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In their own words or from the pen of a biographer, the lives of others hold a magnetic intrigue. Indulge your curiosity here… Read and find out more about the lives of well-known figures. Want more inspiration? Head to our 'Best Autobiographies Ever' blog post filled with recommendations from our bookish friends.
Tani Adewumi’s life-affirming memoir is a “dare to dream” story with the power to make souls sing. As he and his parents relate their extraordinary experiences from living under Boko Haram in Nigeria to forging a new life in America, eight-year-old Tani’s voice is unfailingly endearing, with his parents’ narratives providing enlightening context, underpinned by their Christian faith. The tone is set in the introduction, in which Tani tells us that while he’s not sure what he’ll do when he grows up (maybe become a chess grandmaster, maybe a pilot, or maybe both), “I do know this much. I believe in miracles.” The story begins when Tani’s printer father is visited by Boko Haram and he evades their order to print posters that declare “No to Western Education” and “Kill all Christians”. When this makes the family a target, they flee to another area of Nigeria, then to Dallas after it becomes clear they’re not safe in their homeland. But their first experiences in America are from the life they’d hoped for. They stay with Tani’s great uncle, whose American wife becomes hostile, which compels them to move again. Thanks to the kindness of an old Nigerian friend, they’re able to move to New York where a pastor finds them a place in a shelter. Here Tani is given the opportunity to join a chess club, where meeting Coach Shawn proves to be life-changing. Tani’s natural talent for chess coupled with hard work, family support, and the kindness of coaches who give him a scholarship, sees him make fast progress. Within months he’s crowned State Chess Champion. But it doesn’t end there – when Coach Shawn suggests the family tell the national press their story to help them secure a place to live, the coverage leads to even bigger things. Alongside the overarching story, Tani’s mother shares fascinating detail about her Yoruba heritage, and this memoir is also poignant in showing the hard realities of migrant life. This comes recommended for readers who love discovering human stories that don’t shirk from the truth, but still radiate a feel-good message of hope. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
Edited by trailblazing broadcaster, editor and critic Margaret Busby OBE - Britain’s first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison and Busby in the 1960s - New Daughters of Africa is an extraordinary feat of publishing, presenting as it does the diverse work of 200+ women of African heritage across more than 900 pages. In 1992, Busby published Daughters of Africa, and this epically-proportioned - and realised - re-visitation duplicates none of the writers featured in the first incarnation. Busby hopes in her introduction, “may all who find their way to this anthology, regardless of gender, class or race, feast well on its banquet of words.” And I defy any reader not to do just that. This rich feast presents all kinds of writers – academics and activists; critics and curators; fiction writers and filmmakers; poets and politicians, to name but a few - from all parts of the world. There are wise words to chew on from familiar figures, among them Diane Abbott, Angela Levy, Bernardine Evaristo, Malorie Blackman, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Afua Hirsch. And there are individuals and pieces I was grateful to discover for the first time, such as Bermudian Angela Barry’s Without Prejudice story, and Yvette Edwards, a London writer of Montserratian origin. The collection’s historical entries are engrossing too, among them Sarah Parker Remond’s (1815-1894) “Why Slavery is Still Rampant” piece, and Meta Davis Cumberbatch’s (1900-1978) powerfully rousing poem, “A Child of Nature (Negro of the Caribbean)”. This is an exceptional anthology to savour - a uniquely nourishing banquet for mind and heart. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
