Thursday, December 2, 2010
To The Last Round
The Epic British Stand on the Imjin River, Korea 1951
by Andrew Salmon
On the eve of Remembrance Day 2010, a book on Britain's bloodiest - but almost completely unknown - post-1945 battle won the inaugural Hampshire Libraries (Special Collections) Award for the Best Military Book of 2009 from a field of 60 key military titles.
“In a list of very strong military books, this is an excellent book," said renowned broadcaster and bestselling historian Professor Richard Holmes, the patron of the award. "It well-deserves the winning award."
"A neglected battle that in fact deserves to join the first rank of British military actions, To the Last Round is a book that does its subject proud," added Librarian Andrew Dalziel. "This is easily one of the best books I have read on a military subject in recent years: truly inspiring."
The inaugural award is designed to highlight the three "armed services" collections - aviation, naval and military - in Hampshire Libraries. The military collection alone boasts 18, 000 titles.
Salmon, a Seoul-based reporter, sent an acceptance speech filmed on the Imjn battleground, where the 1951 British positions remain fortified to this day against the North Korean threat.
"I'd like to thank the award panel for recognizing an unknown author writing about a forgotten war," Salmon said. "Though Korea remains the biggest, bloodiest and most brutal conflict fought by British soldiers since World War II, it is almost completely unknown in the UK; I hope this award will bring veterans some long-overdue recognition."
Salmon and film makers Dan Gordon and Howard Reid are hoping to create a documentary on the book. The author is currently finalizing a prequel, Scorched Earth, Black Snow which tells the story of the Australian and British soldiers in North Korea in winter 1950, the most dramatic, but most terrible months of the war, in the words of the men who came home. It will be published by Aurum in early 2011.
Richard Holmes handing the award to Sam Mercer (representing the author), a veteran of the Gloster battalion annihilated on the Imjin, and a survivor of the grim North Korean POW camps. A chance meeting with Mercer, who lost a leg and an eye in the fighting, provided Salmon with the inspiration for his book. Richard Sullivan of Osprey Publishing (the award sponsors) stands between them.
Graham Eames was there on behalf of Aurum Press and Andrew Salmon
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The Telegraph Book of River and Sea Journeys
Edited by Michael Kerr
In this follow- up to the highly successful Last Call for the Dining Car, The Telegraph’s Michael Kerr has amassed the very best of the paper’s writing on journeys by water – from ocean liners, cruise ships, tramp and African river steamers, all the way to single-handed yachtsmen and canoeists tackling the Missouri.
Bon Voyage! details the last voyage of the QE2 and the first of the biggest cruise liner ever built. There is an account of the 1936 launching of the Queen Mary in front of 150,000 onlookers on the Clyde. It features no less than Henry Stanley, writing exclusively for the Telegraph in the nineteenth century about his epic African journey down the Congo.
Also included are pieces about Bombay’s insanely crowded commuter ferries, Francis Chichester rounding Cape Horn, and a couple who tried to sail their amphibious Volkswagen Beetle around the world but only got as far as the North Sea. Anyone who enjoys reading Gavin Young, Eric Newby or Jonathan Raban’s travel writing will love this book.
Michael Kerr is Deputy Travel Editor of the Daily Telegraph. He lives in Surrey.
Bon Voyage! The Telegraph Book of River and Sea Journeys is avaiable to purchase here.
A Vanished World of Nineteenth-Century Architecture
"This is a book which no member of the Victorian Society should be without" The Victorian
"This is an important book. It tells the story of the loss of so much grace and beauty in the English architectural landscape. It should be on the desk of every architect and every town planner.” The Northern Echo
Aurum’s series of large-format, lavishly-illustrated architecture titles has in recent years hit a rich seam with its chronicles of lost architecture. The books cover the magnificent and grand buildings from previous centuries that for a variety of reasons – but above all cavalier demolition by twentieth-century planners devoted to the cause of modernism – are now no more, and exist only in heartbreakingly poignant photographs. Gavin Stamp’s own Britain’s Lost Cities was the most recent.
Now, Stamp follows with another superb book, chronicling an astonishing and depressing array of the finest Victorian architecture – all sacrificed to the wrecking ball. From public baths to hotels, town houses, factories and banks; photographs are all we have left. Gavin Stamp’s indignant and scholarly text looks back at the circumstances of their loss, and analyses the twentieth-century mindset that could hold so many magnificent buildings in such little regard.
Gavin Stamp is one of Britain’s most eminent architectural historians and writers. His other books for Aurum are Lutyens Houses and the acclaimed Britain’s Lost Cities. For many years he was Chairman of the Twentieth Century Society.
Lost Victorian Britain is available to purchase here.
Monday, October 25, 2010
The Classical Country House
From the Archives of Country Life
The Classical Country House takes a fresh, innovative look at the traditional British country house, revealing the major influence of Classicism from the seventeenth century to the present day.
Written in five parts, the book first examines the birth of English Classicism, then the flowering of Classical design, before recounting how eighteenth-century austerity gave way to the richer styles of the nineteenth century’s Italian Renaissance Revival. The final chapters look to the last century and beyond, and at how the Classical language of design is expressed in houses as diverse as Nashdom, Gledstone and the British Embassy in Washington D.C.
