Friday 14 March 2014

Compass Points 78

What sad news this morning about the death of Tony Benn. One of Britain’s most enduringly popular politicians he was also one of the most enigmatic and controversial politicians of the post-war era. Jad Adams’ book Tony Benn: A Biography (published by Biteback) is the definitive biography of this extraordinary man – make sure you have plenty of copies! The Sunday Times it was a life “told with considerable grace and style”, the New Statesman called it  “an enjoyable read”, the Daily Express said it made “fascinating reading’” while the Telegraph commented that “Benn’s character shines through this fat but very readable biography” This is a comprehensively revised edition of this classic title which has been written with unparalleled access to Benn’s private records, and chronicles the behind-the-scenes story of Benn’s bitter battles with every leader of the Labour Party since Gaitskell. It details his service in the governments of Wilson and Callaghan, his role as a champion of the left during the Labour Party’s long period in opposition, his retirement from Parliament to ‘spend more time involved in politics’ in 2001, and his subsequent emergence as a leading figure of the British opposition to the war in Iraq. You can order Tony Benn: A Biography by Jad Adams (978 1849540964 £14.99, B-format paperback with 8 pages of photos) now.

Slightly belated, but very fulsome congratulations from all at Compass to Peter Owen, the 86-year-old founder of the Peter Owen Publishing, who has been awarded an OBE for Services to Literature in the Honours list which came out at the tail end of 2013. Peter Owen founded the company in 1951 and has been publishing world literature – including many Nobel Prize laureates – for over six decades. He commented: “This honour is also recognition of the work my staff, past and present, have put in to help create our distinguished list. Our 60th anniversary in 2011 received wide press coverage and reaffirmed that this company has always punched above its weight, influencing other publishers both in the UK and abroad. It remains the longest-established UK publisher of its kind still owned by its founder.” Peter Owen started his company, aged twenty-four, six years after the Second World War. He ran the business from home, with a typewriter as his only equipment. Soon, however, the company started to flourish, enabling him to employ some staff, his first editor was Muriel Spark, and he was able to bring some of the very best international literature to what was a very insular British market. In the sixty-plus years since then, although the industry has changed beyond recognition, Peter Owen Publishers continues the tradition of producing new and interesting writing. The company has published seven Nobel Prize winners and boasts a backlist that includes some of the most talented and important writers from all over the world. Compass are very proud to represent Peter Owen – you can have a look at their latest titles on The Daily Telegraph called him “A maverick who seems to break all the rules but might, I suspect, simply be publishing books the way they used to be published before the big money arrived and will be published again when the big money has gone” while the Mail on Sunday said “A publishing impresario for whom books are global . . . We owe him the explosions not only of the only Catholic Japanese novelist, Shusaku Endo, but of Jane Bowles, James Purdy, Americans of shock genius and a host of translated Europeans, from Hermann Hesse to Chagall and Colette.” Well done Peter – long overdue!

Well, with all the lovely sunshine that many of us have enjoyed in the past week, our thoughts are turning towards summer – and with it summer pastimes. What could be more evocative of a British summer than the sound of leather on willow? In the 1990s award-winning cricket commentator and journalist Ralph Dellor conducted a series of face-to-face taped interviews with famous cricketers past and present. Nine of these extraordinary interviews have now been captured in the written word in Lost Voices of Cricket: Golden moments with some of the game’s greats. They are Denis Compton (1918 – 1997); Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie (1933 – 2006); Bob Wyatt (1901 – 1995); Trevor Bailey (1923 – 2011); Cyril Washbrook (1914 – 1999); Sir Alec Bedser (1918 – 2010); Bill Alley (1919 – 2004) and Brian Statham (1930 – 2000). Ralph Dellor and Stephen Lamb (his fellow sports journalist) have edited and annotated the interviews so they are put into context of time and place. The book is packed with wonderful black and white photographs and each chapter is a classic piece of cricketing history and insight into the legends and lore of the game. The long overdue publication of these interviews is the rightful celebration of past sporting heroes, as well as a fascinating chance to look back into the past of this game and sporting culture in general. This is a history book as well as a catalogue of nostalgia that not only cricketers but all who love sport will revel in. Lost Voices of Cricket: Golden Moments with Some of the Game’s Greats by Ralph Dellor and Stephen Lamb (978 1909657502 £9.99, pb) is published in May by Bene Factum Publishing and you can find out more and order it here.

