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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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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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Ginger Geezer: The Life of Vivian...
(Paperback)
Lucian Randall; Chris Welch
 
Oft-overlooked maverick Stanshall – leader of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band – lived his life as art. Funny ha ha and funny peculiar.

Tom Doyle - 17/09/2014
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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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Wedlock: How Georgian Britain's Worst...
(Paperback)
Wendy Moore
Also recommended in reference by David Mitchell

David Mitchell - 11/03/2011
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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The Mitfords: Letters Between Six...
(Paperback)
Charlotte Mosley
 
Never mind whether or not the Mitfords are your cup of tea. This is the history of the 20th century as told through letters. Fascinating and brilliantly organised by the barely there editor, Charlotte Mosely. When this was recommended it felt like an invitation to a tour around a country house. A bit of an ordeal, albeit harmless. But it was surprisingly riveting. Yes, you meet the expected (upper-class carelessness, sniping, Hitler-loving sibling, brilliant Nancyisms) but there’s more to it than that.

Nina Stibbe - 29/11/2013
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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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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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