You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed. In Levels of Life Julian Barnes gives us Nadar, the pioneer balloonist and aerial photographer; he gives us Colonel Fred Burnaby, reluctant adorer of the extravagant Sarah Bernhardt; then, finally, he gives us the story of his own grief, unflinchingly observed. This is a book of intense honesty and insight; it is at once a celebration of love and a profound examination of sorrow.
In one of the most honest and candid self-portraits ever committed to paper, Robert Graves tells the extraordinary story of his experiences as a young officer in the First World War. He describes life in the trenches in vivid, raw detail, how the dehumanizing horrors he witnessed left him shell-shocked. They were to haunt him for the rest of his life. Goodbye to All That, with its harrowing descriptions of the Western Front, is a classic war document.
This is the story of innocence betrayed, of passion and curiosity about the world of machines turned nightmarish and punished by the cruelty of which only humans are capable. It is also a story of survival and courage. Eric Lomax was tortured by the Japanese on the Burma-Siam Railway. Fifty years later he met one of his tormentors.
What is it like to be a brain surgeon? How does it feel to hold someone's life in your hands, to cut into the stuff that creates thought, feeling and reason? How do you live with the consequences of performing a potentially life-saving operation when it all goes wrong? In neurosurgery, more than in any other branch of medicine, the doctor's oath to 'do no harm' holds a bitter irony. Operations on the brain carry grave risks. Every day, Henry Marsh must make agonising decisions, often in the face of great urgency and uncertainty. If you believe that brain surgery is a precise and exquisite craft, practised by calm and detached surgeons, this griping, brutally honest account will make you think again. With astonishing compassion and candour, one of the country's leading neurosurgeons reveals the fierce joy of operating, the profoundly moving triumphs, the harrowing disasters, the haunting regrets and the moments of black humour that characterise a brain surgeon's life. DO NO HARM is an unforgettable insight into the countless human dramas that take place in a busy modern hospital. Above all, it is a lesson in the need for hope when faced with life's most difficult decisions.
Most people today think of Winston Churchill as simply the wartime British bulldog - a jowly, cigar-chomping old fighter demanding blood, sweat and tears from his nation. But the well-known story of the elder statesman has overshadowed an earlier part of his life that is no less fascinating, and that has never before been fully told. It is a tale of romance, ambition, intrigue and glamour in Edwardian London, when the city was the centre of the world, and when its best and brightest were dazzled by the meteoric rise to power of a young politician with a famous name and a long aristocratic background. Winston Churchill gave his maiden speech in Parliament at the very beginning of King Edward VII's reign in 1901 when he was only 26. By the time the guns of August 1914 swept away the Edwardian idyll, he was First Lord of the Admiralty - the civilian head of the largest navy in the world. In the intervening years, he often cut a dashing figure, romancing several society beauties, tangling with some of the most powerful political figures of his time, championing major social reforms, becoming one of the leading orators of the day, publishing six books, supervising an armed assault on anarchists, and working harder perhaps than anyone else to prepare his nation for war.
From GQ's 'Nerd of the Year' to one of Time's most influential people in the world, Biz Stone represents different things to different people. But he is known to all as the creative, effervescent, funny, charmingly positive and remarkably savvy co-founder of Twitter-the social media platform that singlehandedly changed the way the world works. Now, Biz tells fascinating, pivotal, and personal stories from his early life and his careers at Google and Twitter, sharing his knowledge about the nature and importance of ingenuity today.
The heartfelt and uplifting story of how a project to scatter 60 Postcards in memory of her mother helped a young girl come to terms with her loss. On 11 February 2012 Rachael Chadwick lost her Mother to cancer, just sixteen days after first being diagnosed, and her world shattered right in front of her. Utterly fed up of the milestones and reminders, in December of that year she decided she would do something different and created a project based around her Mum's approaching 60th Birthday. Desperate to spread the word about the wonderful person she had lost, Rachael had the brainwave of leaving notes around a city in her memory. Deciding she would take it a step further she wondered what would happen if she could ask people to respond to her? Full of hope and energy she hand-wrote sixty postcards, each with her email address at the bottom asking the finder to get in touch. But one question remained, where should she go? Knowing how much she longed to visit Paris, the last gift that Rachael's mum had given her was Eurostar vouchers, and so it seemed fitting that this would be her chosen city. So off she went with a group of friends to celebrate, discover, and to scatter her memories. Filling their time in Paris with sight-seeing, food and drink, laughter, and of course postcards. When Rachael returned to her London home, she desperately tried to switch off, switch off from the wondering (and hoping) whether she might actually hear from a postcard finder. And then, they started flowing in…
This collection of Vonnegut's letters is the autobiography he never wrote - from the letter he posted home upon being freed from a German POW camp, to notes of advice to his children: 'Don't let anybody tell you that smoking and boozing are bad for you. Here I am fifty-five years old, and I never felt better in my life'. Peppered with insights, one-liners and missives to the likes of Norman Mailer, Gunter Grass and Bernard Malamud, Vonnegut is funny, wise and modest. As he himself said: 'I am an American fad-of a slightly higher order than the hula hoop.' Like Vonnegut's books, his letters make you think, they make you outraged and they make you laugh. Written over a sixty-year period, and never published before, these letters are alive with the unique point of view that made Vonnegut one of the most original writers in American fiction.
