The story of a fascinating man who connected the great politicians, artists and thinkers at the height of British global power and influence. A famed aesthete and patron, Philip Sassoon's world was one of luxury and classic English elegance with oriental flair. He gathered a social set that would provide inspiration for Brideshead. There you might find Winston Churchill arguing over the tea cups with George Bernard Shaw, the Prince of Wales playing tennis with Charlie Chaplin, Noel Coward mingling with flamingos and Lawrence of Arabia and Rex Whistler painting murals as the party carried on around him. But Philip Sassoon was not just a wealthy aesthete. He worked at the right hand of Douglas Haig during the First World War and then for Prime Minister Lloyd George for the settlement of the peace. He was close to King Edward VIII during the abdication crisis, and Minister for the Air Force in the 1930s. And neither was he wholly 'English'. The heir of a family of wealthy Jewish traders from the souks of Baghdad, Philip craved acceptance from the English establishment, many of whom thought him both foreign and too exotic. He opened his house to his friends but rarely his heart, as he was almost certainly homosexual. In 'Charmed', Damian Collins explores an extraordinary product of an age; a man who, before dying prematurely aged only 50, in June 1939, Noel Coward called a 'phenomenon that would never recur'.
Meanwhile in Sydney, Australia; Thomas Stranger, nervously boarded a plane, wondering if he was worthy of this meeting. Is healing possible if you can’t fathom forgiving yourself?
This journey was not planned in haste. It was the careful result of a written correspondence that had lasted eight years. After covering hundreds of letters with searing honesty in a dialogue between survivor and perpetrator, they decided it was time to see each other face to face.
Coming from opposite sides of the globe, their destination was literally middle ground; which happened to be South Africa, known as the "rape capital of the world" due to endemic levels of sexual violence. It's a country deeply scarred by apartheid, bravely seeking to heal the wounds from its past. A powerful weekly backdrop, where their lives will be permanently changed.
The story is a non-fiction narrative written under full names and credentials in a unique collaboration between survivor and perpetrator equally committed to shedding light into the dark corners of humanity. It’s a true story about being bent but not broken, of facing fear with courage and finding hope even in the most wounded of places.
The enthralling biography of the shepherd boy who changed the world with his revolutionary engineering and whose genius we still benefit from today
Thomas Telford's name is familiar; his story less so. Born in 1757 in the Scottish Borders, his father died in his infancy, plunging the family into poverty. Telford's life soared to span almost eight decades of gloriously obsessive, prodigiously productive energy. Few people have done more to shape our nation.
Thomas Telford invented the modern road. A stonemason turned architect turned engineer, he built churches, harbours, canals, docks and the famously vertiginous Pontcysyllte aqueduct in Wales. He created the backbone of our national road network. His bridges are some of the most dramatic and beautiful ever built, most of all the Menai Bridge, a wonder then and now, which spans the dangerous channel between the mainland and Anglesey. His constructions were the most stupendous in Europe for a thousand years, and – astonishingly – almost everything he ever built remains in use today.
Telford was a complex man: a shepherd's boy who loved the countryside but helped industrialise it; an ambitious man who cared little for accolades; highly sociable and charming, but peculiarly private about his personal life; and an engineer who was also a poet. He cherished a vision of a country connected to transform mobility and commerce: his radical politics lay not in ideas but the creation of useful, solid things.
In an age in which economics, engineering and national identity came together, Thomas Telford's life was a model of what can be achieved by persistence, skill and ambition. Drawing on contemporary accounts, this, the first full modern biography of Telford, at once intimate and expansive, is an utterly original portrait. It is a book of roads and landscapes, waterways and bridges, but above all, of how one man transformed himself into the greatest engineer Britain has ever produced.
A moving celebration of what Bill Hayes calls "the evanescent, the eavesdropped, the unexpected" of life in New York City, and an intimate glimpse of his relationship with the late Oliver Sacks.
Bill Hayes came to New York City in 2009 with a one-way ticket and only the vaguest idea of how he would get by. But, at forty-eight years old, having spent decades in San Francisco, he craved change. Grieving over the death of his partner, he quickly discovered the profound consolations of the city's incessant rhythms, the sight of the Empire State Building against the night sky, and New Yorkers themselves, kindred souls that Hayes, a lifelong insomniac, encountered on late-night strolls with his camera.
And he unexpectedly fell in love again, with his friend and neighbor, the writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks, whose exuberance - "I don't so much fear death as I do wasting life," he tells Hayes early on - is captured in funny and touching vignettes throughout. What emerges is a portrait of Sacks at his most personal and endearing, from falling in love for the first time at age seventy-five to facing illness and death (Sacks died of cancer in August 2015). Insomniac City is both a meditation on grief and a celebration of life.
