An intimate yet frank biography of Gore Vidal, one of the most accomplished, visible and controversial American novelists and cultural figures of the past century.
The product of thirty years of friendship and conversation, Jay Parini's biography probes behind the glittering surface of Vidal's colourful life to reveal the complex emotional and sexual truth underlying his celebrity-strewn life. But there is plenty of glittering surface as well - a virtual Who's Who of the American Century, from Eleanor Roosevelt on down.
The life of Gore Vidal was an amazingly full one; a life of colourful incident, famous people and lasting achievements that calls out for careful evocation and examination. Through Jay Parini's eyes and words comes an accessible, entertaining story that puts the life and times of one of the great American figures of the post-war era into context, that introduces the author to a generation who didn't know him before and looks behind-the-scenes at the man and his work in frank ways never possible before his death.
Parini, provided with unique access to Vidal's life and his papers, excavates buried skeletons, but never loses sight of his deep respect for Vidal and his astounding gifts.
For most of human history, death was a common, ever-present possibility. It didn't matter whether you were five or fifty - every day was a roll of the dice. But now, as medical advances push the boundaries of survival further each year, we have become increasingly detached from the reality of being mortal. So here is a book about the modern experience of mortality - about what it's like to get old and die, how medicine has changed this and how it hasn't, where our ideas about death have gone wrong.
With his trademark mix of perceptiveness and sensitivity, Atul Gawande outlines a story that crosses the globe, as he examines his experiences as a surgeon and those of his patients and family, and learns to accept the limits of what he can do. Never before has aging been such an important topic. The systems that we have put in place to manage our mortality are manifestly failing; but, as Gawande reveals, it doesn't have to be this way. The ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death, but a good life - all the way to the very end.
Published in partnership with the Wellcome Collection, a free visitor destination that explores the connections between medicine, life and art.
Philip Larkin was that rare thing among poets: a household name in his own lifetime. Lines such as 'Never such innocence again' and 'Sexual intercourse began / In nineteen sixty-three' made him one of the most popular poets of the last century. Larkin's reputation as a man, however, has been more controversial.
A solitary librarian known for his pessimism, he disliked exposure and had no patience with the literary circus. And when, in 1992, the publication of his Selected Letters laid bare his compartmentalised personal life, accusations of duplicity, faithlessness, racism and misogyny were levelled against him.
There is, of course, no requirement that poets should be likeable or virtuous, but James Booth asks whether art and life were really so deeply at odds with each other. Can the poet who composed the moving 'Love Songs in Age' have been such a cold-hearted man? Can he who uttered the playful, self-deprecating words 'Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth' really have been so boorish? A very different public image is offered by those who shared the poet's life: the women with whom he was romantically involved, his friends and his university colleagues.
It is with their personal testimony, including access to previously unseen letters, that Booth reinstates a man misunderstood: not a gaunt, emotional failure, but a witty, provocative and entertaining presence, delightful company; an attentive son and a man devoted to the women he loved.
Meticulously researched, unwaveringly frank and full of fresh material, Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love definitively reinterprets one of our greatest poets.
Edmund Burke (1730-97) lived during one of the most extraordinary periods of world history. He grappled with the significance of the British Empire in India, fought for reconciliation with the American colonies, and was a vocal critic of national policy during three European wars. He also advocated reform in Britain, pressed for constitutional change in Ireland, and became a central protagonist in the great debate on the French Revolution.
Drawing on the complete range of printed and manuscript sources, Empire and Revolution offers a vivid reconstruction of the major concerns of this outstanding statesman, orator, and philosopher. In restoring Burke to his original political and intellectual context, this book strips away the accumulated distortions that have marked the reception of his ideas. In the process, it overturns the conventional picture of a partisan of tradition against progress. In place of the image of a backward-looking opponent of popular rights, it presents a multifaceted portrait of one of the most captivating figures in eighteenth-century life and thought. While Burke was a passionately energetic statesman, he was also a deeply original thinker. Empire and Revolution depicts him as a philosopher-in-action who evaluated the political realities of the day through the lens of Enlightenment thought, variously drawing on the ideas of such figures as Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Hume.
A boldly ambitious work of scholarship, this book challenges us to rethink the legacy of Burke and the turbulent era in which he played so pivotal a role.
'Some days all I want to do is give up the constant, exhausting struggle and stop trying to be normal. But I can't. It's not in me to walk away from a fight. I'll keep fighting and telling my story. Before I forget.'
When she was just 46, Christine Bryden - science advisor to the prime minister and single mother of three daughters - was diagnosed with younger-onset dementia. Doctors told her to get her affairs in order as she would soon be incapable of doing so. Twenty years later she is still thriving, still working hard to rewire her brain even as it loses its function. The unusually slow progress of her condition puts Christine in a unique position to describe the lived experience of dementia, a condition affecting tens of millions of people worldwide.