At times uncomfortable and chilling (as it should be) this is nonetheless absolutely fascinating, and a must read for anyone interested in law enforcement and the way minds work. Dr Kris Mohandie is a clinical police and forensic psychologist, in other words, a “detective of the brain”. He has worked on high profile cases and encountered some of the most dangerous people in the USA. Here he provides “an informed peek behind the curtain of criminality in a world that’s getting darker and more dangerous by the day” “providing insight into why these people do what they do and lessons we can learn as a society to help stop or at least reduce the bloodshed”. He highlights a number of cases he has worked on, from serial killers, to hostage takers, right through to mass casualty shooters. He looks at cases that are known throughout the world, such as Columbine, O.J Simpson, and Oklahoma City. Starting his career with LAPD, Dr Kris Mohandie was a consultant, working with units including SWAT. This is a man who has had to make incredibly difficult decisions, in horrendously difficult circumstances. He is honest, at times blunt, and says it as he sees it. He discusses the death penalty, the nature of evil, and mental illness. If you take a look at the press reviews on our LoveReading book page, you can see reports from people who have worked with him. Words such as “outstanding”, a “true subject matter expert”, “one of the best in the business” ring out. Born Killers? is a truly gripping read that I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Beginning with the author’s great, great grandmother Tory, who lived in Somerset “over 100 years before Edna brought me into the world,” Hold On Edna! recounts the remarkable story of Aneira “Nye” Thomas, the first baby to be delivered by the NHS. From learning that the “birth of the NHS received scant coverage” and was initially distrusted, to the author’s rousing reading of Michael Rosen’s “These are the Hands” poem at the NHS 70th anniversary event, this moving memoir is an absorbing mix of punch-packing family drama, and a powerful personal testament to Britain’s crowning achievement. Throughout, the author casts an edifying light on working class social history through her family story. For Tory and thousands like her, death was very much part of daily life. If you’re in a workhouse, struggling to feed your children, paying a “quack” to heal you in sickness was out of the question. It was Tory’s death that brought her widow and six children to South Wales to seek work in the pits. While further hardship followed, it was fortuitous that the author’s mother, Edna, left Wales to find work at the same time as her future father. Employed at the same London hospital, they fell in love but money troubles, mouths to feed and the outbreak of WWII brought them back to Wales. Through these same hard years, the couple’s compatriot Aneurin “Nye” Bevan had been devising a transformative plan for public health, leading to a Parliament bill “that would offer a state-wide health service" that was “to be free at the point of need; available to everyone, regardless of wealth or social standing.” And since “the man responsible for all this grew up not too far away,” Edna’s seventh child was movingly chosen to be the first child delivered by the NHS. Ready to give birth before the allotted time, Edna “held on… and then she pushed. I came barrelling into the world at a minute past midnight, the first baby to be born on the NHS”. A triumphant moment for a family who knew the toughest of times, and a triumph of transformative socialist policy.
August 25, 2010. Mazhar Majeed – an agent representing a number of players in the Pakistan squad due to play a Test Match against England – sends a text to an Indian businessman he knows as Mohsin Khan. Majeed wants to convince Khan to join him in a match-fixing plot he claims will make them both very wealthy. The text confirms their plan is going ahead. What Majeed doesn’t know is that Khan’s real name is Mazher Mahmood and that he is an undercover investigative reporter for the News of the World. Mahmood – famous for his exposes on such personalities as Sarah Ferguson, Jerry Springer and Sven Goran Eriksson – is known to the world as the Fake Sheikh. On the back of Majeed’s greed and lack of caution, he is about to run a story that promises to be the greatest sporting scoop the UK press has ever seen. The beginning of The Thin White Line is so enthralling, so complex and so fast-moving, it read like an extract from Mission Impossible or The Sting. The difference – something that made this read all the more exciting – was this was real. This happened. I was gripped. Mazher Mahmood was responsible for exposing criminal and corrupt activity among a lot of people. His methods were fraught with risk and extremely expensive. He got results, though, and he was lauded by the industry for doing so. His was a style of journalism that, with hindsight, was doomed to fail one day and probably in a big way. It did, and as a result Mahmood found himself in the dock and facing a prison sentence. Nick Greenslade’s research is incredibly thorough and the quoted sources in the book read like a who’s who of well-known sporting personalities. The Thin White Line isn’t just a book for cricket fans, though – although they will relish it, I’m sure. Anyone with even minimal interest in corruption within sport or in the goings-on of the newspaper world of the time will find it a fascinating insight. I loved it. But I’d be prepared to wager you’d already worked that out for yourself.
