“A People’s History of London,” by John Rees and Lindsey German

Non-fiction, 2012 Very decent book looking, essentially, at protest movements based or operating in London. Some of the events are more well-known than others, although the streets upwards viewpoint, rather than a view looking down from the point of view of the power structure, will be unfamiliar to most. Occasionally, an edit or two may have helped things appear more objective, and inevitably, the more … Continue reading “A People’s History of London,” by John Rees and Lindsey German

‘Love of the Game,’ by Ricky Hill

Non-fiction, 2021 Account of professional footballer and coach Ricky Hill, and how his success at battling racism as a black player taking his first steps in the professional game in the mid 1970s hasn’t translated into appointments in the British managerial and coaching side of the game. While Hill is eloquent and the issues he raises have more than a feeling of truth about them, … Continue reading ‘Love of the Game,’ by Ricky Hill

“Ball Four,” by Jim Bouton

Non-fiction, 1970 ‘Tell-all’ memoir from a baseball pitcher, chronicling ups and downs of his two teams in Seattle and Houston, with various tittle-tattle and damning thumb sketches of team mates, opponents and coaches. All of which seems pretty tame to the twenty-first century reader. Pills and suggestions of infidelity rear up, but it all feels fairly low-grade stuff. An entertaining account, nonetheless, though it may … Continue reading “Ball Four,” by Jim Bouton

“You Can Drum But You Can’t Hide,” by Simon Wolstencroft

Non-fiction, 2014 Memoir of ex-Fall drummer, and his life in Manchester, almost joining The Stone Roses and The Smiths along the way. A fast-paced book and pretty easy to read, in which Wolstencroft covers but doesn’t drill too much on the ups and downs and so isn’t too self-indulgent or miserable. A good balance and chipper overall. Potential readers who don’t have an interest in … Continue reading “You Can Drum But You Can’t Hide,” by Simon Wolstencroft

“Good Night and Good Riddance,” by David Cavanagh

Non-fiction, 2015 Examination of John Peel’s radio broadcasting career, through a chronology of some the dj’s shows. A book by an admirer rather than a blinkered fan, and obviously a music enthusiast with a turn of words. If some of the contextual details feel a little particular, this is no disaster, as the book moves along nicely, painting a picture of Peel and some of … Continue reading “Good Night and Good Riddance,” by David Cavanagh

“Journeys”, by Stefan Zweig

Non-fiction, 2019 (written 1902-40) Essays about Western European places visited and absorbed. These translations – and presumably the source text – wonderfully evoke and occasionally provide angry insight into elegaic Belgian ports or the souvenir trade around the First World War in Ypres. An air of sadness and detachment permeate, although the quality of the writing is joyous. A kind of post-war meditation, fusing travel … Continue reading “Journeys”, by Stefan Zweig

“The White Album”, by Joan Didion

Non-fiction, 1979 Essays on a wide range of subjects, using the 1960s almost as a ‘jumping off’ point and usually instilling then with domestic and personal investment. There’s no particular world view or attitude advanced in these pieces otherwise, but the collection feels like a series of snapshots, recording the time, but now standing as a different thing entirely; a document of where power, politics, … Continue reading “The White Album”, by Joan Didion

“Chariots of the Gods?” by Erich Von Däniken

Non-fiction, 1968 Quasi-this, proto-that, in which a slightly insistent author pushes a theory about many ancient mysteries being solvable by attributing them to alien intervention. This, a perfectly reasonably position – that possibilities, no matter how unlikely, should never be ruled out – is tarnished by the author’s very insistence which comes across a little forcefully and hazily at the same time. There’s far more … Continue reading “Chariots of the Gods?” by Erich Von Däniken

"One-Way Street," by Walter Benjamin

Non-fiction, 1921-34 Cultural and philosophical essays written in Germany, in the early part of the twentieth century. As such, and as Benjamin was Jewish, these pieces are poignant. Much of their meaning and drift may puzzle the lay reader not especially versed in the period, nor particularly in philosophical writing. But still, the more accessible pieces on “Unpacking my Library” and “The Work of Art … Continue reading "One-Way Street," by Walter Benjamin

"Kingdom of Fear," by Hunter S Thompson

Non-fiction, 2003 A string of anecdotes told through different narratives and styles, including letters, transcriptions and articles. Thompson’s typically irreverent, painting himself as an anarchist tear-about, blazing guns, elk hearts and managing a San Francisco strip club, always keeping one brutal step ahead of the establishment. There’s a slew of famous and not-so-famous allies, hangers-on, chancers and acquaintances, all of whom are smudged into the … Continue reading "Kingdom of Fear," by Hunter S Thompson