In this revealing memoir, she looks back on her life in an effort to understand how her brain - once her greatest asset, now her greatest challenge - works now. She shares what it's like to start grasping for words that used to come easily. To be exhausted from visiting a new place. To suddenly realise you don't remember how to drive. To challenge, every day, the stereotype of the 'empty shell'.
Brave and inspiring, this is Christine's legacy for people with dementia and those who care about them.
The extraordinary true stories of German resistance to Hitler's murderous orders at the end of the Second World War. In the last months of World War II, Hitler ordered destruction across Europe on a massive scale: wrecking towns, ports, industries, museums and railways. Yet a brave few, many of whom paid with their lives, disobeyed Hitler's orders. In this fascinating and gripping book, Randall Hansen explores some of the great untold mysteries of the war. Was Rommel planning to open the Western Front to Allied forces as part of the plot to kill Hitler in 1944? Did Albert Speer single-handedly prevent the destruction of all features of civilised life across Europe? And did the actions of one Prussian general save Paris from total devastation?
When Jon Holmes became a father (twice), he was asked to fill in a form detailing his family medical history. Except he couldn't, because he has no idea who his family are. Born to an unnamed, unmarried mother and an unknown father and given up for adoption at four weeks old, Jon decided to document his own history, so that one day he could pass it on to his children. It's a story of how boys grow up to become (stupid) men, of sexual misadventure, of being accidentally shot in the face, of spiders, a ghost, a fatally injured gerbil, American road trips that went wrong, becoming inadvertently locked in Graham Norton's toilet with an Oscar nominated screenwriter, being removed from Mrs Thatcher's vicinity by her security detail and having loving parents who did their best to bring up a child that wasn't theirs. Part memoir, part hilarious insight into why men are so inept, this is the true story of how an unwanted baby in the Midlands went on to become a wanted man in the state of Texas, and everything that happened in between. His children will never be allowed to read it.
Eunsun Kim was born in North Korea, one of the most secretive and oppressive countries in the modern world. As a child Eunsun loved her country and believed in the socialist paradise touted by the Kim regime's propaganda... despite her school field trips to public executions, daily self-criticism sessions, and the increasing gnaw of hunger as the country-wide famine escalated.
By the time she was eleven years old, Eunsun's father and grandparents had died of starvation, and Eunsun too was in danger of starving. Finally, her mother decided to escape North Korea with Eunsun and her sister, not knowing that they were embarking on a journey that would take them nine long years to complete. Before finally reaching South Korea and freedom, Eunsun and her family would live homeless, fall into the hands of Chinese human traffickers, survive a North Korean labor camp, and cross the deserts of Mongolia on foot.
Now, Eunsun is sharing her remarkable story to give voice to the tens of millions of North Koreans still suffering in silence. Told with grace and courage, her memoir is a riveting expose of North Korea's totalitarian regime and, ultimately, a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit.
An inspiring international bestseller, Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the story of Zelda la Grange's incredible friendship with Nelson Mandela.
Zelda la Grange grew up in South Africa as a white Afrikaner who supported the rules of segregation. Yet just a few years after the end of Apartheid she would become a most trusted assistant to Nelson Mandela, growing to respect and cherish the man she had been taught was the enemy.
Good Morning, Mr Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman had her life, beliefs, prejudices and everything she once believed in utterly transformed by the greatest man of her time. It is the incredible journey of an awkward, terrified young typist in her twenties later chosen to become the President's most loyal and devoted servants, spending most of her adult working life travelling with, supporting and caring for the man she would come to call 'Khulu', or 'grandfather'.
Here Zelda la Grange pays tribute to Nelson Mandela as she knew him - a teacher who gave her the most valuable lessons of her life. A man who refused to be defined by his past, who forgave and respected all, but who was also frank, teasing and direct. As he renewed his country, he also freed Zelda from a closed world of fear and mistrust, giving her life true meaning. Now she shares his lasting and inspiring gifts with the world.
This is a book about love and second chances. It will touch your life and make you believe that every one of us, no matter who we are or what we have done, has the power to change.
Stan Lee is the most legendary name in the history of comic books. The leading creative force behind the rise of Marvel Comics, he brought to life some of the world's best-known heroes and most infamous villains. His stories, featuring super-heroes who struggled against personal hang-ups and bad guys who possessed previously unseen psychological complexity, added wit and subtlety to a field previously locked into flat portrayals of good v evil. Lee put the human in the super-human. In the process, he created a new mythology for the twentieth century. In this full-colour graphic memoir illustrated by celebrated artist Colleen Doran, Stan Lee tells the story of his life with the same inimitable wit, energy and offbeat spirit that he brought to the world of comics. He moves from his impoverished childhood in Manhattan to his early days writing comics, followed by military training films during World War II, through the rise of the Marvel empire in the 1960s to his current resurgence in movies. This will be a must-have for all fans of comic books and graphic novels.