If you’re now in the mood for a bit of cricket nostalgia – then have a look at this terrific ten minute film featuring highlights of cricket matches from 1839-1938 – including some of the cricketers interviewed in Lost Voices of Cricket.  It’s a British Pathé film made in the 1940s so the sound quality is quiet – turn your speakers up!

Let’s stick with the British theme – and MI5 in the Great War by Nigel West is a fascinating narrative of MI5’s operations during the First World War.  This title is based on a top secret history, which remained classified in MI5’s registry for many years. Recently declassified and published here for the first time, this fascinating document was never intended for circulation outside of government, and is of considerable historical significance. MI5 in the Great War concentrates on the main narrative of the Secret Intelligence Service’s activities in the war; the original document has been edited and brought up to date by bestselling writer and historian Nigel West. The topics covered include a detailed account of German pre-war espionage, and the extent to which the Kaiser’s own spies developed an extensive network in Britain; previously undisclosed details from the individual MI5 dossiers compiled on enemy spies executed in England, including that of Sir Roger Casement, who was famously hanged for treason; MI5’s abortive attempt to manage a double agent reporting to the German Nachrichtenstelle in Rotterdam, and the detection of attempts made by the enemy to infiltrate MI5 with double agents. There will be many WW1 books published this year of course, but this is also a unique and extraordinary document detailing the workings of MI5 in its early years. Nigel West is the pen name of Rupert Allason, a bestselling author specialising in security, intelligence, secret service and espionage issues – and this title is both fascinating and highly readable.MI5 in the Great War (hb with photos,  978 184954676 £25.00) is published in May by Biteback and you can find out more and order it here

Well, you know I am utterly incapable of mentioning MI5 without either referencing Spooks or James Bond - so here are the top 50 James Bond moments – all in a fast-moving 007 minute sequence!

OK, you know how publishers love to describe books by suggesting they are a mash up of two exiting bestsellers? Fifty Shades of Grey meets Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter meets the Da Vinci Code – you know the sort of thing. Well this next title has been described by its publishers Hesperus Nova as Bridget Jones meets Life of Brian, which certainly makes the mind boggle a bit! Apocalypse Next Tuesday by David Safier is a wicked comedy featuring a mojito-drinking Jesus, devastatingly handsome Satan and salacious Archangel Gabriel. Its author David Safier is a bestselling German author whose novels have sold over 2 million copies worldwide and been translated into over 13 languages; and this title spent 19 weeks on the bestseller lists and sold a whopping 150,000 copies – in hardback!!  It begins when Marie (who has just jilted her boring boyfriend at the altar) meets a handsome carpenter and asks him out. His bizarre assertions that he is Jesus aren’t enough to put Marie off – her biological clock is ticking, and it’s time to settle down. Meanwhile, Satan (a dead ringer for George Clooney) is on the prowl, recruiting horsemen for next week’s Armageddon, scheduled for Tuesday, and Archangel Gabriel has discovered the pleasures of the flesh and is off on a sex marathon. Things are looking grim. Fortunately, Marie is dating the son of God – maybe, just maybe, he can get things straightened out. Provocative and blasphemous (with added pizza), Apocalypse Next Tuesday is a book full of surprises, and those who have read it in the Compass office have been laughing out loud from the very first page! Apocalypse Next Tuesday (pb, £8.99, 978 1843915072) is coming in May and you can find out more and order it here.

Those of us old enough to remember the colossal furore that Life of Brian caused when it his our cinema screens in 1979, are constantly glad that we live in a country where Apocalypse Next Tuesday can be published at all – and that we are free to  laugh at what we choose. Cheer yourself up by whistling along to the original blast of blasphemy!

Andrea Pirlo is one the best and most popular footballers in the world and published in April by Backpage Press is Andrea Pirlo: I Think Therefore I Play – his story, in his words. It is a most unusual footballer’s autobiography, told with warmth, humour and insight. Andrea Pirlo has been the playmaker for each of Italy’s big three clubs – Inter, Milan and Juventus. He has won the Champions League and the World Cup. The vibrancy, humour and vivid insight that carry Pirlo’s autobiography along confound his image as a dead-eyed assassin on the field of play. The World Cup this summer will see the end of Pirlo’s international career and his memories of playing for Italy (with whom he won the 2006 World Cup) are a big part of this story. He is out of contract in the summer and is likely to leave Italy for the first time – possibly to play in England; so this is a timely salute to a special talent who may yet have one final chapter left to write. Andrea Pirlo: I Think Therefore I Play (pb, £9.99 978 1909430167 £9.99.) is published on 5.4.12 and the day before on Monday, April 4 there will be extensive coverage in the Daily Mail (print and online), the Guardian and the Sun and the Times. There will also be extracts from the book on which is the biggest football website in the world.  This book is going to be very big indeed and you can find out more and order Andrea Pirlo here.

