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Biography - Biography Bestsellers

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 Contributor Review: Biography
Inspire: Oliver Chittenden, Author.
Inspire - Oliver Chittenden
The title says a lot about this book, it is indeed inspirational. Inspire tells twelve stories about twelve remarkable British people, all of whom have overcome great obstacles to achieve what they have to date. What drives them? Courage, dedication, a passionate belief in what they do, and in some cases not a small amount of risk-taking! Oliver Chittenden gives us a glimpse into the minds of these people through face to face interviews, insightful background information, and wonderful portrait photographs by Sam Pelly. Read the full review..
 Recommended Titles:

Friends Like These by Danny Wallace

I haven't read a Danny Wallace book before. I hadn't even heard of him until I read a couple of extracts from "Friends Like These" in the paper. To say it is funny doesn't get near to doing it justice. I commute on the train and it is now embarassing reading it as I am unable to control laughing out loud at the book. I am the same age as Danny, so whether some of his memories ring even more true because of this, I don't know. But his observational humour, hilarious stories and descriptive narrative really make you feel like you are on a journey with him.


My Manchester United Years - Sir Bobby Charlton

Not since Arthur Hopcraft produced the sublime 'The Football Man' in 1968 has a book on sport moved me so profoundly. When it was announced that a Bobby Charlton autobiography was imminent, I feared that it would fail to do justice to arguably the most compelling sporting figure of my lifetime. In the event, it is a majestic work, capturing perfectly, and often poignantly, the essence of the man and his times. Footballing matters are dealt with faithfully and comprehensively, but perhaps the tale is at its most arresting when addressing human relationships. There are numerous delightful vignettes which offer evocative insights into household names and he confronts family issues with candour. Charlton emerges not only as a great sportsman, but also as a sensitive, intelligent, appealingly wistful soul. Quite simply, I love the book.


Winning Is Not Enough: The Autobiography - Jackie Stewart

Sir Jackie Stewart is one of the most highly regarded names in global sport -- winner of three F1 World Championships, 27 Grands Prix and ranked in the top five drivers of all time. On retiring from the circuit, he went on to build an equally impressive international business career. In the 1960s and into the 70s, with his black cap, sideburns and aviator shades Jackie Stewart was an unmistakable icon in a glorious era of style, glamour and speed. On the track, his story is one of drama, excitement, tragedy, controversy, celebrity, danger and massive success. Beyond the sport his life is a compelling tale of battling against the odds and achieving world-wide recognition as an outstanding sportsman, a role model and a highly accomplished and respected businessman.


Head on - Ian Botham: The Autobiography

Ian Botham, voted the cricketer of the 20th century by the fans, was a genuine all-rounder who, when on form, was simply unstoppable. In his miraculous early career, he broke all the records such as: the fastest ever all-rounder to achieve the magical test doubles of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets, 2,000 runs and 200 wickets, and 3,000 runs and 300 wickets. He scored a century and took five wickets in an innings in the same test match on five different occasions - a feat nobody else has managed more than twice. He even briefly held the world record for the greatest number of test wickets. For his part in the '81 Ashes alone he has achieved immortality. On the 4th day of the Headingly test, with England in deep trouble and 500-1 against with the bookies, Botham single-handedly brought them back from the dead with his 149 not-out. An innings which Wisden rate as the 4th finest of all time.


In the Frame: My Life in Words and Pictures - Helen Mirren

The Observer
'her writing is gentle and Alan Bennettish, with tender, melancholy detail'

Boyd Tonkin, The Independent
'Such is the innate strength of Mirren's tale that she, rightly, keeps the tone informal and the temperature down. When a story grips as this one does, a great performer never needs to roar.'


The Last Fighting Tommy: The Life of Harry Patch, the Oldest Surviving Veteran of the Trenches: The Life of Harry Patch, the Only Surviving Veteran of the Trenches

The Last Fighting Tommy is a wonderful book about a remarkable man, Harry Patch. Harry Patch is the last remaining British soldier to survive the Western front. He is now 109 years old and 90 years ago he was sent with his best mates to fight in the mud and blood of Passchendale.

