Here, Rudiger Safranski sets his sights on the writer considered the Shakespeare of German literature. Goethe (1749-1832) awakened a burgeoning German nation and the European continent with his electrifying novel The Sorrows of Young Werther. Safranski scoured Goethe's oeuvre, relying on primary sources as well as his correspondence with contemporaries and their comments to one another, to produce an illuminating portrait of the avatar of the Romantic era. Set against the cultural and political turmoil of Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Goethe, who intersected with almost every great figure of his age, is thrillingly re-created here. As Safranski shows, Goethe's greatest creation, even in comparison to his masterpiece Faust, was his own life.
Mikhail Sholokhov is arguable one of the most contentious recipients of the Nobel Prize in Literature. As a young man, Sholokhov's epic novel, Quiet Don, became an unprecedented overnight success.
Stalin's Scribe is the first biography of a man who was once one of the Soviet Union's most prominent political figures. Thanks to the opening of Russia's archives, Brian Boeck discovers that Sholokhov's official Soviet biography is actually a tangled web of legends, half-truths and contradictions. Boeck examines the complex connection between an author and a dictator, revealing how a Stalinist courtier became an ideological acrobat and consummate politician in order to stay in favour and remain relevant after the dictator's death.
Stalin's Scribe is remarkable biography that both reinforces and clashes with our understanding of the Soviet system. It reveals a Sholokhov who is bold, uncompromising and sympathetic-and reconciles him with the vindictive and mean-spirited man described in so many accounts of late Soviet history.
Shockingly, at the height of the terror, which claimed over a million lives, Sholokhov became a member of the most minuscule subset of the Soviet Union's population-the handful of individuals whom Stalin personally intervened to save.
An electrifying memoir from a Mexican-American US Border Patrol guard.
'Stunningly good... The best thing I've read for ages' James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd's Life
Francisco Canto was a US Border Patrol agent from 2008 to 2012.
In this extraordinary account, he describes his work in the desert along the Mexican border. He tracks humans through blistering days and frigid nights. He detains the exhausted and hauls in the dead. The line he is sworn to defend, however, begins to dissolve. Haunted by nightmares, Canto abandons the Patrol for civilian life - but he soon faces a final confrontation with the world he believed he had escaped.
'A raw, compelling memoir... An eloquent rebuke to all those who look to build walls rather than bridges between people' Sunday Times
'A must-read... A page-turning personal story that holds until the final page and wrenches long after' GQ
'Remarkable... Lyrical and moving' Guardian
At the time of his death at the age of 95, Eric Hobsbawm (1917-2012) was the most famous historian in the world. His books were translated into more than fifty languages and he was as well known in Brazil and Italy as he was in Britain and the United States. His writings have had a huge and lasting effect on the practice of history. More than half a century after it appeared, his books remain a staple of university reading lists.
He had an extraordinarily long life, with interests covering many countries and many cultures, ranging from poetry to jazz, literature to politics. He experienced life not only as a university teacher but also as a young Communist in the Weimar Republic, a radical student at Cambridge, a political activist, an army conscript, a Soho 'man about town', a Hampstead intellectual, a Cambridge don, an influential journalist, a world traveller, and finally a Grand Old Man of Letters.
In A LIFE IN HISTORY, Richard Evans tells the story of Hobsbawm as an academic, but also as witness to history itself, and of the twentieth century's major political and intellectual currents. Eric not only wrote and spoke about many of the great issues of his time, but participated in many of them too, from Communist resistance to Hitler to revolution in Cuba, where he acted as an interpreter for Fidel Castro. He was a prominent part of the Jazz scene in Soho in the late 1950s and his writings played a pivotal role in the emergence of New Labour in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
This, the first biography of Eric Hobsbawm, is far more than a study of a professional historian. It is a study of an era.
Do you know what the secret to happily-ever-after is? Janet Bouvier Auchincloss would ask her daughters Jackie and Lee during their tea time. Money and Power, she would say. It was a lesson neither would ever forget. They followed in their mother's footsteps after her marriages to the philandering socialite Black Jack Bouvier and the fabulously rich Standard Oil heir Hugh D. Auchincloss.
Jacqueline Bouvier would marry John F. Kennedy and the story of their marriage is legendary, as is the story of her second marriage to Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis. Less well known is the story of her love affair with a world renowned architect and a British peer. Her sister, Lee, had liaisons with one and possibly both of Jackie's husbands, in addition to her own three marriages-to an illegitimate royal, a Polish prince and a Hollywood director.
