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Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years (Palin Diaries #1)

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,117 Ratings  ·  187 Reviews

“Michael Palin is not just one of Britain’s foremost comedy character actors, he also talks a lot. Yap, yap, yap he goes, all day long and through the night . . . then, some nights, when everyone else has gone to bed, he goes home and writes up a diary.” —John Cleese

“For Palin it has been one hell of a ride, but he seems to have maintained equilibrium all along the way. .

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Hardcover, 650 pages
Published September 4th 2007 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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El
Michael Palin has always probably been my favorite Python. I didn't know, prior to finding this book at a book sale recently, that he was a diarist as well as comedic genius. This first volume covers the Python Years, 1969-1979 - basically the rise and fall of the Pythons during their glory years. I grew up watching their movies (collective and individual works) and shows and Fawlty Towers, and to be honest, I didn't really appreciate them until my teen years because my younger ears didn't under ...more
F.R.
May 15, 2016 F.R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t think it’s a surprise that Michael Palin would be warm, convivial, charming guide to his 1970s in his diaries, but it’s still amazing to find out how warm, convivial and charming guide he actually is. I would be stunned if anyone read these diaries and found that they now hated and despised Michael Palin. I’d actually be stunned if readers came away indifferent to him. There is so much warmth here, so much good feeling, so much that’s trying to be positive; that I actually came away want ...more
Lena
Nov 23, 2007 Lena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, humor
I was a big Monty Python fan as a teen-ager, so I was very excited when I learned founding member Michael Palin was publishing the diary he began keeping during the early days of the Monty Python show. The diary, however, is a tricky form in that it is rarely written with the interests of a reader in mind. Because of this, the book gets off to a surprisingly slow start. Palin’s early entries do contain some tidbits about the early days of Python, but, as he mentions, he had no idea at that time ...more
Phil Huff
Warning. This is not a scintillating tell-all of the Monty Python world...it is something far more entertaining and at times enlightening. Michael Palin (known as the 'nice' python) wrote diaries throughout his life, and he thoughtfully published ten years worth that start with life right before the creation of Monty Python, and end with the release of their most controversial work Life of Brian. This is a look into a successful balance of the creative process and domestic life. Palin is a devot ...more
Jenn
Apr 05, 2008 Jenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves:
I didn't buy the book when I saw him speak at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Sitting in the second row back from the stage and watching the Fan Circus was enough to write a short story. There is nothing like a room filled with old dorks. But even better, the new enthusiasm of a 20 something year old Chinese girl who had been recently introduced to the whole Python thing through her American boyfriend. Her gushing went from cute to hilarious as she exclaimed that more Python films and shows sh ...more
Tobie
Mar 17, 2010 Tobie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Possibly the most enjoyable book I have ever read. Michael is so optimistic it can only rub off on the reader. I was very sad when I was finished. He shares books, movies and plays he's enoyed; I've started a list from his experiences. Also, if you're a huge Monty Python fan, as I am, the behind-the-scenes stories, personal impressions and emotions are priceless. Who knew John Cleese was so snooty, Idle such a hippy, Gilliam and Jones so emotional and Graham so depressed. It made me love and res ...more
Frank Kelly
What must it have been like to make "Monty Python and the Holy Grail"? There are numerous tails and myths -- but in his wonderful first volume of diary entries, we find out: "John (Lancelot) and I (Galahad) driving up through Glencoe in a Budget Rent-a-Van full of chainmail." Not a line you will find in most books or memoirs. But you will in Michael Palin's first set of published diaries. Or how about this one? "A good day's filming at last... John Horton's rabbit effects are superb. A really vi ...more
William
Apr 08, 2010 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great little book. Coming hard on the heels of the 6 part PBS documentary, these diary excerpts cover the Python Years (as the title suggests). The writing is remarkable, and if Palin writes this way in contemporary diary style, without the benefit of edits and rewrites (not suggesting anything, Michael), then the writing is even more remarkable. Fantastic behind the scenes look at the Pythons...especially surprised at how little Terry Jones is discussed, considering he and Palin wrote together. ...more
S.D.
Sep 04, 2009 S.D. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not since Pepys’ has a diary warranted such literary merit. And Palin’s is better, less a diary than a portrait of everyman’s artist. In crisp, witty prose Palin narrates and ruminates on the creative process, British politics, travel, television, sport, family, film, finances, fine dining, literature, public transportation, and, of course, the inner workings of Monty Python. But what’s unique in Palin’s process is his refined focus on a particular activity, event or thought in each entry. These ...more
Isabel Ferreira
May 09, 2008 Isabel Ferreira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all Monty Python & M. Palin fans
It was extremely interesting to learn how Monty Python formed, planned and carried out their projects. Also, I got to know more about that decade in terms of politics, arts, etc. A must for all Michael Palin and Monty Python fans!
Adrian
Jaunty and thoroughly enjoyable six year (and 600 plus page) diary by comedian of Monty Python fame. He mixes in just enough social commentary and family life to keep it honest. Lots learned about the comedy troupe-how the group was created and how they created material for Monty and the movies The Holy Grail and Life of Brian. Palin's ventures on to Saturday Night Live are fully drawn out as are his court appearances in NY City during Python's fight with ABC TV over cuts. Censorship was a recur ...more
Christine
BBC Book of the Week