David Watkin has selected over 150 of the finest images from the Country Life archive to illustrate an incisive study of twenty-six important houses and their architects in what is a major addition to architectural history.
David Watkin is an Emeritus Fellow of Peterhouse and Emeritus Professor of the History of Architecture at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of over twenty books, including Morality and Architecture, A History of Western Architecture, and Roman Forum. He is a leading authority on Classicism and its successive renewals.
The Classical Country House is available to purchase here.
The History of the BBC Visual Effects Department
By Mat Irvine and Mike Tucker
• The definitive history of the world’s first, largest and longest-running dedicated TV effects department.
• Covers fifty classic BBC shows in every genre.
• Series featured include Doctor Who, Blake's 7, Monty Python, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Goodies, Are You Being Served and many more.
• Filled with anecdotes and insights into how the effects were created.
• Illustrated throughout with fascinating production photos and sketches, most of which have never been published.
The BBC Visual Effects Department closed its doors in 2003. For almost fifty years it had been responsible for some of television’s most iconic images – from exploding newsreaders on Monty Python’s Flying Circus to Blake’s 7’s majestic Liberator sailing through outer space.
Using interviews with the effects designers, together with concept drawings, production photographs and stills from completed programmes, this book tells the story of the VFX Department and celebrates the work of a group of craftsmen who lived by the mantra, ‘If it can be imagined, it can be made…’
Working largely before the age of CGI, the Department was responsible for every kind of visual effect, from physical effects such as rain and explosions, to miniatures and models, to sculpture and animatronics.
Filled with fascinating insights, wonderful stories and numerous photographs and artworks which have never been published, this is an essential book for FX fans and anyone who loves television
Mat Irvine and Mike Tucker worked for many years in the BBC Visual Effects Department. Mat left the BBC in 1993 and has been pursuing other projects as writer, producer and director. Mike now runs The Model Unit at Ealing Studios. Both, individually, are writers, Mat having written twelve books on scientific and hobby subjects while Mike is the author of several original novels and Doctor Who novelisations.
BBC VFX: The History of the BBC Visual Effects Department is available to purchase here
Fifth Avenue, 5.A.M.
Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s
by Sam Wasson
‘A brilliant chronicle of the creation of Breakfast at Tiffany's… This is a memorable achievement’
‘A sparkling time capsule of old Hollywood magic and mythmaking… as infectious as Mancini’s score’
Before Breakfast at Tiffany’s Audrey Hepburn was still a little-known actress with few film roles to speak of; after it – indeed, because of it - she was one of the world’s most famous fashion, style and screen icons. Truman Capote’s original novel is itself a modern classic, its high-living author of perennial interest.
Now, this little book - the first about Audrey Hepburn’s greatest screen role - tells the story of how it all happened: how Audrey got the role (for which at first she wasn't considered, and which she at first didn’t want); how long it took to get the script right; how she came to wear the little black dress; and how Henry Mancini’s soundtrack with its memorable signature tune ‘Moon River’ completed the irresistible package.
Sam Wasson is also the author of a biography of Blake Edwards.
Fifth Avenue, 5.A.M. Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's is available to purchase here.
The Untold Story of a Comic Genius
Affectionate, honest and long overdue, Character Driven is the first biography of one of Britain’s greatest, but least-known character actors. Whether playing seedy landlord Rupert Rigsby in Rising Damp or frustrated suburban dreamer Reggie Perrin, Rossiter’s performances were iconic and utterly memorable. Like Peter Sellers or Ronnie Barker, his characters loom larger in our national consciousness than the actor who played them. Until now, Rossiter himself has remained a mystery.
Via exhaustive research and in-depth interviews with those who knew and worked with Rossiter, Guy Adams reveals the man behind the threadbare cardigan and manic grimace.
Leonard Rossiter: Character Driven will finally shed light on the personality of one of the greatest comic actors of the twentieth century, and reveal why he was able to give such epoch-defining performances.
Guy Adams worked as an actor for twelve years before becoming a writer, specialising in TV and entertainment. He is the author of the official guide to Life on Mars and the bestselling humour book based on the series, The Rules of Modern Policing: 1973 Edition. He also wrote the Torchwood novel The House That Jack Built.
Leonard Rossiter: Character Driven is available to purchase here.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
• Another hilarious collection of letters
• Over 70,000 copies sold of its predecessor
• #1 Independent bookshops’ Christmas bestseller
'SIR – My first thought on seeing your headline, "Pupils to be taught about sex at seven" was "What, in the morning?"'
‘SIR- If anyone is unsure or not to vote for David Milliband, I would draw their attention to the photo of him in The Daily Telegraph wearing a two-buttoned suit with both buttons done up.’
'SIR – Having seen some pictures of Tiger Woods’ acquaintances, I’m thinking of taking up golf.'
In 2009 a small volume of unpublished letters to The Daily Telegraph, Am I Alone in Thinking….? captured the public imagination and became a Christmas bestseller. But to those who compile the newspaper’s daily Letters page the book’s huge appeal was no surprise. While they can publish no more than 20 letters each day, another 600 will have gone to waste and for every serious contribution there are many more that are simply very funny, and, alas, there’s never enough room to include them all.