Filled with Hayes's distinctive street photos of everyday New Yorkers, the book is a love song to the city and to all who have felt the particular magic and solace it offers.
A frank, illuminating and incandescent memoir by a trailblazing scientist; a moving portrait of a longtime collaboration in work and life; and a book that casts a whole new light on the natural world.
Lab Girl, is a book about work and about love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren's remarkable stories: about the discoveries she has made in her lab, as well as her struggle to get there; about her childhood playing in her father's laboratory; about how lab work became a sanctuary for both her heart and her hands; about Bill, the brilliant, wounded man who became her loyal colleague and best friend; about their field trips - sometimes authorised, sometimes very much not - that took them from the Midwest across the USA, to Norway and to Ireland, from the pale skies of North Pole to tropical Hawaii; and about her constant striving to do and be her best, and her unswerving dedication to her life's work.
Visceral, intimate, gloriously candid and sometimes extremely funny, Jahren's descriptions of her work, her intense relationship with the plants, seeds and soil she studies, and her insights on nature enliven every page of this thrilling book. In Lab Girl, we see anew the complicated power of the natural world, and the power that can come from facing with bravery and conviction the challenge of discovering who you are.
In Other Words is a revelation. It is at heart a love story of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language.
For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was for Italian, which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college. Although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterwards, true mastery had always eluded her.
Seeking full immersion, she decided to move to Rome with her family, for 'a trial by fire, a sort of baptism' into a new language and world. There, she began to read and to write - initially in her journal - solely in Italian.
In Other Words, an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice.
Presented in a dual-language format, this is a wholly original book about exile, linguistic and otherwise, written with an intensity and clarity not seen since Vladimir Nabokov: a startling act of self-reflection and a provocative exploration of belonging and reinvention.
A clarion call to all of us that we should not give up. Somewhere there is a voice in the wreckage. (Michael Palin). Since ISIS occupied Raqqa in eastern Syria, it has become one of the most isolated and fear-ridden cities on earth. The sale of televisions has been banned, wearing trousers the wrong length is a punishable offence, and using a mobile phone is considered an unforgivable crime. No journalists are allowed in and the penalty for speaking yo the western media is death by beheading. Despite this, after several months of nervy and often interrupted conversations, the BBC was able to make contact with a small activist group, Al-Sharqiya 24. Finally, courageously, one of their members agreed to write a personal diary about his experiences. Having seen friends and relatives butchered, his community's life shattered and the local economy ruined by these hate-fuelled extremists, Samer is fighting back in the only way he can: by telling the world what is happening to his beloved city. This is Samer's story.
As a young medical student at the University of Edinburgh, Arthur Conan Doyle studied under the vigilant eye of Dr Joseph Bell. He observed as Dr Bell identified a patient's occupation, hometown and ailments both imagined and genuine from the smallest details of dress, gait and speech. Although Doyle was training to be a surgeon, he was meanwhile cultivating essential knowledge that would help him to develop and define the art of the detective novel.
From Doyle's early days surrounded by poverty and violence, to his escape to University and finally to his first days as a surgeon in his own practice, acclaimed author Michael Sims traces the circuitous yet inevitable development of Arthur Conan Doyle as the father of the modern mystery, whose most famous creation is still the most well-known and well-loved of the canon's many members. Through Sims's deft analysis of Doyle's childhood and adult life, the incomparable Sherlock Holmes emerges as a product of Doyle's varied lessons in the classroom and professional life. Building on the traditions of Edgar Allan Poe, Emile Gaboriau, and even Voltaire, Doyle's new detective is not just a skilful translator of clues, but a veritable superhero of the mind in the tradition of his most esteemed teacher, Dr Joseph Bell.
Sims's Arthur is just as vivid Doyle's own Sherlock Holmes in this enthralling biography of the man behind the most famous detective of all time.
Paul Robeson was an actor and performer, a champion athlete, a committed communist, a brilliant speaker, and a passionate activist for social justice in America, Europe, and Australia. Hailed as the most famous African American of his time, he sang with a voice that left audiences weeping, and, for a period, had the entire world at his feet – and then lost everything for the sake of his principles.
Robeson’s storied life took him from North Carolina plantations to Hollywood; from the glittering stages of London to the coal-mining towns of Wales; from the violent frontiers of the Spanish Civil War to bleak prison cells in the Soviet Union; from Harlem’s jazz-infused neighbourhoods to the courtroom of the McCarthy hearings. Yet privately Robeson was a troubled figure, burdened by his role as a symbol for the African American people and an international advocate for the working class. His tragedy was to battle ambition and uncertainty, ultimately clinging to his beliefs even as the world changed around him. As optimistic ideals of communism turned to repression under the Cold War, his public decline mirrored that of the world around him.
