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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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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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The Knife Man: Blood, Body-snatching...
(Paperback)
Wendy Moore; Brenda Kimber
David Mitchell writes - Moore has a historian's respect both for the past and for her colourful (and blood-spattered) subject - a founding father of modern surgery - but she also has a novelist's knack at (re)creating a world and framing a narrative within it, peopled with ambiguous heroes and complex villains. (If you enjoy this, try her new one, 'Wedlock'.)

David Mitchell - 11/03/2011
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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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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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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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Dear Fatty
(Paperback)
Dawn French
 
This is an autobiography written in letterform. So not real letters at all, but I’m including it because it’s wonderful and funny and sad and I love Dawn French. Also, it shows how powerful letters can be, even retrospectively, in revealing the writer.

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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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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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 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 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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Birds and Light: The Art of Lars Jonsson
(Hardback)
Lars Jonsson
His illustrations of birds in field guides have always had an unrivalled sense of animation, movement and characteristic jizz. This volume is a selection of his field sketches and watercolours which display his mastery in conveying fleeting impressions of moving subjects in changing light and weather conditions: instants of perception. There are also very intelligent diary notes and commentary.

Jeremy Mynott - 13/03/2012
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45
(Paperback)
Bill Drummond
 
Series of slightly unhinged essays spotlighting The KLF founder’s brilliantly skewed attitudes to music and art and life. Laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Tom Doyle - 17/09/2014
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Richard I
(Paperback)
John Gillingham
 
John Gillingham is a scholar, addicted to understanding Richard the Lionheart. He is also readable and intuitive in his judgments of England’s emblematic king. A must for anyone interested in the Lionheart.

Justin Cartwright - 03/09/2013
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