Willie Nelson / David Ritz It’s a Long Story: My Life

Last updated date: June 18, 2019

DWYM Score
9.1

Why Trust The DWYM Score?

DWYM is your trusted product review source. Along with our in-house experts, our team analyzes thousands of product reviews from the most trusted websites. We then create one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in the category.

We looked at the top 1 Autobiography and dug through the reviews from 7 of the most popular review sites including Good Reads, The Boston Globe, Kirkus Reviews, Lonestar Music Magazine, Run Spot Run, South China Morning Post, No Depression and more. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Autobiography you should buy.

Overall Take

In our analysis of 61 expert reviews, the Willie Nelson / David Ritz It's a Long Story: My Life It's a Long Story: My Life placed 9th when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.

Editor's Note July 2, 2019:
Checkout The Best Autobiography Book for a detailed review of all the top autobiography.

Expert Summarized Score
9.0
7 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.2
1,169 user reviews
Our Favorite Video Reviews
What experts liked
It's a story of true love, wild times, best friends, and barrooms, with a musical sound track ripping right through it.
- Good Reads
His first autobiography appeared in 1988, and over the years he has peddled a series of books devoted to his philosophy, including 2012’s “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings From the Road.”
- The Boston Globe
August 26, 2015 | Full review
As with all of Willie’s autobiographies, the introduction is worth the price of the book. He is enthusiastic, energetic and fired up to tell his story.
- Lonestar Music Magazine
October 21, 2015 | Full review
This is the definitive Willie Nelson story. It’s a rare insight into an American folk hero, one told in a voice as powerful and genuine as the red-headed stranger himself.
- Run Spot Run
May 2, 2015 | Full review
At its best, though, this rambunctious and meandering memoir reveals a warm, humorous man who’s in this business for the music and because he deeply loves his fans. He might have been born a rambling man, but he was also born to be one of America’s most gifted songwriters and storytellers
- No Depression
May 2, 2015 | Full review
What experts didn't like
The narrative is sometimes choppy, with staccato one-sentence paragraphs going on for long stretches like an endless jam on “Whiskey River,” and it’s often repetitive, as if—well, as if Nelson maybe rolled one too many before hitting the typewriter.
- Kirkus Reviews
This book is the history of my heart," Nelson writes early on, "and especially the ways in which my heart has been shaped by music." Such sentiment is touching but doesn't give the reader a sense of what animates Nelson as an artist, which is Long Story's largest weakness. Nelson may live for many more years, but time grows short for him to speak definitively about his life's work.
- South China Morning Post
May 9, 2015 | Full review

From The Manufacturer

This is Willie Nelson's complete, unvarnished story, told in his voice and leaving no significant moment or experience untold, from Texas, Nashville, Hawaii, and beyond. Having recently turned 80, Nelson is ready to shine a light on all aspects of his life, including his drive to write music, the women in his life, his collaborations, and his biggest lows and highs--from his bankruptcy to the founding of Farm Aid.An American icon who still tours constantly and headlines music festivals, Willie Nelson and his music have found their way into the hearts and minds of fans the world over, winning ten Grammys and receiving Kennedy Center Honors. Now it's time to hear the last word about his life--from the man himself.

Overall Product Rankings

1. Trevor Noah Born a Crime
Overall Score: 9.9
Expert Reviews: 7
2. Nelson Mandela Long Walk to Freedom
Overall Score: 9.8
Expert Reviews: 5
3. Paramhansa Yogananda Autobiography of a Yogi
Overall Score: 9.6
Expert Reviews: 7
4. Ashlee Vance Elon Musk
Overall Score: 9.6
Expert Reviews: 6
5. Malcolm X / Alex Haley The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Overall Score: 9.5
Expert Reviews: 7
7. Eric Clapton Clapton: The Autobiography
Overall Score: 9.4
Expert Reviews: 3
8. Sally Field In Pieces
Overall Score: 9.4
Expert Reviews: 4
9. Willie Nelson / David Ritz It’s a Long Story: My Life
Overall Score: 9.1
Expert Reviews: 7
10. Andre Agassi Open: An Autobiography
Overall Score: 8.6
Expert Reviews: 6

