Stephen Fry invites readers to take a glimpse at his life story in the unputdownable More Fool Me.
'Oh dear I am an arse. I expect there'll be what I believe is called an 'intervention' soon. I keep picturing it. All my friends bearing down on me and me denying everything until my pockets are emptied. Oh the shame.'
In his early thirties, Stephen Fry - writer, comedian, star of stage and screen - had, as they say, 'made it'. Much loved in A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Blackadder and Jeeves and Wooster, author of a critically acclaimed and bestselling first novel, The Liar, with a glamorous and glittering cast of friends, he had more work than was perhaps good for him. What could possibly go wrong? Then, as the 80s drew to a close, he discovered a most enjoyable way to burn the candle at both ends, and took to excess like a duck to breadcrumbs.
Writing and recording by day, and haunting a never ending series of celebrity parties, drinking dens, and poker games by night, in a ludicrous and impressive act of bravado, he fooled all those except the very closest to him, some of whom were most enjoyably engaged in the same dance.
He was - to all intents and purposes - a high-functioning addict. Blazing brightly and partying wildly as the 80s turned to the 90s, AIDS became an epidemic and politics turned really nasty, he was so busy, so distracted by the high life, that he could hardly see the inevitable, headlong tumble that must surely follow...
Containing raw, electric extracts from his diaries of the time, More Fool Me is a brilliant, eloquent account by a man driven to create and to entertain - revealing a side to him he has long kept hidden.
Stephen Fry is an award-winning comedian, actor, presenter and director. He rose to fame alongside Hugh Laurie in A Bit of Fry and Laurie (which he co-wrote with Laurie) and Jeeves and Wooster, and was unforgettable as Captain Melchett in Blackadder. He also presented Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, his groundbreaking documentary on bipolar disorder, to huge critical acclaim. His legions of fans tune in to watch him host the popular quiz show QI each week.
*Winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize* In 2009 Malala Yousafzai began writing a blog on BBC Urdu about life in the Swat Valley as the Taliban gained control, at times banning girls from attending school. When her identity was discovered, Malala began to appear in both Pakistani and international media, advocating the freedom to pursue education for all. In October 2012, gunmen boarded Malala's school bus and shot her in the face, a bullet passing through her head and into her shoulder. Remarkably, Malala survived the shooting. At a very young age, Malala Yousafzai has become a worldwide symbol of courage and hope. Her shooting has sparked a wave of solidarity across Pakistan, not to mention globally, for the right to education, freedom from terror and female emancipation.
Candid and brilliantly funny, this is the story of how a tall, shy youth from Weston-super-Mare went on to become a self-confessed legend. En route, John Cleese describes his nerve-racking first public appearance, at St Peter's Preparatory School at the age of eight and five-sixths; his endlessly peripatetic home life with parents who seemed incapable of staying in any house for longer than six months; his first experiences in the world of work as a teacher who knew nothing about the subjects he was expected to teach; his hamster-owning days at Cambridge; and his first encounter with the man who would be his writing partner for over two decades, Graham Chapman. And so on to his dizzying ascent via scriptwriting for Peter Sellers, David Frost, Marty Feldman and others to the heights of Monty Python. Punctuated from time to time with John Cleese's thoughts on topics as diverse as the nature of comedy, the relative merits of cricket and waterskiing, and the importance of knowing the dates of all the kings and queens of England, this is a masterly performance by a former schoolmaster.
Little black dresses. Faux pearls. Jersey knits. Skirt suits. Trousers. For over a century and counting, we all continue to see some version of Gabrielle Coco Chanel in nearly every woman we pass on the street. But few among us realise that Chanel's role in the events of the twentieth century was as pervasive as her influence on fashion, or how deeply she absorbed and then brilliantly reimagined the historical currents around her. Here, with unprecedented detail and scope - and through fascinating, thoroughly researched portraits of Chanel's lovers and friends - Rhonda Garelick shows us the Chanel who conquered the world ...a woman who thirsted to create others in her image, who creatively borrowed from her famous (and infamous) intimates, who understood the idea of branding and image well ahead of her time, who created, as Garelick puts it: wearable personality. This is Chanel at the nexus of history: a woman of daring, passion, and legendary vision, in a wonderful biography that gives her her long-awaited due.
