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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.
When you think of the slave trade I am sure you picture black Africans torn from their homes and cruelly treated in America, or maybe the Israelites in Ancient Egypt, but I don’t expect you picture the millions of white Europeans sold in the slave markets of North Africa in the 17th century. This is their story, action packed, extraordinary reading, gleaned from original diaries, journals and letters. I was surprised to discover the Moroccans invading the south coast of England in 1625 and the fact that it wasn’t until 1816 that the British fleet attacked Algiers.
Reporting from most of the hot spots during his 30 years of journalism, Jon has much to tell us which he spots with humour and personal comment. Frank, honest and revealing, it is a fascinating read.
Winner of History Book of the Year at the British Book Awards 2005 A perfect match of author and subject. I was privileged to be at a dinner where Hague spoke to the book trade, pre-publication. I can’t remember seeing an author so excited about his subject since I listened to Tim Smitt talk about the Eden Project. He was truly inspiring, a man in love with his subject who relates it here with drama, authority and wit.
Winner of the the Guardian First Book Award 2005 and Short listed for the Whitbread Biography Award. This extraordinary book is a glimpse at the underbelly of English society, a world largely hidden from our lives. Funny, despairing, uplifting, brilliantly-written, it is one of the most original biographies of recent years.
I would never have thought that the author of the bestselling Duncton Wood Chronicles had such a story to tell, although I knew it would be beautifully written. It contains haunting passages constructed with a spellbinding lyricism that continues to affect you long after you have turned the final page. Capturing life in 1950’s seaside England, its appeal lies in its ability to convey the central character’s aching desolation whilst surging you on through a strength of personal spirit that is impossible to resist. The back cover says it is ‘based’ on the author’s childhood; I believed every word.
`We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like, I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive ... ' Hunter S. Thompson is roaring down the desert highway to Las Vegas with his attorney, the Samoan, to find the dark side of the American Dream. Armed with a drug arsenal of stupendous proportions, the duo engage in a surreal succession of chemically enhanced confrontations with casino operators, police officers and assorted Middle Americans. This stylish reissue of Hunter S. Thompson's iconic masterpiece, a controversial bestseller when it appeared in 1971, features the brilliant Ralph Steadman illustrations of the original. It brings to a new generation the hallucinatory humour and nightmare terror of Hunter S. Thompson's musings on the collapse of the American Dream.
Mr Phinn is an Inspector of English in the Yorkshire Dales, he is also a great raconteur and his audience cannot help but be warmed, delighted, amused and touched by his seemingly inexhaustible fund of anecdotes. Yorkshire gave us James Herriot’s vetinary exploits, these, in a different vein, carry that humour and affection into the human species. This is the fourth and I can only assume we have lots more to come for here baby number one is due but in real time, Mr Phinn has four children. I look forward to each. Comparisons: James Herriot, Gerald Durrel, Miss Read.Similar this month: Alexander McCall Smith, John Lister-Kaye.
Winner of the Whitbread Book of the Year 2005. If you have ever wondered how anyone with such a tame, dull public image as Matisse could have painted such rich, powerfull, mysteriously moving pictures, let alone produced the radical cut-paper and stained glass inventions of his last years, here is the answer. They were made by the real Matisse, whose true story has been written down at last from start to finish by his biographer, Hilary Spurling.
This gripping book has all the power and emotion of Touching the Void. Jamie Andrew’s survival against incredible odds and his determination to recover is truly inspirational.
The tale of a remarkable 1838 expedition of six sailing ships, 346 men and four years spent surveying 280 Pacific islandsal novel that is highly topical, taut, witty and entertaining
The first life story of Stevenson to be written with access to his collected correspondence. Harmanâ€™s previous book (on Fanny Burney) was shortlisted for the Whitbread
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.