How Harry has made it to 109 is incredible, but when you read that he had an 2 inch lump of white hot shrapnel blasted into his guts, while his mates were blown up, we know are reading something very special. But this is much more than another book on WW1 trench life, this is Harry's story. There are no hero's or cowards, there is no patriotism and little bitterness. This is one mans story of how he did his duty and how awful it was.


Eric Clapton: The Autobiography

At some point in the late 60s, Eric Clapton fell in love with Pattie Boyd, wife of his close friend George Harrison. Clapton's 1970 masterpiece, "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" was an offering and a plea to her; they eventually married in 1979 and divorced in 1988. Clapton's memoir follows the recent release of Boyd's side of the story in "Wonderful Tonight". His description of his relationship with Boyd, though, offers few excuses for his emotional swings, substance abuse and extramarital affairs that defined much of their decade together...


Wonderful Today: The Autobiography of Pattie Boyd

In this long-awaited autobiography of Pattie Boyd's life, including her two legendary ten-years-or-so marriages to two of rock's biggest names, Eric Clapton and George Harrison, co-author Penny Junor has managed to coax a great many interesting revelations and stories from a very private, somewhat reluctant and reticent Pattie. And so she is to be commended.

The book starts with a fairly unremarkable middle-class upbringing - even though she spends some of her early youth in Kenya, her father is disfigured in the war and her parents ultimately split up and she has to come to terms with a new 'wicked' stepfather, it all nevertheless seems very British and reserved...


Barefaced Lies and Boogie-woogie Boasts

The marvellously witty memoir by Britain's most popular pianist and bandleader. Jools Holland has had a fascinating life. From playing on bomb sites as a boy in South East London, to skiving off school and then rocketing to international success with Squeeze, the first twenty years of his life were eventful, chaotic and colourful. Then came The Tube, the seminal live music programme of the Eighties. Along with fellow icon, Paula Yates, Jools Holland's provocative and irreverent style of presenting broke the mould of music shows on British television. It was an exhilarating and exciting time. He made further shows in America and England, and in 1992, began broadcasting Later with Jools Holland, one of the BBC's most successful music shows of all time, which has given countless television debuts to now world famous bands. From playing pubs as a teenager greaser in the East End docks, to leading his rhythm and blues orchestra and selling millions of records in this century, it is his passion for music that has made Jools Holland into a doyen of the music scene and which suffuses the pages of this fascinating and delightful autobiography.


Stuart: A Life Backwards

Tne story of Stuart Shorter is the story of a person nobody wants to know- the homeless 'nutter', the beggar, the addict, the offender. Nobody that is, except, for reasons that aren't at first clear even to him, Alexander Masters, a hostel worker who stumbles across Stuart begging in Cambridge. Their relationship is unique in literature, one is an illiterate yob and the other is an ex-boarding-school pupil and do-gooder. Somehow they immediately connect and as their touching relationship unfolds and Stuart's life is rewound, you realise that this nutter is a truly amazing human being. His biographer brings him to life so brilliantly it is impossible not to howl (mentally at least) with laughter at their adventures at the Home Office, Stuart's incisive insights, and then at the agony of the inevitable tragedies. Brilliant, buy it, be moved and then wonder how much potential is in all those homeless 'scum' asking for change from downtrodden commuters on their way to and from work.


Letters of Ted Hughes

The poet Ted Hughes experienced the sort of vilification in the second part of his life more appropriate to a war-criminal. His first wife Sylvia Plath committed suicide, as did his partner Assia Wevill. There is ample evidence that both Plath and Wevill were psychologically disturbed before either of them ever set eyes on TH but, it would seem, Ted Hughes had to be vilified. Maybe it's human nature to want a villain. It is certainly human nature to be curious about other people's lives...


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