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Pick of the paperbacks July 2023

Simon Evans makes his pick of the latest paperbacks. There's plenty to choose from this month. Something for everyone. 

The_Great_Train_Robber_Ronnie_Biggs front cover of bookThe Great Train Robber, by Ronnie Biggs

Perhaps the most infamous of the gang that carried out the Great Train Robbery 60 years ago, Ronnie Biggs tells of a life on the run in this engaging, if inevitably self-serving autobiography. Published ten years after his death, the book was completed by Biggs’ long-time ‘ghost’, Christopher Pickard, who captures the roguish essence of the man, and contributes an illuminating foreword setting the scene historically and claiming, contentiously it has to be said, that the Great Train Robbery helped to bring down the Conservative Government.

Complete with a picaresque cast of assorted low-lifes, coppers, politicians and rock stars, this fascinating story follows the planning and execution of the audacious robbery, Biggs’ escape from jail, his many years on the run, from Melbourne to Brazil, and final return to jail.

Published by John Blake Publishing Price £9.99 Pages 362 ISBN 9781788465976


The_Matter_of_everything_book_front_coverThe Matter of Everything, by Suzie Sheehy

In this fascinating look at the 12 experiments that changed history in the last century, from splitting the atom and the accidental discovery of X-rays to the development of quantum mechanics and the Higgs Boson, physicist Suzie Sheehy pays tribute to the creative minds who, through a combination of genius, patience and good fortune, were able to make these major scientific breakthroughs. She shows that the desire to understand our place in the universe has led to major advances in the field of medicine, communications, archaeology, energy and art, and how “curiosity-driven research takes us past the limits of what we know and what we expect.”

Published by Bloomsbury Price £10.99 Pages 336 ISBN 9781526618993


A_Year_in_the_art_world_book_front_coverA Year In The Art World, by Matthew Israel

Drawing on personal interviews and research, curator and art historian Matthew Israel takes a look at the art world, a milieu that, despite its global reach, still seems hermetically sealed and imponderable to the outsider. He asks what people in the art world actually do, how artworks acquire value, and looks as the changes wrought by technology on the contemporary market. It’s a fascinating inside view of studios, galleries, art fairs, and auctions, and includes encounters with artists, curators, critics, and gallery owners.

Published by Thames & Hudson Price £12.99 Pages 256 ISBN ‎ 9780500297087


Lost_in_Music_A_pop_Odyssey_book_front_coverLost in Music, by Giles Smith

Originally published in 1995, in the wake of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch, this was one of the best of a bunch of 30-something reminiscences of childhood and adolescence, mainly pertaining to music and football. Why it is been republished some 28 years later is not immediately obvious but it’s a great read, and having it available as an ebook at last is an extra bonus.

The book is essentially a hymn to Giles’ love of pop, an obsession nurtured by seeing T Rex on Top of the Pops and that found its fullest expression in his membership of the group Cleaners from Venus who came close, but not close enough, to pop stardom in their own right.

Anyone familiar with Smith’s very funny sports columns (collected in the – sadly yet to be republished – volumes Midnight In the Garden of Evel Knievel and We Need to Talk About Kevin Keegan) will know what a witty, and endearingly self-deprecating writer he is, and the new ‘bonus track’ introduction that updates the story and looks how far music has come – or should that be gone – in the past three decades is very funny indeed.

Published by Penguin Price £10.99 Pages 352 ISBN 9781804940297


The_stone_age_book_front_coverThe Stone Age, by Lesley-Ann Jones

From anti-establishment misfits to revered custodians of a lucrative global brand, this is an excellent up-close-and-personal account of the Rolling Stones, a band that, more than 60 years on from their first gig, remain the very essence of rock and roll. The author draws on her own personal recollections, as well as interviews with the lucky few who have been allowed access to the band’s closely guarded inner sanctums, to provide a fascinating portrait of a band who, although their golden creative period is half a century behind them, still provide one of rock’s hottest tickets.

Published by John Blake Price £9.99 Pages 400 ISBN 9781789465532





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