Following his blockbuster biography of Steve Jobs, The Innovators is Walter Isaacson's story of the people who created the computer and the Internet. It is destined to be the standard history of the digital revolution and a guide to how innovation really works. What talents allowed certain inventors and entrepreneurs to turn their disruptive ideas into realities? What led to their creative leaps? Why did some succeed and others fail? In his exciting saga, Isaacson begins with Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron's daughter, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s. He then explores the fascinating personalities that created our current digital revolution, such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee and Larry Page. This is the story of how their minds worked and what made them so creative. It's also a narrative of how their ability to collaborate and master the art of teamwork made them even more creative. For an era that seeks to foster innovation, creativity and teamwork, this book shows how they actually happen.
On a beautiful, balmy evening in Cuba in 2007, David Hicks walked out of Guantanamo Bay, in that moment ceasing to be a detainee of the United States and regaining his rights as an Australian citizen. Watching on was the man who had fought for four long years for Hicks's right to go home: Major Michael Mori. Having grown up as an all-American boy, Mori joined the US Marine Corps as an eighteen-year-old, determined to give his life order and to serve the country he held dear. After training and serving as a military lawyer, he accepted a position as a defence counsel for the military commissions set up in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And then David Hicks's case file landed on his desk. A firm believer in the importance of due process, Mori grew increasingly alarmed by how the military and the US and Australian governments were handling the Hicks case, and others like it. Why was a distinction being made between 'unlawful combatants' and 'prisoners of war'? Why was the Australian government refusing to intervene for one of its people? And what specific crime – if any – had Hicks allegedly committed that deserved years of incarceration without trial? What followed was a long struggle for justice, and one man's gradual disillusionment with the insitution that he had signed up to fight for. Michael Mori rallied the support of the Australian people as he exposed an unfair system, changing the way we saw our government and the War on Terror.
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. Her career has successfully spanned five decades and her work has influenced millions of people across the world. For the first and only time, Vivienne Westwood has written a personal memoir, collaborating with award-winning biographer Ian Kelly, to describe the events, people and ideas that have shaped her extraordinary life. Told in all its glamour and glory, and with her unique voice, unexpected perspective and passionate honesty, this is her story.
Buddhism, love, Henry James, and the tango are just a few of the topics Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina's master writer and extraordinary conversationalist, discusses in the first volume of the remarkable new series, Conversations. The eighty-four-year-old blind man's wit is unending and results in lively and insightful discussions that configure a loose autobiography of a subtle, teasing mind. Borges' favorite concepts, such as time and dreaming, are touched upon, but these dialogues are not a true memoir - they are unrestricted conversations about life at present. The Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet, and translator contributed immensely to twentieth-century literature and more specifically to the genres of magical realism and fantasy. As he progressively lost his sight - he became completely blind by the age of fifty-five - the darkness behind his eyelids held enchanting imagery that translated into rich symbolism in his work. The inner workings of his curious mind are seen vividly in these conversations with Osvaldo Ferrari from 1984, and there's not a subject on which he doesn't cast surprising new light. As in his tale The Other, where two Borgeses meet up on a bench beside the River Charles, this is a dialogue between a young poet and an older teller of tales, where all experience floats in a miracle that defies linear time.
Sometimes the facts are even more extraordinary than the fiction...This book tells the story of Lady Catherine, a beautiful American girl who became the chatelaine of Highclere Castle, the setting for Julian Fellowes' award-winning drama Downton Abbey. Charming and charismatic, Catherine caught the eye of Lord Porchester (or 'Porchey', as he was known) when she was just 20 years old, and wearing a pale yellow dress at a ball. She had already turned down 14 proposals before she eventually married Porchey in 1922. But less than a year later Porchey's father died suddenly, and he became the 6th Earl of Carnarvon, inheriting a title and a Castle that changed both their lives forever. Catherine found herself suddenly in charge of a small army of household staff, and hosting lavish banquets and weekend house parties. Although the couple were very much in love, considerable challenges lay ahead for Catherine. They were immediately faced with the task of saving Highclere when debts threatened to destroy the estate. As the 1920s moved to a close, Catherine's adored brother died and she began to lose her husband to the distractions London had to offer. When the Second World War broke out, life at the Castle would never be the same again. Drawing on rich material from the private archives at Highclere, including beautiful period photographs, the current Countess of Carnarvon transports us back to the thrilling and alluring world of the 'real Downton Abbey' and its inhabitants.