If the Bouvier women personified beauty, style and fashion, it was their lust for money and status that drove them to seek out powerful men, no matter what the cost to themselves or to those they stepped on in their ruthless climb to the top. Based on hundreds of new interviews with friends and family of the Bouviers, among them their own half-brother, as well as letters and journals, J. Randy Taraborrelli paints an extraordinary psychological portrait of two famous sisters and their ferociously ambitious mother.
What does it mean to be free - as an artist, a woman, a mother or daughter? And what is the price of that freedom?
In this dazzling memoir, Deborah Levy confronts the essential questions of modern womanhood with humour, pragmatism, and profoundly resonant wisdom. Reflecting on the period when she wrote the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted Hot Milk - when her mother was dying, her daughters were leaving home, her marriage was coming to an end - she is characteristically eloquent on the social expectations and surreal realities of daily life. And expanding far beyond these bounds, she describes a uniquely frank, wise and thrilling manifesto for female experience- embracing the exhilarating terror of freedom, seeking to understand what that freedom could mean and how it might feel.
T.E. Lawrence found global recognition for his leadership of the Arab Revolt during World War I, preparing the ground for the final Allied offensive in 1918. He was hailed as a hero, but little is known about this mysterious and charismatic man after those events. Here is Lawrence's life after Arabia, his service in the RAF and the Tank Corps as a mere ranker, and how he became an expert in the technology of the new RAF. The book examines the work he did for the 1929 Schneider Trophy Race, the development of the new RAF 200 seaplane tender, and the development of its armour plated offspring, the Armoured Target Boat. It also investigates his literary endeavours and his tragically early death, a sad end to a Renaissance man of all talents, an academic, a talented engineer and a soldier sans pareil.
T.E. was offered exalted diplomatic positions by Churchill, implored by Nancy Astor to re-enter the fray as the Nazi threat grew, socialised with the Cliveden set, argued with the Archbishop of Canterbury. He made lasting friendships with humble squaddies. His self-loathing was expressed physically.
Consulting primary sources and also having interviewed some of those who knew Lawrence after Arabia the author portrays the last years of one of the most astonishing figures of the 20th century.
"Sharp, moving memoir... Wamariya tells her own story with feeling, in vivid prose. She has remade herself, as she explains was necessary to do, on her own terms." - New York Times
A riveting tale of dislocation, survival and the power of stories to break or save us.
Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbours began to disappear, and when she heard the loud, ugly sounds that her brother said were thunder.
In 1994, she and her 15-year-old sister Clare fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years wandering through seven African countries, searching for safety - perpetually hungry, imprisoned and abused, enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, witnessing inhuman cruelty. They did not know whether their parents were dead or alive.
When Clemantine was 12, she and her sister were granted refugee status in the United States, where she embarked on another journey, ultimately graduating from Yale. Yet the years of being treated as less than human, of going hungry and seeing death, could not be erased. She felt - at the same time - six years old and 100 years old.
In The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Clemantine provokes us to look beyond the label of 'victim' and recognise the power of the imagination to transcend even the most profound injuries and aftershocks. Devastating, yet beautiful, and bracingly original, it is a powerful testament to her commitment to constructing a life on her own terms.
The true story of Savannah Knoop, JT LeRoy, and one of the most famous literary hoaxes of all time, soon to be a major motion picture.
More than ten years after the New York Times unmasked Savannah Knoop as the face of the mysterious author JT LeRoy, her story continues to fascinate. To some, it was a compelling experiment with authorship and identity. To others, it was an unforgivable deception. In Girl Boy Girl, Knoop tells her side of the story, revealing how she came to portray the young trans hustler turned literary wunderkind - a persona created by her sister-in-law, Laura Albert, to help sell her books.
For six years Knoop led this bizarre double life, trading a precarious existence as a college dropout for a life in which she was embraced by celebrities and artists - Carrie Fisher, Courtney Love, Mary Ellen Mark, Winona Ryder, Asia Argento, Gus Van Sant, Mike Pitt, Calvin Klein, and Shirley Manson, to name a few - and traveled the world. Knoop reveals how playing JT LeRoy gave her a sense of confidence and entitlement she never had before. But as JT's fame grew, the charade became harder to maintain, and Knoop started to resent "pretending to be someone who had nothing to do with me, representing something I hadn't created." Much more than an inside look at one of the most famous literary hoaxes of all time, this book is also the story of a woman who inadvertently finds herself by pretending to be someone else.
This edition of the book features a new introduction by the author, whose story will soon be a major motion picture starring Kristen Stewart as Savannah/JT.
