Michelle Burford

Books & Applause

NYT Best Seller
Coming Home By Brittney Griner with Michelle Burford | Knopf | 2024

From WNBA icon and Olympic champion Brittney Griner—a raw, revelatory account of her unfathomable detainment in Russia and her journey home

On February 17, 2022, Brittney Griner arrived in Moscow ready to spend the WNBA off-season playing for the Russian women’s basketball team where she had been the centerpiece of previous championship seasons. Instead, a security checkpoint became her gateway to hell when she was arrested for mistakenly carrying less than one gram of medically prescribed cannabis oil. Brittney’s world was violently upended, a crisis that she has never spoken in detail about publicly—until now.

In Coming Home, Brittney finally shares the harrowing full story of her sudden arrest days before Russia invaded Ukraine; her bewilderment and isolation while navigating a foreign legal system during her trial and sentencing; her emotional and physical anguish as the first American woman ever to be detained at the IK-2 prison camp, while the #WeAreBG movement rallied for her release; the chilling prisoner swap, for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout; and her remarkable rise from hostage to global spokesperson on behalf of America’s forgotten. In haunting and vivid detail, Brittney takes readers inside the horrors of a geopolitical nightmare spanning ten months.

The New York Times Magazine cover story: “On May 7, Griner will publish her memoir Coming Home, written with Michelle Burford, documenting her harrowing ordeal in Russia and her return home. The book is brutal, rendering in excruciating detail the conditions of her imprisonment and the fear and desperation that consumed her daily. Griner has always relied on writing for her sanity, starting in middle school, when she endured bullying for her height and androgynous appearance, and this memoir reveals someone deeply familiar with her interiority—she’s vulnerable and raw but has also had enough therapy to use humor to process tragedy.”

The New York Times Magazine Book Review: Coming Home is a visceral, harrowing account of what it’s like to be trapped inside Russia’s infamous criminal justice system, with its merciless judges and vast labor camps … Griner, ably assisted by her co-writer, Michelle Burford, describes the Russian penal system—the filth, the interrogations by prison psychiatrists about her sexuality and her supposed drug addiction, the guards’ casual cruelty—in vivid, conversational language.”

The Washington Post: “Written with Michelle Burford, founding senior editor of O, The Oprah Magazine, who has also channeled the stories of actress Cicely Tyson, gymnast Simone Biles and singer Alicia Keys into print, Coming Home is bound for the talk-show circuits and probably the bestseller lists. The text resonates with the emotional clarity of Griner’s voice … It is a riveting read.”

Slate: “Griner wrote Coming Home with Michelle Burford, a frequent collaborator on bestselling memoirs—and Griner chose well. The chapters depicting the courtroom and prison are truly gripping; the ones about her homecoming are genuinely moving. They don’t read like Solzhenitsyn or Koestler, but they wouldn’t be convincing if they did … Coming Home’s value is in Griner’s candor about her rare and harrowing experiences. It reads as a deeply personal, publicly powerful documentation of what happened—what is still happening—to her body and mind.”

• Robin Roberts’s exclusive ABC primetime interview with Brittney Griner (click here for highlights)

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NYT Best Seller
Brighter By the Day By Robin Roberts with Michelle Burford | Grand Central Publishing | 2022

Legend anchor Robin Roberts, host of the nation’s #1-rated morning show, Good Morning America, offers a guide to instilling hope and optimism into readers’ lives, infusing their days with positivity and encouragement

Over the last 16 years as the esteemed anchor of Good Morning America, Robin Roberts has helped millions greet each new morning, gracing our screens with heart and humility. Now, she shares with readers the guidance she’s received, her own hard-won wisdom, and eye-opening experiences that have helped her usher in light—even on the darkest days.

Drawing on advice and knowledge she gleaned from conversations with loved ones, spiritual practices, and life experiences, Robin offers a window into how she feeds her own mind, spirit, and soul and invites readers to do the same. With a deeply personal touch, she explains that just like any skill, optimism requires practice and demonstrates how we can shift our mindsets and give ourselves permission to let our best intentions take root and be true.