'Utterly fascinating' Daisy Goodwin, Sunday Times Anthony Trollope wrote three thousand words every morning before heading off to his job at the Post Office. Toulouse-Lautrec did his best work at night, sometimes even setting up his easel in brothels, and George Gershwin composed at the piano in pyjamas and a bathrobe. Freud worked sixteen hours a day, but Gertrude Stein could never write for more than thirty minutes, and F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in gin-fuelled bursts - he believed alcohol was essential to his creative process. From Marx to Murakami and Beethoven to Bacon, Daily Rituals examines the working routines of more than a hundred and sixty of the greatest philosophers, writers, composers and artists ever to have lived. Filled with fascinating insights on the mechanics of genius and entertaining stories of the personalities behind it, Daily Rituals is irresistibly addictive, and utterly inspiring.
Aged just 14, New Zealand-born Laura Dekker defied the authorities and braved the open oceans to realise her dream of becoming the youngest ever sailor to circumnavigate the Earth. When she finished the journey she was still only 16, the youngest ever person to achieve this feat. Her extraordinary story is both a real-life adventure for all ages, and an inspirational account of how a free spirit and will to succeed can accomplish anything.
For readers of Nora Ephron, Tina Fey, and David Sedaris, this hilarious, poignant, and extremely frank collection of personal essays confirms Lena Dunham - the acclaimed creator, producer, and star of HBO's Girls - as one of the brightest and most original writers working today.
Not That Kind of Girl is hilarious, artful, and staggeringly intimate; I read it shivering with recognition. - Miranda July Lena Dunham is many, many things. Creator, actor, producer and writer of the award-winning cult television show Girls, but the first thing you have to know about Lena is that she's unafraid to say exactly what she thinks. She's also provocative, very funny, original, dead-pan, disturbing, neurotic, simultaneously deep and shallow, and often way, way out there. This book is a collection of her experiences, stories that have, as she describes them, little baby morals : about dieting, about dressing, about friendship and existential crises.
These are stories that most twenty-something-year-old girls will be able to relate to: about the guys she's let sleep in her bed who didn't really want to fuck her, about getting her butt touched at an internship and having to prove herself in a meeting full of 50-year-old men. It's all about trying to work out what to wear, what to say and how to be, every single day.
"If I could take what I've learned and make one menial job easier for you, or prevent you from having the kind of sex where you feel you must keep your sneakers on in case you want to run away during the act, then every misstep of mine was worthwhile."
Dylan Thomas: A Centenary Celebration is a unique collection of specially commissioned essays celebrating the poet's life and work one hundred years after his birth in 1914. Edited by his granddaughter, Hannah Ellis, who introduces each section by theme, the book is divided into three parts concerning Thomas's early years, later life and his lasting legacy. Highlights include essays from noted biographers Andrew Lycett and David N. Thomas, National Poet for Wales Gillian Clarke on Under Milk Wood, and poetry by Archbishop Emeritus Rowan Williams. The book also includes essays by poet Owen Sheers and BBC Radio 6 presenter Cerys Matthews, as well as numerous testimonies and poems from the likes of former President of the United States Jimmy Carter, Phillip Pullman and actor Michael Sheen. With a foreword by comedian and former Monty Python Terry Jones, Dylan Thomas: A Centenary Celebration is a rich and personal reflection on the lasting legacy of Britain's greatest poet.
In Being Mortal, Gawande examines his experiences as a surgeon, as he confronts the realities of aging and dying in his patients and in his family, as well as the limits of what he can do. And he emerges with story that crosses the globe and history, exploring questions that range from the curious to the profound: What happens to people's teeth as they get old? Did human beings really commit senecide, the sacrifice of the elderly? Why do the aged so dread nursing homes and hospitals? How should someone give another person the dreadful news that they will die? This is a story told only as Atul Gawande can - penetrating people's lives and also the systems that have evolved to govern our mortality. Those systems, he observes, routinely fail to serve - or even acknowledge - people's needs and priorities beyond mere survival. And the consequences are devastating lives, families, and even whole economies. But, as he reveals, it doesn't have to be this way. Atul Gawande has delivered an engrossing tale of science, history and remarkable characters in the vein of Oliver Sacks.
