY category, for books with a copyright date of 2020. Click here to watch the Gold and Silver winner speeches.

Chasing Excellence: The Remarkable Life and Inspiring Vigilosophy of Coach Joe I. Vigil
2021 Gold Winner

Author: Pat Melgares

Publisher: Soulstice Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-7331887-3-9

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Coach Joe I. Vigil rose from poverty to inspire Olympic runners, All-Americans, and “Vigilantes” everywhere to chase excellence. Driven by curiosity, a deep faith in people, and unwavering loyalty to his hometown of Alamosa, Colorado, his life is an American dream—and a guide to timeless qualities of a leader.

Dalko: The Untold Story of Baseball's Fastest Pitcher
2021 Silver Winner

Authors: Bill Dembski, Alex Thomas, Brian Vikander

Publisher: Influence Publishers

ISBN: 978-1-64542-710-0

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A fascinating and tragic story in baseball history, Dalko: The Untold Story of Baseball's Fastest Pitcher explores Steve Dalkowski's unmatched talent and the forces that worked against him. Eyewitness accounts offer readers unparalleled insight into the game of baseball and the complex relationship between athletes and the sports they love.

Radical Spirits: India's First Woman Doctor and Her American Champions
2021 Silver Winner

Author: Nandini Patwardhan

Publisher: Story Artisan Press

ISBN: 978-1-7340631-1-0

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Radical Spirits is the inspiring story of India’s first woman doctor. Married at 10, mother at 13, MD at 22. Takes the reader to the fraught social and religious frontier between India and America in the late 1800s. Makes for a captivating story, every page granting insights into the age-old struggle to surmount entrenched borders and barriers.


See below for the list of 2020 winners in the BIOGRAPHY category, for books with a copyright date of 2019.

Gertie: The Fabulous Life of Gertrude Sanford Legendre, Heiress, Explorer, Socialite, Spy
2020 Gold Winner

Author: Kathryn Smith

Publisher: Evening Post Books

ISBN: 978-1-929647-44-6

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Gertrude Sanford Legendre, an heiress, explorer, socialite and spy, lived a 20th century life full of fun, adventure, derring-do and drama.

From Red Earth.jpg
From Red Earth: A Rwandan Story of Healing and Forgiveness
2020 Silver Winner

Author: Denise Uwimana

Publisher: Plough Publishing House

ISBN: 978-0874869842

Click to Purchase


An exceptional personal account of a strong woman who survived against all odds and used her gifts to help others.

Mani/Pedi: A True-Life Rags-to-Riches Story
2020 Silver Winner

Author: Krista Beth Driver

Publisher: She Writes Press

ISBN: 978-1-63152-626-8

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Charlie risked everything to escape from Vietnam with her young family and immigrated to the U.S. for a better life. She lived the American dream.

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Independent Book Publishers Association

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