'A wonderfully candid and insightful account of a writer?s life? William BoydLuck, good or bad, plays an important part in a writer?s career. In 1976 Lodge was pursuing a 'twin-track career? as novelist and academic but the balancing act was increasingly difficult, and he became a full-time writer just before he published his bestselling novel Nice Work. Readers of Lodge?s novels will be fascinated by the insights this book gives - not only into his professional career but also more personal experience, such as his growing scepticism of his Catholic religion and the challenges of parenting. Anyone who is interested in learning about the creative process and about the life of a writer will find Writer?s Luck a candid and entertaining guide.
A musical monument of language to a mother, this novel sings and hums and growls and rattles and tickles and rages and smears and hurts.
Humor, pain and copious amounts of love run throughout this critically acclaimed novel by Tom Lanoye that sold almost 135,000 copies in Holland and Belgium alone. Both brave and honest, Speechless is a poignant homage to Lanoye's late mother, Josee.
Flamboyant, proud and dominant, Josee is unrecognizable after suffering a stroke, which strips her of the ability to speak and express herself with the expansiveness for which she was known. With style and grace, Lanoye weaves together autobiography, testimony and fiction to recount the last years of his mother's life and the years before her stroke. Harnessing his power as a playwright and dexterity as a poet, Lanoye employs rich prose to paint a colorful picture of growing up and coming to terms with his homosexuality.
Speechless is compellingly translated from the Dutch by Paul Vincent, whose skillful translation complements Lanoye's rich style.
At his death in 1955, Calouste Gulbenkian was the richest man in the world, known as 'Mr Five Percent' for owning 5% of Middle East oil production. For half a century everyone from the Ottoman Sultans to Joseph Stalin sought his advice on oil policy, the latter rewarding him with Rembrandts from Russia's Hermitage Museum.
Today the companies that Gulbenkian created - including Shell and Total - are household names, while the international agreements he brokered still shape the fortunes of Iraq, Venezuela and other oil-producing countries across the globe. Yet Gulbenkian's secrecy has ensured that his remarkable story remained untold - until now.
Given unprecedented access to Gulbenkian's private papers, Jonathan Conlin pieces together the many lives of a powerful recluse: deal-maker and financier, but also diplomat, art collector and philanthropist, jealous husband and domineering father. This detailed account reveals the effects of Gulbenkian's restless life on those whose interests he sought to serve, as well as on the Foundation which remains his greatest legacy.
In 2006 journalist Joanna Moorhead discovered that her father's cousin, Prim, who had disappeared many decades earlier, was now a famous artist in Mexico. Although rarely spoken of in her own family (regarded as a black sheep, a wild child; someone they were better off without) in the meantime Leonora Carrington had become a national treasure in Mexico, where she now lived, while her paintings are fetching ever-higher prices at auction today.
Intrigued by her story, Joanna set off to Mexico City to find her lost relation. Later she was to return to Mexico ten times more between then and Leonora's death in 2011, sometimes staying for months at a time and subsequently travelling around Britain and through Europe in search of the loose ends of her tale.
They spent days talking and reading together, drinking tea and tequila, going for walks and to parties and eating take away pizzas or dining out in her local restaurants as Leonora told Joanna the wild and amazing truth about a life that had taken her from the suffocating existence of a debutante in London via war-torn France with her lover, Max Ernst, to incarceration in an asylum and finally to the life of a recluse in Mexico City.
Leonora was one of the last surviving participants in the Surrealist movement of the 1930s, a founding member of the Women's Liberation Movement in Mexico during the 1970s and a woman whose reputation will survive not only as a muse but as a novelist and a great artist. This book is the extraordinary story of Leonora Carrington's life, and of the friendship between two women, related by blood but previously unknown to one another, whose encounters were to change both their lives.
'My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter.' As a struggling single mum, determined to keep a roof over her daughter's head, Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, working long hours in order to provide for her small family. In MAID, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today's inequitable society.
As she worked hard to climb her way out of poverty as a single parent, scrubbing the toilets of the wealthy, navigating domestic labour jobs as a cleaner whilst also juggling higher education, assisted housing, and a tangled web of government assistance, Stephanie wrote. She wrote the true stories that weren't being told. The stories of the overworked and underpaid.
Written in honest, heart-rending prose and with great insight, MAID explores the underbelly of the upper-middle classes and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them. 'I'd become a nameless ghost,' Stephanie writes. With this book, she gives voice to the 'servant' worker, those who fight daily to scramble and scrape by for their own lives and the lives of their children.