We all have dreams things we fantasise about doing and generally never get around to. This is the story of Azar Nafisi's dream and of the nightmare that made it come true.
For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular: several had spent time in jail.
They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments.
Their stories intertwined with those they were reading: Pride and Prejudice, Washington Square, Daisy Miller, and their Lolita, as they imagined her, in Tehran.
Azar Nafisi's luminous tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women s lives in revolutionary Iran. It is a work of great passion and poetic beauty, written with a startlingly original voice.
'It seems to me that we are all made up of the things we adore, and by telling my stories through the prism of my passions I hope you will get an insight into my life'.
In his new autobiography, written with characteristic humour and often outrageous candour, Graham shows that life is more than just a series of dates and it's really the things you love that make you who you are. From his beloved dogs to his rediscovered love of Ireland, the men Graham has loved and lost to his love affair with New York. It's been ten years since Graham last hit our shelves and being a decade older he has come to realise that what makes a life interesting is less what happens to you and more what inspires and drives you.
Graham Norton's career has spanned the last two decades, seeing him 'transition from risque Channel 4 comedian to national treasure' (Evening Standard), and he has entertained an audience of millions in Father Ted, as the hilarious host of Eurovision, and on his primetime BBC1 TV and weekly BBC Radio 2 shows. He is loved across the nation for his delight in the peculiar for his ability to find humour and a common ground in all that life brings.
In The Life and Loves of a He Devil is Graham shows us it's really the things you love that make you who you are.
One night in 1974, a young Frenchman secretly - and illegally - rigged a tightrope between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. At daybreak, he gave the high-wire performance of all time, making eight crossings over the course of an hour, 110 floors up above the earth, as a hundred thousand people gathered on the ground to watch. In To Reach the Clouds, now filmed as The Walk, Philippe Petit re-creates a six-year quest to realise his dream, an adventure as thrilling as the walk itself. In an unforgettable memoir he tells the story of how he conspired, connived, improvised, and insisted his way to this 'coup', abetted by a motley crew of accomplices, the occasional miracle, and his own unflagging passion. He reveals himself to be not only a virtuoso of the air but also a bold and inspired performer on the page. Animated by never-seen photographs and Petit's ingenious sketches, To Reach the Clouds is a tour de force of the imagination and a serenade to his beloved towers.
No star burned more ferociously than Judy Garland. And nobody witnessed Garland's fierce talent at closer range than Stevie Phillips.
During the Mad Men era, Stevie Philips was a young woman muscling her way into the manscape of Manhattan's glittering office towers. After a stint as a secretary, she began working for Freddie Fields and David Begelman at Music Corporation of America (MCA) under the glare of legendary uber-agent Lew Wasserman. When MCA blew apart, Fields and Begelman created Creative Management Associates (CMA), and Stevie went along. Fields convinced Garland to come on board, and Stevie became, as she puts it, Garland's shadow, putting out fires - figurative and literal - in order to get her to the next concert in the next down-and-out town. Philips paints a portrait of Garland at the bitter end and although it was at times a nightmare, Philips says, She became my teacher, showing her how to and how not to live. Stevie also represented Garland's fiercely talented daughter, Liza Minnelli, as well as Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Henry Fonda, George Roy Hill, Bob Fosse, Cat Stevens, and David Bowie. She produced both films and Broadway shows and counted her colleague, the legendary agent Sue Mengers, among her closest confidantes.
Now Stevie Phillips reveals all in Judy & Liza & Robert & Freddie & David & Sue & Me..., a tough-talking memoir by a woman who worked with some of the biggest names in show business. It's a helluva ride.
Bestselling historian Andrew Roberts's much-admired reappraisal of one of the most influential - and controversial - British politicians of the 1930s.
A fox-hunting Anglo-Catholic aristocrat, nicknamed 'The Holy Fox' by Churchill for his political guile, Halifax was one of the most prominent Tory politicians of the interwar period. As Viceroy of India, he struck a deal with Gandhi that ended the Civil Disobedience campaign. His meeting with Hitler in 1937 was a milestone in appeasement, yet just days before the infamous Munich agreement, he demanded 'the destruction of Nazism'. By May 1940, for many it was Halifax, not Churchill, who was the natural choice for Britain's war leader.
Andrew Roberts' acclaimed biography draws on private documents to offer a nuanced reappraisal of an enigmatic, influential and much-maligned politician.
T. E. Lawrence was one of the most charismatic characters of the First World War; a young archaeologist who fought with the Arabs and wrote an epic and very personal account of their revolt against the Turks in Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Yet this was not the first book to carry that iconic title.