Today Robeson is largely unknown, a figure lost to footnotes and grainy archival footage. But his life, which followed the currents of the twentieth century, reveals how the traumas of the past still shape the present.
Jeff Sparrow follows the ghosts and echoes of Robeson’s career, tracing his path through countries and decades, to explore the contemporary resonances of his politics and passions. From Black Lives Matter to Putin’s United Russia, Sparrow explores questions of race and representation in America, political freedom in Moscow, and the legacy of fascism and communism in Europe. Weaving travelogue with biography, No Way But This is a story of political ardour, heritage, and trauma — a luminous portrait of a man and an urgent reflection on the politics that define us today.
Most famous for The Wilder Shores of Love, her book about four women travellers, Lesley Blanch was a scholarly romantic and a bold writer. Her lifelong passion was for Russia, the Balkans and the Middle East. At heart a nomad, she spent the greater part of her life travelling the remote areas her books record so vividly. Edited by her goddaughter Georgia de Chamberet, who was working with her in her centenary year, this book collects together the story of Blanch's marriage, previously published only in French; a selection of her journalism which brings to life the artistic melting pot that was London between the wars; and a selection of her most evocative travel pieces. Illustrated with photos alongside a selection of line drawings by Lesley Blanch
Early one Tuesday morning John Brooks went to his teenage daughter's room. Casey was gone, but she had left a note: The car is parked at the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm sorry. Within hours a security video showed Casey stepping off the bridge.
Brooks spent several years after Casey's suicide trying to understand what led his seventeen-year-old daughter to take her life. He examines Casey's journey from her abandonment at birth in Poland, to the orphanage where she lived for her first fourteen months, to her adoption and life with John and his wife, Erika, in Northern California. He reads. He talks to Casey's friends, teachers, doctors, therapists, and other parents. He consults adoption experts, researchers, clinicians, attachment therapists, and social workers.
In The Girl Behind the Door, Brooks's "desperate search for answers and guilt for not doing the right thing without knowing what it was reveals the utter helplessness of suicide survivors" (Kirkus Reviews). Ultimately, Brooks comes to realize that Casey probably suffered an attachment disorder from her infancy-an affliction common among children who've been orphaned, neglected, and abused. She might have been helped if someone had recognized this. The Girl Behind the Door is an important book for parents, mental health professionals, and teens.
Modern Women is a celebration of some of the- influential and inspiring women who have changed the world through their lives, work and actions. From suffragettes to scientists, activists to artists, politicians to pilots and writers to riot grrrls, the women included have all paved the way for gender equality in their own indomitable way. Find out about extraordinary women including writer and teacher Maya Angelou, computer scientist Ada Lovelace, abolitionist Harriet Tubman, film star Katharine Hepburn and pioneering musician Bjork. Their lives also enable bigger stories to be told: the suffrage movement with Sophia Duleep Singh; the civil rights struggle and Audre Lorde; advances in science made by Rosalind Franklin; the push for artistic freedom in the work of Frida Kahlo and Louise Bourgeois; and the importance of equality in all sections of society advocated by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
In 1986, twenty-year-old Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. He would not speak to another human being until three decades later when he was arrested for stealing food. Christopher survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store food and water in order to avoid freezing to death in his tent during the harsh Maine winters. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothes, reading material and other provisions, taking only what he needed. In the process, he unwittingly terrified a community unable to solve the mysterious burglaries. Myths abounded amongst the locals eager to find this legendary hermit. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life and the challenges he faced returning to the world. The Stranger in the Woods is a riveting story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude and what makes for a good life. Above all, this is a deeply moving portrait of a man determined to live life his own way.
In this magisterial study of the relationship between illness and art, the best-selling author of An Unquiet Mind, Kay Redfield Jamison, brings an entirely fresh understanding to the work and life of Robert Lowell (1917-1977), whose intense, complex, and personal verse left a lasting mark on the English language and changed the public discourse about private matters.
In his Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry, Robert Lowell put his manic-depressive illness (now known as bipolar disorder) into the public domain, creating a language for madness that was new and arresting. As Dr. Jamison brings her expertise in mood disorders to bear on Lowell's story, she illuminates not only the relationships among mania, depression, and creativity but also the details of Lowell's treatment and how illness and treatment influenced the great work that he produced (and often became its subject).