Here then is the eagerly-awaited sequel chronicling yet another year through the whimsical preoccupations and hobbyhorses of the Telegraph’s wonderfully waggish readers. Chris Evans’ supplanting of Sir Terry Wogan on Radio 2; Tiger Woods’ peccadilloes; Gordon Brown’s long farewell – such are among the issues that exercised 2010 epistolarians.
Iain Hollingshead was deputy Letters editor of the Daily Telegraph and is now one of the paper's feature writers. He lives in London.
I Could Go On... is available to purchase online here.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
On Saturday fans celebrated the launch of The Making Of: The Empire Strikes Back at Bristol’s Forbidden Planet with an Empire Strikes Back themed extravaganza. Complete with costumes and lightsabers, fans from all generations enjoyed celebrating both the movie and the launch of this highly anticipated book. Similar celebrations have been planned at Southampton’s Forbidden Planet for this Saturday (23/10/10).
The Making of The Empire Strikes Back is available to buy online here.
Monday, October 18, 2010
The Making of The Empire Strikes Back
Foreword by Ridley Scott
An exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the making of arguably the greatest and most cherished of all the Star Wars films, the most important motion picture sequel of all-time, and a movie that changed pop culture forever: Star Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back.
J.W. Rinzler, author of the acclaimed The Making of Star Wars, once again uses his unprecedented access to the Lucasfilm archives, and their treasure trove of never-before published photos, design sketches, paintings, production notes, interviews, anecdotes, and scripts, to take us back thirty years to relive the entire production process for one of the most anticipated movies ever produced- along the way unveiling stories as entertaining, enthralling and mind-boggling as the film itself.
As a longstanding member of the Lucasfilm staff, J.W. Rinzler has enjoyed unparalleled co-operation and support from the original moviemakers, including both George Lucas and veteran director Irvin Keshner. The result is a truly definitive account that is destined to become a must-have for all true Star Wars fans and serious cinephiles.
Johnathan Rinzler is a New York Times bestselling author and longtime editor at Lucasfilm Publishing.
“It’s not often we come across jobs we’re envious of, but JW Rinzler’s role as official chronicler of LucasArts films sends us into fits of jealousy. As with his Star Wars and Indiana Jones books, this is an immaculately presented trawl through the dustiest recesses of the Skywalker Ranch activities, packed with unseen concept art, on-set pictures and hours of interviews recorded in 1980 (but never used) that capture the uncertainty about the film that plagued the set. Unendingly fascinating.” The Shortlist
The Making of The Empire Strikes Back is available to buy online here.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Few figures in British business or sport have enjoyed Dave Whelan’s success. As a footballer he played in all four divisions. As a businessman he created one the country’s leading high street brands. And as chairman of Wigan Athletic he’s taken his club all the way from the Third Division to the Premiership.
Dave’s story is one of ambition, enterprise and tenacity – but also of a fierce loyalty. It begins in wartime Wigan with the Whelans’ desperate struggle to survive. Dave describes the terrifying wasp-like hum of the Luftwaffe; he remembers the deathly winter of 1942, peeing on his hands to stop his fingers from freezing; admits how hunger drove ordinary families to lie, cheat and steal; and relives a remarkable reunion with the father he’d never known – a returning soldier.
In peacetime a boyhood love affair with football leads him to sign with Blackburn Rovers and when national service calls he joins the Army football team, becoming close friends with ‘Busby Babes’ Bobby Charlton and Duncan Edwards.
Then, a vicious tackle in the 1960 FA Cup final spells the twilight of his playing career – but a new dawn in business. Starting as a market trader, he breaks the mould from day one: taking on Boots single-handedly in the Appeal Court; negotiating the sale of his supermarket chain to Ken Morrison – whilst stood at a urinal; and transforming a single tackle shop in Wigan into JJB Sports, the UK’s biggest sports retailer and a £1 billion PLC.
In 1995 he used his personal fortune to buy struggling, hometown Wigan Athletic, vowing to take the Latics all the way to the Premier League. At the time he was ridiculed, but ten years later, on the final day of the Championship, Dave watched, ecstatic, as his club beat Reading 3-1 to finally secure their place.
Sometimes tragic, frequently controversial and always heartfelt, Playing to Win lifts the lid on a life lived on the pitch and in the boardroom and tells how a hungry kid from Wigan’s backstreets became a national success and a local hero. Whelan's story was a great success in hardback, turning him into a local hero and now with the new release in paperback, Playing to Win offers football fans and general readers another chance to catch this engaging read.
Dave Whelan was the founder of retailer JJB Sports and is the chairman of Wigan Athletic Football Club. All the author’s profits will go to the new Wigan Boys and Girls Club
Playing to Win is available to buy in paperback now in local bookstores and online via the following link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dave-Whelan-Playing-Win-Autobiography/dp/1845135792/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284559060&sr=8-2
Bordeaux has long symbolised the peak of prestige for French wine. Yet despite its outstanding reputation, the region has remained relatively closed to consumers, as forbidding as the highest château gates or the most tannic of its young wines. However, in this highly approachable, beautifully illustrated guide, Master of Wine James Lawther draws on his insider’s knowledge to open up Bordeaux.
