The Return is at once a universal and an intensely personal tale. It is an exquisite meditation on how history and politics can bear down on an individual life. And yet Hisham Matar's memoir isn't just about the burden of the past, but the consolation of love, literature and art. It is the story of what it is to be human. Hisham Matar was nineteen when his father was kidnapped and taken to prison in Libya. He would never see him again. Twenty-two years later, the fall of Gaddafi meant he was finally able to return to his homeland. In this moving memoir, the author takes us on an illuminating journey, both physical and psychological; a journey to find his father and rediscover his country.
The story of the greatest long-distance athlete in history - a tale of running, redemption and political exile.
In the summer of 1952 Emil Zatopek became the king of the running world with an unprecedented distance treble at the Olympic Games in Helsinki. Together with his wife Dana, who won another gold medal in the javelin, they were the embodiment of sporting romance. Born on the same day, they were champions on the same day too. Yet in 1968 this affable but eccentric Czech solider was betrayed by his Communist paymasters and cast out into wilderness. Hidden from world view, monitored by the secret police and forced to live in a caravan in mining country, he became the invisible hero. Endurance is the first biography to document the remarkable rise, fall and rehabilitation of a man voted the 'greatest runner of all time' by 'Runner's World' in 2013.
It is also the story of a golden age of sport played out against a backdrop of Cold War politics and paranoia. From the London Olympics of 1948 to Czech concentration camps, this is an uplifting and harrowing story of survival. As Emil rises to global fame, his old coach is locked up and tortured by StB henchmen. Their diverging paths expose the fickleness of popularity and eventually cross again when Zatopek's world is torn asunder. All both men can do is endure.
The running world of this era is brought to life by dramatic accounts of Zatopek's great triumphs, manifold records and a rich collection of characters vying to dethrone him. In Britain the sharp-tongued Gordon Pirie falls foul of the media as he becomes obsessed with Zatopek and adopts increasingly-masochistic methods; mild-mannered marathon champion Jim Peters begins a quest that would make women weep and grown men lose their lunch. In France Alain Mimoun crawls from the bloody carnage of his war-time exploits to overcome racial snubs and become known as Zatopek's Shadow; and in the Soviet Union, the tragic figure of Vladimir Kuts is moulded into a brutal running machine at huge cost. Only Zatopek manages to bridge this East-West divide as a savage power struggle is fought in both the Olympic arena and in the corridors of power.
Due to extensive access to those involved, including Dana herself, award-winning Times author Rick Broadbent has written a vivid history involving blood and guns and a love that sustained the cruellest twists of fate. From heady nights at White City to the brave resistance during the Prague Spring, this is a book that plants the son of a carpenter at the very centre of a revolution. Whether talking to his rivals on the track or Red Army troops as tanks roll into Prague, Zatopek's humanity shines through and carries all.
With traces of 'Chariots of Fire' and Laura Hillenbrand's 'Unbroken', Endurance is both a wonderful love story and a landmark tale of hope and strength in the face of crushing opposition.
What matters in the end? In the final years of life, which memories stand out? Writing from her retirement home in Highgate, London, as she approaches her 100th year, Diana Athill reflects on what it is like to be in her nineties, and on the moments in her life which have risen to the surface and sustain her in her later years. She recalls in sparkling detail the exact layout of the garden of her childhood, a vast and beautiful park attached to a large house, and writes with humour, clarity and honesty about her experiences of the First and Second World Wars, and her trips to Europe as a young woman. In the remarkable title chapter, Athill describes her pregnancy at the age of forty-three, losing the baby and almost losing her life, and her gratitude on discovering that she had survived. With vivid memories of the past mingled with candid, wise and often very funny reflections on the experience of being very old, Alive, Alive Oh! reminds us of the joy and richness to be found at every stage of life.
