18. Jonathan Swift: The Reluctant Rebel by John Stubbs
The same holds true for the author, John Stubbs. This is a very scholarly biography, but it is not stuffy. It is quite readable (or easy to listen to in my case). I learned many details about British history and found it fascinating, especially since I just went to England last summer, and spent time at Blenheim Palace and many of the spots in London described in the book.
I am sort of a "Brit Lit Nerd" so I really enjoyed this book. I am not sure how much the general population will like it.
I read Gulliver's Travels in 2003, and this biography made me want to read it again now that I have a better handle on the historical background to his satire. I also want to read some of his other works like "A Tale of a Tub" and "A Modest Proposal." So the biography had a very positive effect on me.
I feel so sorry for Swift. His early experiences of abandonment were heartbreaking. He was brilliant, but I am not sure he was a very happy person.
I agree wholeheartedly with this review of the book in the New York Times:
(For West Wing fans, he describes Swift as "an 18th Century Toby Ziegler" - sarcasm and brilliance!)