Lowell's New England roots, early breakdowns, marriages to three eminent writers, friendships with other poets such as Elizabeth Bishop, his many hospitalizations, his vivid presence as both a teacher and a maker of poems - Jamison gives us the poet's life through a lens that focuses our understanding of his intense discipline, courage, and commitment to his art.
Jamison had unprecedented access to Lowell's medical records, as well as to previously unpublished drafts and fragments of poems, and she is the first biographer to have spoken with his daughter, Harriet Lowell.
With this new material and a psychologist's deep insight, Jamison delivers a bold, sympathetic account of a poet who was - both despite and because of mental illness - a passionate, original observer of the human condition.
Once We Were Sisters is the story of Maxine and Sheila Kohler. Growing up in the suffocating gentility of 1950s South Africa, the girls plan grand lives for themselves that will bring them out of the long shadow cast by their father's death and their overbearing mother's bullying. Maxine is just shy of her fortieth birthday when her husband, a brilliant and respected surgeon, drives their car off the road and kills her. Devastated, Sheila returns to South Africa, determined to find answers to her sister's sudden death at the hands of her husband. More haunting, however, are the questions. How had she failed to protect her sister? Was Maxine's murder a matter of accident, or destiny? What lies in the soil of their troubled motherland that condemns its women to such violence? Powerful, moving and tragic, Once We Were Sisters is an act of love, an extraordinary account of an unspeakable loss.
'Now when I hear birdsong, I feel an entry to that understory. When I am feeling too squeezed on the ground, exhausted by everything in my care, I look for a little sky. There are always birds flying back and forth, city birds flitting around our human edges, singing their songs.' One winter, Kyo Maclear became unmoored. Her father had recently fallen ill and she suddenly found herself lost for words. As a writer, she could no longer bring herself to create; her work wasn't providing the comfort and meaning that it had before. But then Kyo met a musician who loved birds. The musician felt he could not always cope with the pressures and disappointments of being an artist in a big city. When he watched birds and began to photograph them, his worries dissipated. Intrigued, Kyo found herself following the musician for a year, accompanying him on his birdwatching expeditions; the sounds of birds in the city reminded them both to look outwards at the world. Intricate and delicate as birdsong, Birds Art Life Death asks how our passions shape and nurture us, and how we might gain perspective, overcome our anxieties and begin to cherish the urban wild spaces where so many of us live.
The bestselling diaries of WWII in Tuscany, with a new introduction by writer and social historian Virginia Nicholson, and stunning rediscovered photographs</strong At the height of the Second World War, Italy was being torn apart by German armies, civil war, and the eventual Allied invasion. In a corner of Tuscany, one woman - born in England, married to an Italian - kept a record of daily life in a country at war. Iris Origo's compellingly powerful diary, War in Val d'Orcia, is the spare and vivid account of what happened when a peaceful farming valley became a battleground. At great personal risk, the Origos gave food and shelter to partisans, deserters and refugees. They took in evacuees, and as the front drew closer they faced the knowledge that the lives of thirty-two small children depended on them. Origo writes with sensitivity and generosity, and a story emerges of human acts of heroism and compassion, and the devastation that war can bring.
The lucidly written memoir of Iris Origo, the writer of the bestselling War in Val d'Orcia It has only been through my affections that I have been able to perceive, however imperfectly, some faint intimations of immortality Images and Shadows is the story of those affections: for a loving, shy father, who died when his daughter was very young; for a vital, headstrong mother; for friends and family, alive and dead. And for the places Origo lived: Ireland, America, England; the childhood home in the hills above Florence; and her own beloved La Foce - the desolate, deforested estate which she and her Italian husband bought, and into which they poured the energy and patience of their best years. Iris Origo (1902-1988) is best known as a biographer and war diarist. But in Images and Shadows she writes with characteristic grace, wit and humility, almost reluctantly, about herself. Reissued with newly discovered photographs, it is both a moving insight into a lost age, and an illumination of the life and loves of an endlessly curious and thoughtful woman.
You know that feeling when you catch the elevator but don’t hold it for the person behind you? Seeing Lindsay Lohan in handcuffs? Donald Trump being attacked by a bald eagle? There’s a word for this mix of malice and joy, and the Germans (of course) invented it. It’s schadenfreude, deriving pleasure from others misfortune, and with Slate columnist Rebecca Schuman the Teutons have a blast at her expense.
Schadenfreude, A Love Story is the tale of a teenage Jewish intellectual who falls in love. In love with a boy (who breaks her heart), a language (that’s nearly impossible to master), a culture (that’s nihilistic, but punctual) and a landscape (that’s breathtaking when there’s not a wall in the way).
