With the Christmas season knocking at the door, here is a selection of books that Quartet has published over the years which are still in print and must-haves.
Perhaps our good friends who believe in supporting an eclectic publishing house, which has outlived the vicissitudes of time, will come forth and purchase some of our titles to give them as gifts to loved ones and other acquaintances who worship the written word.
Independent publishers are having a difficult time in the prevailing austerity climate, and need encouragement to boost their spirit to fight another day.
Your unstinting endorsement will go a long way to ease the ongoing struggle to carry out our mission, publishing topics that the conglomerates shy from for reasons that are often inexplicable.
Books are still the best ambassadors for the spreading of culture at an affordable price. Please feel generous in this festive season and make us proud of your contribution – no matter its size. Believe me, it will make a difference.
(And for more titles, please visit quartetbooks.co.uk)
THE SIXTH MAN: The Extraordinary Life of Paddy Costello
James McNeish, £25
It was Paddy Costello who alerted the West to Soviet possession of the atom bomb. He was the first Allied diplomat to enter and report on the Nazi death camps at the end of the war, and he remained the favourite Intelligence officer of the legendary General Freyberg. Paddy Costello was a scholar, a soldier, a diplomat, a maverick, an exemplary father, a lover of good wine. But was he also a spy?
Paul McGeough, £25
Kill Khalid is a gripping account of a botched assassination attempt and its enormous, unforeseen consequences for the Middle East and the world.
It is also the definitive inside story of Khalid Mishal and the rise of Hamas.
THE CONSTANT LIBERAL: The Life and Work of Phyllis Bottome
Pam Hirsch, £25
Phyllis Bottome’s anti-Nazi novel The Mortal Storm, based on her experiences of living in Germany, was a best-selling novel turned into a blockbuster Hollywood film in 1940 starring James Stewart. Unjustly faded into obscurity, her work is currently enjoying a revival. After raising awareness of the Jewish plight in pre-war Germany, Bottome later dedicated her activism towards victims of colonial injustice and racism. Her extraordinary life is as interesting as her work.
THE PAPER BRIDGE: A Return To Budapest
Monica Porter, £12
Monica Porter was a small child when her family fled across the border to Austria and on to the United States. Now a Londoner, a journalist and a young mother herself, she wanted to rediscover the land of her birth and see whether there could be a real understanding between someone who had grown up in the West and those compatriots who had remained behind in an oppressive communist country.
THE PRINCESS OF SIBERIA
Christine Sutherland, £8
This is the amazing story of Princess Maria Volkonsky, wife of one of the leaders of the 1825 Russian Decembrist Rising, who braved a journey of four thousand miles across Russia to be near her husband in prison, and stayed by his side in the Siberian wilderness to create an oasis of civilisation in the bleakness of the Siberian taiga. She would be immortalized by Pushkin, but this brilliant biography has been constantly reprinted since its original publication thirty years ago.
David Elliott, £35
David Wynne never attended art school, used a gallery to obtain his commissions, nor had any regard for fashionable aesthetic conventions – and yet he has created more public sculptures in London than any other twentieth-century artist. From the iconic Boy with a Dolphin on London’s Embankment, to the centrepiece of The Queen Mother Gate in Hyde Park; his three-quarter life size statue of Fred Perry outside the Centre Court at Wimbledon to his awe-inspiring Christ on the west front of Wells Cathedral, his work is evidence of his fierce, overwhelming desire to create beautiful sculpture that pays no heed to convention.
Angela Hughes, £20
Angela Hughes’ father was the Irish-born musician and critic Herbert Hughes. Her mother was Suzanne McKernan of the Irish Players, an offshoot of Dublin’s Abbey Theatre. They married in 1922 and moved to Chelsea where their home became a meeting-place for a brilliant circle of artists, writers and musicians regularly gathered to discuss music and literature. There is also a section of the text which includes short studies of a few of the composers and others, who appear in her mother’s journal. Chelsea Footprints will be a valuable research document for any future biographers and musical journalists since it includes details of some of the finest British composers which will not be found elsewhere. It is also a delightful record of a vanished world.