Genius is local, governed by the protective spirit of a place, embedded, nurtured by circumstances and moments that are random, uncalculated, errant, only later observed as fateful. In Figuring, Maria Popova gives us the lives of five American women - the astronomer Maria Mitchell, the feminist Margaret Fuller, the sculpter Harriet Hosmer, the poet Emily Dickinson, and the marine biologist Rachel Carson - who come to be possessed by genius, find original directions to pursue. Figuring traces the hesitant, uncertain arcs of their influences, intersections, and self-encounters as they coalesce into something previously unimaged, their aspirations unfold in the completeness of being.
A poet's memoir of his mother that flows backwards through time, and through a tumultuous period of European history - a tender and yet unsparing autobiographical journey.
In July 1975, Magda Szirtes died in the ambulance on the way to hospital after she had tried to take her own life. She was fifty-one years old. The Photographer at Sixteen spools into the past, through her exile in England, her flight with her husband and two young boys from Hungary in 1956 and her time in two concentration camps, her girlhood as an ambitious photographer, and the unknowable fate of her vanished family in Transylvania.
The woman who emerges - with all her contradictions - is utterly captivating. What were the terrors and obsessions that drove her? THE PHOTOGRAPHER AT SIXTEEN reveals a life from the depths of its final days to the comparable safety of its childhood. It is a book born of curiosity, of guilt and of love.
By the time Weisman met Sinatra in 1976, he was already the Voice, a man who held sway over popular music and pop culture for forty years, who had risen to the greatest heights of fame and plumbed the depths of failure, all the while surviving with the trademark swagger that women pined for and men wanted to emulate. Passionate and generous on his best days, sullen and unpredictable on his worst, Sinatra invited Weisman into his inner circle, an honor that the budding celebrity manager never took for granted. Even when he was caught up in a legal net designed to snare Sinatra, Weisman went to prison rather than being coerced into telling prosecutors what they wanted to hear.
With Weisman's help, Sinatra orchestrated in his final decades some of the most memorable moments of his career. There was the Duets album, which was Sinatra's top seller, the massive tours, such as Together Again, which featured a short-lived reunion of the Rat Pack - until Dean Martin, having little interest in reliving the glory days, couldn't handle it anymore - and the Ultimate Event Tour, which brought Liza Minelli and Sammy Davis Jr. on board and refreshed the much-needed lining of both their pocketbooks. Weisman also worked with many other acts, including Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, and an ungrateful Don Rickles, whom Weisman helped get out from under the mob's thumb.
Over their years together, Weisman became a confidant to the man who trusted few, and he came to know Sinatra's world intimately: his wife, Barbara, who socialized with princesses and presidents and tried to close Sinatra off from his rough and tough friends such as Jilly Rizzo; Nancy Jr., who was closest to her dad; Tina, who aggressively battled for her and her siblings' rights to the Sinatra legacy and was most like her father; and Frank Jr., the child with the most fraught relationship with the legendary entertainer. Ultimately Weisman, who had become the executor of Sinatra's estate, was left alone to navigate the infighting and hatred between those born to the name and the wife who acquired it, when a mystery woman showed up and threatened to throw the family's future into jeopardy.
Laden with surprising, moving, and revealing stories, THE WAY IT WAS also shows a side of Sinatra few knew. As a lion in winter, he was struggling with the challenges that come with old age, as well as memory loss, depression, and antidepressents. Weisman was by his side through it all, witness to a man who had towering confidence, staggering fearlessness, and a rarely seen vulnerability that became more apparent as his final days approached.
'Abby Ellin's writing is everything her fiance pretended to be: witty, vulnerable, brave, smart, and honest.' -- Michael Finkel, author of THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS
While leading a double life would seem to be the exclusive domain of psychopaths and undercover agents, thousands of 'regular people' keep extraordinary secrets from those closest to them. Duped is an investigation of compulsive liars - and how they fool their loved ones - drawing on Abby Ellin's personal experience.
From the day Abby went on her first date with The Commander, she was caught up in a whirlwind. Within five months he'd proposed, and they'd moved in together. But there were red flags: strange stories of international espionage, involving Osama bin Laden and the Pentagon. Soon his stories began to unravel until she discovered, far later than she'd have liked, that he was a complete and utter fraud.
When Ellin wrote about her experience in Psychology Today, the responses were unlike anything she'd experienced as a journalist. Legions of people wrote in with similar stories, of otherwise sharp-witted and self-aware people being taken in by ludicrous scams. Why was it so hard to spot these outlandish stories? Why were so many of the perpetrators male, and so many of the victims female? Was there something universal at play here?