In 'Single, Again, and Again, and Again...What Do You Do When Life Doesn't Go to Plan' Louisa Pateman eloquently describes her experiences in the dating jungle of the 90s and noughties and goes on, when her 'happy ever after' still doesn't happen, to explain how she eventually resolved her issues and found that the mould, formed for her by her upbringing, was not set in stone and could be broken. The first part of the book resonated a lot with me, as I was also playing the dating game at this time, the only difference being that I had already been married and had a family. I recognised many of the male types that she dated, having had some similar encounters, some funny, some heart-breaking or, on occasion, just plain boring! The second part moves on to the digital age, which I was not familiar with personally, but which didn't prove to be any more successful for the author in finding 'the right one'. Much more importantly though, the end of the noughties heralded a shift in society's view of the status of women and the expectations and acceptance of what constitutes a 'family'. The author could at last abandon her 'life plan' and fulfil her lifelong ambition to be a mother. This is an uplifting book, that debunks the myth of the happy couple ending, perpetuated in literature and the film and TV industry. There's a long way to go yet, as the #MeToo movement shows but, in the author's own words 'Imagine how much happier and freer young women would feel if they had a deeply embedded notion of choice, of carving out their own unique path...that you don't need to wait for your Prince Charming, that you can create an extraordinary life just on your own'. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
Wing Commander Frank Brock OBE was a daredevil adventurer who made a unique contribution to the British war effort during World War I. Gunpowder and Glory tells the story, not just of Frank Brock, but of the family business he was born into. Brock is a name synonymous with fireworks and November 5th. Brock himself was an inventor who is one of very few people to have been commissioned in all three of our armed services. He designed weapons that included the incendiary device that brought an end to Zeppelin domination of British skies. This book has all the ingredients for an explosive and entertaining yarn. It doesn’t disappoint. A fascinating and well-researched read, not just for military enthusiasts but for anybody interested in fireworks, and the workings of a successful family business.
A fascinating, almost hard to believe life of a pilot. In a meandering, conversational tone, Mike recalls a number of dramatic events occurring during his career as a pilot. I like the narrative voice, it felt like I was listening to Mike share an anecdote over dinner. I found that the story delivers enough information to keep you curious, while hopping through several interlocking events. I would say that this is a book that you need to dedicate your full concentration to, distracted reading could leave you a little confused about the changes in direction. I think that this applies in particular to the start of the book, there's a great deal of "we'll get to that in a second" which, although amusing, did leave me feeling slightly adrift. The author writes with self-deprecating humour and this larger-than-life tale told with Mike’s incredulity puts you at ease with the narrator while making the events (as unbelievable as they seem) more plausible and enjoyable to read. There’s a lot of technical detail throughout (with threats of a test at the end), and I think that anyone who knows about, or enjoys learning about planes would get extra enjoyment from this book. The main plot, without giving anything away, is action-packed, with some events akin to a scene in an action movie. I think Never Answer To A Whistle is a fascinating autobiography which gave me new insight into the life of an executive pilot, although I’d guess that not every pilot has had quite the same exciting career as Michael Howard. I would recommend this book.
Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the most important essayist in a generation and a writer who changed the national political conversation about race” (Rolling Stone) NAMED ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOKS OF THE DECADE BY CNN • NAMED ONE OF PASTE’S BEST MEMOIRS OF THE DECADE • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • O: The Oprah Magazine • The Washington Post • People • Entertainment Weekly • Vogue • Los Angeles Times • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • New York • Newsday • Library Journal • Publishers Weekly In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son. Coates shares with his son—and readers—the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children’s lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.
SH**GED Saturday nights out on the tiles, undying crushes, dating like it's a competitive sport, awkward tales of dating woes, one-night stands, the walk of shame, ghosting, tears and break-ups. MARRIED Finding 'the one', meeting their parents, first holidays and romantic weekends away, engagement rings, big moment proposals, wedding bells, the hen do, the stag, the much anticipated - and feared - best man speech, the honeymoon of a lifetime. ANNOYED Who stacks a dishwasher like this? Empty milk cartons placed back into the fridge, pregnancy, sleepless nights, toilet seats up, toothpaste everywhere, less and less frequent date nights, DIY weekends, divorce. Whether you're sh**ged, married, annoyed, or, all of the above, Chris and Rosie Ramsey, hosts of the number one podcast, write hilariously and with honesty about the ups and downs and ins and outs of love, sex and relationships.
