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Biography

Lenin the Dictator: An Intimate Portrait

Lenin the Dictator: An Intimate Portrait

Victor Sebestyen

$35.00
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Victor Sebestyen's intimate biography is the first major work in English for nearly two decades on one of the most significant figures of the twentieth century.

In Russia to this day Lenin inspires adulation. Everywhere, he continues to fascinate as a man who made history, and who created a new kind of state that would later be imitated by nearly half the countries in the world.

Lenin believed that the 'the political is the personal', and while in no way ignoring his political life, Sebestyen's focus will be on Lenin the man - a man who loved nature almost as much as he loved making revolution, and whose closest ties and friendships were with women. The long-suppressed story of his menage a trois with his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, and his mistress and comrade, Inessa Armand, reveals a different character to the coldly one-dimensional figure of legend.

Told through the prism of Lenin's key relationships, Sebestyen's lively biography casts a new light the Russian Revolution, one of the great turning points of modern history.
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A Stranger in My Own Country: The 1944 Prison Diary

A Stranger in My Own Country: The 1944 Prison Diary

Hans Fallada

$28.95
I lived the same life as everyone else, the life of ordinary people, the masses. Sitting in a prison cell in the autumn of 1944, the German author Hans Fallada sums up his life under the National Socialist dictatorship, the time of inward emigration . Under conditions of close confinement, in constant fear of discovery, he writes himself free from the nightmare of the Nazi years. He records his thoughts about spying and denunciation, about the threat to his livelihood and his literary work and about the fate of many friends and contemporaries. The confessional mode did not come naturally to Fallada, but in the mental and emotional distress of 1944, self-reflection became a survival strategy. Fallada s frank and sometimes provocative memoirs were thought for many years to have been lost. They are published here for the first time.
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Once Upon a Time in the East: A Story of Growing Up

Once Upon a Time in the East: A Story of Growing Up

Xiaolu Guo

$32.99
Xiaolu Guo meets her parents for the first time when she is almost seven. They are strangers to her. When she is born her parents hand her over to a childless peasant couple in the mountains. Aged two, and suffering from malnutrition on a diet of yam leaves, they leave Xiaolu with her illiterate grandparents in a fishing village on the East China Sea. It's a strange beginning. A Wild Swans for a new generation, Once Upon a Time in the East takes Xiaolu from a run-down shack to film school in a rapidly changing Beijing, navigating the everyday peculiarity of modern China: censorship, underground art, Western boyfriends. In 2002 she leaves Beijing on a scholarship to study in Britain. Now, after a decade in Europe, her tale of East to West resonates with the insight that can only come from someone who is both an outsider and at home. Xiaolu Guo's extraordinary memoir is a handbook of life lessons. How to be an artist when censorship kills creativity and the only job you can get is writing bad telenovela scripts. How to be a woman when female babies are regularly drowned at birth and sexual abuse is commonplace. Most poignantly of all: how to love when you've never been shown how.
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My Nuclear Nightmare: Leading Japan Through the Fukushima Disaster to a Nuclear-Free Future

My Nuclear Nightmare: Leading Japan Through the Fukushima Disaster to a Nuclear-Free Future

Naoto Kan ,  Jeffrey S. Irish

$50.00
On March 11, 2011, a massive undersea earthquake off Japan’s coast triggered devastating tsunami waves that in turn caused meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Ranked with Chernobyl as the worst nuclear disaster in history, Fukushima will have lasting consequences for generations. Until 3.11, Japan’s Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, had supported the use of nuclear power. His position would undergo a radical change, however, as Kan watched the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Power Plant unfold and came to understand the potential for the physical, economic, and political destruction of Japan.

In My Nuclear Nightmare, Kan offers a fascinating day-by-day account of his actions in the harrowing week after the earthquake struck. He records the anguished decisions he had to make as the scale of destruction became clear and the threat of nuclear catastrophe loomed ever larger—decisions made on the basis of information that was often unreliable. For example, frustrated by the lack of clarity from the executives at Tepco, the company that owned the power plant, Kan decided to visit Fukushima himself, despite the risks, so he could talk to the plant’s manager and find out what was really happening on the ground. As he details, a combination of extremely good fortune and hard work just barely prevented a total meltdown of all of Fukushima’s reactor units, which would have necessitated the evacuation of the thirty million residents of the greater Tokyo metropolitan area.

