A cultural and intellectual icon of the twentieth century, Arthur Koestler commanded the world's attention when he laid bare the horrors of Soviet-style totalitarianism in the acclaimed novel, Darkness at Noon. Now historian David Cesarani makes use of unprecedented and unrestricted access to Koestler's private papers -- as well as KGB and FBI documents newly available since the collapse of the Soviet Union -- to present along-awaited reevaluation of both the public and private man.Once a communist, Koestler led the intellectual counterattack that, according to Cesarani, culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall. In addition, his writings on science introduced millions to revolutionary theories of evolution and the workings of the mind. But behind his brilliance there was a rumored dark side -- one that is carefully substantiated by Cesarani, who presents proof of beatings and rapes, as well as a complete account of Koestler's tragic dual suicide with his third wife in 1983.With research hailed as "impressively thorough, " The Times (London), Cesarani "documents a disquieting chapter of history and the success of a determined pressure group in British politics" (Sunday Telegraph). Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind is the most complete -- and most controversial -- biography of this intellectual titan of the twentieth century.
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David Cesarani is professor of Modern Jewish History at Southampton University and director of the Wiener Library in London, England. He is the author of Justice-Delayed, an acclaimed study of how Britain became a refuge for Nazi war criminals, and a history of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper. He has published widely on the Holocaust, Zionism and Jews in Britain.From Publishers Weekly:
Correcting historians' omission of Koestler's (1905-1983) role in communism's fall, British historian Cesarani places the author of Darkness at Noon in the front ranks of Cold Warriors. In addition, he deals with not only Koestler's later interest in science (and the paranormal), but also his contradictory and profoundly flawed character. While Koestler mythologized himself in his multivolume autobiography, and muzzled his official biographer in 1982, Cesarani has had the benefit of Koestler's complete literary estate, his FBI files and the KGB's notorious "Special Archive" to detail the writer's political and intellectual wanderings. Cesarani charts Koestler's political odyssey from his early involvement with Zionism in Palestine in the 1920s through his membership in the Communist Party in Nazi Berlin and Civil War Spain to his denunciation of Stalinism in England during WWII. During his Cold War notoriety, however, the writer was embarking on a new course into biology and physics, and on a search for a rational philosophy to replace Marxism. Whatever Koestler's shifting intellectual creeds, Cesarani underscores his Jewish identity, which Koestler consistently underplayed yet could not ignore. In more disturbing revelations, besides Koestler's lifelong womanizing and three marriages (the last ended in dual suicide), Cesarani uncovers the details of one sexual assault and concludes that Koestler was a "serial rapist." In chronicling Koestler's remarkable political journey, public resolution and private wrongs, Cesarani's biography manages to be both authoritative and ambivalent. (Dec.)
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Book Description Vintage, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: Very good. Edges slightly yellowed. Should we judge the work by the man, or vice versa? Ezra Pound was a Fascist and an anti-Semite; he was also a good poet. Arthur Koestler was a remarkable man, in his failings as much as his virtues, and David Cesarani's new biography pulls no punches in examining this dichotomy. Koestler was born in Budapest in 1905 to Jewish parents. In his adult years he courted Zionism, socialism, anti-communism, and from the 1960s onward, science and the paranormal, crossing ideological frontiers as frequently as geographical ones. He wrote his best work before he was 40--Darkness at Noon, Scum of the Earth and Arrival and Departure --and its bravery in expressing a disillusionment with Soviet communism was considerable; George Orwell certainly owed him a debt when he wrote Nineteen Eighty-four. His later work increasingly invited, and received, ridicule. And that is where Koestler has stood for years now, as a majorly minor writer. Cesarani's intention is to reclaim Koestler in the light of his Jewishness, which he believes has been neglected, not least by the writer himself. However, the strongest personality to emerge from this book is not the anti-communist, or the Jew, but the misogynist bully, who was almost certainly a rapist and possibly a serial one. Muscular of mind and body, Koestler drank, drove, crashed and cavorted as though his soul depended on it. Yet when it suited him he was stimulating and exciting company, as numerous friends attest. So where is the man? Koestler was an intellectual, a mainly continental affliction, whose skill lay as an assimilator, rather than an originator, of ideas. Malcolm Muggeridge described him as "all antennae and no head". In allowing the contradictions of the man to issue forth in such detail Cesarani runs the risk of obscuring the main tenet of his thesis, but these questions are as relevant as they are awkward; consider the moral arbiters of Bill Clinton today. Whichever way, this is a provocative and searching book, which will not leave you unmoved.--David Vincent --This text refers to the Hardcover edition. This study makes use of Koestler's private papers and draws upon previously secret documents, exposing his involvement both with the Communist Party and the CIA. It also reveals the darker side of his nature, which led to the dual suicide with his third wife, Cynthia, in 1983. 496 pages. Bookseller Inventory # 604
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