Ant and Dec hold a special place in the hearts of TV viewers everywhere. This is their epic story, with never-before-seen photography and the very best tales from their 30 years in TV. Ant: As the old Chinese proverb says, 'Good things come in pairs'. Dec: And as another Chinese proverb says, 'If you've been in a double act with your best mate for thirty years, why not write a book about all your most memorable moments in three decades of showbusiness?' Ant: Less catchy that one, isn't it? Dec: But no less true. And after three decades together, we're writing that book. Covering everything from a pirate radio storyline in Byker Grove through to the biggest shows on telly, this is our story. Ant: Thirty years, eh? Amazing. Dec: Absolutely. Especially when you consider we are both still 27 years old. From their modest beginnings in Byker Grove through to their unique time as pop stars and an award-laden TV career, the last three decades have flown by in the blink of an eye. They've also featured an incredible cast of supporting characters, including their first scriptwriter (an unknown comedian called David Walliams), Saturday night fun and games with countless Hollywood A-listers, and celebrities they torture - sorry, work with - every year in the jungle. Told through the lens of every TV show they've made, as well as everything they've learnt along the way, this is the riotously funny journey of two ordinary lads from Newcastle who went on to achieve extraordinary things.
NO.1 BESTSELLER ANT MIDDLETON SHARES HIS SECRETS ABOUT HIS POSITIVE MINDSET AND TEACHES YOU TO LIVE A LIFE WITH ZERO NEGATIVITY There are times when life feels like it has you cornered: financial difficulties, relationship issues, work problems, all of the above. Every one of us, at one time or another, will have to face up to the challenges that come our way. And there are two ways of meeting them: negatively, where blame is the answer, where other people are at fault, where you haven't been treated fairly. Or positively, where you own the situation, learn and grow from it, and become a better person at the end of it. Letting you into areas of his life he's never talked about before, in Zero Negativity, Ant will show you how to embrace failure and use it to your advantage, how to see change as the foundation of your future success, how to develop resilience, how to deal with bullies, what it means to be a positive roll model, and how to live a life with no regrets. This book will not tell you who to be, where you should live, or what job you should do. That's up to you. What this book is for, however, is to give you the tools you need to become the best possible version of yourself, to own who and what you are, and to live your life with Zero Negativity.
This is a story of mothers. This is a story of daughters. This is a story of the trauma we carry and the trauma we tend to. So begins this multigenerational memoir that explores the author's maternal history of repeated trauma, separation, adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and their impact on mental health. Set against a twenty-year dialogue with her mother Barbara who suffers from long undiagnosed PTSD, author Elizabeth Wilcox opens her maternal history with the birth of her illegitimate grandmother Violet to a German house servant outside London in 1904. With her mother's encouragement, Wilcox goes on to trace the lives of her grandmother Violet and her mother Barbara, both of whom are deeply impacted by maternal separation and the complex trauma they have endured. Violet undergoes multiple separations: from her mother until the age of six, from her German Jewish stepfather during WWI at the age of ten, and from her own three-year-old daughter Barbara when her family escapes without her from Holland during Hitler's invasion. Later put on a train to Wales with her eighteen-month-old brother Neville during Operation Pied Piper, Barbara also tragically endures an itinerant childhood characterized by maternal separation, foster homes, boarding schools, and abuse. Through a dual timeline that is both present day and historic, Wilcox weaves together these documented and imagined voices of the women who precede her, while using her experience as a journalist and writer in the field of early childhood education and mental health to explore the impact of adverse childhood experiences on adult wellbeing and mental health. Through her work and her mother Barbara who has successfully raised seven children despite her difficult past, Wilcox also shows what it means to parent with intention, forgiveness and unconditional love.
