A stunning biography of the Koh-i-noor diamond that has been coveted for millennia. Dalrymple and Anand cover the myths and history of the most famous rock in the work with a deft yet firm touch. Beautifully written, Kohinoor is a superb biography of one of the most divisive items in the world.
A look back on the epic battle between Ford and Ferrari in the late 1960's at Le Mans. The 24 Hour War recounts the troubled birth of the legendary Ford GT40 and the lengths the Ford Motor Company went to to beat the world over the course of a day. While a solid racing documentary, the focus is disingenuous and Amerocentric, which does a disservice the international racers that made the GT40 what it was.
Life Moves Pretty Fast is a race through why 80's films were better, deeper and better (did I mention better?). Hadley Freeman's look back at some of the standout films of the decade is a fabulous conversation on that era and why we've lost that heart in our films today.
A thriller is a funny thing. It really serves one purpose, to capture the reader and make sure they keep turning the pages. For something so simple, it is a very hard thing to get right. With Find Me, J.S. Monroe has crafted a dark, twisty, twisted thriller that keeps the pages turning.
I have loved Robert Radcliffe's previous five novels, to the point I even read one of them as an eBook. Radcliffe’s new tale is his most ambitious yet. Airborne is the first of trilogy of novels telling the tale of a boy caught between countries, in search of a father and who finds two; John Frost, godfather of the Parachute Regiment and Erwin Rommel, The Desert Fox.
A year on from Adam Sisman's exhaustive biography, John Le Carre takes up his own pen to tell the stories he wants too from his life. Entertainingly written and yet somewhat light on it's feet, The Pigeon Tunnel manages to captivate as a good Le Carre does and tell you nothing that you don't already know. Some would call the the perfect autobiography.
The final chapter in Chris Beckett's Eden trilogy is a fitting finale for our time on Eden. This is as spoiler free a review I can make it with out spoiling the whole thing. Suffice to say, it is a strong finish.
Disney's newest gamble is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a film set between the events of Episode III and in the weeks leading up to Episode IV. Dropping the film into the middle of the cannon is risky and needs a steady hand. It is a gamble that has paid off, correcting the overkill of Abrams approach and shedding a new and complex light onto the heart of the rebellion.
John Adams' Scheherazade.2 is a moving powerful symphony but how it would work without the woman for whom it was written is beyond me. Leila Josefowicz is a marvel and her performance on Thursday at the Barbican with the London Symphony Orchestra one that elevates the form and contempory music to a new level.
What happens when Saturday Night Live's star writer gets a shot at writing and directing his first feature? He casts an 18 year old unknown alongside Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd and unleashes the crazy. Nothing Lasts Forever is wonderful madness and I have to thank The Prince Charles and Zach Galligan for a great Sunday night out.
With the recent publication of Daughter of Eden, 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Award winner Chris Beckett completed his trilogy of novels set on the sunless planet Eden and the The Family that inhabits it. The trilogy is wonderful and to celebrate the novels, Chris very kindly put up with me and answered my Eden related questions. I hope you enjoy our chat.
Robert Harris' new book Conclave is out now. Having visited the Henley Literary Festival and meeting up with Robert, amidst 300 others, I have a spare copy to give away. See the post for details and a recording of the conversation Robert Harris had with Paul Greengrass. Yes, THAT Paul Greengrass, who was a delight.
In this new, reasonably regular, series, we’re going to look at some of the photographs that have affected me over the years. The old adage “A picture paints/is worth a thousand words” is going to be our dictum. Over the course of a thousand words, we’ll tell the story of the image, the photographer and the subject and try to add a bit of depth to the image. The first is Sharon Tate by Terry O'Neill
Following the thrilling end to the Austrian Grand Prix where the Mercedes F1 drivers came together on the last lap, team boss Toto Wolff has threatened the use of Team Orders to reign in his two drivers, who are vying for the 2016 World Championship. This is my plea to Herr Wolff to hold off that threat, let the Silver Arrows continue to race freely and delight, thrill and excite us all the way to whichever one of his drivers claims the title come November.
Commuting is one of those modern evils that most of us have to endure each day. For me, my trip to the office involves two trains and a bus, basically the gamut of all the horrors of public transport in South and West London. To while away the anything from the hour to many hours of journey each way (depending on which hell the train companies have chosen to enact on any that day), reading is an escape from the overcrowded nightmare that my need to pay the bills, and book addiction, entails.
When my Grandparents came over for a mammoth visit after we had moved to England, I had an old Canadian TV and VCR to watch the tapes we'd brought with us. My Granma brought me a bunch of old movies, which is what she always did when we spent time together. She introduced me to some of the greatest films I have ever seen and, also, that good movies do not also need to be made in colour. On this trip, knowing me as she did, she brought me a copy of an RKO Picture called Spitfire.
Sunday sees the BBC's take on John Le Carre's The Night Manager. I love this book and to celebrate, I'm giving away a copy signed by the man himself, Le Carre, not the hotelier. Here I talk about the book and how you can win this via the old Twitter machine. A little note, this is one of my favourite of Le Carre's novels.
The wall was red. I remember that vividly. What I could not tell you was how long I’d been staring at it. I knew I hadn’t slept, my legs were hurting and there was a tightness in my chest. I remember asking myself, “Self, why are you staring at a wall?” It took a physical effort to pull myself away. That was the only success of that night. I started pacing about, wired yet exhausted, my brain going ten to the dozen, thinking about everything and nothing at all. I found myself in the kitchen, face to face with my mother, who stalks these halls at that hour, who looked both worried and unimpressed.
Following on from last years Top 7, it is that time of year again to look back at the best cinema I've seen in the calendar year 2015. Usual rules apply, I count the films I've seen that are new but may not yet had a proper release, so things I've seen at festivals etc, and feature length films that went out On Demand so don't count for Academy consideration. I do this because I pay for all this and frankly, I doubt anyone will read it anyway.