Keggie Carew grew up in the gravitational field of an unorthodox father who lived on his wits and dazzling charm. As his memory begins to fail, she embarks on a quest to unravel his story, and soon finds herself in a far more consuming place than she had bargained for. Tom Carew was a maverick, a left-handed stutterer, a law unto himself. As a member of an elite SOE unit he was parachuted behind enemy lines to raise guerrilla resistance in France, then Burma, in the Second World War. But his wartime exploits are only the start of it...Dadland is a manhunt. Keggie takes us on a spellbinding journey, in peace and war, into surprising and shady corners of history, her rackety English childhood, the poignant breakdown of her family, the corridors of dementia and beyond. As Keggie pieces Tom - and herself - back together again, she celebrates the technicolour life of an impossible, irresistible, unstoppable man.
Surfing only looks like a sport. To devotees, it is something else entirely: a beautiful addiction, a mental and physical study, a passionate way of life. William Finnegan first started surfing as a young boy in California and Hawaii. Barbarian Days is his immersive memoir of a life spent travelling the world chasing waves through the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, Africa and beyond. Finnegan describes the edgy yet enduring brotherhood forged among the swell of the surf; and recalling his own apprenticeship to the world's most famous and challenging waves, he considers the intense relationship formed between man, board and water. Barbarian Days is an old-school adventure story, a social history, an extraordinary exploration of one man's gradual mastering of an exacting and little-understood art. It is a memoir of dangerous obsession and enchantment. WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR BIOGRAPHY 2016.
A stark and lyrical account of the psyche in crisis from the author of Kith Tristimania tells the story of a devastating year-long episode of manic depression, culminating in a long solo pilgrimage across Spain. Recording the experience of mania as has rarely been done before, Jay Griffiths shows how the condition is at once terrifying and also profoundly creative, both tricking and treating the psyche. An intimate and raw journey, Tristimania illuminates something of the universal human spirit.
It was like a scene out of a thriller: one morning in April 2012, China’s most famous political activist - a blind, self-taught lawyer - climbed over the wall of his heavily guarded home and escaped. For days, his whereabouts remained unknown; after he turned up at the American embassy in Beijing, a furious round of high-level negotiations finally led to his release and a new life in the United States.
Chen Guangcheng is a unique figure on the world stage, but his story is even more remarkable than we knew. The son of a poor farmer in rural China, blinded by illness when he was an infant, Chen was fortunate to survive a difficult childhood. But despite his disability, he was determined to educate himself and fight for the rights of his country’s poor, especially a legion of women who had endured forced sterilizations under the hated 'one child' policy. Repeatedly harassed, beaten, and imprisoned by Chinese authorities, Chen was ultimately placed under house arrest. After a year of fruitless protest and increasing danger, he evaded his captors and fled to freedom.
Both a riveting memoir and a revealing portrait of modern China, this passionate book tells the story of a man who has never accepted limits and always believed in the power of the human spirit to overcome any obstacle.
There is no other book to turn to for a comprehensive guide to history's biggest names including, to name just a few... Homer, Julius Caesar, Jesus, Christopher Columbus, Michelangelo, William Shakespeare, J S Bach, Abraham Lincoln, Karl Marx, Pablo Picasso, Sigmund Freud, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong. And from an Australian perspective, Dictionary of World Biography has more than enough of those within our own country who have in some way shaped our own history... Elizabeth Blackburn, Don Bradman, Henry Lawson, Mary McKillop, Macfarlane Burnett, Sidney Nolan, Kerry Packer and Peter Singer.
If you were asked to write about your father, what would you say? No two paternal relationships are the same. Every experience, every bond, is unique. And whether happy or sad, fond or fraught, the memories and stories we have about our dads stay with us for ever. In this carefully curated collection, a dazzling list of contributors - including Florence Welch, Paul Weller, Nina Stibbe and the sons and daughters of Ian Dury, Johnny Ball, Roy Castle, Leonard Cohen and many others - open up, some for the first time, about their paternal experiences. From the heart-rending to the tragic, from expressions of joyful love to a quick snapshot of a life, these beautifully written pieces are also deeply personal. As universal as it is powerful, My Old Man offers a unique opportunity to reflect on our own relationships with our dads.
