Friday 26 October 2012

Compass Points 20

Your weekly round up of publishing news, publicity information and trivia!

Conrad Black has been all over the media this week promoting his gripping autobiography, A Matter of Principle. There was a Sunday Times News Review last weekend, an interview on the  BBC Radio 4 Today Programme and on BBC 2’s Daily Politics Show on Tuesday; pieces in the New Statesman and the Financial Times on Thursday and yesterday he was on  Have I Got News For You. This Sunday he is on LBC Radio, and there will be a big interview in the Mail on Sunday. Conrad Black is one of the most controversial figures in British media over the last twenty years. In 1993 he was the proprietor of the Daily Telegraph and the head of one of the world’s largest newspaper groups. He completed a memoir and “great prospects beckoned.” In 2004 he was accused of fraud and fired as chairman of Hollinger. In A Matter of Principle Black describes his indictment, four-month trial, partial conviction, imprisonment, and largely successful appeal.  He writes without reserve about the prosecutors who mounted a campaign to destroy him and the journalists who presumed he was guilty. Fascinating people fill these pages, from prime ministers and presidents, to the social, legal and media elite, among them: Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Rupert Murdoch and Henry A. Kissinger. Black is candid about highly personal subjects, including his friendships, his faith, and his marriage to Barbara Amiel. Above all, Black maintains his innocence and recounts what he describes as the “fight of and for my life.” A Matter of Principle is a riveting memoir and a scathing account of a flawed justice system. It came into the publishing schedule very late indeed – so some of you may not have ordered it via your usual channels – it’s published this week and getting tons of great publicity – so don’t miss out!

Now – how gripping does this sound… “This hitherto unknown story described in these pages cost the writer his marriage and (several times) almost his life… Somehow it happened.  Somehow, on a shoestring, the helicopter-borne, night fighting intervention force began to frighten the black turbans out of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and opium barons… And his Pathans…Those fifty dark featured, tough, lean, hard warriors, as dangerous as the land that made them… for a few months led by an infidel Britisher, they terrified those whose only language was terror.” This is from Frederick Forsyth’s foreword of Ask Forgiveness Not Permission: The True Story of a Discreet Military Style Operation in the ‘badlands’ of Pakistan by Howard Leedham MBE. By any standards this author’s military career is unusual. He started life as a Royal Navy clearance diver, was commissioned, became a Commando helicopter pilot and then served in the Special Forces. Twice decorated by the Queen for gallantry, he also became the first British officer to command a US Marine Corps squadron on active service. On retirement Howard settled in the USA with his American wife and successfully flew executive jets until he was recruited in 2003 by the US State Department’s Airwing; which operates an international fleet of aircraft engaged in counter-terrorism and anti-narcotics operations. Howard’s specific brief was to activate a fleet of anti-terrorist helicopters given to the Pakistan armed forces but which had been embargoed and never properly used. He was given command of fifty Pathan soldiers to train in Special Forces tactics and helicopter skills. They became an amazingly loyal team and the book describes in detail several very successful discreet operations; and the occasional failure– often because of leaked information. How could Howard tell who was a friend and who was a foe – even among his own troops? All this came at a personal price – Howard’s marriage broke up and he was nearly killed by a bomb on a subsequent visit to Islamabad. Today he lives and works in London. Howard Leedham will be on the BBC World News next week (30th October) – and the book is already being favourably reviewed by the many military review bloggers. There is a massive market for these true war and combat stories, so this should do very well – it’s just published.

Who’s a Barbra Streisand fan? Well whether you are or not – there an awful lot of them out there – all potential customers for this new biography! In 1960 Barbra was just a seventeen year-old Jewish kid with plenty of talent and even more ambition. Four years later, she had taken over Broadway as the star of Funny Girl and had three platinum albums. Hello, Gorgeous: The Making of Barbra Streisand charts Streisand’s rise to fame. It covers her formative years: her relationship with her mother, her early lovers, and her husband, Elliott Gould. With access to the previously sealed private collections of Jerome Robbins, Bob Fosse, and many others, William J Mann lays out the first-ever accurate account of the making of Funny Girl, fills in an incomplete record of Streisand’s early nightclub and television appearances, and takes us behind the scenes of the canny marketing team whose strategies made her stardom seem inevitable.  He also re-creates a vibrant piece of New York theatrical history – the dinner clubs and the birth of ‘Off-Off-Broadway’. Everyone of a certain age remembers when the phenomenon of Barbra Streisand rewrote all the rules of stardom. In this intimate portrait, Mann incisively illuminates the woman before she became the icon. This is published in November, to tie in with the 50th anniversary of Streisand’s career and you can remind yourself of one of her seminal performances below! 

This is something really special. Just in time for the Christmas present market, Myrmidon are bringing out a beautiful limited gift edition of The Garden of Evening Mist by Tan Twan Eng, which of course was shortlisted for the Booker this year and has now sold over 40,000 copies. This slipcased hardback edition is truly beautiful – and will be published on 7 November, at a retail price of £35. The edition is strictly limited to 1,200 copies, each of which will be numbered, signed by the author and stamped in red with his personal Chinese seal. The high specification design includes a silver foil design on the spine, front cover and front of the slip case; coloured endpapers; head and tail bands and a ribbon marker. The cased book is individually shrink-wrapped and labelled with price, barcode, 'signed by the author', 'Limited Edition of 1,200 copies' and 'Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012’. The 1,200 copies will sell out for sure – so if you have the sort of customers who you feel will be interested in such a covetable collector’s item as this – then get your order in quickly! They are available firm sale - click here to find out more, view the gorgeous cover, and order your copies.

Of all the things that concern you on a day to day basis – is being buried alive one of them?  Possibly not – but your Victorian ancestors would have certainly been worried that this was a real possibility! Premature Burial: How It May Be Prevented was written to reassure the many nineteenth-century people who were apparently worried (to death?) about being buried alive.  You can find out more about it here. It was written by Doctors Hadwen and Vollum together with William Tebb – a wide-ranging social reformer who co-founded the London Association for Prevention of Premature Burial; and has long been out of print – but journalist Jonathan Sale has now produced this edited version of the original book. It includes extracts from the most frightening stories of narrow escapes and living burials from a mass of historical material!  The contents include: Animal and So-called Human Hibernation, Narrow Escapes from Premature Burial, Premature Burial of Doubtful Cases, Death-Counterfeits, The Danger of Hasty Burials, Sudden Death, Embalming and Dissections, and Count Karnice-Karnicki's Invention. This spine chilling volume would make the perfect, creepy Halloween read – and this type of wonderfully kitsch, true-life Victoriana is hugely popular at present! Sadly the average Victorian was clearly nowhere near as resourceful as Uma Thurman in Kill Bill 2 remind yourself of her fantastic escape scene below!

And if you are already bored by your Halloween window display – and it’s not even here yet, then why not click here for some more fun things you can do with a pumpkin!

This newsletter is sent weekly to over 550 booksellers. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website.

That’s all for now folks, more next week!

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