He has identified the 90 producers with the finest wines and the most interesting stories to tell, taking us inside their châteaux and offering intimate portraits of both the properties and the people who shape this fascinating region. Lawther uses language but also over 100 original colour photographs; beautifully designed maps; flap page-markers and silk ribbon to weave these hidden stories.
Published in conjunction with The World of Fine Wine Magazine, current holder of the coveted Gourmand award for The World’s Best Wine Magazine, this guide, the third in the acclaimed Finest Wines series, from Hugh Johnson’s award-winning team, brings the region to life more vividly than ever before.
The Finest Wines of Bordeaux is authoritative, bang up-to-date, and full of actionable information making it required reading for all wine lovers and the perfect present!
James Lawther MW passed the Master of Wine examination in 1993. He has been based in Bordeaux for the past 15 years, making the region his speciality and tasting widely. He is a contributing editor of Decanter magazine, a contributor to The World of Fine Wine, and author of The Heart of Bordeaux.
The Finest Wines of Bordeaux is available to pre-order now on http://www.amazon.co.uk/Finest-Wines-Bordeaux-James-Lawther/dp/1845136071/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284464612&sr=8-1
Published as part of the GWR's 175th anniversary - this new book by Andrew Roden is the first one-volume history of the railway in over 20 years.
It built and ran the great main line from London to the West Country and Cornwall and was engineered by the legendary Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who built wonders including Box Tunnel and the Saltash Bridge. Its locomotives were designed by great men like Gooch, Churchward and Collett and were complemented by stations from the soaring Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads to those idyllic country byways with little more than a pagoda shelter and a couple of milk churns awaiting collection. With its burnished green engines, chocolate and cream carriages, the 'Cornish Riviera' and that fabulous stretch of railway at Dawlish, the Great Western Railway has passed into legend.
In this celebratory book, railway journalist Andrew Roden offers a comprehensive insight into this remarkable railway's history but also reveals why all of us owe this great company a huge debt of thanks. A thrilling read, Great Western Railway will satisfy not only railway enthusiasts but the casual reader alike.
Great Western Railway is out now and is available to buy in local bookstores and online at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Great-Western-Railway-Andrew-Roden/dp/1845135806/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1284462255&sr=8-1
Monday, September 13, 2010
Best known for starring in Dad’s Army, where his Sergeant Wilson was the languid, rakish, distracted foil to Arthur Lowe’s pompous, chippy Captain Mainwaring, John Le Mesurier is one of our most loved character actors. ‘Do you think that’s wise, sir?’ and ‘Would you mind awfully…?' are just two of Sergeant Wilson’s expressions that sum up his unorthodox, unruffled approach to service life.
But, occasionally, life mirrors art and there was much of Sergeant Wilson in ‘Le Mez’, as he was known to friends and family. Just as Wilson appeared to enjoy a close – but unmarried – acquaintance with Private Pike’s mum, so Le Mesurier had three unconventional marriages, one with the comic actress Hattie Jacques. His third wife left him for an affair with Tony Hancock and he tended to prioritise an early-morning scan of the Racing Post above rehearsals. A phone call from Le Mez was often to suggest, ‘Playtime…?’ always delivered in his irresistible drawl.
This biography of Le Mesurier is fully authorised by his family, and provides a touchingm funny and insightful account into the man behind the much-loved Sergeant Wilson. The book will appeal not only to diehard Dad's Army fans but to everyone and anyone who still laughs at Dad’s Army when they catch it on BBC or UK Gold.
Graham McCann is already the author of a number of books inclduing biographies of Terry-Thomas, Frankie Howerd and Morecambe and Wise, and books on Fawlty Towers and Dad’s Army. He lives in Cambridge.
Do You Think That's Wise is out this month and is available to buy on www.amazon.co.uk
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Independents have chosen 12 titles by authors including poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, John le Carré and Julia Donaldson as the highlights of the Christmas Books Catalogue 2010.
The 150-strong list is produced jointly by the Booksellers Association and Book Marketing Limited, and is the first marketing campaign for the new IndieBound initiative. The catalogue is also supported by Gardners. Christmas Books titles are chosen by independent booksellers for independent booksellers.
The catalogue will be supported by additional material available via the IndieBound website, including author interviews, sample chapters, recipes, competitions and signed books. Extra copies of counterpacks will be produced to encourage local independent retailers to display the catalogue.
The 12 titles:
Another Night Before Christmas by Carol Ann Duffy (Picador)
*I Could Go On: Unpublished Letters to the Daily Telegraph (Aurum Press)*
Map of A Nation: A Biography Of The Ordnance Survey Rachel Hewitt (Granta)
Our Kind of Traitor by John Le Carré (Viking)
Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson (Doubleday)
Tender: Volume II: A cook's guide to the fruit garden, Nigel Slater (Fourth Estate)
The Best Of Matt 2010 by Matthew Pritchett (Orion)
The Red Queen by Philippa Greogry (Simon & Schuster)
Cave Baby by Julia Donaldson (Macmillan Children's Books)
Quentin Blake's Magical Tales, John Yeoman, illustrated by Quentin Blake (Pavilion Children's)
Shadow by Michael Morpurgo (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
Zog by Julia Donaldson, Illustrated by Axel Scheffler (Alison Green Books, Scholastic)
I Could Go On... Unpublished Letters to The Daily Telegraph is part of Aurum's Autumn collection and is the follow-up to the very successful Am I Alone in Thinking? I Could Go On... will be available in October.
