Cause and effect – new biography picks
Do we really need another biography of Hitler? A.N. Wilson, one of Britain’s most repected historians, thinks we do and in his short study offers several interesting new theories about this monstrous man. He feels that Hitler had a sense of intuition bordering on genius and that he realised that the spoken word was going to the most important medium of communication in the twentieth century. Wilson sees him as the forerunner of Hollywood and TV stars and post-war politicians. He also postulates that the Allies had ample opportunity to arrest Hitler’s relentless rise to power.
If this had happened then Miriam Franks and her mother would not have not have had to to flee Europe and embark on peripatetic wanderings around the world, finally settling in New Zealand. Miriam did not stay here, however. She returned to Europe at the age of sixteen to train as a doctor and lived a most interesting and event-filled life, eventually reconciling herself to the disruption the war had caused her and coming to an understanding of the unhappinesss it had caused between her mother and herself.
My innocent absence : tales from a nomadic life / Miriam Frank.
“When five-year-old Miriam boards the Serpa Pinto in 1941, she is unaware that she and her mother Käte are escaping the roundups, separations and final extermination camps. She is leaving a world of Communists and Nazis, Republicans and Fascists, collaborators and resistance fighters, Jews and stateless refugees. But sometimes the mere fact of survival is not enough. As adolescence approaches, Miriam faces new challenges as her mother turns from guardian and protector to her strongest critic. The constant flight and upheaval that once united them now seems to drive them apart. After a failed reconciliation with Miriam’s father, Käte moves again, this time to New Zealand. By the age of twelve Miriam has fled two wars and lived on three continents. Gradually understanding the horror of the Holocaust and its long shadow, she begins to train as a doctor, when only sixteen: the preservation of life and alleviation of pain becomes the focus of her professional career. She returns to Europe, settles in London and marries Kortokraks, a German artist, former assistant to Oscar Kokoschka – the start of yet more challenging and enriching experiences on her journey from a fragmented start to wholeness.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Hitler : a short biography / A.N. Wilson.
“A short, sharp, gripping account of the twentieth century’s most notorious figure by one of our finest biographers.In this brilliant short biography of Adolf Hitler, acclaimed historian A. N. Wilson offers a fresh interpretation of the life of the ‘ultimate demon-tyrant of history’. Among the book’s many insights, Wilson shows how Hitler had an intuitive sense which amounted to genius that the spoken word was going to be of more significance than the written word during the twentieth century. In this respect, the Führer is presented as a man ahead of his time, who foreshadowed Hollywood and TV stars and post-war politicians. In a field dense with lengthy tomes, this brief, penetrating portrait provides a compelling introduction to a man whose evil continues to fascinate and appall.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)
The sacred thread : a true story of becoming a mother and finding a family, half a world away / Adrienne Arieff ; with Beverly West.
“In this rather rosy account of employing an Indian fertility clinic in order to conceive, a San Francisco media specialist constantly returns to the question: is surrogacy an opportunity for Third World mothers or exploitation? Arieff and her lawyer husband were well off, in their mid-30s, and desperate for children of their own after several miscarriages. Fearful of the legal snags of surrogacy in America, as well as the inflated costs, Arieff and her husband enlisted the services of the Oprah-approved Akanksha Infertility Clinic, in the northern small rural town of Anand, Gujarat, run by the charismatic, capable Dr. Nayna Patel.” – (adapted from Publisher’s description)
Franklin and Eleanor : an extraordinary marriage / Hazel Rowley.
“Franklin Delano and Eleanor Roosevelts marriage is one of the most celebrated and scrutinized partnerships in presidential history. It raised eyebrows in their lifetimes and has only become more controversial since their deaths. From FDRs lifelong romance with Lucy Mercer to Eleanors purported lesbianism and many scandals in between, the American public has never tired of speculating about the ties that bound these two headstrong individuals. Some claim that Eleanor sacrificed her personal happiness to accommodate FDRs needs; others claim that the marriage was nothing more than a gracious facade for political convenience. No one has told the full story until now. In this groundbreaking new account of the marriage, Hazel Rowley describes the remarkable courage and lack of convention – private and public – that kept FDR and Eleanor together.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com)
The Naga queen : Ursula Graham Bower and her jungle warriors, 1939-45 / Vicky Thomas.
“In 1937, Ursula Bower visited Nagaland at the invitation of a friend, and on a dispensary tour encountered the Naga people. She was so taken was with their striking dignity, tribal pride and unique culture that she arranged to live among them to write an anthropological study. But she became more than an observer – living alone among them, Ursula was integrated into their village life, becoming their figurehead when in 1944 the Japanese invaded the jungles of Nagaland from Burma.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)
The train in the night : a story of music and loss / Nick Coleman.
“How do you lose music? Then having lost it, what do you do next? Nick Coleman found out the morning he woke up to a world changed forever by Sudden Neursosensory Hearing Loss. The Train in the Night is an account of one man’s struggle to recover from the loss of his greatest passion in life and to go one step further than that: to restore his ability not only to hear but to think about and feel music. Of all our relationships with art, the one we enjoy with music is the most complex, the most mysterious and, for reasons that cannot be explained by science alone, the most emotionally charged. Nothing about that relationship is simple.” – (Wellington City Libraries catalogue note)
The vow : the true events that inspired the movie / written by Kim & Krickitt Carpenter, with Dana Wilkerson.
“Now a major motion picture starring Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum, “The Vow” tells the true story of a couple that defied the odds and fell in love with each other again after Krickitt suffered brain damage and memory loss following a car accident.” – (Wellington City Libraries catalogue note.)
Mrs. Kennedy and me / Clint Hill ; with Lisa McCubbin.
“For four years, from the election of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in November 1960 until after the election of Lyndon Johnson in 1964, Clint Hill was the Secret Service agent assigned to guard the glamorous and intensely private Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. During those four years, he went from being a reluctant guardian to a fiercely loyal watchdog and, in many ways, her closest friend.” – (adapted from Publisher’s description)
Agorafabulous! : dispatches from my bedroom / Sara Benincasa.
“The lowest point for award-winning comedian and recovering agoraphobe Benincasa in her funny and unflinchingly honest account of her lifelong battle with panic attacks comes in college when she’s too terrified to use her bathroom and is left to urinate in Le Creuset bowls. She starts having attacks in early childhood and by 16 is on a diet of antidepressant and antianxiety medications to deal with a long list of fears including driving and being a passenger, wet hair, and riding the subway and bus. When she gets to Emerson College, everything completely unravels. Rescued by her very understanding parents, she recuperates at home in New Jersey, seeing a psychiatrist and getting on the right drugs like Prozac.” – (adapted from Publisher’s Weekly summary)
Hermit of Peking : the hidden life of Sir Edmund Backhouse / Hugh Trevor-Roper.
“The arrival of an unpublished memoir offering up a scandalous version of the hitherto blameless public life of the revered oriental scholar, Sir Edmund Backhouse, sets Hugh Trevor-Roper on the trail of an outrageous confidence trickster. One of the great detective stories of our age, told with a pace and an infectious delight in the process of historical research, The Hermit of Peking would have made an outrageously imaginative work of fiction but for the fact that it is all true. Trevor-Roper unearths scholars with bizarre sexual fantasies, eunuchs, rare manuscripts and a malicious dowager Queen, and sets them all against the backdrop of a decadent and intrigue-ridden Imperial Court.” – (adapted from Globalbooksinprint.com summary)