In 1914 the man who would become Lawrence of Arabia burnt the first Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a manuscript in which he described his adventures in the Middle East during the five years before the war. Anthony Sattin uncovers the story Lawrence wanted to conceal: the truth of his birth, his tortuous relationship with a dominant mother, his deep affection for an Arab boy, the intimate details of the extraordinary journeys he took through the region with which his name is forever connected and the personal reasons that drove him from being a student to becoming an archaeologist and a spy. Young Lawrence is the first book to focus on the story of T. E. Lawrence in his twenties, before the war, during the period he looked back on as his golden years.
Using first-hand sources, museum records and Foreign Office documents, Sattin sets these adventures against the background of corrosive conflicts in Libya and the Balkans. He shows the simmering defiance of Arabs, Armenians and Kurds under Turkish domination, while uncovering the story of an exceptional young man searching for happiness, love and his place in the world until war changed his life forever.
A intimate portrait of Stephen Spender's extraordinary life written by his son, Matthew Spender, with new insights drawn from personal recollections and unpublished archives.
Stephen Spender's life was a vivid prism on the twentieth century. Having met Auden and Isherwood at Oxford, he joined the early vocal critics of Hitler participated in the Spanish Civil War. His efforts there became distracted by the need to save his lover from being shot as a deserter, and by the outbreak of the Second World War he was judged unfit to fight. He served instead as a fireman and later produced propaganda for the war effort - establishing a mysterious connection with the Foreign Office which has generated much speculation until now. Examining on the growth of Spender's literary reputation and his later encounters with the CIA, this book sheds new light on his career. Always susceptible to the allure of young men, Spender remained married to his second wife, Natasha Litvin but continued to believe in male relationships as an essential creative inspiration. In tension with Natasha's career as a musician after the birth of their two children, a considerable creative tension developed in the household. Stoical in her suffering, Natasha began to agonise over their marriage during her close friendship with Raymond Chandler.
Insightful and revelatory, 'A House in St John's Wood' is the portrait of a marriage, a movement and a father whose complex brilliance continues to be felt widely - and among those closest to him.
Winner of the 2012 Libris Literature Prize - the most prestigious literary prize in the Netherlands - and a bestseller in Holland and Germany, this is a mesmerising rendition of grief and love.
On Pentecost 2010, Tonio - the only son of writer Adri van der Heijden - is hit by a car. He dies of his injuries that same day. Tonio is only 21. His parents are faced with the monstrous task of forging ahead with their lives in the knowledge that their only child will never come home, never again stop by just to catch up, never again go out shopping with his mother and bitch about passers-by, never again ask his father: 'Did you work well today?' Never again.
Adri van der Heijden is driven by two compelling questions: what happened to Tonio during the final days and hours before the accident, and how could this accident happen? This search takes in various eyewitnesses, friends, police officers, doctors, and the mysterious Jenny - who turns out to have played a crucial role in Tonio's life during those final weeks.
Vivienne Westwood is one of the icons of our age; fashion designer, activist, co-creator of punk, global brand and grandmother; a true living legend. Both her name and brand are recognised the world over, whilst at home in the UK she has attained National Treasure status as the nation's favourite fearless female icon. This is her story.
Told for the first time in all its glamour and glory and with her unique voice, unexpected perspective and passionate honesty: 'The living deserve respect. The dead deserve the truth; Ian and I are working together on this and I am excited that this will be my story, the story nobody ever did before.' For the first and only time, she is both writing and collaborating on a unique personal memoir and authorised biography: partly her own voice, partly through contributions from her vast network of friends, family and associates.
Ian Kelly (award-winning biographer of, amongst others, fashion maverick Beau Brummell and the original self-publicist, Giacomo Casanova) brings the insights of a historian and friend of Vivienne to the life and works of one of the major influences of our age in this wonderful, insightful collaboration.
A dazzling memoir from a talented Malaysian writer about family and home, and a searing portrait of the country of her birth.
In this riveting memoir Beth persuades her ageing parents on a road trip around their former home, Malaysia. She intends to retrace their honeymoon of 45 years before, but their journey doesn't quite work out as she planned. Only the family mantra, 'Eat first, talk later' keeps them (and perhaps the country) from falling apart. Around them, corruption, censorship of the media, detentions without trial and deaths in custody continue. Protests are put down, violently, by riot police. Her parents argue, while, lovelorn after a failed relationship in Paris, Beth tries to turn their story into a Technicolor love story. Meanwhile, she's embroiled in a turbulent relationship with an opposition activist, Jing, who is at the forefront of the democratic struggle for change; and in Australia, Beth's second home, she is dismayed to see politicians on all sides focus on turning back the boats, stopping queue jumpers, controlling the borders of 'the lucky country'.
Eat First, Talk Later is a beautifully written, absorbing memoir of a country considered one of the multi-racial success stories of South-East Asia, with many fascinating but deeply troubling sides to it. It's a book about how we tell family and national stories; about love and betrayal; home and belonging; and about the joys of food.