For the original article please visit:
Friday, July 23, 2010
Friday, July 2, 2010
The remarkable story of a Japanese POW camp prisoner.
Last month, in an article for the Daily Express, John Baxter, former Royal Engineers corporal, wrote of the unlikely friendship between himself and Japanese guard Hyato Hirano which was forged whilst John was held as a Prisoner of War in Indonesia. He touchingly details how Hirano showed John and his fellow PoWs kindness and generosity despite his position as their captor.
This article illustrates but one chapter of John Baxter's fascinating story. The full story is in Missing, Believed Killed, Baxter's full account of his experience written without a hint of bitterness as, by his own admission he has 'no resentment towards the Japanese', despite his maltreatment.
His story begins in 1942 when John was captured by the Japanese in Indonesia. For the next 3 years he was held as their prisoner, during which time he was starved and beaten and contracted malaria, diphtheria, for which he received no treatment. At one point he was given a fifty-fifty chance of surviving and moved to an isolation cell where he was kept awake at night by the sound of coffins being made for fellow prisoners who had not been so 'lucky'. He spent the last two years of the war working in the hard labour mines in Kyushu, from where he witnessed the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki 40 miles away, and felt the scorching wind from the blast. Remarkably, John Baxter survived these experiences and made it back to Britain- a journey which was an adventure in itself. In February 2009 he celebrated his 90th birthday. Having written up his diaries from this time, he now decided to tell his story. It is a story not just of survival but of ingenuity, resourcefulness and quiet heroism.
John's fascinating account of one man's attempts to sabotage the Japanese war effort is illustrated with contemporary photographs and artefacts from his time in the camps. This touching book will appeal to WW2 historians and the general reader.
For the full Daily Express article please visit www.express.co.uk/posts/view/182134/John-Baxter-I-owe-my-survival-to-my-captor, and to purchase please go to www.amazon.co.uk/Missing-Believed-Killed-John-Baxter/dp/1845135385
"As tales of triumph over adversity go, May Savidge's story surely beats much of the competition. Rather than let her 500-year-old home be demolished to make way for a road, she moves it, brick by brick, tile by tile, 100 miles to Norfolk, where she single-handedly rebuilds it. Aged 60 when the rebuilding starts, her work is left to be completed by niece Christine Adams, who devotes years of her own life to carrying out her remarkable aunt's wishes as well as sifting through May's own archive of letters, diaries, calendars, notes, theatre programmes, dresses, photographs- indeed, virtually everything that ever came into her possession. This is a story of stoicism, heartbreak, suffering and great loss, but in which the indomitable Miss Savidge's determination not to lose her most beloved possession shines brightly and her note-to-self to 'Write funny story of furniture in attic' is fulfilled."
Jill Morris, Your Family History
"Bowie: A Biography shows us how the man has transcended his nihilistic tendencies...as the story continues, it's obvious to the reader that Bowie has attained a certain artistic dignity and a vision of something profound." Larry Cordola, Vintage Rock Book Review
David Bowie. One of the most protean figures inrock music, he remains a source of perennial fascination to his considerable fanbase, even when he's lying low. What is the state of his health? Is he working on a new album? Will he tour again?
The story of his life, from south London beginnings, is one of amazing and tireless self re-invention. From the sixties musical outsider to the androgynous, white-faced waif of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane, the techno-composer in Berlin and subsquently the raucous racket-making aberration of his Tin Machine phase. This is alongside becoming a distinguished film actor in such porductions as The Man Who Fell to Earth and Mr Lawrence.
One thing is for sure: this succession of alter egos has always been symptomatic of a restless musical creativity and an endless quest for innovation. His astonishing run of canonical albums, from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust through Young Americans and Low to Scary Monsters, and countless classic tracks span psychedelia, glam-rock, 'plastic soul', electronic and industrial influences to disco, pop and even heavy metal.
It is fifteen years since the last comprehensive biography, and now Marc Spitz has talked to those who know or have worked with Bowie to produce an even-handed, thoroughly researched and quirkily readable portrait of anenigmatic and elusive individual, for whoese recent musical silence we are all the poorer.
A must have for Bowie fans, this book is long enough tocover every aspect of his life, but certainly not on oversize product of obsession, this is a readable quirky, assiduous book. Marc Spitz is the author ofa book about the US West Coast punk scene. He writes for all the major music magazines and lives in New York.
David Bowie: A Biography is available at www.amazon.co.uk/Bowie-Biography-Marc-Spitz/dp/1845135512/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_2
Thursday, July 1, 2010
In his review for Spectator Business Dominic Prince not only proclaims that "Chester tells the Lew Grade story well, the detail is good and he deals with the old man's demise generously", but also reveals that he believes Lewis Chester's account of Grade's life to be better than the account that Prince himself co-authored with Quentin Falk!
