Anka Muhlstein was born in Paris in 1935. She spent the war years in New York City and returned to France in 1945. She moved back to New York with her two sons from a previous marriage, Robert and Stéphane Dujarric, when she married Louis Begley in 1974. She has published eleven books of biographies and essays. She has been awarded the Goncourt prize of Biography and has twice received the History Prize of the French Academy. Her work has been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish and Polish.