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Michelle

Autobiographies and Biographies

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Although it's not a biography of a personThe Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan is about the history of Israel and if you know some of the history and geography of the country, it is a good read if interested.  The basis is the true story of a Jewish Israeli woman and a Palestinian Arab man who meet over the boarder town house he grew up in and the house she now resides. 

Edited by Anna Begins

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Hi Jean and welcome to the forum! Good to have another Aussie here. :) We have one or two fans of the Bloomsbury set here. Have you read anything by or about the Mitford sisters?

 

Thanks, Kylie.  Yes, I've read quite a bit about the Mitford sisters - I have The Mitford Girls by Mary S Lovell and The Mitfords by Charlotte Mosely - and read quite a few others which have been partly about them.  They tend to pop up in many other biographies!

 

I recently read Darling Monster - letters of Lady Diana Cooper to her son - and they got several mentions in those.

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I have the book on my TBR but I haven't read it yet. It's not something I would really buy for myself, but my dad was gifted it and he didn't want it (he doesn't really read English for fun, and the book was in English), so he gave it to me. I haven't read it yet.

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'Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson' is an excellent book. I've alway been interested and inspired by the strange man that is Steve Jobs. He is responsible for the personal computer as we know it along with Steve Wozniak. He created the ipod, the iphone, the mac and so on. He litrally changed the world. This is why i bought the biography; he is worth reading about.

 

The book is rather large but i promise you it is brilliant! Has anyone else read it?

 

I haven't read it yet, but hope to soon! Have you read iWoz by Steve Wozniak, the co-creator of Apple? It's a really good read (and much thinner than Isaacson's book ;)).

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I echo the sentiments on iWoz, it's a really good insight into the kind of guy Steve Wozniak is and how he works. He seems to have been the polar opposite of Steve Jobs in many ways.

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 One of my all time favorites is Wilfred Thesiger, "The Life of My Choice", 'Arabian Sands' The Marsh Arabs' which I am fortunate enough to have signed by him. He was the last of the great British travelers of the Edwardian style. From his early days he was in charge of large parts of Dafour, riding his racing camel everywhere alone in the huge wastelands and holding court over the tribes as HRH Colonial government. One of his jobs was to kill man eating and cattle eating lions, killing 70, of which he said he was a bit ashamed at such a huge number. SAS in WWII where he managed to kill a large number of Axis troops and survive in the deserts virtually unaided but for his small group behind enemy lines. And then the first outsider to cross 'the empty quarter' of Arabia, facing certain death is discovered - and on 60 years living in the remotest parts of the Muslim world and finally retiring to live amongst the Masai Tribesmen.

 

 The travel book - by the otter man, Gavin Maxwell, also ex SAS, "A Reed Shaken By the Wind" has to be one of the most readable travel books written as he goes with Thesiger to the Great Iraqi Marshes - the ones Saddam drained and destroyed to get revenge on the Shia, committing a bit of genocide as well. Gavin is also a remarkable writer - "Ring of Bright Water" a gay man whose woman lover - a remarkable poet, pined away for him on his life of complete solitude.

 

 If you wish to read of what the British man could be before the pu**ification of them by lefty feminizing then give these extinct Renaissance-man travelers a read.

 

 "Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton" by E Rice would be another amazing one - naturally any of the dozen of TE Lawrence, including his Autobiography "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom" But these are long dead men, Thesiger virtually contemporary, passing away in the 1990's I believe - the last of his kind.

 

 For Travel writing I think Peter Flemming (Ian's brother) cannot be beat, again like the above (excepting Burton) Eaton, Oxford/Cambridge, and a brilliant writer and extraordinary traveler in dangerous and outlandish places. "Ones Company", fantastic! "Brazilian Adventure" for sly wit with a breath of 'the master'; PJ about it.

Edited by kimble

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Not read any of those above, but my father had an original edition of The Seven Pillars Of Wisdom, which unfortunately he left on a  London bus. I wish I had a penny for every time he lamented about that loss to us. 

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"Not read any of those above, but my father had an original edition of The Seven Pillars Of Wisdom, which unfortunately he left on a  London bus. I wish I had a penny for every time he lamented about that loss to us."

 

 I have a first edition of "Seven Pillars"! I got it at a book sale at this library after Katrina. All the local libraries were completely destroyed - an interesting thing there, the police stayed in the metal building that was their station till the water began rising inside so they waded in the 100+ mph winds and water to the library, a brick building on higher ground. And then inside the water began rising till they were going to drown. The problem was they could not get out then, the glass doors were being held closed by the huge pressure. They tried using their hand guns to break the hardened glass but all it would do is cause a ricocheting bullet to fly about the room and leave a star in the glass! The police and fire men stayed so they would be there after the storm.

