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Showing 1-16 of top 30 Results.

An English Affair: Sex, Class and...
(Paperback)
Richard Davenport-Hines
 
The Profumo affair fascinated just about every adolescent boy in the UK back in the early 60s, and I doubt that many of us forget the risqué photographs of Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies that were splashed all over the place. This is a thorough and comprehensive look at the affair from all sides, and a fascinating view of the times. It makes for compelling reading.

Peter Robinson - 14/08/2013
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Rat Pack Confidential: Frank, Dean,...
(Paperback)
Shawn Levy
As zippy and as zingy as one of Sammy Davies Jr's stage routines, full of extraordinary anecdotes. What great fun!

Dylan Jones - 24/07/2012
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Ringolevio: A Life Played for Keeps
(Paperback)
Emmett Grogan; Peter Coyote
Not technically a music book, but includes wonderfully evocative passages about the Diggers and the original Haight Asbury scene. By some distance the best book about the original hippie "vibe".

Dylan Jones - 24/07/2012
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First Light
(Paperback)
Geoffrey Wellum
 
Wellum was the youngest pilot to take part in the Battle of Britain - he was just 19. This book, written decades afterwards, is for me the most honest and vivid to come out of those epic weeks in the late summer of 1940. His direct writing style places you in the cockpit alongside the boy he once was.

Richard Madeley - 07/06/2013
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Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble...
(Paperback)
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
 
I've been meaning to read this one for a decade. It’s described in a blurb as "A non-fiction Middlemarch of the underclass" – I don’t think I can do much better than that. Concerning a large, chaotic family in the Bronx during the 1990s, it’s an honest account of street life – from drug dealing to child-rearing. Ms LeBlanc spent ten years embedded, interviewing, living with her subjects, listening to them. An extraordinary feat of research and patience. Reading it you are realize that class is a cocoon and you have absolutely zero idea how anybody else is living. I think this book is a masterpiece.

Zadie Smith - 10/08/2012
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Going Solo
(Paperback)
Roald Dahl
As with Easton Ellis, I could have put any number of Dahl’s novels on this list – The Witches, Matilda, Danny The Champion Of The World – but this second part of his autobiography (which started with Boy) is utterly joyous. It’s as fantastic and funny and weird and thrilling as any of his fiction, taking in lions, snakes, fighters planes, deserts, and a cast of characters as eccentric as he’s ever had to play with. It’s completely delightful.

Will Hill - 15/03/2012
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Life: Keith Richards
(Paperback)
Keith Richards
Even though he didn't actually write it himself, the voice and vernacular are all Keith. Particularly fascinating when describing London after the war.

Dylan Jones - 24/07/2012
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84 Charing Cross Road
(Paperback)
Helene Hanff; Juliet Stevenson
The delightful story of the twenty-year correspondence between the author and Frank Doel, chief buyer of Marks & Co, antiquarian booksellers. I remember the sensation caused by this book. I loved it, my friends loved it, everyone did. The gentle arc of the relationship the great romantic distance between the writers. The insistence it was 'a true story' and our thrill at the power of the letter. People still wrote letters then, just. And we all marvelled at the possibilities.

Nina Stibbe - 29/11/2013
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Austerlitz
(Paperback)
W. G. Sebald; Anthea Bell; James Wood
 
Sebald, a German who lived in England, looks at the war and the persecution of minorities in a highly original and fascinating way, even including his own rather amateurish photographs and postcards in the text to devastating effect.

Justin Cartwright - 03/09/2013
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The World of Yesterday
(Paperback)
Stefan Zweig; Anthea Bell; David...
Zweig died by his own hand in Brazil in 1942 and was for a long time almost forgotten, though his books are now enjoying a renaissance. This luminous memoir is one of his best.

John Banville - 18/06/2012
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Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica
(Paperback)
Anthony Thwaite; Philip Larkin
 
These letters were found after the death of Larkin’s long-time girlfriend Monica Jones in 2001, and consist of nearly two thousand letters, postcards and telegrams, from 1946 to 1984. The letters are affectionate; self deprecating and often funny. And though we don’t get Monica’s side, there are footnotes to explain some background - such as Larkin’s affair with Maeve Brennan. Larkin's love for certain writers, alcohol, music (jazz) comes across and mingles with the mundane.

Nina Stibbe - 29/11/2013
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Wellington
(Paperback)
Elizabeth Longford
 
Still the best biography of the great man, written with admiration, sympathy and an eye for the telling detail.

Bernard Cornwell - 26/09/2013
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The Invention of Air: An Experiment, ...
(Paperback)
Stephen T. Johnson
 
I love the dramatic historical approach exploring and upsetting some fundamental assumptions about innovation and the way new ideas emerge and spread.

Biz Stone - 16/06/2014
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The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on...
(Paperback)
Nick Kent; Iggy Pop
 
Collected writings of the provocative rock journo. Great on Brian Wilson and Iggy Pop. Read Sid Vicious – The Exploding Dim-Wit…venomous and brilliant.

Tom Doyle - 17/09/2014
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Ethel and Ernest
(Paperback)
Raymond Briggs; Raymond Briggs
 
I don't think I've ever read this book without my eyes tearing up. How Briggs manages to impart such feeling and generosity towards his parents in this deeply moving and heartfelt yet never overly sentimental memoir amazes me. It reminds me a little in its after-effects of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town," though the two works are otherwise completely different. It will make you care more deeply about life and the people you live it with, which is about the best one can say about anything.

Chris Ware - 02/10/2012
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Quartered Safe Out Here
(Paperback)
George MacDonald Fraser
 
I adore the Flashman series, but this autobiographical account of a young man's war against the Japanese is one of the best books to emerge from World War Two.

Bernard Cornwell - 26/09/2013
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