Aunt Munca never told the truth about anything. Calling herself after the mouse in a Beatrix Potter story, she was already a figure of mystery during the childhood of her nephew Ferdinand Mount. Half a century later, a series of startling revelations sets him off on a tortuous quest to find out who this extraordinary millionairess really was. What he discovers is shocking and irretrievably sad, involving multiple deceptions, false identities and abandonments. The story leads us from the back streets of Sheffield at the end of the Victorian age to the highest echelons of English society between the wars. Kiss Myself Goodbye is both an enchanting personal memoir like the author's bestselling Cold Cream, and a voyage into a vanished moral world. An unconventional tale of British social history told backwards, its cryptic and unforgettable protagonist Munca joins the ranks of memorable aunts in literature, from Dickens' Betsy Trotwood to Graham Greene's Aunt Augusta.
Most murders are not difficult to solve. People are usually killed by someone they know, there is usually abundant evidence and the police methods used to investigate this type of crime are highly effective. But what about the more difficult cases, where the investigation involves an unusual death, an unusual killer, or is complex or politically charged? In these cases, bringing the accused before the courts can take many years, even then, the outcome may be contentious or unresolved. In this compelling and chilling memoir, Jim Fraser draws on his personal experience as a forensic scientist and cold case reviewer to give a unique insight into some of the most notable cases that he has investigated during his forty-year career, including the deaths of Rachel Nickell, Damilola Taylor and Gareth Williams, the GCHQ code breaker. Inviting the reader into the forensic scientist's micro-world, Murder Under the Microscope reveals not only how each of these cases unfolded as a human, investigative and scientific puzzle, but also why some were solved and why others remain unsolved or controversial even to this day.
London, 1938. Alma Fielding, an ordinary young woman, begins to experience supernatural events in her suburban home. Nandor Fodor - a Jewish-Hungarian refugee and chief ghost hunter for the International Institute for Psychical research - begins to investigate. In doing so he discovers a different and darker type of haunting: trauma, alienation, loss - and the foreshadowing of a nation's worst fears. As the spectre of Fascism lengthens over Europe, and as Fodor's obsession with the case deepens, Alma becomes ever more disturbed. With rigour, daring and insight, the award-winning pioneer of historical narrative non-fiction Kate Summerscale shadows Fodor's enquiry, delving into long-hidden archives to find the human story behind a very modern haunting.
Instagram phenomenon @1bike1world Dean Nicholson reveals the full story of his life-changing friendship with rescue cat Nala and their inspiring adventures together on a bike journey around the world. When 30-year-old Dean Nicholson set off from Scotland to cycle around the world, his aim was to learn as much as he could about our troubled planet. But he hadn't bargained on the lessons he'd learn from his unlikely companion. Three months after leaving home, on a remote road in the mountains between Montenegro and Bosnia, he came across an abandoned kitten. Something about the piercing eyes and plaintive meowing of the bedraggled little cat proved irresistible. He couldn't leave her to her fate, so he put her on his bike and then, with the help of local vets, nursed her back to health. Soon on his travels with the cat he named Nala, they forged an unbreakable bond - both curious, independent, resilient and adventurous. The video of how they met has had 20 million views and their Instagram has grown to almost 750k followers - and still counting! Experiencing the kindness of strangers, visiting refugee camps, rescuing animals through Europe and Asia, Dean and Nala have already learned that the unexpected can be pretty amazing. Together with Garry Jenkins, writer with James Bowen of the bestselling A Street Cat Named Bob, Dean shares the extraordinary tale of his and Nala's inspiring and heart-warming adventure together.
