Born into a Mormon survivalist family, Tara Westover grew up in rural Idaho preparing for the End of Days. Her incredible memoir, Educated, details her isolated childhood, how she came to envision a new life, and how she taught herself enough to go on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University. Fairfax Literary Editor Jason Steger talks to Tara about a remarkable coming-of-age story that speaks to the transformational power of education to see one’s life through new eyes.

Tara Westover (International)


Tara Westover was born the youngest of seven children in rural Idaho. Raised by Mormon survivalist parents, she grew up preparing for the End of Days—she spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected. Her father opposed public education, so she was never put in school. She had no birth certificate, medical records, or formal education until the age of sixteen, when she decided to educate herself. She was admitted to Brigham Young University and upon graduation was awarded a Gates Cambridge Fellowship to study at Trinity College, Cambridge, where she pursued a MPhil in Intellectual History and Political Thought. She received her PhD in the same subject from Cambridge in 2014. Her first book, Educated, is a tale of the transformative power of education. It is also a story of fierce family loyalty, and the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties.

Jason Steger (Australian)

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Jason Steger is Fairfax's literary editor and a regular panellist on ABC TV's The Book Club