The Last Asylum is Barbara Taylor's journey through mental illness and the psychiatric health care system. The Last Asylum begins with Barbara Taylor's visit to the innocuously named Princess Park Manor in Friern Barnet, North London - a picture of luxury and repose. But this is the former site of one of England's most infamous lunatic asylums, the Middlesex County Pauper Lunatic Aslyum at Colney Hatch. At its peak this asylum housed nearly 3,000 patients - among them, in the 1980s, Barbara Taylor herself. The Last Asylum is Taylor's powerful account of her battle with mental illness, set inside the wider story of the end of the UK asylum system. Barbara Taylor's previous books include an award-winning study of nineteenth-century socialist feminism, Eve and the New Jerusalem; an intellectual biography of the pioneer feminist Mary Wollstonecraft; and On Kindness, a defence of fellow feeling co-written with the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips. She is a longstanding editor of the leading history journal, History Workshop Journal, and a director of the Raphael Samuel History Centre. She teaches history and English at Queen Mary University of London.
A graphic adaptation of a 100-year-old diary brings World War I history to life. One winter morning, Barroux was walking down a street in Paris when he made an extraordinary find: the real diary of a soldier in World War I. Barroux rescued the diary from the trash and illustrated the soldier's words. In this striking black and white graphic novel adaptation, the events of the first two months of World War I are given fresh meaning and relevance to modern audiences. This is living history that has the power to engage new generations through one man's story that is silhouetted against the historical events that formed and transformed the world we live in today.
Ruby Wax - comedian, writer and mental health campaigner - shows us how our minds can jeopardize our sanity. With her own periods of depression and now a Masters from Oxford in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy to draw from, she explains how our busy, chattering, self-critical thoughts drive us to anxiety and stress. If we are to break the cycle, we need to understand how our brains work, rewire our thinking and find calm in a frenetic world. Helping you become the master, not the slave, of your mind, here is the manual to saner living.
'The task of all who believe in multiracialism in this country is to survive. Quite inevitably time is on our side...' Helen Suzman was the voice of South Africa's conscience during the darkest days of apartheid. She stood alone in parliament, confronted by a legion of highly chauvinist male politicians. Armed with the relentless determination and biting wit for which she became renowned, Suzman battled the racist regime and earned her reputation as a legendary anti-apartheid campaigner. Despite constant antagonism and the threat of violence, she forced into the global spotlight the injustices of the country's minority rule. Access to Suzman's papers, including her unpublished correspondence with Nelson Mandela, was granted by her family to the author, former British ambassador to South Africa Robin Renwick, who has penned a book rich with examples of her humour and political brilliance. This first full biography goes beyond her famous struggle against apartheid into her criticisms of the post-apartheid government. It is a fascinating insight into the life of a truly great South African and her role in one of the most important struggles in modern history.
Jeff Bauman woke up on Tuesday April 16, 2013 with no legs. Just thirty hours earlier, he was surrounded by revelry at the Boston Marathon. The first bomb went off at his feet as he waited for his girlfriend to run down the finishing straight. Days later, waking up from hours of surgery, Jeff ripped out his breathing tube and tried to speak. He couldn't. Jeff asked for a pad and paper and he wrote down seven words: 'Saw the guy. Looked right at me.' This set off one of the biggest manhunts in America's history and began Jeff's road to recovery. Jeff Bauman is the most well-known survivor of the bombings. What happened to Jeff could have happened to anyone. How he handled the situation is nothing short of remarkable. 'I may have lost my legs that day, but I found a purpose. By next year's Boston Marathon - April 21, 2014 - I am going to walk, and I am going to prove that I am stronger than any terrorist, or any bomb.'
