The biography genre offers a dizzying array of subjects, from Malcolm X (Les Payne and Tamara Payne’s The dead rise) to Nobel laureate Jennifer Doudna (Walter Isaacson’s The code breaker† The most stimulating and astute biographies gracefully immerse readers in the intricate narratives and turbulent eras of daring figures. Kirkus Indie recently reviewed books investigating a NASA astronaut, a Los Angeles detective, and a Watergate hero.

In Wonders all around, Bruce McCandless III paints a complex portrait of his father, a daring astronaut. Bruce McCandless II made the first untethered spacewalk – documented in a striking photo – during a shuttle mission. The author notes that the photographs’ “contrast of a lone man emerging from the immensity of the universe” suggests a triumph against what is “essentially incomprehensible.” Our reviewer calls the work “a beautiful evocation of the NASA experience — in the sky and on Earth.”

Harry Raymond’s Long Winding Road by Patrick Jenning investigates an LA police detective who served in the department’s “goon squad” in the early 1900s. During his career, Raymond investigated mobsters, politicians and corrupt cops. He was called “the most feared buyer in California” and caused the exodus of countless LA criminals to Las Vegas. “An exciting addition to the true crime history of Depression-era LA,” writes our critic.

Adam Henig targets black guard Frank Wills in The Forgotten Hero of Watergate† Wills discovered evidence of a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office building in 1972. Although he became famous for a short time for his role in the scandal, he spent many years in poverty. According to Bob Woodward, Wills was “the only one in Watergate who did his job perfectly.” According to our reviewer, this book is “a remarkably well-researched and definitive account of an unheralded American hero.”

Myra Forsberg is an Indie editor.