Edmund Spenser's innovative poetic works have a central place in the canon of English literature. Yet he is remembered as a morally flawed, self-interested sycophant; complicit in England's ruthless colonisation of Ireland; in Karl Marx's words, 'Elizabeth's arse-kissing poet'- a man on the make who aspired to be at court and who was prepared to exploit the Irish to get what he wanted. In his vibrant and vivid book, the first biography of the poet for 60 years, Andrew Hadfield finds a more complex and subtle Spenser. How did a man who seemed destined to become a priest or a don become embroiled in politics? If he was intent on social climbing, why was he so astonishingly rude to the good and the great - Lord Burghley, the earl of Leicester, Sir Walter Ralegh, Elizabeth I and James VI? Why was he more at home with 'the middling sort' - writers, publishers and printers, bureaucrats, soldiers, academics, secretaries, and clergymen - than with the mighty and the powerful? How did the appalling slaughter he witnessed in Ireland impact on his imaginative powers? How did his marriage and family life shape his work? Spenser's brilliant writing has always challenged our preconceptions. So too, Hadfield shows, does the contradictory relationship between his between life and his art.
A major literary figure in pre-war Paris, Guillaume Apollinaire volunteered for war in 1914, trained as an artilleryman and was posted in April 1915 to the Champagne front in northern France, participating in the bloody offensive that September and then moving into the front line as an infantry officer, before being wounded in March 1916 and invalided out of active service.
Back in Paris, Apollinaire plunged back into the activities of the capital’s artistic avant-garde, meanwhile publishing poetry, prose and plays that were deeply influenced by his involvement in the conflict. He died on 9 November 1918, two days before the Armistice, a victim of the influenza pandemic, but with a literary reputation secured, as well as a certain fame for coining the term ‘Surrealism’.
An unusual combination of intimate biography, military history and literary analysis, this major new work on Apollinaire is a vivid portrait of the artist – in the epicentre of Parisian Bohhemia, in love and in the cauldron of war.
On 31 March 1945, at The Playhouse Theatre on Forty-Eight Street the curtain rose on the opening night of The Glass Menagerie. Tennessee Williams, the show's thirty-four-year-old playwright, sat hunched in an aisle seat, looking, according to one paper, 'like a farm boy in his Sunday best'. The Broadway premiere, which had been heading for disaster, closed to an astonishing twenty-four curtain calls and became an instant sell-out. Beloved by an American public, Tennessee Williams's work - blood hot and personal - pioneered, as Arthur Miller declared, 'a revolution' in American theatre. Tracing Williams's turbulent moral and psychological shifts, acclaimed theatre critic John Lahr sheds new light on the man and his work, as well as the America his plays helped to define. Williams created characters so large that they have become part of American folklore: Blanche, Stanley, Big Daddy, Brick, Amanda and Laura transcend their stories, haunting us with their fierce, flawed lives. Similarly, Williams himself swung high and low in his single-minded pursuit of greatness. Lahr shows how Williams's late-blooming homosexual rebellion, his struggle against madness, his grief-struck relationships with his combustible father, prim and pious mother and 'mad' sister Rose, victim to one of the first lobotomies in America, became central themes in his drama. Including Williams's poems, stories, journals and private correspondence in his discussion of the work - posthumously Williams has been regarded as one of the best letter writers of his day - Lahr delivers an astoundingly sensitive and lively reassessment of one of America's greatest dramatists. Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh is the long-awaited, definitive life and a masterpiece of the biographer's art.
Sharp, unsentimental and ruefully funny. A fascinating portrait not only of Lively but of the times through which she has lived . (Daily Telegraph). Clever and poignant ...there is much to enjoy. This is Lively at her best . (Sunday Express). In this powerful and compelling 'view from old age', Penelope Lively, at eighty, reports back on what she finds. There are meditations on what it is like to be old as well as on how memory shapes us. There are intriguing examinations of key personal as well as historical moments she has lived through and her thoughts on her own bookishness - both as reader and writer. Lastly, she turns to six treasured possessions to speak eloquently about who she is and where she's been - fragments of memories from a life well lived. A superb study of memory and of her own voyage into the ninth decade of her life. Lively is a compelling, vitally interested witness to time past . (Helen Dunmore, Observer, Books of the Year). Enthralling. Will delight all those who love Lively's novels . (Daily Mail).
What is it like to be a brain surgeon? How does it feel to hold someone's life in your hands, to cut through the stuff that creates thought, feeling and reason? How do you live with the consequences when it all goes wrong? DO NO HARM offers an unforgettable insight into the highs and lows of a life dedicated to operating on the human brain, in all its exquisite complexity. With astonishing candour and compassion, Henry Marsh reveals the exhilarating drama of surgery, the chaos and confusion of a busy modern hospital, and above all the need for hope when faced with life's most agonising decisions.
