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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.
TWO YOUNG MEN WITH EXPECTATIONS. ONE PREDICTED TO SUCCEED, THE OTHER TO FAIL... Prince Albert Victor is heir presumptive to the British throne at its late Victorian zenith. Handsome and good-hearted, he is regarded as disastrously inadequate to be the king. By contrast, Jem Stephen is a golden boy worshipped by all - a renowned intellectual and the Keeper and outstanding player of the famous Eton Wall Game. He is appointed as Prince Albert's tutor at Cambridge - the relationship that will change both of their lives. 'A gilded cast of characters parades through this sumptuous tale. A clever mixture of history, psychology and sex.' - Alastair Stewart OBE, ITN anchor
No one is born a leader. But through sheer determination and by confronting life's challenges, Ant Middleton has come to know the meaning of true leadership. In First Man In, he shares the core lessons he's learned over the course of his fascinating, exhilarating life. Special forces training is no walk in the park. The rules are strict and they make sure you learn the hard way, pushing you beyond the limits of what is physically possible. There is no mercy. Even when you are bleeding and broken, to admit defeat is failure. To survive the gruelling selection process to become a member of the elite you need toughness, aggression, meticulous attention to detail and unrelenting self-discipline, all traits that make for the best leaders. After 13 years service in the military, with 4 years as a Special Boat Service (SBS) sniper, Ant Middleton is the epitome of what it takes to excel. He served in the SBS, the naval wing of the special forces, the Royal Marines and 9 Parachute Squadron Royal, achieving what is known as the `Holy Trinity' of the UK's Elite Forces. As a point man in the SBS, Ant was always the first man through the door, the first man into the dark, and the first man in harm's way. In this fascinating, exhilarating and revealing book, Ant speaks about the highs and gut-wrenching lows of his life - from the thrill of passing Special Forces Selection to dealing with the early death of his father and ending up in prison on leaving the military - and draws valuable lessons that we can all use in our daily lives.
An unforgettable memoir of growing up in Syria under al-Assad's regime, surviving a gas attack, and rallying worldwide support to break the siege of cities across the country, with a foreword by Janine di Giovanni Chosen for the Big Issue's Best Summer Non-fiction 2018 Born to Palestinian refugees, Kassem Eid grew up in the small town of Moadamiya on the outskirts of the ancient city of Damascus. The streets that he and his many siblings played on were perfumed with jasmine. A precocious child, he excelled at school, and had a natural gift for languages. But it didn't take long for Kassem to realise that he was treated differently at school because of his family's resistance to the brutal government regime. When Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father in 2000, hopes that he would ease its severity were swiftly crushed. When the 2011 Arab Spring protests in Syria were met with extreme violence, it was yet another blow - and as Kassem reached young adulthood, life in Syria became increasingly precarious, as the country spiralled into civil war. Then, on 21 August 2013, Kassem nearly died in a sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians. Later that day, he would pick up a gun for the first time, to join the Free Syrian Army as they fought government forces. For Kassem, this marked the moment that he and his country changed forever. A searing account of oppression, war, survival and escape, My Country is both a brave and deeply felt memoir of one man's life, as well as a compelling indictment of a world that turned its face away as a nation fell apart.
Finding herself in a new home in Brighton, Kate Bradbury sets about transforming her decked, barren backyard into a beautiful wildlife garden. She documents the unbuttoning of the earth and the rebirth of the garden, the rewilding of a tiny urban space. On her own she unscrews, saws and hammers the decking away, she clears the builders' rubble and rubbish beneath it, and she digs and enriches the soil, gradually planting it up with plants she knows will attract wildlife. She erects bird boxes and bee hotels, hangs feeders and grows nectar - and pollen-rich plants, and slowly brings life back to the garden. But while she's doing this Kate's neighbours continue to pave and deck their gardens locking them away, the wildlife she tries to save is further threatened, and she feels she's fighting an uphill battle. Is there any point in gardening for wildlife when everyone else is drowning the land in poison and cement? Sadly, events take Kate away from her garden, and she finds herself back home in Birmingham where she grew up, travelling the roads she used to race down on her bike in the eighties, thinking of the gardens and wildlife she loved, witnessing more land lost beneath paving stones. If the dead could return, what would they say about the land we have taken, the ancient routes we have carved up, the wildlife we have lost?
