Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks

Over the past 30 years, Prince Rogers Nelson has been one of the most original and charismatic figures in music. Known for seminal hits such as 'Kiss', 'Little Red Corvette' and 'Let's Go Crazy', his restless creativity has made a profound mark on the music industry and popular culture. Even more remarkable, perhaps, is the scale and longevity of his success; at the height of his fame, his album Purple Rain sold a million copies a week in the US, and just four years ago his sell-out London concerts attracted over 350,000 fans.

Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks is the most intimate and authoritative biography ever to be written about this fascinating artist, and Aurum are delighted to be releasing it this February. Acclaimed music journalist Ronin Ro lays bare the life of one of one of the most extraordinary musicians of our time, chronicling Prince's journey from teenage obscurity to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Through unrivalled access to producers, bandmates and close friends, he peels away the masks to tell the story of a true modern icon.

You can read an exclusive excerpt from Prince: Inside the Music and the Masks at the Vanity Fair website.

Coming: February 2012
Format: Hardback, 384 pages
Price: £20

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ray Harryhausen's Fantasy Scrapbook

Ray Harryhausen's Fantasy Scrapbook by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton

November saw the release of Ray Harryhausen's Fantasy Scrapbook, a compendium of models, storyboards and concept drawings from the legendary pioneer of stop-motion animation. This new book is compiled from a wide range of never-before-seen artefacts from Ray's life and career, many of them only recently discovered in a Los Angeles garage. Through his original sketches, scripts and letters, it offers fascinating insights into the mind of one of Hollywood's great animators.

With informative introductions to each film and detailed captions for every image, this illuminating volume is a must for all film fans. Harryhausen's seminal work on Jason and the Argonauts, The 7th Joyage of Sinbad and Clash of the Titans remains hugely influential and Ray Harryhausen's Fantasy Scrapbook does his creativity and imagination justice.

"Thoroughly engrossing, whether you’re a Harryhausen fan or just a film fan in general. It’s an absolute delight to browse through and, crucially, captures the character of the man behind the monsters"

"This collection truly is a thing of beauty ... A must buy for Ray's fans" Starburst Magazine

Ray Harryhausen's Fantasy Scrapbook is available to buy here.

If the Fantasy Scrapbook has animated your interest and you're looking for more stop-motion history, then look no further. Aurum have published three more books by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton:

The Art of Ray Harryhausen by Ray Harryhuasen and Tony Dalton, with a foreword by Peter Jackson

"A splendid volume... fabulous illustrations" Jonathan Ross

Available in paperback here.

Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton, with an foreword by Ray Bradbury

"A sumptuous account of the veteran animator's life on celluloid" The Independent

Available in paperback here.

A Century of Model Animation: From Méliès to Aardman by Ray Harryhausen and Tony Dalton

"A work full of love for the subject" SFX Magazine

Available in hardback here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Looking Forward to 2012

We're two weeks into the New Year, so if you haven't quite got round to joining the gym or learning a language yet, why not make it your resolution to read one of these great new books from Aurum:

The Austerity Olympics by Janie Hampton

It can't possibly have escaped anyone's notice that London's Olympic year has finally arrived. But while we're getting caught up in this summer's excitement, 2012 will also be a time to look back to when Britain last hosted the Games.

The London Olympics of 1948 were a vastly different occasion to this year's extravaganza. With the Blitz fresh in the city's memory and rationing still in force, the Games were organised for less than one hundredth of a per cent of 2012's massive budget. Janie Hampton's The Austerity Olympics is a vivid account of the Olympic Games of the past. With tales of athletes being ferried to events on double-decker buses and sewing their own kit in makeshift accommodation, the book depicts a world that is far removed from the Games of 2012. It will be a fascinating read for Olympic fanatics and sceptics alike.

Interviews with some of the athletes who competed in 1948 can be read in Kate Youde's fascinating article for the Independent here.

"[Hampton] has an illuminating sense of detail, and her book tells a story that goes beyond that of a sporting event - a story of innocence, hope and pride." The Daily Telegraph

"Hampton's excellent book should be compulsory reading for everyone involved in the 2012 London Olympics." Daily Mail Critics' Choice

Re-issued: April 2012
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Price: £8.99

The previous edition of The Austerity Olympics is available to buy here.

Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall by Will Ellsworth-Jones

From his home city of Bristol to Los Angeles, New York and London, Banksy's exhibitions have attracted huge audiences. New works of graffiti go viral almost instantly, and such is the commercial value of his work that people have hacked whole walls from buildings because they bear his trademark stencilled designs.

But how much do we really know about this notoriously secretive artist? How has he become the phenomenal success that he is today, and how does he protect his anonymity under the glare of worldwide fame? In Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall, Will Ellsworth-Jones pieces together his subject's life and builds a picture of the world in which he operates. Incorporating interviews with friends and enemies, those who knew him in his early, unnoticed days and those who have watched him come to terms with his new-found fame, this is a book that gets to the very heart of who Banksy is and what his life's work adds up to.

Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall is released in March. In the meantime, you can see a few of his best works at his official website.

Coming: March 2012
Format: Hardback, 320pp
Price: £20

Just Boris: The Irresistible Rise of a Political Celebrity by Sonia Purnell

In May, Londoners will go to the polls to choose their next mayor. The question on the minds of many will be whether the capital keeps Boris Johnson or ends his four-year spell at City Hall. Speculation that he has one eye on Downing Street continues to bubble to the surface, but one thing remains certain: Johnson is Britain's most recognisable and comically self-deprecating politician. He has become notorious for his gaffes and attracted controversy with his candid manner, but has climbed to one of Britain's highest political offices nonetheless.