In DUPED, New York Times journalist Abby Ellin explores the secret lives of compulsive liars, and the tragedy of those who trust them - who have experienced severe, prolonged betrayal - and the terrible impact on their sense of reality and their ability to trust ever again. Studying the art and science of lying, talking to victims who've had their worlds turned upside down, and writing with great openness about her own mistakes, she lays the phenomenon bare. Ellin offers us a shocking and intimate look not only at the damage that the duplicitous cause, but the painful reaction of a society that is all too quick to blame the believer.
Lara the Runaway Cat tells the story of Gobi, the loveable pup who followed Dion Leonard across a gruelling 155-mile trek across the Gobi Desert, and her mischievous cat sister, Lara, who runs away from her family, seeking a courageous adventure and different life.
Lara doesn't realise how good she has it in her home in Edinburgh with her owners, Dion and Lucja, and of course her sister, Gobi. If she's being honest, she's jealous of Gobi's fame and the international attention she has received ever since Dion found her. Okay, Gobi may have survived an ultra-marathon across the Gobi Desert, but it's not as if Lara doesn't earn her fresh prawns! She dreams about the day when she can go outdoors and see the world, discover new friends and be free to make her own name.
But Lara's wishful thinking gets the better of her as she takes a leap into the unknown and is forced to decide between her loyalties to her family and need to experience an adventure to rival Gobi's. Join Lara in her eventful travels from Edinburgh to France, Beijing to Australia, where she is faced with challenges that will change her life forever.
Following on from the astounding real-life story of Dion Leonard, this fictionalised tale is a must-read for animal lovers everywhere.
The gripping story of one woman's war against ISIS on the frontlines of Syria.
Joanna Palani made headlines across the world in 2016 when her role fighting on the front line of the Syrian conflict was revealed. She is one of a handful of western women who have joined the international recruits to the Kurdish forces in Syria and is the first woman fighter to tell her story.
Joanna was born to Iranian-Kurdish parents in a refugee camp in Iraq, before her family were accepted in to Denmark. During the Arab Spring, Joanna realised she needed to do something to protect the values she believes in, and the culture she loves. Leaving behind her life as a student, Joanna underwent considerable military training and travelled to the Middle East, where she spent time over several years fighting on the front line, including at the devastating battle for Kobani.
Despite her heroism, Joanna was taken in to custody on her return to Denmark for breaking laws designed to stop its citizens from joining ISIS, making her the first person to be jailed for joining the international coalition. Joanna now lives in Copenhagen under daily threat from ISIS supporters, as she continues her fight for women's rights off the front line.
In this new biography, published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of her execution, Mata Hari is revealed in all of her flawed eccentricity; a woman whose adult life was a fantastical web of lies, half-truths and magnetic sexuality that captivated men. Following the death of a young son and a bitter divorce, Mata Hari reinvented herself as an exotic dancer in Paris, before finally taking up the life of a courtesan. She could have remained a half-forgotten member of France's grande horizontale were it not for the First World War and her disastrous decision to become embroiled in espionage. What happened next was part farce and part tragedy that ended in her execution in October 1917. Recruited by both the Germans and the French as a spy, Mata Hari - codenamed H-21 - was also almost recruited by the Russians. But the harmless fantasies and lies she had told on stage had become part of the deadly game of double agents during wartime. Struggling with the huge cost of war, the French authorities needed to catch a spy. Mata Hari, the dancer, the courtesan, the fantasist, became the prize catch.
The first intellectual biography of the life and work of John Berger John Berger was one of the most influential thinkers and writers of postwar Europe. As a novelist, he won the Booker Prize in 1972, donating half his prize money to the Black Panthers; as a TV presenter he changed the way we looked at art in Ways of Seeing; as a storyteller and political activist he defended the rights and dignity of workers, migrants and the oppressed around the world. In 1953 he wrote: 'Far from dragging politics into art, art has dragged me into politics.' He remained a revolutionary up to his death in January, 2017. In A Writer of Our Time, Joshua Sperling places Berger's life and works within the historical narrative of postwar Britain and beyond. The book also explores, through the work, the larger questions that vexed a generation: the purpose of art, the nature of creative freedom, the meaning of commitment. Drawing on extensive interviews, close readings and a wealth of archival sources only recently made available, the book brings the many different faces of John Berger together and shows him as one of the most vital, and brilliant, thinkers and storytellers of our time.