In February 2015, Tim Locks headed to Kurdistan to fight ISIS. After watching images of the Yazidi people being slaughtered, he couldn't sit back and do nothing. Having worked as a prison officer and a bouncer, he knew how to handle himself - and had a huge protective streak. He sold his house to raise money, put himself through arms training and bought his equipment on eBay. In this gripping book he reveals what it is like to fight alongside the Kurds as well as British and American ex-military. He has cleared the enemy from occupied villages, come under mortar and small-arms fire, and witnessed the horrific atrocities committed by ISIS. He also describes how WiFi on the front line allows today's soldiers to communicate, how they always find time for selfies, even when under attack, and how the Kurds are so used to this way of life they stop mid-firefight to have a cup of chai and play Candy Crush while manning the mortars. As cultures clash, and the bullets start flying, Tim shares his adventures with honesty and black humour.
For the past four years Jane Miller, author of Crazy Age: Thoughts on Being Old, has been writing a column for an American magazine called In These Times. Her beautifully observed pieces about life, politics and Britain open a window to her American readers of a world very different from their own. Jane lives in London, and has never met anyone connected to the magazine; all the time she has been contributing pieces, she and her editor at In These Times have kept up a lively email correspondence, and - having explored the Chicago street in which they work on Google Street View - she imagines her editor and his young assistants bicycling efficiently along the wide road, braced for a day's fact-checking, assembling the magazine and then 'putting it to bed'. In My Own Time is a celebration of the new connections possible in the modern world, and a collection of small windows on these last four years, at home and abroad. Through her emails across the Atlantic - warm and thoughtful, witty and sharp - Miller gives us an 84 Charing Cross Road for the twenty-first century.
Amy Schumer. Frank, fearless and so freaking funny. Her story. In her own words.
Amy Schumer is taking the world by storm. In just a few short years, she's become a huge movie star, writing and starring in Trainwreck, acclaimed as a subversive comic genius, and collecting an Emmy and Peabody Award for her sketch comedy series, Inside Amy Schumer. She's outrageously funny, fantastically rude, sly, sharp, provocative, unexpected, original, fresh, rule-breaking. Her videos regularly go viral, her movie took in over $138M worldwide, and her book deal in the US made her over $8M. Is there nothing this woman cannot do?
In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy looks back over her life for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, her career, good - and bad - sex, and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is: from the riches to rags story of her childhood and her teenage quest for normality (and boys) to becoming one of the most sought-after comedians on the planet and an outspoken advocate for women's rights.
Whether she's experiencing lust at first sight in the queue at the airport and discovering her boot camp instructor's secret bad habit, or discussing her father's multiple sclerosis or her lifelong battles with confidence, Amy Schumer proves to be an intelligent, fearless, and always entertaining storyteller. Her book will make you giggle uncontrollably, catch you completely off guard and answer this burning question - is it okay for a 36 year-old woman to still sleep with her childhood teddy bears?
A man with a preternatural ability to find emerging artists, Richard Bellamy was one of the first advocates of pop art, minimalism, and conceptual art. The founder and director of the fabled Green Gallery on Fifty-Seventh Street, the witty, poetry-loving art lover became a legend of the avant-garde, showing the work of artists such as Mark di Suvero, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, Donald Judd, and others.
Born to an American father and a Chinese mother in a Cincinnati suburb, Bellamy moved to New York and made a life for himself between the Beat orbits of Provincetown and white-glove events such as the Guggenheim's opening gala. He partied with Norman Mailer, was friends with Diane Arbus and Yoko Ono, and frequently hosted or performed in Allan Kaprow's happenings. Always more concerned with art than with making a profit, Bellamy withdrew when the market mushroomed around him, letting his contemporaries and friends, such as Leo Castelli and Sidney Janis, capitalise on the stars he first discovered.
Bellamy's life story is a fascinating window into the transformation of art in the late twentieth century.