As a former colleague of Johnson's at the Daily Telegraph, Sonia Purnell holds a unique vantage point over the Mayor of London's remarkable career. In Just Boris, she examines how the archetypal old Etonian came to be a Man of the People capable of charming London; how a shy young boy from a broken home became one of our most distinctive political figures; and how the Johnson family has built a media and political dynasty.

The first comprehensive account of his life and career, Just Boris unravels a political enigma and asks whether the man who has made his mark on London has what it takes to be Prime Minister.

You can read Carole Cadwalladr's review of Just Boris for the Guardian here.

"Sonia Purnell must have had huge fun writing this wonderful book. The only person who won't be amused is Boris himself." Michael Crick

"Future biographers will always be in her debt. Purnell has accumulated a wealth of previously unknown detail." Andrew Grimson, The Spectator

Coming: March 2012
Format: Paperback, 464 pages
Price: £8.99

Just Boris is available to buy in hardback here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Round-up of 2011

With New Year's Eve already a fast-fading memory, it's time for a look back at Aurum's 2011. Here are some of the books we were most excited about last year...

Britain's Lost Cricket Grounds by Chris Arnot

One of last year's biggest books for Aurum was Britain's Lost Cricket Grounds by Chris Arnot. In this sumptuously illustrated volume, Arnot takes a journey to forty of the country's former cricket grounds. In their heyday, they were cherished focal-points for their local communities, but each of them now has its own sad story of demise and abandonment. The Hastings ground has been replaced with a shopping centre; another, in Sheffield, made way for an expanding football stadium. What unites them all is that magical missing sound: the crack of leather on willow.

Following the success of Britain's Lost Cities and Lost Victorian Britain, Chris Arnot tours the length and breadth of the country, hears the reminiscences of former players and spectators and unearths what is left of their once-loved grounds. The result is a rueful and reflective exploration of our lost sporting heritage.

You can read Steve James's review of Britain's Lost Cricket Grounds for the Daily Telegraph here.

"A beautifully written volume that is rich in history and anecdote... some magnificent photos will invoke poignant memories."

"Chris Arnot’s heady romantic hymn to a variety of once famous fields is a coffee-table classic for and of posterity. Everyone will mourn for a personal vanished favourite." The Guardian

Britain's Lost Cricket Grounds is available to buy here.

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay

2011 also saw the release in paperback of The Secret Life of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay. This critically acclaimed title, which was a surprise hit of 2010 in hardback, tells the story of the men and women whose code-cracking efforts were a decisive turning-point in the Second World War.

While Bletchley Park may be famous for its work in breaking the Enigma code machine, McKay also brings to life the memories of the ordinary people who found themselves stationed at this secretive Buckinghamshire country home. Through the accounts of Bletchley Park's surviving residents, the book tells tales of winters spent skating on the estate's frozen lake, high-jinks in the accommodation blocks and lives of implacable secrecy. It is the most revealing insight yet into a unique, intriguing and distinctly British episode in history.

You can read Keith Lowe's review of The Secret Life of Bletchley Park for the Daily Telegraph here.

"McKay has succeeded in honouring a genuinely remarkable group of people in a solid, often entertaining and above all warm-hearted way." Daily Mail

"A remarkably faithful account of what we did, why it mattered, and how it all felt at the time." Patricia Brown, wartime Bletchley Park worker, The Guardian

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park is available to buy here.

Fred Trueman: The Authorised Biography by Chris Waters

Throughout his cricketing career in the 50s and 60s, Fred Trueman was known for his fearsome fast bowling and fiery personality. Described by Prime Minister Harold Wilson as 'the greatest living Yorkshireman', he played with a fierce, full-blooded determination to win. Later in life, he would become known as an outspoken commentator for Test Match Special, cementing his status as a cricketing legend.

Chris Waters' perceptive new biography, however, portrays a more complex and troubled figure than anyone might have expected. Drawing on dozens of new interviews with those who knew him best, Waters tells the story of the self-doubting personality beneath Trueman's apparent bravado. This balanced, authoritative study of Fred Trueman's life will surprise - maybe even shock - his many admirers, but also confirms him as an English folk hero.

You can read Rob Bagchi's review of Fred Trueman: The Authorised Biography for the Guardian here.

"His multi-coloured life is given sharper focus by the meticulous research and unforgiving anecdotes of Chris Waters. The strengths of the book lie in the breadth of insights from those closest to Trueman, along with Waters’ own sharp conclusions." The Cricketer

"Perceptive biography… Waters has done a good job in disentangling the man from the myths, many of which were eagerly promoted by Fiery Fred himself." Indpendent on Sunday

Fred Trueman: The Authorised Biography is available to buy here.

And finally...

Sign Language: Travels in Unfortunate English from the Readers of the Telegraph

We have a feeling that Sign Language might have been tumbling out of a few Christmas stockings this year. Full of titillating translations, unintended innuendo and side-splitting spelling mistakes, it's bound to have been raising a few chuckles.

You can catch up with the Daily Telegraph's Sign Language photo galleries here.

Sign language is available to buy here.