Posterity has not been kind to Douglas Haig, the commander of the British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front for much of the First World War. Haig has frequently been presented as a commander who who sent his troops to slaughter in vast numbers at the Somme in 1916 and at Passchendaele the following year. The Good Soldier re-examines Haig's record in these battles and presents his predicament with a fresh eye. More importantly, it re-evaluates Haig himself, exploring the nature of the man, turning to both his early life and army career before 1914, as well as his unstinting work on behalf of ex-servicemen's organizations after 1918. Finally, in this definitive biography, the man emerges from the myth.
The best collection of military, espionage, and adventure stories ever told. The Dialogue Espionage Classics series began in 2010 with the purpose of bringing back classic out-of-print spying and espionage tales. From WWI and WWII to the Cold War, D-Day to the SOE, Bletchley Park to the Comet Line this fascinating spy history series brings you the best stories that should never be forgotten. The autobiography of the so-called 'Ace of Spies', the master of deception Ian Fleming would later use as a model for James Bond. The first part of the book is Reilly's life as told from his personal notes, and more specifically his attempt to overthrow the Bolshevik regime in Russia and restore the Czar. The second part is written by his wife, Pepita, who, is determined to find out what really happened after his disappearance, searches Finland and Northern Russia for her missing husband.
Jacqueline Rose's new book begins with three remarkable women: revolutionary socialist Rosa Luxemburg; German-Jewish painter Charlotte Salomon, persecuted by family tragedy and Nazism; film icon and consummate performer Marilyn Monroe. Together these women have a shared story to tell, as they blaze a trail across some of the most dramatic events of the last century - revolution, totalitarianism, the American dream. Enraged by injustice, they are each in touch with what is most painful about being human, bound together by their willingness to bring the unspeakable to light. Taking the argument into the present are today's women, courageous individuals involved in some of the cruellest realities of our times. Grappling with the reality of honour killing - notably through the stories of Shafilea Ahmed, Fadime Sahindal and Heshu Yones - Rose argues that the work of feminism is far from done. In the final three chapters, she celebrates the work of three brilliant contemporary artists - Esther Shalev-Gerz, Yael Bartana and Th r se Oulton - whose work grows out of an unflinching engagement with all that is darkest in the modern world. Women in Dark Times shows us how these visionary women offer a new template for feminism. Taking their stand against the iniquities of our times, they tread a path between public and private pain, confronting us with what we need most urgently, but also often, cannot bear to see.
The American decorator Elsie de Wolfe (1865-1950) was the International Set's preeminent social arbiter, hostess and tastemaker in the interwar years. In Versailles, in 1938 and 1939, she held two fabulous parties--her Circus Balls--that marked the end of High Society as the tides of war swept through Europe. In May 1940, De Wolfe escaped the city in her chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce, making her way to America.
In Elsie de Wolfe's Paris, 1938-1940, social historian Charlie Scheips tells the story of these glamorous and troubling years in meticulous and vivid detail, using a wealth of visual material, including a cache of previously unpublished photographs of De Wolfe's balls, to recreate her milieu. He introduces the large cast of aristocrats, beauties, politicians, fashion designers, Hollywood luminaries, business moguls and artists and writers, that comprised society in those years and explores the dense web of relationships that held it together. Elsie de Wolfe's Paris is a landmark work of glamorous social history and a poignant vision of a vanished world.
The classical distinctions between strategy, operations, and tactics in warfare derive from two basic sources: Carl von Clausewitz and Antoine-Henri de Jomini, both veterans of the Napoleonic wars who translated their experiences into books outlining general precepts about the nature and rules of military engagement.
Nearly two centuries after the publication of these works, Jomini has been all but forgotten, but Clausewitz's On War remains perhaps the most significant work of military theory ever written. He has become a global brand, one constantly refreshed by a flow of books and articles debating his ideas and arguing what he truly meant in various passages of On War. The masterwork appears in an array of translations sweeping from Arabic to Vietnamese. Military staff colleges the world over use Clausewitz's text, largely to prepare their officers for staff positions and higher command.
Military historian Donald Stoker here offers an incisive biography of Carl von Clausewitz, sketching out his life and career and exploring the various causes that led to the formulation of his theories about war.
