I'm looking a new French and/or British cookbook and would like to know which I should buy. I'm partial to Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Bourdain, Heston Blumenthal, and Eric Ripert. A good biography on those four would be appreciated too.
Whilst Blumenthal is British - and a genius - his cooking style is pretty much unique and, most certainly, does not represent modern British home cooking.
Ramsay self-describes "Restaurant Gordon Ramsay" as "modern French" and certainly he has a classical background. There's a quite a range of books so picking one might depend on your own cooking style and interests. His latest "Ultimate Cookery Course" accompanied his Channel 4 series. It's pretty much home style, rather than restaurant style, which is why it's the only one of his on my shelves. That said, I havnt been moved to cook anything from it in the several months I've had it.
Besides the Julia Child quintessential French cookbook, my go-to is Paula Wolfert's "Cooking of Southwest France" and her friend, James Villas' "French Country Kitchen."
Here are some older French cookbooks that are in my library; they are less classic cooking and more home-style or bistro cookiing, easily manageable for home cooks:
Bistro Cooking, Patricia Wells
Patricia Wells At Home in Provence
Chez Nous, Lydie Marshall
Elizabeth David Classics: French Country Cooking
These all stand the test of time.