Lew Grade was the last of the old-time media moguls, who shaped, and inmany ways revolutionised, post-war Britain's popular culture for over fifty years. From humble, Jewish immigrant beginnings in the East End of London, Lew Grade became world Charleston champion (and could dance it well into his eighties), then, along with brothers Bernard and Leslie, a top show business promoter and theatre proprietor, eventually booking Hollywood's biggest names, from Shirley Maclaine to Sammy Davis Jr. The birth of commercial television saw him win a franchise with ATV, where he presented long-running hits like Sunday Night at the London Palladium and the bizarre crossbow-firing game show The Golden Shot, which brought the nation together in front of the television, and epic mini-series like Jesus of Nazareth. But posterity will probably thank him for bringing Thunderbirds and The Muppets to British screens.
For media students he is a pioneering figure in the history of commercial television; for the rest of us he is the larger-than-life impresario who brought the best of Hollywood to our theatres and gave show business a razzle-dazzle it has never lost.
Lewis Chester was a member of the celebrated Sunday Times Insight Team of investigative journalists . His last book was Troublemaker.
All My Shows are Great: The Life of Lew Grade can be purchased at www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1845135083/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_i1?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=center-1&pf_rd_r=084YTZM44S0TB4KWDSMZ&pf_rd_t=101&p_rd_p=467198433&pf_rd_i=468294
Andrew Roden, author of Mallard and The Flying Scotsman completes his successful trilogy for Aurum with a book about the finest and most powerful steam locomotive ever built in Britain.
Designed by the great William Stanier, the class began life in the Thirties as the 'Princess Coronation' class. The Duchesses were the flagships of the West Coast mainline for the LMS, designed to compete with the famous streamlined 'Pacific' class locomotives on the East Coast. Andrew Roden has talked to surviving drivers and firemen, and hose involved in the subsequent preservation of Duchess of Hamilton and Duchess of Sutherland, to tell the story of one of Britain's finest engineering achievements, including the restoration of Duchess of Hamilton to its original streamlined form.
Andrew Roden is the editor of the International Rail Journal. He lives in Cornwall.
Why Can't the Government do Anything Properly?
Richard Bacon and Christopher Hope's illuminating book is an immensely topical look at examples of the bureaucratic incompetence and bungling that affect us all.
Any single mother locking horns wih the Child Support Agency for maintenance from their father; any farmer nearly bankrupted waiting for rural support payments; any parent despairing at the black hole into which their child's SATS results have disappeared- all will testify to the endless delay, bureaucratic paralysis, computer breakdowns and blithering incompetence that characterise the government's dealings with us. And anyone who reads the newspapers might infer similar problems from similar fiascos concerning foreign prisoners, dentists' contracts, data transfer losses and tax credits- not to mention the looming introduction of ID cards: a litany of cock-ups commemorated with a string of exasperated reports from the long-suffering Commons Public Accounts Committee charged with conducting the sorry inquest.
Richard Bacon, as an MP for South Norfolk and a member of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, has direct constitency experience of all the problems he surveys. In a lively style he and his co-author, the Whitehall Editor of the Daily Telegraph, tackle the questions that the country are posing. Why is the government nowadays incapable of organising even the proverbial social event in a brewery? Why does it waste vast amounts of money in the process? If big companies can commission IT systems that work, why can't the civil service?
In this lively, shocking book Bacon and Hope look at ten notorious government fiascos, and the considerable effort that went into creating them.
"A great book about a great band. Chris Campion's recounting of the Police saga is well researched and often very funny." Stephen Davis, author of Hammer of the Gods
Ambition brought The Police together. It also tore them apart- but not before they became thebiggest band in the world and the first supergroup of the Eighties. In Walking on the Moon Chris Campion tells the full, uncensored story of their spectacular rise. Written with a fan's eye for detail, this no-holds-barred account follows the band from their early struggle to make a mark in the volatile late '70s punk scene, through their emergence- masterminded with the help of legendary manager Miles Copeland III- as an international rock phenomenon.
The Police have sold more than 50 million albums worldwide and are ranked at 70 in the Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Yet, although Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland have all released memoirs, until now there has never been a comprehensive and unbiased biography of The Police. Walking on the Moon features for the first time the arduous touring and recording schedule that saw the band crack America, the unorthodox business strategies that catapulted them to the top, and the bouts of infighting that caused their early demise. Campion details the shock 2007 reunion that saw them re-emerge as a global touring spectacle after a 20-year hiatus from the music industry and explores how the band members' conflicting personalities and the chaotic personal life of frontman Sting informed some of their biggest hits.
Much more than simply an entertaining romp, the book offers insightful critical analysis of the broader factors that enabled The Police's success, and reveals a band struggling to balance commercial ambition with a desire for artistic credibility. This is an epic tale of Eighties rock and the role played within it by one of the biggest names in music. A perfect gift for any fans of The Police from the former contributing editor to Dazed and Confused and Vice magazines. Chris Campion has also written for the Observer, the Daily Telegraph and Bizarre.