And if you are a bookseller wondering what all the fuss is about – or even wondering who Andrea Pirlo actually is – than watch this great 4 minute YouTube film – with a fab Coldplay soundtrack, it should convince you that Pirlo clearly is a bit of a legend!

All over the UK at the moment some very lucky booksellers are receiving their invitations to the fabulous 40th International Anniversary launch part for The Abba Photo Book, which is published this month by Max Strom Publishing (hb, 978 9171262820 £35.00). Ah well, if you’re not lucky enough to be going to this mega party and meeting all four members of Abba (no me neither) then console yourself that it’s all super-duper publicity for the book which should sell by the bucket load. And at least thanks to the wonder of YouTube you can get all nostalgic and remind yourself of their mega performance at the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton when almost exactly 40 years ago (on 6 April 1974) they won with Waterloo! Yay – go Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid!

Don’t forget about The Wisdom of Kids by Soula Zavacopoulos (978 1849533744 £6.99, pb) This playful little gift book collects amusing, insightful and endearing pearls of wisdom from some of the most unlikely little geniuses ever to open their mouths. It has just been published by Summersdale and is the perfect Mother’s Day present – and lots of the parenting websites (including Gurgle and have been recommending it as such this week.

While most people associate testosterone with men, it's one of the most vital hormones in women, but one that they begin to lose as they enter their 40s.  As a result, women approaching midlife are often plagued with insomnia, fatigue, depression, forgetfulness, low libido and a general sense of malaise. But Dr Kathy Maupin knows that it doesn't have to be this way. In The Secret Female Hormone, How Testosterone Replacement Can Change Your Life Dr Maupin together with therapist Brett Newcomb bring vital information about testosterone to the general public for the first time as they share the latest research on testosterone replacement therapy and its effects. Speaking in clear and practical terms, they show readers how to find the right treatment plan for their individual needs. Testosterone: The Secret Female Hormone by Dr Kathy C Maupin (pb, 978 1781801789 £10.99) is the first authoritative book on testosterone for women, written by a medical doctor with years of experience treating hormonal imbalance and it is getting some terrific publicity. There was a huge piece last week in the Daily Mail (circ. 1.7 million) and the Daily Mail online (circ. 6 million) entitled Could the Male Hormone Really Transform a Woman’s Life, Looks and Libido? which you can read here. An appearance by the author is also scheduled soon on the ITV Lorraine Kelly show. The Secret Female Hormone has just been published by Hay House and you can order it and find out more here.

Oscar Marzaroli was Scotland’s most prestigious twentieth-century photographer. He was born in Castiglione Vera, Italy, in 1933 and came to Scotland with his family at the age of two. Although best known for his acclaimed and evocative photographs of Glasgow in the 1960s, he was also a film cameraman, and directed over 70 films for Ogam Films, a company he co-founded in 1967. He died in 1988. A documentary on Oscar Marzaroli will be screened on BBC2, Tuesday April 1st at 10pm and the tie-in book is Waiting for the Magic: The Photography of Oscar Marzaroli (hb, £25.00 9781780271484) published by Birlinn. This beautiful hardback coffee table book celebrates Marzaroli’s extraordinary talent with a number of specially-commissioned essays and a selection of previously unpublished photographs, as well as many of the iconic, much loved work for which he is renowned. Marzaroli’s portraits always had a purpose and a point; his empathy is apparent as is his lack of intrusion and respect for people in their unique landscape, whether it be urban or country. If you are not familiar with Marzoli’s work you can have a look at some of his photos on the website

And finally – if you think Apocalypse Next Tuesday is a weird title, have look at these (sometimes unintentionally) funniest book titles and covers ever! My personal favourite is Mommy Drinks Because You’re Bad.

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

This blog is read weekly by over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website or talk to your Compass Sales representative.

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