• Twitter unveiling of Robin Roberts’s book cover (click here to see the Tweet)

• Robin Roberts announced her book on GMA (click here to see the video announcement)

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#1 NYT Best Seller
Just As I Am By Cicely Tyson with Michelle Burford | HarperCollins | 2021

Ms. Cicely L. Tyson passed away on January 28, 2021, two days following the publication of her memoir, Just As I Am. The book debuted at #1 and spent ten weeks on the NYT Best Seller List. Rest in peace, Ms. Tyson, as the world celebrates your extraordinary life and legacy.


Oscar, Tony, and three-time Emmy Award-winning actress Cicely Tyson shares her remarkable story in a memoir The Oprah Magazine calls an “essential, passionate, raw, revelatory account of a woman who refused to allow any obstacle to thwart her quest for excellence—racism, misogyny, poverty, single motherhood—and today stands as one of the greatest actresses of all time.”

The New York Times Book Review: “It is a fine and bracing thing to finish this roundup with Just As I Am (HarperCollins, 416 pp., $28.99), a memoir completed recently enough to include references to Covid-19 and Breonna Taylor. The stories are those of the esteemed actor, activist and former model Cicely Tyson, who, just two years ago, became the first African-American woman to receive an honorary Academy Award, and who has received multiple Emmy nominations for her ongoing work on “How to Get Away With Murder.” Of course, what with Tyson turning 96 years old this year, no illusions are spoiled in explaining that the firm, warm, proud, reflective voice on the page, in full keeping with the star’s onscreen image, is the creation of Michelle Burford, a gifted “collaborator and story architect,” as she calls herself, whose previous celebrity collaborations include books with Alicia Keys, Toni Braxton and Simone Biles.

I linger on this “with” credit, because I like to think that Tyson herself must admire the enterprise with which Burford has turned her specialized skills into such success. The Harlem-born Tyson was “a deep chestnut brown in a nation that considers the darker sister the less attractive one.” Her parents were immigrants from Nevis in the West Indies; her father’s womanizing resulted in her mother leaving, taking little Cicely, her older brother and younger sister. Tyson’s mother could be harsh, belittling. Pregnant as a senior in high school, young Cicely married the baby’s father, but the marriage was brief; the daughter she sent away (to boarding school, to the care of others) for such long stretches while she hustled to establish her own life appears over and over in these pages, an old mother’s regret for what she felt she could not give her baby girl.

Certain stories serve as narrative anchors: Tyson’s artistic education through the tutelage of the lauded director Lloyd Richards; the revolutionary gesture of cutting her hair short and natural in 1962; and, especially, her long, complicated romantic relationship with the damaged, drug-ravaged, genius jazz musician Miles Davis, a connection of great glamour and great strain. This she reflects on at length, with a clear-eyed attention to painful details that, no matter how great the writing assistance, begins with the integrity of the woman ready to do the telling.

A throng of admirers has been eager to hear whatever she wants to tell. Burford, a sensitive listener, has organized 96 years’ worth of stories with grace. Right about now, the autobiography of Miss Cicely Tyson is a balm for the afflicted.”


• Click here to read The New York Times profile of Michelle Burford, on the eve of the release of JUST AS I AM (pdf on Linkedin)

Or click here to read the profile on The New York Times website


The Washington Post:  “Just As I Am is a 400-page chronicle of a history as American as apple pie, as Black as the dead of night, as rich, surely, as Tyson’s favorite meals, oxtails and okra, cooked up by her late ex-husband Miles Davis. While undoubtedly personal—or “plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside,” as Tyson writes in the book’s introduction via her skilled collaborator Michelle Burford—it’s a universal accounting of just how far we’ve come in Tyson’s near-century of life, and how far we still must go.

But what shines most from the memoir is how Tyson’s story, while frankly written and supremely eye-opening, isn’t just her own. It’s also the story of Black women in America, of generations past, present and yet to come, whose wills to survive are divinely gifted and ancestrally guided. Perhaps that’s why, in the last pages of the book, she speaks directly to her proverbial sisters and daughters, nieces and grandchildren, revealing what she hopes her legacy will be, whenever God calls her home.

