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Tara Westover Educated: A Memoir

Last updated: January 8, 2024


"Educated: A Memoir," written by Tara Westover, is an awe-inspiring story that leaves readers talking about it for months afterwards. The talented Westover has received critical praise for her incredible perceptiveness on her own childhood and family. Her incredibly compelling story has also won over readers who don't typically gravitate to non-fiction.

We looked at the top Biography & History Books and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Biography & History Book you should buy.

Product Details

In our analysis of 42 expert reviews, the Tara Westover Educated: A Memoir placed 1st when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

From The Manufacturer

Tara Westover wasn’t your garden variety college student. When the Holocaust was mentioned in a history class, she didn’t know what it was (no, really). That’s because she didn’t see the inside of a classroom until the age of seventeen. Public education was one of the many things her religious fanatic father was dubious of, believing it a means for the government to brainwash its gullible citizens, and her mother wasn’t diligent on the homeschooling front. If it wasn’t for a brother who managed to extricate himself from their isolated—and often dangerous–world, Westover might still be in rural Idaho, trying to survive her survivalist upbringing. It’s a miraculous story she tells in her memoir Educated. For those of us who took our educations for granted, who occasionally fell asleep in large lecture halls (and inconveniently small ones), it’s hard to grasp the level of grit—not to mention intellect—required to pull off what Westover did. But eventually earning a PhD from Cambridge University may have been the easy part, at least compared to what she had to sacrifice to attain it. The courage it took to make that sacrifice was the truest indicator of how far she’d come, and how much she’d learned. Educated is an inspiring reminder that knowledge is, indeed, power. –Erin Kodicek, Amazon Book Review

Expert Reviews


What reviewers liked

Her background says something important about the US: that even in a place of great opportunity, you can grow up without any idea of how to touch its white-hot centre. This memoir tracks all the ways that traditional American life puts up roadblocks and actively dissuades you from outgrowing your “roots”.
This story, remarkable as it is, might be merely another entry in the subgenre of extreme American life, were it not for the uncommon perceptiveness of the person telling it. Westover examines her childhood with unsparing clarity, and, more startlingly, with curiosity and love, even for those who have seriously failed or wronged her.
Educated is an amazing story, and I get why it’s spent so much time on the top of the New York Times bestseller list. It reminded me in some ways of the Netflix documentary Wild, Wild Country, which I recently watched. Both explore people who remove themselves from society because they have these beliefs and knowledge that they think make them more enlightened. Their belief systems benefit from their separateness, and you’re forced to be either in or out.
Tara westover’s one-of-a-kind memoir is about the shaping of a mind, yet page after page describes the maiming of bodies—not just hers, but the heads, limbs, and torsos of her parents and six siblings, too. The youngest child in a fundamentalist Mormon family living in the foothills of Buck’s Peak, in Idaho, she grew up with a father fanatically determined to protect his family against the “brainwashing” world. Defending his isolated tribe against the physical dangers—literally brain-crushing in some cases—of the survivalist life he imposed was another matter.
Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing ties with those closest to you. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes, and the will to change it.
Tara Westover is living proof that some people are flat-out, boots-always-laced-up indomitable. Her new book, Educated (Random House, 334 pp., ★★★★ out of four), is a heartbreaking, heartwarming, best-in-years memoir about striding beyond the limitations of birth and environment into a better life.
Tara Westover, raised by Mormons in rural Idaho, cautions that her memoir, “Educated,” is “not about Mormonism.” But, unquestionably, it is about what happens when religious fanatics split the world into true believers and followers of Satan.
Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing one’s closest ties.
The extremity of Westover’s upbringing emerges gradually through her telling, which only makes the telling more alluring and harrowing.
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