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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.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 20 January 2011. Power and the People is the second of four volumes, and covers the first two years of New Labour government, beginning with their landslide victory at the polls in 1997.
Alex Ferguson puts across some of the lessons he's learned during his long career in Football. Throughout the book he references football - the players, the money, the owners, the sheer pitfalls of running huge organisations. It's a path he steered for 38 years, the wisdom and insight gained provide invaluable learning tools for anyone in a position of leadership from a Junior Manager to a CEO. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like ReadingHow to Think Like Sir Alex Ferguson: The Business of Winning and Managing Success, Damian HughesWinners: And How They Succeed, Alastair Campbell Please note that we will not have an extract available to download from this title.
Sir Alex announced his retirement as manager of Manchester United after 27 years in the role. He has gone out in a blaze of glory, with United winning the Premier League for the 13th time, and he is widely considered to be the greatest manager in the history of British football. Over the last quarter of a century there have been seismic changes at Manchester United. The only constant element has been the quality of the manager's league-winning squad and United's run of success, which included winning the Champions League for a second time in 2008. Sir Alex created a purposeful, but welcoming, and much envied culture at the club which has lasted the test of time. Sir Alex saw Manchester United change from a conventional football club to what is now a major business enterprise, and he never failed to move with the times. It was directly due to his vision, energy and ability that he was able to build teams both on and off the pitch. He was a man-manager of phenomenal skill, and increasingly he had to deal with global stars. His relationship with Cristiano Ronaldo, for instance, was excellent and David Beckham has described Sir Alex as a father figure. Over the past four years, Sir Alex has been reflecting on and jotting down the highlights of his extraordinary career and in his new book he will reveal his amazing story as it unfolded, from his very early days in the tough shipyard areas of Govan.
June 2017 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. A truly touching, considered, and frank life story. In 1992 Rachel Nickell was sexually assaulted and stabbed 49 times in front of her nearly three year old son Alex while on Wimbledon Common. Alex now tells his story. I will confess to feeling trepidation before starting this tale, I didn't want to intrude, yet Alex invites you follow him through his life. While the focus is of course, on how that day has shaped him, the actions of the murderer are not graphically recounted. Alex is now a grown man, memories of that time and his childhood flicker, some strong, some relived with help. The actions of the press, and the police are examined, yet this isn’t a blame game, even though catastrophic and fatal errors were made. I raged, I felt pain, yet I also felt admiration, and wonderment as difficult choices were made while Alex and his father were in a world of pain and confusion. ‘Letting Go’ is at times a heartbreaking read, of course it is, yet it also compellingly celebrates life, love and family. ~ Liz Robinson
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 29 March 2012. This is the story of Alex James's transition from a leading light of the Britpop movement in the 1990s, to gentleman farmer, artisan cheese-maker and father of five.
As well as perfecting your stiff upper lip, the thoroughly English person might also want to get a bit out of their comfort zone in achieving their 102 English Things to Do. How about (after having a nice tea) a spot of rioting or, braving the weather, (cue the Shipping Forecast) try bottle-kicking or cheese-rolling. There are, I hasten to add, some far gentler things to try, apologising and saying please and thankyou a lot doesn’t take much effort and we can all fail to learn another language and eat fish and chips very easily. However, punting or climbing Scafell Pike are, at my age, a bit unlikely so I shall content myself with savouring an English apple but I absolutely refusing to do the very last challenge, boiling vegetables for as long as it takes to lose flavour, texture and colour – I mean to say - that’s just going too far. Like for Like Reading Watching the English: The Hidden Roles of English Behaviour, Kate Fox How to be an Alien: A Handbook for Beginners and Advanced Pupils, George Mikes
May 2016 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. A detective story, investigating the life of the person whose diaries – 148 of them at least – turned up in a skip in 2001. Who was this person, this I who had written every day for nearly 50 years? Alexander Masters determines to search out this “Life Discarded” making for a lively, poignant and most unusual biography of a person we don't immediately know the name of, don't know their sex or age even if they're dead or alive. Our vision of the diarist changes as Alexander Masters truffles out more facts, the perspective constantly shifting turning me into a compulsive reader longing to know the writer's identity. Never fear, all is revealed and I won't spoil it here except to say I doubt if there will be another biography quite like this one along for a long time, an extraordinary story of one of the most compulsive diarists of recent times. Like for Like Reading. The Boy in the Book: One Man's Adventure in Search of a Lost Childhood by Nathan Penlington. The Diaries of Nella Last: Writings in War and Peace Edited by Patricia and Robert Malcolmson
This is the comic and shocking history of Stuart Shorter- inadequate thief, hopeless hostage-taker and charming, disturbing raconteur.
A 2011 World Book Night selection. Read the endorsements on the cover and believe them, this is truly a tragic and unique biography. I love the style, right from the start you are caught up in this strange story and then I love the story itself. Although love is perhaps not the most appropriate word, for this is a tale of violence, crime, prison and alcohol as Alexander transcribes Stuart’s life – backwards. Funny, immensely sad and at times startling, it reads like fiction. Winner of the Guardian First Book Award and shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography Award (won by Hilary Spurling’s brilliant Matisse), I urge you to try it. A "Piece of Passion" from the publisher... This extraordinary book – winner of the Guardian First Book Award and adapted into a BBC film starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy – is a glimpse of the underbelly of English society, a world largely hidden from our lives. It is the story of a remarkable friendship between a reclusive writer and illustrator (‘a middle class scum ponce, if you want to be honest about it, Alexander’) and a chaotic, knife-wielding beggar. Told backwards, it shows how Stuart changed from a happy-go-lucky little boy into a thief, addict, alcoholic and sociopath street raconteur. Funny, despairing, uplifting, brilliantly-written, it is one of the most original biographies of recent years. Our Editorial Guru, Sarah Broadhurst, has suggested others book and authors that would be perfect for you to read next or to pass on the recommendation - so your gift will keep on giving enjoyment. Her selection for this title is: Lorna Sage(Bad Blood).
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.
An intimate portrait of an everyday genius. Alexander Masters tripped over his first subject on a Cambridge pavement, and the result was the multi-award-winning bestseller Stuart: A Life Backwards. The second, he's found under his floorboards. One of the greatest mathematical prodigies of the twentieth century stomps around the basement in semi-darkness, dodging between stalagmites of bus timetables and engorged plastic bags. He eats tinned kippers stirred into packets of Bombay Mix. Simon is exploring a theoretical puzzle so complex and critical to our understanding of the universe, that it is known as the Monster. It looks like a sudoku table -- except a sudoku table has nine columns of numbers. The Monster has 808017424794512875886459904961710757005754368000000000. But Simon's also up to something else. What's inside the decaying sports bag he never lets out of his clutches? Why does he hurtle out of the house in the middle of the night? And -- Good God! -- what is that noxious smell that creeps up the stairwell
The famous literary family whose relationships became public property over four generations. This is a book of fathers and sons, yes, but also a book of writing and writers and of turbulence and conflict. In many ways what one would expect from such a highly talented family. It is actually quite riveting.
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.