A journey inside the submarines that patrolled beneath the surface to keep the peace during the Cold War, from a Royal Navy officer and engineer. During the Cold War, nuclear submarines quietly helped prevent a third world war, keeping watch and maintaining the deterrent effect of mutually assured destruction. For security reasons, very few knew the inside stories—until now. Eric Thompson is a career nuclear submarine officer who served from the first days of the Polaris missile boats until after the Cold War, ending up as the top engineer in charge of the Navy’s nuclear power plants. Along the way, he helped develop all manner of kit, from guided torpedoes to the Trident ballistic missile system. In this vivid personal account of his submarine operations, he reveals what it was like to literally have your finger on the nuclear button. He leads the reader through top-secret submarine patrols, hush-hush scientific trials, underwater weapon developments, public relations battles with nuclear protesters, arm wrestling with politicians, and the changes surrounding gender and sexual preference in the Navy. It is essentially a human story, rich in both drama and comedy, like the Russian spy trawler that played dance music at passing submarines. There was never a dull moment—but it was always a deadly serious game. Among other subjects, Thompson discusses: • The two American nuclear submarines Thresher and Scorpion, which sank with no survivors during the Cold War • The history of submarines, including the Hunley a Confederate submarine during the US Civil War, which was the first sub to ever sink a ship—though it did so kamikaze-style • What a submarine base is like • How a Soviet sub in the Mediterranean was flushed out, earning the crew a crate of champagne from America • The author’s personal experience with the Polaris and Trident classes of submarine, and more
In The Museum Makers Rachel Morris, director of museum company Metaphor, plots an enthralling personal and professional journey from finding a box of family belongings beneath her bed, to the beating heart of Bloomsbury’s bohemian circles in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This journey is underpinned by the very essence of what museums are and do: “Museum-making is about sorting often quite ordinary objects to make meaningful patterns out of the muddle and confusion of the universe; thoughtful, beautiful patterns that have something to say. Museums are where we go to make sense of the world and the pasts that have gone. And what we do in museums we also do with our own histories.” Which is exactly what Morris does when she digs into the contents of the box and is led to discover secrets about her father, Gran, and great-grandmother Nona, which she curates into her Museum of Me. Illuminated by the power of objects to stir memories, and to make sense of oneself, the journey also delves into women’s involvement with, and relationship to, museums: “Museums have a special appeal for women whether as places to work in or as places to visit.” While men may have curated early museums (as an extension of their curation of the world), women were key collectors, donors and fundraisers from those nascent days. At once an absorbing history of museums, and a profoundly personal memoir of detection and discovery, this has all the delightful universal appeal of a cabinet of curiosity.
“Forty-six days, thirteen states, 3000 miles”. Documenting the author’s solo coast-to-coast road-trip across America, David Reynolds’s Slow Road to San Francisco is an absolute joy. An entertaining blend of observation and commentary delivered with a luminous lightness of touch. Buckle up for read that’s radiant with the author’s wit, charm and keen eye for people and place - everything you’d want from an on-the-road companion. Beginning on the Atlantic Coast and winding up on San Francisco’s Pacific Coast - “because Europeans landed on the east coast of the landmass that they named America, and moved slowly west until they reached the other side” - the author’s journey across Route 50 documents edifying encounters that reveal as much about America and the world as they do about the individuals themselves. Though Route 50 is known as the loneliest road in America (and it’s one of the few remaining two-lane highways in the country), Reynolds is never short of people to talk to. Through conversations with bartenders, gas station attendants and motel staff, and the assorted personalities he meets in bars, cafés and museums along the route (among them war veterans, judges and friendly bikers), it truly feels like you’re on the road with him. Peeling back layers of Native American history, slave history and contemporary politics (everyone the author meets has something to say about Trump, and often Brexit too), usually with a glass of IPA to hand, this is life-affirming, enlightening stuff. Perhaps what stands out above all else is a generosity of spirit, both on the part of the people who freely share their time, opinions and tables with Reynolds, and on the part of the author himself. Like all the best road-trips, I didn’t want this ride to end.
When news of the budding romance between a beloved English prince and an American actress broke, it captured the world's attention and sparked an international media frenzy. But while the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have continued to make headlines - from their engagement, wedding, and birth of their son Archie to their unprecedented decision to step back from their royal lives - few know the true story of Harry and Meghan. For the very first time, FINDING FREEDOM goes beyond the headlines to reveal unknown details of Harry and Meghan's life together, dispelling the many rumours and misconceptions that plague the couple on both sides of the pond. As members of the select group of reporters that cover the British Royal Family and their engagements, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand have witnessed the young couple's lives as few outsiders can. With unique access and written with the participation of those closest to the couple, FINDING FREEDOM is an honest, up-close, and disarming portrait of a confident, influential, and forward-thinking couple who are unafraid to break with tradition, determined to create a new path away from the spotlight, and dedicated to building a humanitarian legacy that will make a profound difference in the world.