Michael Darlow & Barbara Bray, £25
King Abdul Aziz Al Saud, King (Malik) known as Ibn Saud, was the father of modern Saudi Arabia. Born in 1876 in Riyadh into the aristocratic House of Su’ud, a family who had historically maintained dominion over the interior highlands of Arabia, Saud grew to manhood living the harsh existence of a desert nomad. In 1890 he followed his family into exile across the border into Kuwait. Here, Saud studied the great imperial powers of the British and Ottoman Empires and vowed to return to Riyadh as a conqueror. Through a series of astonishing military triumphs, this he did, transforming himself in the process from a minor sheikh into a revered king and elder statesman, courted by world leaders such as Churchill and Roosevelt. A passionate lover of women, Ibn Saud took many wives, had numerous concubines and fathered almost 100 children. Yet he remained an unswerving and devout Muslim, described by one who knew him well at the time of his death in 1953, as ‘probably the greatest Arab since the Prophet Muhammad’.
Michael Darlow, £22.50
Terence Rattigan was the most financially successful dramatist of his generation and his plays and screenplays continue to be performed on the West End stage and in the cinema. In his lifetime he was a well-known public figure, yet despite well-publicised friendships with people such as Noel Coward he hid his homosexuality for most of his life. In this extensively revised biography Michael Darlow has, for the first time, been able to describe this important aspect of his life and fully consider it in relation to his work. Achieving great heights of fame during the 1930s, as well as several hugely successful West End theatre runs, Rattigan co-wrote the film Brighton Rock with Graham Greene and was twice nominated for Academy Awards for Best Screenplay’, becoming the highest paid screen writer of his generation. However, after the revolution in British theatre sparked by John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger in 1956, Rattigan’s work was deemed ‘unfashionable’ and he left Britain, bitter, in the 1960s. Revised to celebrate the centenary of Rattigan’s birth, this portrait of a complex and fascinating man unfolds to provide a compelling case for him to be accepted as one of the great dramatists of the last century.
Peter Lewis, £25
A Rogues’ Gallery is a journey through the past half-century, charting the ups and downs of leading writers and actors, thinkers, entertainers, gurus, politicians and public non-conformists. It collects the snapshots gathered during one journalist’s long and varied career of the famous and infamous, foolish and funny, when they were off-camera. Here are private views of the tensions that opened cracks in the marriages of Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, Harold Pinter and Vivien Merchant, Laurence Olivier and Joan Plowright. What really happened when Laurie Lee drank cider with Rosie? Which film roles made Alec Guinness most satisfied and dissatisfied? Which made a young Judi Dench cry? How the woman Hitler most admired publicly embarrassed him; how the spoons once embarrassed Uri Geller; how theatre critics sometimes get hit; how Jon Snow got out of jail; how comedians from Frankie Howerd to Jacques Tati, P. G. Wodehouse to John Betjeman, are beset with anxiety. These are the sort of discoveries made during an eventful life spent observing human quirks and frailties. They make A Rogues’ Gallery a different sort of memoir.
Philip Salem, £20
Cancer, Love and the Politics of Hope provides a glimpse into the life and work of Dr Philip Salem, the world-renowned oncologist and Professor of Cancer Medicine and Research at the Salem Oncology Centre, St Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, Texas. This is the first time a selection of his speeches, interviews and editorials, spanning almost twenty years, have been published together. As a clinician and a humanitarian, Salem offers the reader his advice and insight on healthcare, medicine, cancer, life and death. As an Arab-American and a Lebanese citizen forced to leave his homeland, he describes his grief, and offers sound counsel to all those who live as a member of Lebanese Diaspora.
