Most Influential People2019

Tara Westover

By Bill Gates
Author Tara Westover
Hill & Aubrey

If you haven’t read Educated yet, chances are you know someone who has. Tara Westover’s brilliant memoir has been on the best-seller list since its release, and for good reason. Her story of growing up in a Mormon survivalist home—and eventually escaping to earn a doctorate from Cambridge University—­is hard to put down.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Tara last year, and she’s somehow even more impressive in person. Her unique perspective on polarization in America feels especially important right now. Educated isn’t a political book, but it touches on common divides in our country: red states vs. blue states, rural vs. urban, college-educated vs. not. Tara has a lot of smart things to say about overcoming those divides, and I’m glad Educated’s success has given her a platform to use her voice. I look forward to reading—or seeing!—what comes next from her.

Gates is a co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation