Newest Autobiography Reviews

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Wild Child: Growing Up a Nomad by Ian Mathie

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography

For Ian Mathie fans there is good and bad news. Ian has come up with the missing link in his narrative, the story of a very unusual childhood (yes, the very years that made him the amazing man he became). The bad – well it's hardly news two years later – is that the book is published posthumously. As always, it's beautifully written, with many exciting moments. What I most enjoyed was the feeling that many of the questions in Ian Mathie's later books are answered in Wild Child with a satisfying clunk. Seemingly all that's now left in the drawer is unpublishable. Full Review


Painting Snails by Stephen John Hartley

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Lifestyle

It's very difficult to classify Painting Snails: originally I thought that as it's loosely based around a year on an allotment it would be a lifestyle book, but you're not going to get advice on what to plant when and where for the best results. The answer would be something along the lines of 'try it and see'. Then I considered popular science as Stephen Hartley failed his A levels, did an engineering apprenticeship, became a busker, finally got into medical school and is now an A&E consultant (part time). I found out that there's an awful lot more to what goes on in a Major Trauma Centre than you'll ever glean from Casualty, but that isn't really what the book's about. There's a lot about rock & roll, which seems to be the real passion of Hartley's life, but it didn't actually fit into the entertainment genre either. Did we have a category for 'doing the impossible the hard way'? Yep - that's the one. It's autobiography. Full Review


How to Lose a Country: The 7 Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship by Ece Temelkuran

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Politics and Society, Autobiography, History

A little while ago a friend asked me if I thought that we were living through what in years to come would be discussed by A level history students when faced with the question Discuss the factors which led to... I agreed that she was right and wasn't certain whether it was a good or bad thing that we didn't know what all 'this' was leading to. I think now that I do know. We are in danger of losing democracy and whilst it's a flawed system I can't think of a better one, particularly as the 'benevolent dictator' is as rare as hen's teeth. Full Review


Deviation by Luce d'Eramo and Anne Milano Appel (translator)

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Literary Fiction, Autobiography, Historical Fiction

For those of you who have read books of life in the Nazi camps – and of course, for those of you who have not – this can be considered a next step. It begins, after all, with someone escaping Dachau and fleeing her work assignment during a bombing raid, and you'd not blame her one minute, as her career was deemed to be cess-tank cleaner and sewage unblocker by the Germans. In Munich, she stumbles on help to get her to what seems to be a camp for non-native civilians to look for work, or company, or transport elsewhere, either official or otherwise. But then the next chapter sees her going back into the camp next to Dachau once more, and by then eyebrows are being raised. Full Review

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Ask For Blues by Malcolm Walton

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Entertainment, General Fiction

Malcolm Walton's book is clearly a memoir about his introduction to the Trad Jazz scene of the late 1950's and early 1960's, but he has chosen to write it in the form of a novel, claiming in his prologue that this would give the book a different approach to the music memoir. His protagonist 'Martin' takes on Malcolm's mantle, and begins with his first discovery of the Salvation Army band with his grandfather. This catapults him into a love of music, initially taking piano lessons, and later delving into his true love – the trumpet. Full Review

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War Baby: A Dyslexic Life by Mike Strange

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography

The author admits here that there is a peculiar ground where the autobiography of somebody very unfamous lies – it stands as a personal document for the family concerned, as much as a book to capture the attention of strangers. Either way, there are certainly events of note to be covered here – from an idyllic if damp Sussex farmhouse the lad gets evacuated, with his mother and gran, to maternal relatives in South Wales, and arrive back when it's clear we aren't about to be invaded – that is to say, just in time to be in the flightpath of all the doodlebugs and V2 rockets. A boisterous teenaged existence post-war leads to Mr Strange needing a few nudges to get into the academic world, at which he ultimately excels – even with a strong case of dyslexia. Full Review

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Find Another Place by Ben Graff

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Biography, Autobiography, Home and Family

When Ben Graff's grandfather Martin handed him a plastic folder of handwritten notes from his journal, he didn't take much notice of it. At the age of 24, Graff didn't realise the gravity of the pages he was holding. [[Find Another Place by Ben Graff|Full Review]

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Birth of a Dream Weaver: A writer's awakening by Ngugi wa Thiong'o

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography

The true story of Kenya's foremost author in his own words. Ngugi wa Thiong'o is the most important writer that you've (or at the very least, I've) never heard of. In this volume of his autobiographical series we follow Ngugi as he ventures to University in Uganda and starts writing professionally. Ngugi tells the story of British colonialism at the end of the Empire as clearly as his own tale – making this one of the most important books on the market today. Full Review

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Parenting through the Eyes of a Child: Memoirs of My Childhood by Tabitha Ochekpe Omeiza

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Lifestyle

Tabitha Ochekpe Omeiza was brought up in Nigeria and came to Britain to study for her A levels when she was 18. Her parents used their savings to give her this opportunity and called it an investment in her future. Now a qualified pharmacist, married and with a child of her own, Tabitha looks back at her childhood and reflects on the way her mother and father raised her. And she gives their parenting top marks. Full Review

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Revelation Ch:25 - A Letter To The Churches From The 24th Elder by Edward K Micheal

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Spirituality and Religion

Edward K Michael has taken the brave step of laying out his spiritual journey for all to see. It is a deeply personal book and he's honest enough - genuine enough - to wonder if he would have taken a different path if he had known then what he knows now, but he's generous enough too to hope that people will find comfort in the supernatural manifestations he has seen. Before you begin reading you will need to accept that the book seems to have been written without editorial intervention: you are hearing the real man speak and what you will read is very close to stream of consciousness. Full Review