 

 

 They got a door open when deeper and stayed on the roof under a bit of roof overhang, surviving the storm - see this library is on the beach on the Gulf and 30 foot of flood came smashing in. Every single city, police, and these guys personal vehicles were destroyed. The library had been underwater and was bulldozed - and a library opened in the park in a donated double wide trailer later. Listen to how calm they are, the water is coming in like a river and the eye of the hurricane is almost over the place, they came close to all dying.

 

 But then books began streaming in from all the country - and the library had constant book sales of them, and I got my Seven Pillars. 80% of all the buildings were destroyed, mine too, and I had no insurance, so did not spend too much time going through the donated books - but bagged a load to replace my destroyed library. I think this is a picture of me walking my road with the dog during a lesser hurricane - I have no way of knowing how this will work as I have not copied old flicker pictures this way.

 

 

 

  And so I did bag a couple hundred good books, many I lost to later flooding as hurricane Rita, Gustave, Ike and another all came ashore in the fallowing years - although nothing like Katrina.

 

 I am getting through 'Alexander The Great' and 'Boadicea' simultaneously as I lay in bed at night. Both being a bit of heavy reading. The Alexander writer trying to write in High Style with inside references and quoting phrases in Latin, French, with no English and always crediting why the bit on, say, a battle comes from this and that second hand reference and si not reliable. Slow going as they are not page turners - but wonderful still, to read - the writers are being very meticulous.

 

 I lost this post and used recovery - and will post and see how it went.

 

 A picture of me walking the dog in one of our floods - this is from my porch, and shows why I use raised beds - so I can flush the salt out of the planters and save some. I am trying a new way of copying - this is on edit

 

 

Edited by kimble

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Amazing bit of video. Your picture didn't show up though. I use photobucket as a host but even that doesn't seem to work as it is supposed to for me.

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 Sorry to head off on side topics above - non fiction...., lets see...,

 

 One thing I am finding fascinating, on the biography of Alexander the Great I am on, is the law. There were none as such, at all. What there was was only what a strong enough personality could enforce through strength and treaties. Few local civic laws were around as in forbidding murder and theft but the murder laws would not be translatable into our culture, and every city would have their own. The culture of the times actually would stop an organized system of law, (like the Roman's and their complex Law system), because it would be a great violation of freedom to their way of thinking; to try to have a code of law.

 

 Saxon, and Frankish, law took Justinian law (the total compilation of all Roman Law condensed and written by the Byzantine  Emperor Justinian) but add their touches like the might is right bit; where law allowed trial by combat among peers to a big degree. If you were victorious in a fight to determine a case you were right under law. (And other things)

 

 But in Frankish law this ability to win a point of law by a fight was also enmeshed in a greater law of the whole society (and naturally fines payable at all levels) In the Greek, and Macedon, systems strength was the only basis. Kings never died in bed, but once weak in body or support got killed off for a new strong man to arise - which is why Alexander killed his infant brother when he took the throne, to stop this inevitable source of insurrection.

 

 (which by the way was an integral part of Ottoman ruler's custom, fratricide, and killing of all nephews, and killing of all male children of powerful vassals, even killing all ones own male children after a favorite had been selected and had survived to the point he would have sons himself - because otherwise the empire would be split up in inevitable civil war.)

 

 It is remarkably hard to get ones head around the Ancient Greek and pagan law systems of the time. Every thing we do now is codified. I am working on my complex tax return, I have just been setting out trash and it is regulated to the nth degree, my dog has to have rabies vaccines - we have wrapped ourselves in this mantel of law till we live peacefully to our 90's (in the West) safe from almost all risk from auto accidents to food poisoning to loud noises.

Edited by kimble

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I'm a biography fanatic but not of current people or film stars or celebrities or sportspeople etc. I have a fascination with the 1900-1940 era and especially of the Bloomsbury group and  the other famous figures of that time.

I can thoroughly recommend Hermione Lee's biography of Virginia Woolf - possibly my favourite biography. It's chunky, but worth it!

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I'm pleased to see from Willoyd's librarything collection its 3 times the size of mine - I must let my wife know that my collection (just over 600) isn't all that big after all... :)

 

Biogs are something I have read quite a bit. Howard Hughes The Untold Story was absolutely fascinating - very much enjoyed that one. Blessings In Disguise by Alec Guinness is another, from my recent pile. I bought his others to read on the back of that so looking forward to sitting down with them. Rick Wakeman's "Grumpy Old Rockstar" book is a light read but hilarious - he tells stories very well. My favourite book of the last year though would be I Was Churchill's Shadow by Walter Thompson - Churchill's bodyguard during WW2. As an insight into how things were during war time and what was involved behind the scenes, and also what kind of a man Churchill was in private, its fascinating.

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Three cups of tea : It's a book about the mission of a man to help build schools for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Tusedays with Morrie, It's about Morrie a college teatcher who then becomes ill with a chronic disease and start to count his days and become more inspirational.  

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