EYES IN GAZA
Mads Gilbert & Erik Fosse, £17.50
During the course of Israel’s twenty-two-day military offensive in 2009 on the Gaza Strip 1,300, mostly civilian, Palestinians were killed, with many thousands more injured. Once again, the Palestinian Community lay in ruins. Despite the Israeli authorities’ attempt to shut out aid workers and the media from the conflict zone, NORWAC (the Norwegian Aid Committee) succeeded in getting some of its envoys into the heart of Gaza City, including two doctors: Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse. For some time, the two were the only Western eyewitnesses in Gaza. This book is an account of their experience during sixteen harrowing days from 27 December 2008 to 12 January 2009. Each chapter covers just one day, as the reader follows the doctors’ journey through the ravaged city, treating local Palestinians and hearing their stories.
T.J. Gorton, £25
The year is 1613: the Ottoman Empire is at its height, sprawling from Hungary to Iraq, Morocco to Yemen. One man dares to challenge it: the Prince of the mysterious Druze sect in Mount Lebanon, Fakhr ad-Din. Yielding before a mighty army sent to conquer him, he – astonishingly – takes refuge with the Medici in Florence at the height of the Renaissance. This groundbreaking biography of Fakhr ad-Din, Prince of the Druze, is based on the author’s vivid new translations of contemporary sources in Arabic and other languages. It brings to life one remarkable man’s beliefs and ambitions, uniquely illuminating the elusive interface between Eastern and Western culture.
Rupert Darwall, £25
Global warming defines our age. Understanding it in the context of the history of ideas offers a mirror to our times… ‘This is a brilliant piece of work that every climate change negotiator should have in his front pocket,’ Jon Snow. ‘A great achievement … Rupert Darwall has written a compelling and balanced account of a story that needs to be told,’ Nigel Lawson.
First published thirty-five years ago, in 1978 – three years after her gaining the leadership of the Conservative Party and a year before her election as Britain’s first woman prime minister – Mrs Thatcher’s Bag, in the words of its publisher, was ‘conceived in the public interest.’ Its intent was to create a satirical parody of her particular brand of political fundamentalism which was already dividing political attitudes in the UK into two very clear camps: those who thought her dynamic, potent and brave, and those convinced her conviction politics were destructive, extreme and all would end in tears. As history seeks to assess her lasting impact, it’s a good moment to recreate and remember what was at the time, a quite scandalous object…
Liz Hodgkinson, £35
Alex Williams has achieved that rare accolade of a painter whose commercial success has not interfered with his reputation as one of this country’s most significant modern artists. His paintings are bought by leading collectors and great public galleries and his cards and pottery reproductions have made him one of the top-selling graphic artists at National Trust gift shops all over the United Kingdom. Yet his personal story is a fascinating tale of struggle, heartbreak and amazing risks. With the artist’s full cooperation, Daily Mail journalist Liz Hodgkinson has written a startlingly fresh text and certainly not the usual sort for illustrated art books.
Mary Ann Prior, £45
Emily Eden (1797-1869) was born into a prominent Whig family and grew up surrounded by an aristocratic inner circle of British social and political life. In 1835, her unmarried older brother, George, was appointed Governor-General of India. Unmarried herself, Emily was to be his consort during his six-year tenure. Mary Ann Prior has re-traced Emily Eden’s footsteps through the upper provinces and charts the immense changes that have taken place over the 170 years since, noting the constants – the continuing foreign military presence in an area that could be called the ‘Balkans of Central Asia’. George Eden’s policies contributed to the disastrous first Afghan war, a bloody clash of cultures that was to be a harbinger of future conflict still with us today. Emily’s visual and written material from her sojourn abroad has been used as the linchpin on which to attach snippets of information about modern India. It also gave the author a chance to match unidentified paintings to the places where they were produced, to date undated ones, and to connect anonymous sitters with their true personalities.
James MacNeish, £12
Now regarded as a classic in the author’s native New Zealand, this new edition of Lovelock is republished with ‘Berlin Diary’, a journal written while researching the novel, and an afterword, which contains a sobering commentary on the famous runner’s death. James Lovelock has been been called the first modern athlete. He became famous internationally when he broke the world record to take the gold medal in the 1500 metres event at the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936. In 1949, a few days before his 40th birthday, Jack Lovelock was killed when he Jack Lovelock has fell beneath a train in New York. The enigma of his death becomes the key to McNeish’s quest for the ‘real’ Lovelock – a man who, in the author’s words, ‘covered his traces as adroitly as he ran’.