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The Art of Failing: Notes from the Underdog by Anthony McGowan

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography

I had not come across Anthony McGowan's work before reading this book, as he mainly writes for Young Adults. I can imagine his books to be engaging and humorous from the clever way he constructs sentences, and the ironic subtlety with which he uses descriptive details. Full Review

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Don't Let My Past Be Your Future: A Call to Arms by Harry Leslie Smith

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Politics and Society, Autobiography

Don't Let My Past Be Your Future: A Call to Arms is part autobiography and part rallying call for society to tackle the systemic, endemic and debilitating inequality faced by the people of the United Kingdom, particularly in the North. Through reflecting on his own experiences during his childhood, Harry Leslie Smith has painted a frank and uncompromising picture of the grim, appallingly miserable childhood he had to endure due to the poverty faced by his family contrasted with the, shamefully still, grim and miserable lives many people endure today in a country ravaged by cuts, austerity and political turmoil. Full Review

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China in Drag: Travels with a Cross-dresser by Michael Bristow

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography Politics and Society, Travel

Having worked for nine years in Bejing as a journalist for the BBC, author Michael Bristow decided to write about Chinese history. Having been learning the local language for several years, Bristow asked his language teacher for guidance - the language teacher, born in the early fifties, offered Bristow a compelling picture of life in Communist China - but added to that, Bristow was greatly surprised to find that his language teacher also enjoyed spending his spare time in ladies clothing. It soon becomes clear that the tale told here is immensely personal - yet also paints a fascinating portrait of one of the world's most intriguing nations. Full Review

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A Bientot... by Roger Moore

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Entertainment, Lifestyle

The news of the death of Sir Roger Moore in May 2017 came as a great shock: he was one of those people you knew would go on for ever. There was just one small glimmer of light in the sadness - the news that a matter of days before his death he'd delivered the finished manuscript of his book, À bientôt…, to his publishers. Just a few months later a copy landed on my desk and I didn't even bother to look as though I could resist reading it straight away. Full Review

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Twelve Times To The Max: One Man's Journey to, and Recollections of, Setting Twelve Verified World Records by Stuart Burrell

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography, Sport

The first of Stuart Burrell's world records, well, the first two, actually, as he's not a man to do things by halves, came about by accident. There had been a plan to raise some money for the Children in Need Charity and quite late on the people who were to have been the main attraction got a better offer and Burrell is not a man to let people down. What could be done to bring people in and raise some money? Most of us would have thought of jumble sales and cake bakes, but Burrell had made a hobby of escapology and idea of a sponsored escape had life breathed into it. On 3 November 2002 he went for the Fastest Handcuff Escape world record and immediately afterwards Most Handcuffs Escaped in One Hour. Both were successful and more than £300 was raised for Children in Need. Full Review

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What Language Do I Dream In? by Elena Lappin

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography

Speaking many languages fluently seems close to a superpower to most of us. Elena Lappin's memoir is about how she came to be at home in five or more languages, and what effect this has on her identity. Her family's history and the emigrations that led to her learning so many languages are caught up with European events. As a child she moved from Russia to Czechoslovakia and from there to Germany. Elena was encouraged by exchange holidays abroad to learn French and English too. Then she chose university in Israel and learnt Hebrew. So just as the rest of us might pick up bits of furniture or books from our various homes, Elena picked up a language every time. A clever member of an intellectual household, with parents who were translators and writers, there never seems to have been great effort involved in acquiring languages, it just happened. Full Review

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The French Cashew Tree by Parrain Thorance

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography

The place isn't given a name, but we can work out that it's in the Caribbean and it's here that Parrain Thorance had an idyllic childhood with his parents, brother and sister until he was eight years old. It was then that his mother died suddenly and the family was broken up: his brother and sister went to live with an aunt and Parrain stayed with his father - but an aunt and uncle moved into the family home. The aunt - his father's sister - was fine, but Parrain and her husband never got on. The easy, generous days of childhood, sitting under the titular French Cashew Tree might still be there superficially, but paradise would never be untainted again. Full Review

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A Life in the Day: Memories of Sixties London, Lots of Writing, The Beatles and my Beloved Wife by Hunter Davies

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Autobiography

Although I knew the name Hunter Davies before I picked this book up, I was unaware just how pivotal a figure of the Swinging Sixties Hunter Davies really was. Take him, Harold Wilson and a certain musical quartet from Liverpool out of the decade, and you are left with a bit of a vacuum. Full Review

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War by Roald Dahl

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Short Stories, Autobiography

In war, are we at our heroic best or our cowardly worst? Featuring the autobiographical stories from Roald Dahl's time as a fighter pilot in the Second World War as well as seven other tales of conflict and strife, Dahl reveals the human side of our most inhumane activity. Full Review

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Threads: The Delicate Life of John Craske by Julia Blackburn

link=Category:{{{rating}}} Star Reviews Biography, Art

John Craske was a fisherman, from a family of fishermen, who became too ill to go to sea. He was born in Sheringham on the north Norfolk coast in 1881 and would eventually die in the Norwich hospital in 1943 after a life which could have been defined by ill health. There were various explanations for what ailed him, what caused him to sink into a stupour, sometimes for years at a time and he was on occasions described as 'an imbecile'. But John had a natural artistic talent, albeit that his work had to be done on the available surfaces in his home. Chair seats, window sills, the backs of doors all carried his wonderful pictures of the sea. Then he moved on to embroidery, producing wonderful pictures of the Norfolk coast - and, most famously, of the evacuation at Dunkirk. Full Review