MixedThe Observer (UK)This intriguing but rather disjointed book sets out to explore moral ambiguity and degrees of guilt ... It does so through the stories of three striking, self-mythologising and elusive figures.
MixedThe Observer (UK)Though he inevitably covers some well-trodden territory, much of the detail is poignant and entertaining ... Love and Let Die works well as a collection of sharp and pacy stories, though it is a pity Higgs has a weakness for grandiose flourishes ... It is clearly true that Bond and Beatles embody different attitudes to class, privilege, violence, masculinity and Englishness. But Higgs wants to go much further and claim that they are engaged in a kind of permanent \'struggle for the soul of [British] culture\' ... None of this is very plausible. There has been a vast amount of pushback against the politics and sexual politics of Bond’s world that has not needed to evoke the Beatles as a counterweight ... Higgs is a lively writer and has assembled many intriguing nuggets from six decades of British popular culture. I remain unconvinced that the eternal battle between Eros and Thanatos provides the key to them all.
RaveThe Observer (UK)Parkin’s rich and vivid account makes clear just how much the displaced artists did suffer, and the remarkable resilience and creativity with which they responded.
RaveThe Observer (UK)Much of this is interesting, but at the heart of The Escape Artist is an utterly gripping narrative, incorporating a restrained though harrowing picture of life in Auschwitz and a kind of heroic adventure story.
MixedThe GuardianCadbury has constructed a lively and compelling narrative, although Essinger, deeply compassionate but strait-laced and outwardly rather severe, never quite comes to life as an individual...Many of the attempts to describe the \'Bunce Court spirit\' are also a bit vague and idealising but perhaps the most striking is the suggestion of one former pupil that the school was animated by \'a complex amalgam of humanism, the Quaker faith, liberal values and Judaism, brought together by the mind of a woman whose one purpose in life seemed to be to serve children\'...Another, who came from an English school where she had just learned about the Tudors and Stuarts, was amazed by a style of teaching that was \'more like a conversation\' and required her to write essays on urgently topical issues such as \'American isolation and imperialism\'...Cadbury also explores some of the techniques adopted at Bunce Court to try and get through to the more traumatised pupils...On one memorable occasion, gym teacher Hans Meyer was confronted by a boy who, we read, \'responded to his inner turmoil by flying into frenzied rages\'...When Meyer tried to restrain him \'with a firm but loving embrace,\' he spat in his face...So the teacher told him: \'Go ahead and spit. Let everything out\'...The boy just continued spitting, before breaking down into \'uncontrollable tears\'...Much of this book is fascinating and moving, yet there is something unsatisfactory about its structure...The second half alternates chapters largely about the school itself with accounts of how some of the pupils were persecuted by the Nazis before they reached Bunce Court...This material is often horrifying, but it inevitably packs an emotional punch that rather overshadows Essinger’s otherwise heroic achievements.