Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson

America has always idolised its entrepreneurs, even when it has proved a thankless task — if you can glamorise Bill…

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller

There is always a special risk, says Alexandra Fuller, when putting real-life people into books. Not all those who recognised…

Low Life: One Middle-Aged Man in Search of the Point by Jeremy Clarke

Some may question whether a review of a columnist’s work in the magazine in which that columnist’s work appears can…

Pakistan: A Personal History by Imran Khan

Imran Khan’s Pakistan: A Personal History describes his journey from playboy cricketer through believer and charity worker to politician. His…


Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller by Jennifer Kloester

Those of us who have spent an embarrassing number of hours immersed in the Regency novels of Georgette Heyer have…

What is it about Stieg Larsson?

How an unsuccessful Swedish journalist became a world-conquering thriller-writer

The short life of Tara Browne

Remembering a man of the Sixties

Lucky miss

In Dreams From My Father, his exploration of race and roots, Barack Obama recalled the tales heard in childhood about the man who gave him his name.


The gay Lambeth way

Archbishop Edward Benson was the ideal of a Victorian churchman.

The biography of a nobody

A biography of Ed Miliband has to try hard not to be the sort of thing one buys as a present for someone one avidly dislikes.

A far cry from Dr Finlay

If he is remembered at all, A.J. Cronin is known now for Dr Finlay’s Casebook, which ran for many years on both BBC television and radio, and today resonates with the glow of a gentler past — when a GP happily made house calls, delivered babies, and served as shaman, shrink and confessor to his rural community.


Scenes from the Mad Hatter’s tea party

I only ever heard my mother admit twice to fancying other men.


A heart made to be broken

Very useful in modern conversation, Oscar Wilde.

Backs to the wall

Susan Gibbs begins her book by describing the death from cancer of her first husband after 13 years of happy marriage.


Sixties mystic

The misery memoir is the fad of the moment.


Dreaming of cowsheds

In 1999, Adam Nicolson published a very good book called Perch Hill: A New Life, about his escape from London and a break-down, after his divorce and a nasty mugging, to a farm in the Sussex Weald, close to Kipling’s house, Batemans.


Bookends: Unbalanced chorus

Imagine a 77-year-old woman hanging around, say, Leicester bus station, telling people about her life. She confides her belief that she is under surveillance by the military. She maintains that she can ‘see the reality of the web of synchronicity in my life’. Showing off her special jewellery that ‘helps balance the chakras’, she reveals that ‘because I had a high metabolism and moved around a lot, I had no real [weight] problem until I was about 50’.


The choppy sea of family life

This is a lovely book. Judy Golding writes of her father —indeed of both her parents — with candour, humour and great insight and perception

A certain tragic allure

Towards Mohammed Reza Pahlavi (1919–1980), the last or most recent Shah of Iran, there are two principal attitudes.


The man mountain of Fleet Street

A. N. Wilson has a queasy feeling that he won’t be re-reading the works of G. K. Chesterton for a while

A fate worse than death

Hugo Vickers has already produced a well-documented and balanced biography of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.


The wisdom of youth

‘You must write it all down’ is the age-old plea to elderly relatives about their childhood memories.


Cuckoo in the nest

Caradoc King, the well-known literary agent, was adopted in 1948 as a baby into a family of three girls, shortly joined by a fourth, presided over by a difficult, unhappy mother and her feebly adoring husband.

A world of her own

This book, written by someone whose husband was for three years prime minister of Britain, is impossible to review.

A bit of a softie

Tom Bower’s fearsome reputation as a biographer preceded him in the Formula One paddock.