Brian Sewell, £15
This selection of Brian Sewell’s criticism from the London Evening Standard is his first collection to be published in nearly twenty years and has been selected from his art reviews of exhibitions by English contemporary artists. Most first appeared in the newspaper for whom he has written regularly since 1984. The reviews are gathered chronologically under artist or institution and discuss nearly every important contemporary English art exhibition for the past quarter of a century.
SWIFT DAWN, LONG SUNSET
Adnan F. Anabtawi, £18
This is the story of the Arabs in Al-Andalus from 711-1492 AD, and begins with a brief account of the march that took the Arab armies beyond the confines of the Arabian Peninsula to the Iberian Peninsula, and beyond, to Poitiers in France. It also describes the circumstances that led to these conquests and to the eventual fall of the Arab state in Al-Andalus, eight centuries later. Written in a simple style with the ordinary reader in mind, as it describes the dramatic events as well as the great accomplishments that culminated in a brilliant civilisation, it also shows how Arab culture triggered off the process of enlightenment and progress in the whole world for centuries to come.
Suzana Braga, £18
One of last surviving pupils of dancers from the golden world of the Imperial Russian Ballet, Tatiana Leskova was born in Paris in 1922, where she studied with Lubov Egorova and other former Imperial Russian ballerinas. She joined the Ballet de la Jeunesse at the age of sixteen, then Colonel de Basil’s Ballet Russes. She remained with the company, travelling to South America and settling in Brazil in 1945. In 1950 she joined the Teatro Municipal in Rio, going on to become a principal dancer, ballet Mistress and artistic director. In her ongoing freelance career, Leskova has continued to revive signature works by Leonide Massine created for the Ballets Russes. She staged Choréartium for Birmingham Royal Ballet in 1991 and for Het Nationale Ballet in 2001, and Les Présages for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1989, the Joffrey Ballet in 1992, Het Nationale Ballet in 1994, Ballet do Teatro Municipal (1998) and for the Australian Ballet in 2007. This riveting biography, first published in Brazil, has been brought up to date with Tatiana’s close involvement.
THE BLOOD COUNTESS
Andrei Codrescu, £15
The Hungarian Countess, Elizabeth Bathory was reputed to have murdered 650 young women to fulfil the counsel of her witches and bathe in the blood of a virgin to renew her vigour and beauty. In present day New York, Drake Bathory Kereshtur, a descendant of the Countess, is sent by his newspaper editor to cover the collapse of the Communist regime. What he uncovers is far more disturbing…
Alan Wall, £15
The author of Bless the Thief and The School of Night has written a book about memory and betrayal, about the images we create and those we are relentlessly pursued by. In 2003, Alan Wall was awarded an Arts Council/AHRB Fellowship to work for a year with the particle physicist Goronwy Tudor Jones at Birmingham University. The aim of the Fellowship was to promote understanding between the arts and the sciences. This novel is the first book-length result of that fertile year.
THE CURSE OF EZEKIEL
Nabil Saleh, £10
Set against the historical backdrop of Alexander the Great’s siege of the Phoenician City of Tyre in 332 B.C., The Curse of Ezekiel follows the story of Bomilcar, a young Tyrian. The Curse of Ezekiel explores love, war, political intrigue, spying, collaboration and resistance to the invaders; in an illuminating journey uniting elements of fiction and historical fact.
Nabil Saleh, £10
Hunayn ibn Ishaq (803-873 AD) was a Christian physician of Arab descent. He, with other Nestorian physicians, practised the medicine taught by the Ancient Greeks. He was personal physician to eight caliphs and rose to such prominence that he was dubbed ‘a source of science and a mine of virtue’. Hunayn ibn Ishaq left a sketchy account of his life. Nabil Saleh has written a novel that purports to complete it, re-creating the background of the Abbasid court where he moved, and giving a glimpse of the daily life in Baghdad and Byzantium, during the ninth century AD.