I think all of us at some time in our lives when we reach a certain age worry a little about cancer. I think the thought, “how will I react” crosses our minds occasionally. That this brave lady chooses to make her ordeal so public, she produced video diaries and tweets and now her written diary, has helped thousands. At the end of the book she encloses some messages of thanks, a few from those who didn’t make it. It is tear-jerking but it is also laced with humour. Throughout, whenever possible, she kept working, collecting the kids from school and running her hectic household with the enormous support of her wonderful partner. During the end stages of thirty sessions of chemo, she had to drive forty-odd miles round trip between work and school collection for a ten minute appointment her local hospital couldn’t do. Well she was certainly a fighter, although that is not what she calls herself. She believed talking about it really helped alleviate the fear and despair. She was diagnosed shortly after she started hosting a daily news and current affairs show for BBC2 and takes us through her fascinating work as well as the 301 days of treatment. A brave lady.
'Shocking and entertaining. The surprising story of the campaigning women who changed Britain.' Virginia Nicholson When Mrs Pankhurst stormed the House of Commons with her crack squad of militant suffragettes in 1908, she wore on her hat a voluptuous purple feather. This is the intriguing story behind that feather. Twelve years before the suffragette movement began dominating headlines, a very different women's campaign captured the public imagination. Its aim was radical: to stamp out the fashion for feathers in hats. Leading the fight was a character just as heroic as Emmeline Pankhurst, but with opposite beliefs. Her name was Etta Lemon, and she was anti-fashion, anti-feminist - and anti-suffrage. Mrs Lemon has been forgotten by history, but her mighty society lives on. Few, today, are aware that Britain's biggest conservation charity, the RSPB, was born through the determined efforts of a handful of women, led by the indomitable Mrs Lemon. While the suffragettes were slashing paintings and smashing shop windows, Etta Lemon and her local secretaries were challenging `murderous millinery' all the way up to Parliament. This gripping narrative explores two singular heroines - one lionised, the other forgotten - and their rival, overlapping campaigns. Moving from the feather workers' slums to the highest courtly circles, from the first female political rally to the first forcible feeding, Mrs Pankhurst's Purple Feather is a unique journey through a society in transformation. This is a highly original story of women stepping into the public sphere, agitating for change - and finally finding a voice.
`The American girl has the advantage of her English sister in that she possesses all that the other lacks...' - Titled Americans On 6th November 1895, the young and brilliant heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt wedded the near-bankrupt Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough. A dazzling yet miserable match was made - one which glittered above all others for high society's unofficial marriage brokers who, in a single year, initiated and manipulated a series of spectacular transatlantic pairings. Injecting millions of dollars into the ailing aristocracy; fame, money, power and prestige were all at play. Characterised by scandal, illicit affairs, spurned loves and unexpected deaths, The Million Dollar Duchesses reveals the machinations which led to these most influential matches between America's heiresses and Britain's elite. The Gilded Age was a tumultuous period for society's most eligible.
BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week Benjamin Zephaniah, who has travelled the world for his art and his humanitarianism, now tells the one story that encompasses it all: the story of his life. In the early 1980s when punks and Rastas were on the streets protesting about unemployment, homelessness and the National Front, Benjamin's poetry could be heard at demonstrations, outside police stations and on the dance floor. His mission was to take poetry everywhere, and to popularise it by reaching people who didn't read books. His poetry was political, musical, radical and relevant. By the early 1990s, Benjamin had performed on every continent in the world (a feat which he achieved in only one year) and he hasn't stopped performing and touring since. Nelson Mandela, after hearing Benjamin's tribute to him while he was in prison, requested an introduction to the poet that grew into a lifelong relationship, inspiring Benjamin's work with children in South Africa. Benjamin would also go on to be the first artist to record with The Wailers after the death of Bob Marley in a musical tribute to Nelson Mandela. The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah is a truly extraordinary life story which celebrates the power of poetry and the importance of pushing boundaries with the arts.