An Overview On Autobiography

  • Your choice of autobiography starts with the subject itself. If you’re interested in learning more about the person, you’ll be more likely to pick up that book. Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime” is written by the biracial host of “The Daily Show,” who spent his childhood hidden away in South Africa due to apartheid. Noah is at heart a comedian, and his wit adds levity to what would otherwise be a somber tale.
  • Also providing a personal look at life in South Africa is Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom,” which was used as the basis for the 2013 movie starring Idris Elba. Mandela spent 27 years imprisoned due to apartheid and became an internationally-renowned political leader upon his release. In his book, he continues to inspire by presenting his story positively, never showing signs of self-pity or bitterness.
  • Passionate yoga practitioners will be familiar with Paramhansa Yogananda, the first yoga master of India. Paramhansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” is a reprint of the 1946 autobiography, complete with bonus material, including a final chapter written by Yogananda in 1951. If you want all the material from the 1946 edition, this is the only currently published version that has it.
  • You’re probably drawn to Ashlee Vance’s “Elon Musk” for the same reasons many people are. Considered one of the greatest minds of our time, Musk consistently fascinates experts in his field, as well as the public. This biography is written by Vance, an award-winning feature writer for “Bloomberg Businessweek,” based on interviews with Musk himself. While writing the book, Vance was granted exclusive access to Musk, as well as his family and friends. You’ll find this book doesn’t follow the typical structure of a biography, jumping around more than usual.
  • If you’re reading an autobiography to go beyond learning more about the subject, you’ll have plenty of reasons to take a closer look at Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime,” which provides an up close and personal look at African history and culture. While you’re reading Noah’s story, you also get a deep exploration into a variety of social issues, including racism, religion, gender roles and abusive relationships.  Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom” will also offer a view of apartheid-era South Africa from an insider’s perspective. But the book actually provides a look at how Mandela was shaped into the leader he later became. Yoga practitioners aren’t the only ones who will be intrigued by Paramhansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi.” Its underlying messages on religion and spirituality can inspire anyone who is looking for deeper meaning. Although Ashlee Vance’s “Elon Musk” truly is an in-depth profile of the subject himself, Vance offers a view of Musk that brings comparisons to legends like Thomas Edison and Howard Hughes.
  • For those who want an autobiography that revolves entirely around the subject itself, Ashlee Vance’s “Elon Musk” won’t disappoint. Unlike other biographies, this one focuses solely on the person it’s about, complete with 16 full pages of color photos. If you want to know what makes the man tick, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for in this book. Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom” is another one that puts its subject front and center, with an in-depth look at Mandela’s youth, as well as his life after prison. If you’re reading to learn more about his 27 years in captivity, though, you’ll be disappointed, as very little of the book details that part of his life.
  • Today’s readers consume content in a variety of ways. Although all four books are available in print, only Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime,” “Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom” and Ashlee Vance’s “Elon Musk” can be downloaded in audiobook form. You can get Paramhansa Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” for Kindle, though, as well as the other three books.

DYWM Fun Fact

Autobiographies often profile public personas, but very few of those famous people are professional writers. For that reason, many celebrities bring in ghostwriters to help turn their words into page-turners. Ghostwriters usually spend hours interviewing these people, but they go deeper than simply regurgitating what their subjects say. They observe speech patterns, humor styles and the overall “voice” of the person they’re profiling in order to make the book sound as though that person was personally behind every word. Famous people who have acknowledged using ghostwriters for their autobiographies include Gwyneth Paltrow, Donald Trump, John F. Kennedy, Leah Remini and Laura Bush.

The Autobiography Buying Guide

Autobiographies and biographies are both different from other types of books. The subject matter itself is typically the top draw, with some non-readers choosing to read one simply because they’re interested in the person it covers. If you’re looking at a list of the latest autobiographies, though, you’ll probably narrow your choices to familiar names, then choose the person that interests you most.

But before you buy, it’s important to look a little deeper. Even the most interesting subject can make for a dull autobiography, particularly if the subject isn’t willing to open up. A rambling narrative that never quite ventures beneath the surface makes for a dull read. In addition to an interesting subject, you also want a book that compels you to turn the page.

Sometimes a good autobiography isn’t as much about the subject as the experiences that person has had. You may find you learn about a place or a time in history by reading about a certain person, for instance. Seeing events through the eyes of someone experiencing them can be much more powerful than reading about those same events in history books.

Even more common, though, is the inspiration a person can get from these personal stories. The person profiled doesn’t even have to be on the same type of path as you. You can apply their stories of overcoming obstacles and reaching their goals to your own journey. If you’re looking for an autobiography to inspire you, there’s no shortage. It’s just a matter of choosing which journey is most likely to draw you in.

With all of that in mind, though, it still comes down to the writing. Whether an autobiography is written by the author or a ghostwriter, the spirit of the subject shines through. A well-written autobiography will make you feel as though you’re seated across the table from the subject, hearing that person’s story over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.