Book review – autobiography

Roxane Gay: ruminative, repetitive and solipsistic

A cacophony of complaint

29 July 2017 9:00 am

What sort of monster gives a bad review to a book by someone who was gang raped as a 12-year-old…

Hitting rock bottom in LA

19 March 2016 9:00 am

The title of this book tells you a lot. Jack Sutherland, who grew up in London and Los Angeles, worked…

Patti Smith, Amsterdam, 1976

Patti Smith grows old too gracefully

14 November 2015 9:00 am

‘Jesus died for somebody’s sins/ but not mine’: the opening lines of Patti Smith’s 1975 debut album, Horses, find a…

Christian Thielemann

The old-fashioned greatness of Christian Thielemann

15 August 2015 9:00 am

Christian Thielemann (born in 1959) is a self-consciously old-fashioned figure who makes rather a virtue out of his limitations. As…

‘Jeddah from the sea’— sketch by Thomas Machell in one of his journals

A Victorian sailor is the new love of my life

27 June 2015 9:00 am

Jenny Balfour Paul is an indigo dye expert. She has written two books on the subject, and lectures around the…

What did Steve Davis do to succeed at snooker? Everything his dad told him

25 April 2015 9:00 am

Among the more intriguing insights into an election that seems to be taking longer than a Cliff Thorburn 50 break…

The miracle of modern flight, by a 747 pilot with a poet’s sensibility

18 April 2015 9:00 am

With Alpine wreckage still being sifted, this is either a very good or a very bad time to write about…

Plumber, taxi driver, mystic, musician — the many facets of Philip Glass

11 April 2015 9:00 am

Philip Glass is by now surely up there in the Telemann class among the most prolific composers in history. There…

Dominic Cummings (who ought to know) is not impressed by Michael Barber, Tony Blair’s former adviser and self-styled ‘delivery man’

28 March 2015 9:00 am

In 2001, Tony Blair took Sir Michael Barber from his perch as special adviser in the Department for Education and…

Mary Portas: anything but ordinary

Madly Modern Mary overcomes childhood hardships to become the Queen of Shops

14 March 2015 9:00 am

In this autobiography, Mary Portas doesn’t dip into the fabled store of her talents by giving an account of her…

They sought paradise in a Scottish field — and found hunger, boredom and mosquitoes

14 February 2015 9:00 am

Dylan Evans, the author of this book, was one of those oddballs who rather looked forward to the apocalypse, because…

The fallen idol: seeing Putin in a new light

7 February 2015 9:00 am

The way to think about Russia, Bill Browder told me in Moscow in 2004, using a comparison he recycles in…

Rugger, Robin Hood and Rupert of the Rhine: enthusiasms of the young Antonia Fraser

10 January 2015 9:00 am

Despite it being a well known fact that Antonia Fraser had earthly parents, I had always imagined that she had…

Songs for the road: through his music and his classic car collection Neil Young hopes to escape his childhood traumas

22 November 2014 9:00 am

Why do people talk about ‘experimenting’ with drugs when mostly they just mean that they’re doing them? Perhaps, as I…

A misery memoir from Alan Cumming that's surprisingly thoughtful

15 November 2014 9:00 am

Misery loves company. Anyone who doubts this old adage should pop into their local bookshop, because besides celebrity chefs and…

Was John Cleese ever funny?

1 November 2014 9:00 am

Like many of my generation I was enchanted by the surrealistic irreverence of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, until I overheard…

What Shami regards as right isn’t necessarily what is right

1 November 2014 9:00 am

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty and omnipresent media personality, is on the cover of her book.…

‘Conversation Piece’, 1997, by Andrew Festing, Marylebone Cricket Club, featuring: Geoffrey Boycott (Yorkshire), A.P.E. Knott and D.L. Underwood (Kent); middle row, F.J. Titmus (Middlesex), R. Illingworth (Yorkshire and Leicestershire), D.L. Amiss and M.J.K. Smith (Warwickshire), front row, J.H. Edrich (Surrey) and D.B. Close (Yorkshire and Somerset); the first conversation piece is in the background

Geoffrey Boycott’s new book would be of more use to English cricketers than a regiment of shrinks

4 October 2014 9:00 am

After 13 barren years Yorkshire is back at the top of county cricket, where Geoffrey Boycott believes it has a…

The hell of being Michael Palin

4 October 2014 9:00 am

In these diaries, which I found excellent in a very specific way, Michael Palin tells us about his life between…

Comforting domesticity: Alan Johnson with his stepdaughter Natalie and daughter Emma

Boy, can Alan Johnson write

27 September 2014 8:00 am

Alan Johnson’s first volume of memoirs, This Boy, is still in the bestsellers’ list, but the Stakhanovite postman has made…

Lenin, Hitler, Sloane Square – a Polish noble's 20th-century Odyssey

26 July 2014 9:00 am

If Vincent Poklewski Koziell has really drunk as much as he claims in this book I doubt he would be…

Ursula, photographed by Cecil Beaton on the eve of the second world war

From Edwardian idyll to meetings with Nehru: the life of Lady Ursula D’Asbo

5 July 2014 9:00 am

This is the Real Thing, an evocative account of English upper-class life throughout the 20th century. It begins amidst the…

Hillary Clinton’s autobiography seems destined to join her husband’s - in a bin marked ‘Free’

21 June 2014 8:00 am

Last year a Washington-based journalist called Mark Leibovich wrote This Town, a book whose thesis was, roughly, that Washington-based journalists…

For Roger Bannister, the four-minute mile was just the start

31 May 2014 9:00 am

The title of this reflective and readable memoir refers to the author’s lifetime interests in sport and medicine — tracks…

‘A public urinal where ministers and officials queued up to leak’

22 March 2014 9:00 am

Anyone brought up as I was in a Daily Express household in the 1950s — there were approaching 11 million…