The Oprah Magazine:Just As I Am is an essential, passionate, raw, revelatory account of a woman who refused to allow any obstacle to thwart her quest for excellence—racism, misogyny, poverty, single motherhood—and today stands as one of the greatest actresses of all time.”

Publishers Weekly: “Tyson provides an intimate glimpse into her stormy marriage with jazz maestro Miles Davis, which ended in divorce. ‘I felt no need to drape words on the hanger of inevitability,’ she writes. ‘The marriage had long since been over.’ It’s in these poignant moments that the memoir becomes a resonant meditation on the link between an actress’s life and her art. This show-stopping tale hits the mark.”

• Best Memoirs and Biographies: Amazon Editors’ Pick, March 2021

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NYT Best Seller
More Myself By Alicia Keys with Michelle Burford | Flatiron Books | An Oprah Book | 2020

More Myself is an intimate look at one artist’s journey from self-censorship to full expression. As one of the most celebrated musicians in the world, 15-time Grammy Award-winning artist Alicia Keys has enraptured the globe with her heartfelt lyrics, extraordinary vocal range, and soul-stirring piano compositions. Yet away from the spotlight, Alicia has grappled with private heartache―over the people-pleasing nature that characterized her early career, the loss of privacy surrounding her romantic relationships, and the oppressive expectations of female perfection.

More Myself is part autobiography, part narrative documentary. Alicia’s journey is revealed not only through her own candid recounting, but also through vivid recollections from those who have walked alongside her. The result is a 360-degree perspective on Alicia’s path―from her girlhood in Hell’s Kitchen and Harlem, to the process of self-discovery she’s still navigating.

The book features narrative and audio contributions by Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Jay-Z, Bono, Swizz Beatz, Clive Davis and America Ferrera.

• Oprah Winfrey: “Alicia has navigated the spotlight and pressures of fame while retaining a humble and beautiful spirit. I am honored she chose to share her personal story through my imprint.”

• First Lady Michelle Obama: “For years, I’ve been turning to my friend Alicia for love and support, and I’m so excited for her to share her wisdom and her journey with all of you in her new book, More Myself.”

• Dr. Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly and Rising Strong: “Alicia’s book, More Myself, is a master class in authenticity and vulnerability.”

• Amazon’s “Best Biographies and Memoirs of April” Review: “More Myself is thoughtful, informative, revelatory, questioning and celebrates what it truly means to live a creative life.”

Click here to read The New York Times article entitled “Alicia Keys Can Now Add ‘Best-Selling Author’ to her Résumé”

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#1 Amazon Best Seller
Handcrafted By Clint Harp | Touchstone | 2018

Clint Harp, the maverick carpenter on Chip and Joanna Gaines’s smash hit Fixer Upper (HGTV) and the star of Wood Work on the DIY Network, shares the inspiring story of his rise from novice craftsman and reluctant cliff jumper to internationally renowned furniture artisan. Spanning Clint’s remarkable life—including a childhood learning carpentry and hard work at his grandfather’s knee, the struggle to balance pursuing his lifelong passion with supporting his family, and the many adventures and misadventures of filming Fixer Upper in Waco, Texas—Handcrafted is part memoir and part manual for dreamers. Clint provides unvarnished, thoughtful reflections on a path that is possible for anyone bold enough to attempt it.

• President Jimmy Carter: “A fellow craftsman from Georgia, Clint shows how to live life as an adventure. From the floor of his first shop to the foundations of Habitat for Humanity houses, to building furniture for the world to see, Clint Harp is living a handcrafted life.”

• Chip Gaines: “I’m proud of Clint. I’m proud of the husband and father he is, and I’m proud that he’s my friend. He’s the kind of guy who just bears down and gets stuff done. I’m glad he took the time to put his life story together, and I’m honored to have played a small part. Don’t be dumb…read this book!”

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#1 Amazon Best Seller
Called to Rise By Former Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown with Michelle Burford | Ballantine | 2017

During a protest in Dallas on July 7, 2016, a gunman went on a shooting spree and murdered five police officers. Chief Brown, a 33-year veteran of the force, made the historic call to take down the assailant using a C-4 bomb transported by a robot.

