Category Archives: Biography

Philip Norman – Paul McCartney: The Biography

When Philip Norman published “Shout” in 1980, it quickly became and long remained the standard Beatles biography. It was noted at the time that there was a marked preference for Lennon over McCartney in that book and Philip was pretty much tagged anti-McCartney. In the years since then, he has reassessed his attitude and came to the conclusion that he had been unfair. McCartney, he now acknowledges, is colossally talented, nobody’s lightweight and is a better and more interesting man than he had been given credit for. As it happens, Tim didn’t pick up on the bias in “Shout!” because he shared it and, like Philip, has followed a parallel … Continue reading






Posted in Biography, Cultural History | Leave a comment

Nicholas Wapshott – The Sphinx – Franklin Roosevelt, the Isolationists, and the Road to World War II

Senator Burton K Wheeler put the question best: If the war in Europe was America’s war, why was she not fighting it? It was the vital question of its day. Should America join the European war or not? There are various approaches to history where wars are concerned. One is military history – who shot whom. Much more interesting is the political intrigue – who came out on top, and how. After the Great War, there was a strong, not to say, dominant strain of isolationism, a huge apprehension of the dangers of getting into another European war. The isolationists were a mixed bunch, comprising principled constitutionalists liberals, and American … Continue reading






Posted in Biography, Cultural History, History, Politics | Leave a comment

Humaira Shahid – Devotion and Defiance

Humaira Shahid might have had a gilded life, and no-one would have blamed her. She was born into the privileged classes of Pakistan, enjoyed a happy and liberal childhood, and married well into a newspaper dynasty. The important men in her life adored her and admired her and encouraged her to fulfil herself rather than take the subservient role imposed on many Pakistani women. She became an academic, teaching literature, and that might have been that. But Humaira’s personal life contained a series of heartbreaking tragedies, and as she participated in her husband’s journalistic activities, she gained a first-hand knowledge of dreadful injustice and suffering in Pakistan. Driven by a fiery … Continue reading






Posted in Biography, Cultural History, Economics, History, Politics, Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christopher Fowler – Film Freak

There was a time when film publicity consisted of having a poster painted, and sending the posters with the reels of film in the van when they were delivered to the cinemas. And then advertising industry foot-soldiers Christopher Fowler and Jim Sturgeon had an idea. What the movies needed was somebody who did film publicity in a much more imaginative way. They were right. What happened after that is laugh out loud funny, indiscreet and revealing, and treads cheerfully on the feet of silver screen glamour; and it is all weirdly plausible. Whether he is telling the story of his ill-judged first visit to the Cannes Film Festival (everybody’s first … Continue reading






Posted in Biography, Cultural History, History | Leave a comment

Gore Vidal from the archive – Palimpsest

After half a century as a great novelist and America’s finest essayist, in 1995 Gore Vidal got round to writing… well, not an autobiography, but at any rate a memoir. Why a memoir? Gore told Tim that by the age of seventy he found that he figured in hundreds of other people’s memoirs, and that from his point of view they had almost all got it wrong. Whether this was due to self-serving lapses in memory or shameless lying, Gore decided to proffer a few corrections. If this also meant indulging in a spot of high class gossip, that was OK too. He had plenty to gossip about. Vidal had … Continue reading






Posted in Archive, Biography, Cultural History, Politics | Leave a comment

Philip Norman – Mick Jagger

Fifty years a star. Gracefulness incarnate. Irresistable to women. Vain and arrogant, perhaps, but with so much to boast of. But enough about Tim. Mick Jagger is by contrast an accountant. You think you know him. The drugs. Marianne Faithfull and the mars bar. The murder at Altamont. The parsimony. The priapism. The seven children with four different women. The ruthless wresting of control of the Rolling Stones from first Andrew Oldham, then Brian Jones, then Keith Richards. Jagger has lived his life in the public glare, and yet he remains an enigma. He never much liked doing drugs. He was a wonderful friend to both Brian and Keith. He … Continue reading






Posted in Biography | Leave a comment

Alom Shaha – The Young Atheist’s Handbook

Richard Dawkins has said that there is no such thing as a Muslim child, only the child of Muslim parents. Saint Richard’s admirers are wont to characterise the imposition of religious delusions as a variety of child-abuse but not all Atheist writers are that militant. Alom Shaha was brough up in a Muslim community. He is now a physics teacher and a thoughtful and tolerant atheist, who has left the delusions far behind, without giving up any part of his heritage. His new book, The Young Atheist’s Handbook is his account of this journey, and also a meditation on the questions that might exercise others taking the the same road. http://media.blubrry.com/timhaighreadsbooks/p/www.green-shoot.com/podcast/green-shoot_timhaighreadsbooks_alomshaha-youngatheistshandbook.mp3Podcast: … Continue reading






Posted in Biography, Cultural History, Religion | 1 Comment

Nicholas Wapshott – Keynes Hayek – The Clash That Defined Modern Economics

Can government action fix a broken economy? Eighty years ago John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek arrived at diametrically opposed conclusions. Far from being a dry and technical academic argument, it was then and is now the central division within political economy. The story of the row between these men and their followers is explosive and astonishingly bad-tempered. Bring up the subject with any politician or social scientist and they will be aware of this story. But only now has anybody written the book. There’s nothing Tim Loves more than a knock-down, drag out, punch up between intellectual heavyweights, so he met Nicholas Wapshott at his London publishers to talk … Continue reading






Posted in Biography, Cultural History, Economics, History, Politics | Tagged | Leave a comment

Chris Mullin – A Walk-On Part: Diaries 1994-1999

Political diaries can be turgid and self-serving or they can be witty and revealing. Chris Mullins diaries are firmly in the second category.  The final volume,  A Walk-On Part, is brilliantly insightful, satisfyingly indiscreet, tender and tough, and marvellously resonant for today’s politics. Chris had a front-row seat on the circus that was New Labour. Tim met him at his publisher’s offices in London and  talked about the historic landslide election of Labour Government in 1997, Rupert Murdoch, Lost Leaders, and why Chris had a black and white television in his London flat. http://media.blubrry.com/timhaighreadsbooks/p/www.green-shoot.com/podcast/green-shoot_timhaighreadsbooks_chrismullin-awalkonpart.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download | EmbedSubscribe: Android | RSS






Posted in Biography, Politics | 1 Comment

Alwyn W Turner – The Man Who Invented The Daleks, The Strange Worlds Of Terry Nation

You may remember Survivors and Blake’s Seven. You may even remember that they were created by Terry Nation. But Terry Nation’s immortality will always be tied up with invention of The Daleks. Alwyn W Turner has written a lively and fascinating account of Terry Nation’s times and career, from his radio days with Ted Ray and Tony Hancock, through the glory years of The Saint, The Avengers and countless others. Tim chased Alwyn through a petrified forest towards a steel-covered city populated by the last few mutant descendants of the human race, while a doomsday bomb ticked its countdown to oblivion, pausing only to chat about why Terry Nation’s television … Continue reading






Posted in Biography, Cultural History | Leave a comment