A remarkable, fascinating, and harrowing insight into the leaders of a doomed network of antifascists based in Germany during the Second World War. Although written in the present tense this is not a fictional account. Norman Ohler has combined his: “skills as a storyteller with the responsibility of the historian” to create this powerful book which has been translated by Tim Mohr and Marshall Yarbrough. There is a Memorial to the German Resistance in Berlin, with a room housing information found over decades of research by a descendent of one of the group; it is full of letters, photos, files, diaries, and interrogation transcripts which have been used here. In the summer of 1935 Harro Schulze-Boyson and Libertas Haas-Heye met, they went on to lead a resistance group and a jigsaw of their backgrounds, history, beliefs, and what made them so willing to put their lives at risk, begins to piece together. The photos added even more of an emotional connection, I found myself drawn in, trying to see into the minds of this remarkable pair. I want to thank Norman Ohler, The Infiltrators is an important burning slice of history that must never be forgotten. Chosen as a Liz Robinson pick of the month, all I can say is that I truly believe you should read this book.
An unsettling, thought-provoking read detailing the life, murder, and investigation of the murder of Beryl Evans and her young daughter during the 1940’s. Two men were separately found guilty and hanged, however this was not a simple case. The first conviction was thrown into doubt and here, Beryl’s younger brother, now in his 80’s tells what he believes is the true story of what happened to his sister. This is a murder that is still well known today, you may have heard of Timothy Evans and John Christie, much has been written and speculated about. Be aware, this isn’t an easy read, it is incredibly personal, traumatic, and I suggest it is read with respect for the families concerned. As Peter Thorley’s wife says in her foreword, they have been though tormenting times, the theories remain contentious and doubts linger. This is simply told, with Peter stating it is based on his: “own experiences, research, official documents and firm beliefs about what happened at 10 Rillington Place”. While presented as fact, this is, as the author states, his truth. From experiences of evacuation through the war, to the days of the murder and later investigation, there are occasions when this account is a little disjointed, it always though, rings with strong heartfelt emotion. This acts as a stark reminder as to who is actually writing the story, and that in times of violence, lives are forever altered. My heart breaks for the author who has spent his life gathering information to try to establish the truth. ** Please note: within the pages there is an extremely graphic and disturbing photo of Beryl’s body after it was found by police.**
Chosen as a LoveReading Star Book, this is an engaging and absolutely riveting read following the memories of two sisters during the Second World War. Pat and Jean Owtram were still teenagers when the war began and signed up as soon as they were old enough, with Pat intercepting German radio and Jean becoming a Code and Cipher Officer. Each sister tells her own story in sequence, with letters to each other and family members adding a real insight into their lives and the times. Having signed the Official Secrets Act, they were unable to divulge their roles even to each other, but nonetheless the actual letters reveal their courage, resilience, and spirit. It is fascinating to discover that both women owed their wartime duties to their fluency in German, a skill that was honed after their family had taken in two Austrian Jewish refugees. I am intrigued by the world of intelligence, so found this a compelling read. It is the little things, such as Jean nearly not passing on a seemingly irrelevant yet vital piece of information that makes this so fascinating. Their wartime work shaped the women they became and I want to hand on heart, salute them both. Codebreaking Sisters is a worthwhile, truly lovely and enthralling read I can highly recommend.
There are people who just read biographies, interested only in the details of the lives of real people. There are others, like us, who enjoy dipping a toe, every now and then, into the deep inviting waters of the biography pool, to see first-hand the experiences of a person, past or present, who captures our imagination or pique’s our interest. From the First Man on the Moon to the latest winner of a jungle-based reality TV programme; sport-star to leading politician; religious leader to Arctic explorer, the choice is vast!
Want more inspiration? Head to our 'Best Autobiographies Ever' blog post filled with recommendations from our bookish friends.