In this powerful memoir, the chief takes us behind the scenes of his high-octane career in law enforcement, including his rise from crime scene investigator to  SWAT team leader and head of a department that has been hailed as a model for community policing.

Chief Brown also shares his deeply personal tragedies: His first partner was killed in the line of duty; his younger brother was murdered by drug dealers; and a few weeks after he was sworn in as chief, his mentally ill son took two lives and was then killed by a cop.

Following his service in Dallas, Chief Brown became a correspondent for ABC News. Amid the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, he was appointed as the chief of the Chicago Police Department.

• Whoopi Goldberg, The View: “[Chief Brown] is the real deal: a real Christian, a real man, a real leader.”

Texas Monthly: “In the turbulent days after a gunman murdered five officers, the Dallas police chief was the voice of compassion and unity that the city and country needed.”

• TheCrimeReport.org: “[Chief Brown] draws on his 33-year-career in law enforcement to develop a vision for the next generation of policing.”

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#1 NYT Best Seller
Courage to Soar By Simone Biles with Michelle Burford | Zondervan | 2016

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles—hailed as one of the greatest athletes of all time after her breathtaking performance at the 2016 Rio Games—shares her inspiring journey from a foster-care home in Ohio to her place in history as the most decorated American gymnast to ever compete.

• Ranked #1 on The New York Times Best Seller list, Young Adult Hardcover Nonfiction

• Indie Best Seller list, Young Adult Hardcover Nonfiction

• Mary Lou Retton, 1984 Olympic champion: “Just when we thought we were at the physical limit of the sport, here comes Simone Biles. She’s the best I’ve ever seen. She’s in a class by herself.”

• Nastia Liukin, five-time Olympic medalist: “Courage to Soar is a truly remarkable story about an amazing athlete and person. I continuously felt inspired through each chapter.”

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#1 Amazon Best Seller
In the Country We Love By Diane Guerrero with Michelle Burford | Henry Holt & Company | 2016

Orange Is the New Black actress Diane Guerrero was just 14 on the day she arrived home to a heartbreaking discovery: Her mom and dad, Colombian immigrants, had been detained and deported. Diane, a U.S. citizen, was left completely on her own; no immigration official or child services worker ever contacted her. For the first time, Diane shares the full story of her struggle to remain in the United States, her agonizing separation from her loved ones, her determination to build a successful acting career—and her hope that her family will one day reunite in America. Read an excerpt.

• Publishers Weekly: “Guerrero was left on her own with no government oversight whatsoever, a harrowing situation she recounts with honesty, pathos, and bravery.”

• Kirkus Reviews: “A moving, humanizing portrait of the collateral damage caused by America’s immigration policy.”

• School Library Journal: “This touching memoir will resonate with those who want to know more about the lives of immigrants and refugees, or have experienced a situation similar to Guerrero’s.”

• Winner of the American Library Association’s Alex Award, for best adult books that appeal to teen readers

• Book Riot’s “Best Books of 2016” list  |  Chicago Public Library’s “Best Books of 2016” list

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NYT Best Seller
On My Own Two Feet By Amy Purdy with Michelle Burford | William Morrow | 2014

Amy Purdy, the double-amputee snowboarder and TED speaker who inspired a nation on Dancing with the Stars, reveals the intimate details of her dramatic comeback from the brink of death to her historic victory at the 2014 Paralympic games in Sochi. Amy’s glimpse of the afterlife—coupled with the loss of her legs to bacterial meningitis—compelled her toward a new spiritual path. Read an excerpt.

• The New York Times Best Seller monthly list (Sports)

• Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love: “Amy’s honest and sharply written memoir leaves me feeling as uplifted as I do when I spend time in her presence. She brings the same courage and open-heartedness to these pages that she brings to each day she navigates the world—one carbon-fiber foot at a time.”

• Deepak Chopra: “What a remarkable young woman—and what a gem of a book.”

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#1 NYT Best Seller
Finding Me: The Cleveland Kidnappings By Michelle Knight with Michelle Burford | Hachette | 2014

Michelle Knight was a young single mom in 2002 when Ariel Castro lured her into his Cleveland home and imprisoned her. Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus were later forced into captivity. For the first time since the girls’ triumphant escape, Michelle reveals the daily torment she endured, her longing to reunite with her son, and her courageous journey from heartache to healing. Read an excerpt.