In the book, first published in Japan in 2012, Kan also explains his opposition to nuclear power: “I came to understand that a nuclear accident carried with it a risk so large that it could lead to the collapse of a country.” When Kan was pressured by the opposition to step down as prime minister in August 2011, he agreed to do so only after legislation had been passed to encourage investments in alternative energy. As both a document of crisis management during an almost unimaginable disaster and a cogent argument about the dangers of nuclear power, My Nuclear Nightmare is essential reading.
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Ernst Kantorowicz: A Life

Ernst Kantorowicz: A Life

Robert E. Lerner

$78.00
This is the first complete biography of Ernst Kantorowicz (1895-1963), an influential and controversial German-American intellectual whose colorful and dramatic life intersected with many of the great events and thinkers of his time. A medieval historian whose ideas exerted an influence far beyond his field, he is most famous for two books - a notoriously nationalistic 1927 biography of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and The King's Two Bodies (1957), a classic study of medieval politics.

Born into a wealthy Prussian-Jewish family, Kantorowicz fought on the Western Front in World War I, was wounded at Verdun, and earned an Iron Cross; later, he earned an Iron Crescent for service in Anatolia before an affair with a general's mistress led to him being sent home. After the war, he fought against Poles in his native Posen, Spartacists in Berlin, and communists in Munich. An ardent German nationalist during the Weimar period, Kantorowicz became a member of the elitist Stefan George circle, which nurtured a cult of the "Secret Germany." Yet as a professor in Frankfurt after the Nazis came to power, Kantorowicz bravely spoke out against the regime before an overflowing crowd. Narrowly avoiding arrest after Kristallnacht, he fled to England and then the United States, where he joined the faculty at Berkeley, only to be fired in 1950 for refusing to sign an anticommunist "loyalty oath." From there, he "fell up the ladder" to Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, where he stayed until his death.

Drawing on many new sources, including numerous interviews and unpublished letters, Robert E. Lerner tells the story of a major intellectual whose life and times were as fascinating as his work.
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Ayesha's Gift: A Daughter's Search for the Truth About Her Father

Ayesha's Gift: A Daughter's Search for the Truth About Her Father

Martin Sixsmith

$32.99
From the author of the bestselling Philomena, made into the award-winning film starring Steve Coogan and Judi Dench, comes the story of a young woman, born in Pakistan, living in Britain, whose life is thrown into desperate turmoil by the violent death of her father. The Pakistani authorities talk of suicide, but why would Ayesha's happy, gentle father kill himself? Ayesha's quest to find the truth takes her right away from her safe London existence. She meets with threats, intimidation and smiling perjurers who resent her intrusion into their world. She is warned that her life is in danger; powerful, ruthless men have reasons to want her silenced. But there are things she needs to know, that compel her to press on with her search for the truth. Was her father an innocent victim? Can she continue to revere the image of him she grew up with, that of a good, loving parent? Or will she be forced to accept that her father was not the person she thought he was? Ayesha decides that the only way forward is to fly to Pakistan and confront his killers. When she goes, Martin Sixsmith goes with her. The denouement of their journey together is extraordinarily moving, with unforeseen repercussions for them both.
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The Nemirovsky Question: The Life, Death, and Legacy of a Jewish Writer in Twentieth-Century France

The Nemirovsky Question: The Life, Death, and Legacy of a Jewish Writer in Twentieth-Century France

Susan Rubin Suleiman

$53.99
A fascinating look into the life and work of controversial French novelist Irene Nemirovsky Irene Nemirovsky succeeded in creating a brilliant career as a novelist in the 1930s, only to have her life cut short: a foreign Jew in France, she was deported in 1942 and died in Auschwitz. But her two young daughters survived, and as adults they brought their mother back to life. In 2004, Suite francaise, Nemirovsky's posthumous novel, became an international best seller; some critics, however, condemned her as a self-hating Jew whose earlier works were rife with anti-Semitic stereotypes. Informed by personal interviews with Nemirovsky's descendants and others, as well as by extensive archival research, this wide-ranging intellectual biography situates Nemirovsky in the literary and political climate of interwar France and recounts, for the first time, the postwar lives of her daughters. Nemirovsky's Jewish works, Suleiman argues, should be read as explorations of the conflicted identities that shaped the lives of secular Jews in twentieth-century Europe and beyond.
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