Though On War remained unfinished at the time of his death in 1831, Clausewitz's devoted wife, Marie, organised the papers he had left behind and arranged for their publication. The ten volumes of Clausewitz's collected works appeared from 1832-1837, with On War encompassing the first three volumes. Stoker considers both the merits and detriments of the works, but also pays careful attention to the life and experiences of Clausewitz himself. In doing so, he notes that those discussing Clausewitz's legacy as a theorist today have largely forgotten what was most important to him: being a soldier, and one of renown.
Success on the field of battle-success meaning victory as well as distinguishing one's self above one's comrades, who are also brave and daring men - this, Stoker shows, is what drove Clausewitz. Stoker also considers the continuing relevance of Clausewitz's work today, particularly focusing on its effect on strategic thinking in American foreign policy. The result is a brilliant reassessment of both the man and his legacy, one that adds to our understanding of Clausewitz and his place in today's military and political landscape.
New Zealand's pre-eminent criminal barrister looks back on his remarkable life and times. 'Peter Williams QC is the definitive defendant's alter ego, the popular ideal of what a defending lawyer should be, and the most effective defence barrister our legal system has experienced.' In his time as a criminal defence lawyer in the New Zealand courts, Peter Williams QC has seen it all. From the days when abortion, homosexuality and even telling fortunes could see a person hauled before the courts, to sensational cases of wrongful imprisonment and police corruption, he has witnessed the defining moments in the evolution of our modern judicial and penal systems. In this rich and wise collection of memoir, anecdote and forensic analysis our pre-eminent courtroom advocate recalls the people (including Ronald Jorgensen, Arthur Allan Thomas, Mr Asia , James K Baxter, Winston Peters and many more) and the cases (both celebrated and obscure) that have defined his remarkable career, and illuminates the ways in which a legal system mirrors its society, for good and bad. Fearless, astute and compassionate, Peter Williams proves - beyond reasonable doubt - that truth is nearly always stranger than fiction.
On May 31, 1953, twenty-year-old Sylvia Plath arrived in New York City for a one-month stint as a guest editor for Mademoiselle magazine. Over the next twenty-six days, she lived at the Barbizon Hotel, attended Balanchine ballets, watched a game at Yankee Stadium, and danced at the West Side Tennis Club. She typed rejection letters to writers from The New Yorker and ate an entire bowl of caviar at an advertising luncheon. She stalked Dylan Thomas and fought off a diamond-wielding suitor from the United Nations. She took hot baths, had her hair done, and discovered her signature drink (vodka, no ice). Young, beautiful, and on the cusp of an impressive career, she was supposed to be having the time of her life.Drawing on in-depth interviews with fellow guest editors, whose memories infuse these pages, Elizabeth Winder reveals how these twenty-six days indelibly altered how Plath saw herself, her mother, her friendships, and her romantic relationships, and how this period shaped her emerging identity as a woman and as a writer. Thoughtful and illuminating, Pain, Parties, Work offers new insight as it introduces us to Sylvia Plath, the girl, before she became one of the greatest and most influential poets of the twentieth century.
The story of an odd couple--a British military historian and the Tawny Owl with whom he lived for fifteen years Martin Windrow was a war historian with little experience with pets when he adopted an owl the size of a corncob. Adorable but with knife-sharp talons, Mumble became Windrow's closest, if at times unpredictable, companion, first in a South London flat and later in the more owl-friendly Sussex countryside. In The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar, Windrow recalls with wry humor their finer moments as well as the reactions of incredulous neighbors, the awkwardness of buying Mumble unskinned rabbit at Harrods Food Hall, and the grievous sense of loss when Mumble nearly escapes. As Windrow writes: Mumble was so much a part of my life in those days that the oddity of our relationship seldom occurred to me, and I only thought about it when faced with other people's astonishment. When new acquaintances learned that they were talking to a book editor who shared a seventh-floor flat in a South London tower block with a Tawny Owl, some tended to edge away, rather thoughtfully . . . I tried to answer patiently, but I found it hard to come up with a short reply to the direct question 'Yes, but . . . why? '; my best answer was simply 'Why not?' In the spirit of J. R. Ackerley's My Dog Tulip, Windrow offers a poignant and unforgettable reminiscence of his charmed years with his improbable pet, as well as an unexpected education in the paleontology, zoology, and sociology of owls.