All of the above titles are released this month and are available on www.amazon.co.uk
"Definitive and comprehensive, this is the actual story of Factory Records" Peter Saville
"Shadowplayers offers a meticulously researched year-by-year account of the label's beginnings, its triumphs and eventual dissolution. Nice brings an encyclopaedic zeal to his recollections of such fleeting musical oddities as Crawling Chaos, Swamp Children, Biting Tongues and The Wendys, alongside Factory's more famous players" Fiona Sturges, The Independent
"Familiar Manchester music saga retold in epic detail" **** Q Magazine
"An immaculately researched history of a label born in 1978 with Joy Division and whose later peaks...are as interesting as the famous, financially induced troughs" Ben East, Metro Scotland
In 1978, a 'Factory for Sale' sign gave Alan Erasmus and Tony Wilson a name for their fledgling Manchester club night. This proved to be the launch of one of the most signigicant musical and cultural legacies of the late twentieth century. The club's electrifying live scene soon translated to vinyl, and Factory Records went on to become the most innovative and celebrated record label of the next thirty years. Always breaking new ground, Factory introduced the listening public to bands such as Joy Division, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, A Certain Ratio, Section 25, The Durutti Column and later New Order, James and Happy Mondays - yet its founders' avowed ambition was not chart success but 'a laboratory experiment in popular culture'. In the years since, the label and its troubled folly, The Hacienda, have become both a legend and a cautionary tale.
Shadowplayers is the most complete, authoritative and thoroughly researched account of how a group of provincial anarchists and entrepreneurs saw off bankers, journalists and gun-toting gangsters to create the most influential, acclaimed and adored music of modern times.
This is the definitive study of the label and would make a treasured possession or gift.
Shadowplayers can be purchased at www.amazon.co.uk/Shadowplayers-Rise-Fall-Factory-Records/dp/1845135407
There are beautiful full colour photographs throughout, as well as 1:25 000 Ordnance Survey mapping marked with points of interest along the route shown alongside the text to give detailed illustrations of the route in question. If this does not suffice, the guides' comprehensive 'Useful Information' sections provide further places of reference, such as useful websites, as well as details of public transport, local facilities, local organisations and information for cyclists and horse riders if necessary.
The guides are suited to walkers, cyclists and horse-riders, whether you are a long-distance walker or a weekend stroller, there are optional shorter walks if you do not want to tackle the larger parts of the trails. All feature stunning views, famous landmarks, and interesting information about some of England's most beautiful trails.
The wide variety of guides are available to purchase at www.amazon.co.uk . Please also visit http://www.nationtrail.co.uk/ for more information about the full variety of English trails.
The 100 miles of the South Downs Way are a particularly attractive National Trail- for the walker, the horse rider or mountain biker. Following the spacious chalk downland that sweeps from the pleasant south coast seaside town of Eastbourne to the ancient cathedral city of Winchester, it offers fabulous views, a magnificent sense of solitude, and at the same time, easy transport connections and plenty of sights to see, from the pretty Sussex village of Alfriston to Cissbury Ring iron age fort, not to mention the sudden colourful flash of a hang glider serenly soaring above Devil's Dyke.
For the long-distance walker or cyclist, the horse-rider or the weekend stroller, this official guide offers everything you need in one volume. Whichever category you fit into you'll find valuable information, be it details of horsebox parking, vets, saddlers and farriers for horse riders or cycle repair shops along the way. The guide also offers circular routes off the Trail for shorter walks or rides, as well as details of pubs and refreshments along the way.
South Downs Way can be purchased at http://www.amazon.co.uk/. For information about upcoming events and walks along South Downs Way go to http://www.nationtrail.co.uk/ which will also provide you with images of the route to inspire you for your next trip!
Start planning your trip now, go to http://www.amazon.co.uk/ to buy the book and then head to http://www.bwf-ivv.org.uk/ to organise events or group walks. Other useful links can also be found in the book's Useful Information section.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Since 2003 the Wisden Cricketer has run a monthly feature called ‘Eyewitness’. Each article takes a seminal moment in the history of cricket and invites the key protagonists to reminisce about it, relive it and reflect. Now for the first time the very best of ‘Eyewitness’ has been collected in one volume. The result is a fascinating tour of cricket’s most memorable moments, as told by the very people who were there and who made them happen.
Here is everything from David Steele’s remarkable Test summer of 1975 to Brian Lara’s awe-inspiring first season with Warwickshire; from the Packer Revolution to Michael Holding kicking down John Parker’s stumps during West Indies’ ill-tempered 1979 tour of New Zealand; from the day the incongruous clang of Dennis Lillee’s aluminium bat first rang out across a cricket field to Essex bowling Surrey out for 14 and ‘weak Victorian’ Dean Jones being hospitalised after his 210 slog in the 40° heat of Madras.
Above all, every story is told in the words of the cricketers, reporters and bystanders who witnessed them. Like Graham Gooch reliving his magnificent triple century against India. Or Lancashire all-rounder David Hughes describing darkness fall over Old Trafford as he plundered 24 off John Mortimore at the end of an astonishing 1971 Gillette Cup semi-final.
Whether re-awakening memories of past glories or opening old wounds, Flying Stumps and Metal Bats is a unique oral history and the perfect gift for any fan of the endlessly unpredictable, ever controversial game that is cricket.
The Wisden Cricketer is the world’s highest-selling monthly cricket magazine. Launched in 2003, it was the result of a merger between Wisden Cricket Monthly and the Cricketer.
1979. The dawn of Thatcher’s Britain. It’s a country crippled by strikes, joblessness and economic gloom, divided by race and class - and skanking to a new beat: 2-Tone.
The unruly offspring of white boy punk and rude boy ska, the new music’s undeniable leaders were The Specials. Bursting out of Coventry’s concrete jungle, their lyrics spoke of failed marriages, petty violence, crowded dance floors, gangsters and race hate - but with a wit that outshone their angry punk forebears.