REAP THE FORGOTTEN HARVEST
Remi Kapo, £18
The year is 1617. Chased across the North Yorkshire Moors by the Puritans, the Flemings, a landed Catholic family flee England’s shores for exile. Establishing themselves on the Caribbean island of Pertigua, they join the burgeoning European trade in African slaves, to sow the island’s acres with sugar. Reap the Forgotten Harvest is an epic tale of suffering, faith, persecution, injustice, enslavement, passion, unexpected friendships, adventure, love and redemption. Its narrative embraces the drawing rooms of London as share prices collapse, the coffeehouses of the Strand, the holy-stoned decks of sailing ships, threatening rainforests, snake-infested canefields and the hopelessness of chattel-houses.
Michael Cawood Green, £18
In For the Sake of Silence, Father Joseph Cupertino narrates an extraordinary tale ranging from Austria to Bosnia, Natal to East Griqualand during the 19th and early 20th Century. It chronicles the journey of a monk, Franz Pfanner, through the obscure labyrinths of the Trappist order, avowed to a life of silent contemplation, to where he establishes the monastery at Mariannhill in South Africa.
Riad Nourallah, £20
A prince in pre-Islamic Arabia must leave his carefree life to avenge the murder of his father by a rival Arab tribe allied to Persia. Betrayed from within and without, he travels to Constantinople, the ‘New Rome’, where, at the imperial court of Justinian and Theodora, he pleads for political and military support Presenting a wide spectrum of settings and characters, this epic novel addresses issues like war and peace, tyranny and freedom, and the clash and reconciliation of cultures and faiths; but it is also a very bold and uninhibited celebration of life and the joys and challenges of the physical world and human relationships.
Leonid Borodin, £10
Deep in Siberia lies the oldest and most voluminous lake on earth, Lake Baikal. When a small boy arrives on its banks, he is amazed by the beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains. As this astonishment yields to inquisitiveness, he begins to explore the fairy tale of the area… ‘A work of art so seamless and so natural one can only imagine it took ages and ages of hard dreaming to construct.’ New York Times
Chung Yee Chong, £18
Set in the turbulent and unsettling period of the civil war in China, The Bitter Sea charts the disintegration of a prominent and influential family in Canton. Unlikely and fateful alliances are formed, familial affinities compromised, personal ambitions thwarted and efforts to broker peace end in disenchantment, as members of the Fu family attempt to come to terms with crumbling social and political conditions. By drawing close parallels between the fate of a single family and that of the nation at large, the novel seeks to examine the divisive nature of politics and the devastating consequences of war. As much an indictment on war as a comment on the human condition, this extraordinary novel shows the extent to which we are all victims of political vicissitudes, the ravages of war and the brutal upheavals a change in regime must always necessitate.
THE PLANT HUNTER’S TALE
Caroline Cass, £15
An enchanting tale of a man dedicated in his quest to travel the world to source the rarest and most beautiful plants to bring back home. A story of adventure, love and ultimately tragedy unfolds, set in a faraway exotic land where all is not what it seems. Caroline Cass has written a tale of romance and derring-do that will delight every gardener, but also make that next trip to the local garden centre a pilgrimage of wonder and delight – knowing now of the epic dramas that so often occurred in the perpetual quest for a perfect bloom.
Bryan Forbes, £18
In the uneasy post-war peace of occupied Germany, a British soldier is billeted to a bombed Hamburg hotel. Alex’s days are spent investigating Nazi war criminals, but it is a chance meeting with a German university professor in a shabby back-street bookshop that changes his life. Having befriended the professor and his wife, Alex falls in love with their only daughter, Lisa, only to discover that the professor may not be as innocent as he first appeared. The stale aftermath of a long and hideous war has left the old society in ruins. There are still many secrets to uncover and Alex has to ask himself what is more important – love or truth? As he digs deeper into the professor’s past Alex is forced to recognise that he cannot have both…