April 2018 Book of the Month A searingly honest memoir of the uplifting highs and crushing lows of a life spent policing on the front line. A Sunday Times top-five bestseller 'This is a remarkable book . . . profound and deeply moving . . . It has as much to tell us about mental illness as it does about policing' Alastair Stewart A candid, objective, cooly passionate, and often unsettling account of policing from a police officer. John Sutherland joined the Met in 1992 aged 22, we see snapshots of his life as an officer, as he progresses up the career ladder, as he deals with all the horrors and glory a life in blue has to offer. From the very first page my attention was sucked in whole, I come from a family of blue, married blue, and spent 20 years as a member of police support staff. Even then, I was on the edge of understanding, I didn't ever have to run towards danger, tell someone a loved one had died, sit with death, experience the bitter lows, the jubilant highs of being a police officer, yet John Sutherland takes you there. As we read we step in and out of a series of events that have all added up to create this man, it isn’t a glittery or gory descriptive feast, but it doesn't have to be, he simply and clearly gives you a connection, and an understanding that under that uniform is flesh and blood and feelings. One thing is abundantly clear, this man loves his job, he feels the continued effort is worth it, and yet it very nearly broke him. It is truly captivating, whether you nod, smile wryly, and wish he could have been your boss, or feel the shock and admiration as you learn what our police are exposed to day after day. ‘Blue A Memoir’ is a worthwhile and fascinating read, I really do recommend it with my heart and soul. John has written an epilogue to his story, which has been included in the paperback of ‘Blue A Memoir’. He speaks with his normal good sense, and he has the remarkable ability to put into words the thoughts and feelings so many officers struggle to properly articulate. He speaks from the heart, and his words made me cry. I wish him every success in his future, and whatever path he decides to explore, I’m quite sure to the many who know him, follow him on twitter, and read his blog, he will forever remain a true inspiration. Liz visited the Chiddingstone Castle Literary Fesitval where John Sutherland gave a talk. To read more about the festival, head over to her Blog Post.
97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you. Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay's This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know - and more than a few things you didn't - about life on and off the hospital ward. This edition includes extra diary entries and a new afterword by the author.
In his forthcoming book, former FBI director James Comey shares his never-before-told experiences from some of the highest-stakes situations of his career in the past two decades of American government, exploring what good, ethical leadership looks like, and how it drives sound decisions. His journey provides an unprecedented entry into the corridors of power, and a remarkable lesson in what makes an effective leader. Mr. Comey served as director of the FBI from 2013 to 2017, appointed to the post by President Barack Obama. He previously served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and the U.S. deputy attorney general in the administration of President George W. Bush. From prosecuting the Mafia and Martha Stewart to helping change the Bush administration's policies on torture and electronic surveillance, overseeing the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation as well as ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, Comey has been involved in some of the most consequential cases and policies of recent history.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2018 What was I fighting for? Even now I'm not sure. Something so old and so deep, it has no words, no shape, no logic. Every memoir is a battle between reality and invention - but in her follow up to Clothes, Music, Boys, Viv Albertine has reinvented the genre with her unflinching honesty. To Throw Away Unopened is a fearless dissection of one woman's obsession with the truth - the truth about family, power, and her identity as a rebel and outsider. It is a gaping wound of a book, both an exercise in blood-letting and psychological archaeology, excavating what lies beneath: the fear, the loneliness, the anger. It is a brutal expose of human dysfunctionality, the impossibility of true intimacy, and the damage wrought upon us by secrets and revelations, siblings and parents. Yet it is also a testament to how we can rebuild ourselves and come to face the world again. It is a portrait of the love stories that constitute a life, often bringing as much pain as joy. With the inimitable blend of humour, vulnerability, and intelligence that makes Viv Albertine one of our finest authors working today, To Throw Away Unopened smashes through layers of propriety and leads us into a new place of savage self-discovery. LONGLISTED FOR THE GORDON BURN PRIZE
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!