On stage they were electric, and at the heart of this energy was the vocal chemistry of the ethereal Terry Hall and Jamaican rude boy Neville Staple.
In 1961, aged only five, Neville was sent to England to live with his father – a man for whom discipline bordered on child abuse. Growing up black in the Midlands of the Sixties and Seventies wasn’t easy, but then Nev was hardly an angel. His youth was marked by scuffles with skins, compulsive womanising, and a life of crime that led from shoplifting to burglary and eventually Borstal and Wormwood Scrubs.
But throughout there was music, and now Nev tells how a very bad boy became part of the most important band of the Eighties. He remembers sound system battles; the legendary 2-Tone tour with The Selecter, Madness and Dexy’s – and their clashes with NF thugs. He recalls the band’s increasing tensions and eventual split; his subsequent foray into bubblegum pop with Fun Boy Three; and a new found fame in America, as godfather to bands like Gwen Stefani’s No Doubt. Finally he reflects on The Specials’ reunion and how even now, thirty years on, they can’t help tearing themselves apart.
Raucous and charming Original Rude Boy is the story of a man who done too much, much too young.
Neville Staple was a frontman with The Specials, a member of the hugely successful pop trio Fun Boy Three and now tours the world with own his own ska act The Neville Staple Band. Visit him at: www.nevillestaple.co.uk
Tony McMahon is a journalist and TV producer living in south London.
‘The producer – for the last thirty-four years – was Peter Baxter’
Studio announcer Andy Rushton signs off Peter Baxter’s final show, June 2007
Since its first live broadcast in 1957, Test Match Special had become synonymous with British summertime, proudly fulfilling its slogan ‘Don’t miss a ball, we broadcast them all’. Peter Baxter has been at the show’s heart for most of its history, and now for the first time shares his best moments and most memorable characters from his privileged position inside the TMS commentary box.
Having worked alongside TMS greats John Arlott, Brian Johnston, Henry Blofeld and Jonathan Agnew, no one is better qualified than Peter Baxter to celebrate thirty years of cricket in this fascinating, funny and personal account of a sporting and broadcasting institution.
‘The Morrissey and Marr recollections are particularly revealing’ The Word
Buzzcocks. Joy Division. The Fall. The Smiths. The Stone Roses. Happy Mondays. Oasis. Manchester has proved to be endlessly rich of musical talent over the last 30 years.
Highly opinionated and usually controversial, stars such as Mark E. Smith, Morrissey, Ian Brown and the Gallagher brothers have always had plenty to say for themselves. Here, in John Robb’s new compilation, Manchester’s musicians tell the story of the city’s thriving music scene in their own words.
From the fury of punk to the raucousness of Britpop, Manchester has been at the heart of musical innovation. The revolution began with the Buzzcocks at Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976; the city’s own record label, Factory, gave the world Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays. There was the cerebral genius of The Smiths, and the rivalry between The Stone Roses and Oasis to headline the most massive gig.
Now, in dozens of new interviews with Manchester’s proudest sons, from Morrissey to Ian Brown, John Robb tells the story of the city’s unique music scene.
John Robb is a leading music journalist and the author of the bestselling biography of the Stone Roses. His other books include Punk: An Oral History, The Charlatans … We Are Rock and The Nineties: What the F**k Was That All About? He lives in Manchester.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Christie's formative years were marked by violent battles fought against racists in and around the predominantly white Coventry estate where he grew up. The fortitude garnered from such a rough upbringing was what propelled Christie, now 46, into an amateur boxing career which then became a three-year term as captain of the English boxing team. His success peaked in 1983 when he was crowned European champion. Unfortunately, this event induced much violent indignation among Christie's compatriots - compatriots who felt the man, a foreign alien in their eyes, had no right to represent their country. In fact, the colour of Christie's skin was an issue right up to the end of his boxing career in 1985 when he was defeated by Kaylor.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
So optimistic, in fact, that it was Davis' rare genetic disorder that launched him into showbiz. The actor, now 40, has enjoyed a 29-year career starring alongside the likes of Val Kilmer and David Bowie. But he is probably most fondly remembered for his role as Wicket the Ewok in several Star Wars films and as Filius Flitwick in the Harry Potter series
Davis is currently on a book-signing tour around the UK. For details of dates and locations, please visit his website.
Monday, April 26, 2010
This is the 1980s follow up to the success of Turner's Crisis? What Crisis?
The first full-length, in-depth history of this most fascinating of decades. If the Seventies, the subject of his previous book, were the last gasp of the old Britain, the Eighties were a truly transitional, politically revolutionary decade, when Thatcherism remade Britain's economy and its society, but when Britain's social fabric also changed in many infinitely more encouraging ways: the response to famine in Ethiopia with the global Live Aid concert; gay rights.
Witty, formidably well-informed, on political intrigue as well as every last soap opera and rock album, this is a piece of genuinely new history.
Dominic Sandbrook, The Sunday Times: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/non-fiction/article7082806.ece
On Wednesday, 28 April at 7pm Waterstone's Piccadilly will be hosting an evening with Warwick Davis.
Tickets are £3 but redeemable against the purchase of the book on the night