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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.
Michael Parkinson and George Best faced one another countless times in interviews. Their conversations were mutually respectful, even intimate, yet always brimming with searching questions and revealing answers. The great Manchester United and Northern Ireland attacker - one of the few sports personalities to merit the term 'iconic' - was almost always candid, lucid and self-effacing. Alcoholism had him in its grip from an early age, affecting the love affairs that fed the tabloid headlines, but there was far more to Best than booze and birds. In George Best: A Memoir, Michael Parkinson draws upon decades of award-winning journalistic experience to re-evaluate a remarkable footballer and a damaged friend. The book weaves together recollections of when the 'the fifth Beatle' ensured it was Manchester, not London or Liverpool, which made the Sixties swing; of Best enjoying a carefree kickabout with the Parkinsons' children in the family garden; and selected transcripts from their endlessly fascinating interviews. 'Where did it all go wrong?' is the punchline to a famous Best story. George Best: A Memoir provides Michael Parkinson's considered response to the question while bringing fresh insight into the footballing genius that made Best one of the immortals and the self-destructive side of his character.
I was dying to read this book and it did not disappoint. It is an incredible story, beautifully told with humour and warmth and I could almost hear Michelle reading it to me as I flew through the pages. One of the most iconic women of our era, it was fascinating to read her story, and understand her journey from the South Side of Chicago to her time spent in The White House as First Lady. I didn’t know much about her background previously and hers is a powerful story of humble beginnings and outstanding achievements leading to Princeton University and Harvard Law, to her early career as a lawyer at the law firm Sidley Austin where she met Barack Obama. Her intelligence and grace shines from every page and I was enthralled as she took us on her journey with Barack from law to the Presidency and seeing the development of their relationship every step of the way. A captivating read. Deborah Maclaren, from our Best Autobiographies Ever Blog
Penguin presents the audiobook edition of Becoming by Michelle Obama. An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America - the first African-American to serve in that role - she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare. In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her - from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it - in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations - and whose story inspires us to do the same.
Oxenbury is an amazing illustrator, who has given us many of the well-loved classics of childhood reading. Here is an honest, beautifully illustrated look at the life of a modern illustrator, and her life. A book to read, to dip into and to just enjoy. Tricia Adams, from our Best Autobiographies Ever Blog. An outstanding book for everyone who has enjoyed We’re Going on a Bear Hunt or any of Helen Oxenbury’s other wonderful books from her board books capturing the smallest details of toddler life to her witty and sophisticated illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Distinguished children’s book critic Leonard S. Marcus takes reader’s behind the scenes of Oxenbury’s life as he recounts the major moments which mark out her career of such exceptional originality and sets it firmly within the publishing context of the period. The wealth of Oxenbury’s exquisite illustrations that have been reproduced in the highest possible quality make it a book that gives hours of enjoyment and inspiration.
This extraordinary story of Tara Westover just blew my mind. Tara was raised in rural Idaho, in a household entrenched in poverty, so removed from society and controlled by a father with rigid religious beliefs and to top it all off an abusive brother. Despite not entering a classroom until she was 17, through education, self-education Tara triumphs with her finally earning her doctorate at Cambridge. This is her story of reinvention, of her finding her feet and her voice after such a traumatic start in life. This is an inspiring tale from one incredible individual and although it was difficult to read and comprehend in parts, I could not put it down.
This is a true story. The events depicted took place during the last decade in an unnamed warzone. The names and locations have been redacted to protect the security of those involved and the practices of the British Special Forces. Out of respect for the KIA and survivors, everything else has been told as it happened.... Jason Fox served with the SBS for over a decade, thriving on the close bonds of the Special Forces brotherhood and the 'death or glory' nature of their missions. Battle Scars tells the story of his career as an elite operator, from the gunfights, hostage rescues, daring escapes and heroic endeavours that defined his service to a battle of a very different kind: the psychological devastation of combat that ultimately forced him to leave the military and the hard reality of what takes place in the mind of a man once a career of imagined invincibility has come to an end. Unflinchingly honest, Battle Scars is a breathtaking account of Special Forces soldiering: a chronicle of operational bravery and of superhuman courage on and off the battlefield.
Hollywood legend and British national treasure Michael Caine shares the wisdom, stories, insight and skills that life has taught him in his remarkable career - and now his 85th year. One of our best-loved actors Michael Caine has starred in a huge range of films - including all-time favourites - from the classic British movies Alfie, Zulu and The Italian Job to the Hollywood blockbusting Dark Knight trilogy, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Hannah and Her Sisters and Cider House Rules. Caine has excelled in every kind of role - with a skill that's made it look easy. He knows what success takes - he's made it to the top of his profession from the toughest beginning. But as he says 'Small parts can lead to big things. And if you keep doing things right, the stars will align when you least expect it.' Now in his 85th year he wants to share everything he's learned. With brilliant new insight into his life and work and with his wonderful gift for story, this is Caine at his wise and entertaining best.
