'I now present for the reader two hundred or more sketches of people I have come across
during over sixty years as a writer, editor, historian, broadcaster and lecturer, all over the world. Some are mere glimpses, others attempts to pluck out the mystery. I have been obliged to exclude a number of interesting people who are still living, and I present my findings more for diversion and amusement than for edification. I simply raise the curtain on the human comedy I have witnessed, and present what I have seen, and heard, often in whispers and asides.'
In the course of a long and distinguished career, Paul Johnson has known popes, presidents, prime ministers, painters, poets, playwrights, even the foul-mouthed publican Muriel Belcher who ran the legendary Colony Club. Harking back to the scandalously anecdotal seventeenth-century book by John Aubrey on the celebrities of his times, Johnson's Brief Lives gives us a unique insight into recent history. But where Aubrey relied on hearsay (however meticulously ascribed), Paul Johnson draws more on personal experience.
He has advised Margaret Thatcher, counselled Princess Diana, had dinner with Lee Kuan Yew, and had a drawing done of him by Ernest Hemingway. He has been an insider and an outsider but, above all, is a shrewdly humorous analyst of a range of characters who have changed history, formed public taste or simply lightened our lives by their presence.
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"Where would the popes, presidents and princesses of the world be without Paul Johnson, the former editor of the New Statesman and much loved columnist in this and other periodicals? As his latest book shows, he is an all but indispensible asset, a social equivalent of the Admirable Crichton." (A.N. Wilson Spectator)
"It all makes compulsive reading. For Johnson has not only a retentive memory - total recall, in fact - and a lively imagination, but also a great raconteur's gift for witty dialogue, rivalling that of Oscar Wilde . . . Any historian of the last half of the 20th century - especially if he has if he has a taste for the comedie humaine - should read this book, if only to learn more about its author, the Thomas Carlyle of our age, who has played a life-enhancing part in history." ( New Statesman)
"Johnson's enthusiasm and industry are, as usual, prodigious" ( Sunday Times)
A unique and entertaining insight into the last 50 years of our history through its most famous faces, by a man who knew everyone
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Book Description Hutchinson, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Shipped from the UK within 2 business days of order being placed. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000055331
Book Description Hutchinson, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: Brand New. 304 pages. 9.45x6.38x1.18 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk0091936799
Book Description Hutchinson, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0091936799
Book Description Hutchinson and Co., Ltd., 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110091936799