The Finnish-Swedish writer and artist Tove Jansson achieved worldwide fame as the creator of the Moomin stories, written between 1945 and 1970 and still in print in more than twenty languages. However, the Moomins were only a part of her prodigious output. Already admired in Nordic art circles as a painter, cartoonist and illustrator, she would go on to write a series of classic novels and short stories. She remains Scandinavia's best loved author. Tove Jansson's work reflected the tenets of her life: her love of family (and special bond with her mother), of nature, and her insistence on freedom to pursue her art. Love and work was the motto she chose for herself and her approach to both was joyful and uncompromising. If her relationships with men were shaded by an ambivalence towards marriage, those with women came as a revelation, especially the love and companionship she found with her long-time partner, the artist Tuulikki Pietila, with whom she shared her solitary island of Klovharu. In this meticulously researched, authorised biography, Boel Westin draws together the many threads of Jansson's life: from the studies interrupted to help her family; the bleak years of war and her emergence as an artist with a studio of her own; to the years of Moomin-mania, and later novel writing. Based on numerous conversations with Tove, and unprecedented access to her journals, letters and personal archives, Tove Jansson: Life, Art, Words offers a rare and privileged insight into the world of a writer whom Philip Pullman described, simply, as 'a genius'.
'Dearest Lumpy, I hope you are plump and well. Your mother bashed her car yesterday and chooses to believe it was not her fault...' Roger Mortimer's witty dressing-downs and affectionate advice were not only directed at his wayward son, Lupin. Though better behaved than her mischievous older brother, Louise (aka 'Lumpy') still caused her father to reach for his typewriter. The trials and tribulations of Louise's days at boarding school, her eventful wedding to Hot-Hand-Henry and the birth of his grandchildren are all accompanied by a sometimes chiding, but always loving letter. Between these milestones, Roger gives updates on the family, pets and the local gossip, holds forth on the weather, road safety, and even suggests the best way to make a gravy soup, all in his own inimitable style. With the same unique charm and often snort-inducing humour that made Dear Lupin a bestseller, Roger Mortimer guides and supports his daughter through every scrape she found herself in. Hilarious and instantly familiar, Dear Lumpy is a perfect example of the glorious art of letter writing, and the timeless relationship between father and daughter.
'It all happened so quickly. One minute I was squatting on the bare earth, preoccupied with popping pea pods. The next, I saw the flash of a black hand and white cloth, and before I even had a chance to cry out it had sailed towards my face, and completely covered it...' In 1954, in a remote South American village, a four-year-old girl was abducted and later abandoned deep in the Colombian rainforest. So begins the incredible true story of Marina Chapman, who went on to spend several years alone in the jungle, her only family a troop of capuchin monkeys. Using instinct to guide her, she copied everything they did and gradually learned to fend for herself. At around ten years old, a completely feral Marina was returned to civilisation by hunters, who sold her as a slave to a brothel. Mistreated and groomed to be a prostitute, she escaped - to live the perilous existence of a Colombian city street kid. Marina's life as a wild child wasn't over. In some ways, it had only just begun. This is her astonishing story.
This is the definitive biography of Wilkie Collins: the Victorian novelist, playwright, author of The Moonstone and The Woman in White, who lived a life of sensation. Part biography, part history, part intimate family saga, Wilkie Collins brings to life one of England's greatest writers against the backdrop of Victorian London and all its complexities. It is a truly sensational story. 1868, and bestselling author Wilkie Collins is hard at work on a new detective novel, The Moonstone. But he is weighed down by a mountain of problems - his own sickness, the death of his mother, and, most pressing, the announcement by his live-in mistress that she has tired of his relationship with another woman and intends to marry someone else. His solution is to increase his industrial intake of opium and knuckle down to writing the book T. S. Eliot called the 'greatest' English detective novel. Of Wilkie's domestic difficulties, not a word to the outside world: indeed, like his great friend Charles Dickens, he took pains to keep secret any detail of his menage. There's no doubt that the arrangement was unusual and, for Wilkie, precarious, particularly since his own books focused on uncovering such deeply held family secrets. Indeed, he was the master of the Victorian sensation novel, fiction that left readers on the edge of their seats as mysteries and revelations abounded. In this colourful investigative portrait, Andrew Lycett draws Wilkie Collins out from the shadow of Charles Dickens. Wilkie is revealed as a brilliant, witty, friendly, contrary and sensual man, deeply committed to his work. Here he is given his rightful place at the centre of the literary, artistic and historical movements of his age.