• Ranked #1 on The New York Times Best Seller list, Combined Print and E-Book Nonfiction

• Ranked #1 on The Wall Street Journal Best Seller list

• Amazon’s “The Best Books of 2014” list

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#1 Amazon Best Seller
Unbreak My Heart By Toni Braxton | It Books | 2014

Toni Braxton has earned six Grammy Awards and sold more than 60 million albums worldwide—yet success hasn’t shielded the singer and reality show star from some of life’s greatest hardships. In this revealing memoir, Toni opens up about her pair of humiliating bankruptcies, her heartrending divorce, her son’s autism—and the painful health condition that once threatened her life. Read an excerpt.

• Ranked #1 Amazon Best Seller in Popular Music Books, May 2014

• Michelle appeared as Toni’s co-author in the hit reality show Braxton Family Values

• Lifetime Original movie Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart (2016) is based on the memoir

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NYT Best Seller
Grace, Gold & Glory By Gabrielle Douglas with Michelle Burford | Zondervan | 2012

At the 2012 Olympics, Gabby Douglas leapt into the hearts of millions as she claimed a double victory and became the first African-American to win an all-around gold. In these pages, she shares the story of her rise from poverty to the top of an Olympic podium. Read an excerpt.

• The New York Times Best Seller list

• The Guardian: “Douglas’s co-author, Michelle Burford, is a founding editor of O…so the book’s tone is heartwarming, tear-jerking, and highly readable.”

• Publishers Weekly: “An effervescent first-person account of Douglas’s life from birth to the Olympics, this book will capture the attention of sports enthusiasts and Douglas’s admirers…Overall, the book delivers.”

• Grace, Gold and Glory is on exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture

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The Oprah Show Commemorative Michelle Burford, Editor-in-Chief | Hearst | June 2011

How do you create a #1-rated talk show for 25 seasons? In this 148-page, full-color bookazine, Oprah gives you a personal backstage tour of one of America’s best-loved programs. She shares stories of the show’s early days (“We’d go downstairs on State Street and beg people to be in our audience in exchange for heat!”) and what led her to shift the show in the ’90s (“I wanted to use this platform as a force for good”). The keepsake includes O’s all-time best memories—the celebrity interviews, aha moments, makeovers and huge surprises. Read an excerpt.



“Michelle is simply the best: She tells every story with great flair, she’s on time, and she delivers quality work, all with no behind-the-scenes drama.”

- Steve Ross of Steve Ross Agency,
former VP/Publisher at Crown

“Michelle, thank you for your hours of listening and deep understanding. I’ve had some of my greatest aha moments during our writing process.”

- Alicia Keys,
Grammy Award-winning artist

“Michelle had a strong vision for shaping my story into a New York Times best seller. When you partner with her, you’re in the best hands.”

- Amy Purdy, TED speaker
and snowboard champion

“Michelle is a talented collaborative writer, passionate about her work, as well as compassionate, guiding me to be open and share even more.”

- Robin Roberts,
Emmy Award-winning anchor

“Michelle did a great job as my co-author. She’s smart, funny and easy to work with—and above all else, she’s a
super-talented writer.”

- Toni Braxton,
Grammy Award-winning artist

“Michelle, thank you for lending me the poetry of your pen and the openness of your heart. The Spirit led me well in prompting me to choose you.”

- Cicely Tyson,
Oscar-winning screen legend

“I’ve worked with Michelle on many projects. She’s creative, positive, reliable—a brilliant ideas person who sees things through to completion.”

- Dawn Raffel,
Pulitzer Prize-nominated author

“Michelle, thank you for transforming my endless number of crazy stories into a beautiful inspiration for both kids and adults.”

- Simone Biles,
world’s most decorated gymnast

“You can trust Michelle: Tight deadlines are met, book manuscripts come in clean. I strongly recommend her for high-profile projects.”

- Jacque Alberta,
Senior Editor, Zondervan