Witty and charming, deadly but always with style, Auberon Waugh’s writing enlivened the seventies and eighties. First at Private Eye, then as editor of the Literary Review and finally as co-founder of the Academy Club, he reported on every aspect of the book world. His satire, astute observations and spoof diaries informed and entertained in equal measure. Sympathetically edited by Naim Attallah, this collection includes autobiographical pieces and the entirety of From the Pulpit, Auberon Waugh’s brilliant monthly editorials for the Literary Review.
Today Calouste Gulbenkian is best known for the spectacular art collection and fortune which he bequeathed to the foundation he set up in Lisbon. When he died, in 1955, he was known as the richest man in the world, his wealth largely amassed from 5% deals with the Middle Eastern oil magnates. He was a moral yet ruthless businessman who demanded total obedience from his family despite, in his younger days, living a champagne and playboy lifestyle. Later a recluse, he appeared to care about little other than his art collection. Jonathan Conlin’s intriguing book reveals his extraordinary contradictions.
We may think we know Winston Churchill but Andrew Roberts’ new biography re-interprets the events of Churchill’s life, exposing his flaws and explaining his genius. He has used papers not available to previous biographers and is the first Churchill biographer to be granted access to the private diaries of King George VI. Stupendous.
A shoemaker in Stalinist Russia was imprisoned for selling his car at a profit. On release shame drove him to take his family into voluntary exile in Siberia. Married to Zhanna, the shoemaker’s daughter, Conor O’Clery tells the story of eighty years of Soviet and Russian history through the family he knows so well.
Antiquarian bookseller David Batterham admits that booksellers are often rather odd. He spent many years scouring the world in search of rare and forgotten books and, frequently alone, he would write to his friend, the painter Howard Hodgkin, neither expecting nor receiving a reply. Mostly written in cheap cafés and restaurants, these letters portray a wonderfully bohemian world and reveal the author’s sharp eye for the absurd and bizarre.
Music has always been an integral part of Alan Johnson’s life, starting with his earliest memories of Bing Crosby on the wireless. His love of the Beatles has been constant, while jukeboxes, smoky coffee shops and dingy dance halls have come and gone. The fourth in the retired Labour politician’s brilliant volumes of memoirs.
Paddy Leigh Fermor was a great letter-writer, even if they were often written in great haste. In this second volume they include encounters with Jackie Onassis, Camilla Parker-Bowles, Oswald Mosley and many more, and paint a unique picture of his life in Greece, drinking with shepherds in Crete and picnicking with stonemasons in Kardamyli.