The final book from Professor Stephen Hawking, the bestselling author of A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME and arguably the most famous scientist of our age, BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS is a profound, accessible and timely reflection on the biggest questions in science. The world-famous cosmologist and #1 bestselling author of A Brief History of Time leaves us with his final thoughts on the universe's biggest questions in this brilliant posthumous work. Is there a God? How did it all begin? Can we predict the future? What is inside a black hole? Is there other intelligent life in the universe? Will artificial intelligence outsmart us? How do we shape the future? Will we survive on Earth? Should we colonise space? Is time travel possible? Throughout his extraordinary career, Stephen Hawking expanded our understanding of the universe and unravelled some of its greatest mysteries. But even as his theoretical work on black holes, imaginary time and multiple histories took his mind to the furthest reaches of space, Hawking always believed that science could also be used to fix the problems on our planet. And now, as we face potentially catastrophic changes here on Earth - from climate change to dwindling natural resources to the threat of artificial super-intelligence - Stephen Hawking turns his attention to the most urgent issues for humankind. Wide-ranging, intellectually stimulating, passionately argued, and infused with his characteristic humour, BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS, the final book from one of the greatest minds in history, is a personal view on the challenges we face as a human race, and where we, as a planet, are heading next.
The name Kamal Ahmed wasn’t familiar to me when I was first introduced to this book. It should have been. In my defence, I would argue that, as I watch little television, I may be forgiven. The case against me, however, would certainly point out that since one of my favourite programmes is BBC News – where Kamal has, since 2016, regularly appeared in his role as Economics Editor – I really ought to have recognised him. Hopefully, I will be forgiven. Kamal Ahmed is a first generation descendent of a Sudanese immigrant father. I am third generation, through my grandmother’s family who come from South Africa – they were Xhosa and, I learned many years ago, from the same tribe as Nelson Mandela. And so, it was with an ever-increasing sense of déjà vu that I became absorbed by this book. Through a series of personal anecdotes, political comment and astute observations, The Life and Times of a Very British Man makes a compelling case for a new debate about what is it to be British, what makes us who we are and how we view those we consider to be ‘others’. I don’t use the word ‘absorbed’ lightly. Kamal is a talented writer, something apparent from the very first pages. He uses language skilfully, not so much to impress, but to present his arguments logically and passionately. He is perceptive, reasoning and persuasive. And he is absolutely right as he asks the reader to consider what it is that makes us British? Kamal Ahmed. Not a terribly British name is it? That antithesis is, perhaps, something that makes the title of this work so germane. What is it to be British? To quote the author, he likes National Trust Houses, the Specials, Victoria sponge cake and double-cooked chips. What is it that makes us feel British? At times disturbing, at times amusing, The Life and Times of a Very British Man asks searching questions about us, our country and our attitude to change. One day I hope to meet Kamal Ahmed and explain to him how, as I reached the end of this book, I realised a complete stranger had become a friend. I hope it does the same for you. I recommend it.
A powerful, heart-warming and inspiring memoir from the UK's most famous and beloved vet, Professor Noel Fitzpatrick - star of the Channel 4 series The Supervet.Growing up on the family farm in Ballyfin, Ireland, Noel's childhood was spent tending to the cattle and sheep, the hay and silage, the tractors and land, his beloved sheepdog Pirate providing solace from the bullies that plagued him at school. It was this bond with Pirate, and a fateful night spent desperately trying to save a newborn lamb, that inspired Noel to enter the world of veterinary science - and set him on the path to becoming The Supervet. Now, in this long-awaited memoir, Noel recounts this often-surprising journey that sees him leaving behind a farm animal practice in rural Ireland to set up Fitzpatrick Referrals in Surrey, one of the most advanced small animal specialist centres in the world. We meet the animals that paved the way, from calving cows and corralling bullocks to talkative parrots and bionic cats and dogs. Noel has listened to the many lessons that the animals in his care have taught him, and especially the times he has shared with his beloved Keira, the scruffy Border Terrier who has been by Noel's side as he's dealt with the unbelievable highs and crushing lows of his extraordinary career. As heart-warming and life-affirming as the TV show with which he made his name, Listening to the Animals is a story of love, hope and compassion, and about rejoicing in the bond between humans and animals that makes us the very best we can be.
In the early twentieth century, a teenage Greek girl in Constantinople loses both her parents and, together with her younger sister, gets thrown into a massive population exchange between Greece and Turkey. She ends up in a refugee camp in northern Greece. With determination she creates a life in her new country, becoming a teacher in a small mountain town near Greeces northwestern borders with Albania and Yugoslavia. She meets and marries a young lawyer from a historic and tragic Macedonian family. Her story extends through a century of war and peace and is peppered with likable characters, horrific events, and a love story. Among the protagonists are two strong women, a charming and indomitable man, and a smart but sickly kid. Now and again her drive, perseverance, and common sense will save the day and reward her with happiness, which nevertheless will come and go like interludes of sunshine in otherwise endlessly stormy weather. The reader will also get candid and authentic glimpses on poorly known historical conflicts such as the Balkan Wars, the worlds greatest ethnic cleansing, the occupation loan that the Nazis exacted from Greece, the Greek Civil War, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and the dispute over the use of the name Macedonia.
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.