Rebecca Schuman was just your average 90’s teenager with a passion for punk rock and Ethan Hawke circa Reality Bites until two men walk into her high school Political Science class: Dylan Krieger, with deep blue eyes, and an even deeper soul, and Franz Kafka, hitching a ride in Dylan’s backpack. These two men are the axe to the frozen pond that is Rebecca’s soul, and what flows forth is a passion for all things German. Blue eyed Dylan might leave the second a more popular girl looks his way, but Kafka is forever, and in pursuit of this elusive love Rebecca will spend two decades stuttering and stumbling through broken German sentences trying to win over a people who couldn’t, on the surface, care less. She smokes endless hand rolled cigarettes in fleabag hostels, squats in an abandoned East German factory loft with angry roommates, and plunges down the rabbit hole of acedmia in pursuit of a PhD in German until she realizes that maybe the greatest challenge of her life is not to become German, but learning to embrace all the reasons why she never would be.
At once a snapshot of a young woman finding herself, and a country slowly starting to stitch itself back together after nearly a century of war (both hot and cold), Schadenfreude: A Love Story is an exhilarating, hilarious, and yes, maybe even heartfelt addition to the expat canon.
Justin Trudeau's candid memoir reveals for the first time the experiences that have shaped him over the course of his life, showing how his passion for politics took root. From his childhood at the prime ministerial residence of 24 Sussex up to his role as leader of the Liberal party, the book captures the formative moments of his upbringing, including the influence of his father, Pierre Trudeau, who was prime minister before him, and the tragic death of his brother, Michel... Filled with anecdotes, personal reflections, and never-before-seen photographs from his own collection, Common Ground reveals an intimate portrait of the man who has thrust Canada back onto the world stage... The author's proceeds will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross Society.
A revealing, courageous, fascinating, and funny account of the author's experiment with microdoses of LSD in an effort to treat a debilitating mood disorder, of her quest to understand a misunderstood drug, and of her search for a really good day.
When a small vial arrives in her mailbox from 'Lewis Carroll,' Ayelet Waldman is at a low point. Her mood storms have become intolerably severe; she has tried nearly every medication possible; her husband and children are suffering with her. So she opens the vial, places two drops on her tongue, and joins the ranks of an underground but increasingly vocal group of scientists and civilians successfully using therapeutic microdoses of LSD.
As Waldman charts her experience over the course of a month - bursts of productivity, sleepless nights, a newfound sense of equanimity - she also explores the history and mythology of LSD, the cutting-edge research into the drug, and the byzantine policies that control it. Drawing on her experience as a federal public defender, and as the mother of teenagers, and her research into the therapeutic value of psychedelics, Waldman has produced a book that is eye-opening, often hilarious, and utterly enthralling.
An incredible memoir from one of the world's most eminent heart surgeons and some of the most remarkable and poignant cases he's worked on. Grim Reaper sits on the heart surgeon's shoulder. A slip of the hand and life ebbs away. The balance between life and death is so delicate, and the heart surgeon walks that rope between the two. In the operating room there is no time for doubt. It is flesh, blood, rib-retractors and pumping the vital organ with your bare hand to squeeze the life back into it. An off-day can have dire consequences - this job has a steep learning curve, and the cost is measured in human life. Cardiac surgery is not for the faint of heart. Professor Stephen Westaby took chances and pushed the boundaries of heart surgery. He saved hundreds of lives over the course of a thirty-five year career and now, in his astounding memoir, Westaby details some of his most remarkable and poignant cases - such as the baby who had suffered multiple heart attacks by six months old, a woman who lived the nightmare of locked-in syndrome, and a man whose life was powered by a battery for eight years. A powerful, important and incredibly moving book, Fragile Lives offers an exceptional insight into the exhilarating and sometimes tragic world of heart surgery, and how it feels to hold someone's life in your hands.
An elegant, deeply felt memoir from Maryse Wolinski, journalist and widow of the late cartoonist Georges Wolinski, who died in the terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, that is both a beautiful tribute to her late husband and a rallying call to action. Darling, I'm going to Charlie. These were the last words that prolific satirical cartoonist Georges Wolinski said to his wife, Maryse, as he left for work. Two hours later, terrorists barged into the Paris offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, fatally shooting him and eleven others. From her grief comes a demand for answers as she investigates the failings of the French government in their security measures, especially when another terrorist attack occurs just eight months later. A celebrated journalist in her own right, Maryse writes with both clarity and authority, all the while exploring what made her relationship with Georges so singularly strong. Darling, I'm Going to Charlie is not only one woman's beautiful tribute to her late husband, but also a stunning, courageous testimony and inspiring call for change.