1/5 The Monty Python star recalls the influential comedy troupe's huge success in the 70s and the making of their first film.
2/5 The actor and travel writer recalls the Monty Python team's success in America, their break-up and the start of their own solo projects.
3/5 The comic actor and travel writer shares more poignant memories from the 70s, reflecting on his relationship with his ailing dad.
4/5 The comic actor shares his surreal experience of guest hosting a big American
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Andrea
This was heavy going for me - extracts of diaries kept by Michael Palin during the years Python started and on to just after the release of The Life of Brian.

Some very interesting stuff happens in this book, but there's also a hell of a lot about the current weather/hotel/book/ailment/business deal and it was all just so turgid I ended up skimming a lot. Palin rarely seems to be enjoying himself (or at least can't express that enjoyment in his writing).

Highlights were the evolution of Brian, and
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Daniel
May 29, 2015 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A terrific book. My original plan was to bring it on vacation sometime, as it's 600 pages of small print and I figured it would be something to read by a pool. That never happened (since the book is the size of a cinderblock) so I just picked it and started reading it at home. I'm glad I did. Python fans (and who else would read it?) will appreciate the descriptions of how the team worked together--but they will also find all of the other projects and people orbiting the Pythons just as interest ...more
Nigel
Feb 21, 2012 Nigel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This 600 page brick of a book had been sitting on the coffee table waiting to be read for a couple of years. Although I've always been a fan of Monty Python I hadn't picked it up because I was unsure whether the author could sustain a level of interest into all things Python over the full length of the book.
Eventually I plucked up the courage and started it. My initial fears did prove groundless. This is a very readable book.
Palin's writing style does evolve as the book progresses. As he gets in
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Christine
OK, I updated this. I exaggerated, there are only 600 pages or so, and I felt guilty so I skimmed the rest of the book. There is a little more meat about the making of "Life of Brian", but not much more. Mostly we hear about Palin's trips to the dentist and the tax assessor....
----------------

There is a big difference between reading an unedited diary and reading a memoir. Palin comes across as a very nice guy (and John Cleese not) but if you want to know how Monty Python developed their sketche
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Kate
Nov 02, 2010 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
It's weird to be assigning a rating and reviewing works that were never originally intended to be published. There's also been entries removed, which I understand. There's stuff that you'd rather not the public see and most of it is with regard to family vacations, which don't fit so nicely into the narrative of Palin's career and the growing popularity of Monty Python. It's not as informative during the first bit of the book, quite honestly it drags quite a bit, but that's also not surprising. ...more
Chris
May 04, 2008 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heartily enjoyed this book, but I think it has limited appeal to the general public.

First, I'm a raving Monty Python fan. I have a rough knowledge of the order of events in the Python history, and the members of the troupe.

Second, I'm a big fan of Michael Palin in general. I've seen many of his travelogues and I'm generally not disappointed by his output.

Third, I generally enjoy reading diaries.

Here are some items I found to be engaging reading in the book (in no particular order):

-English Cel
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Don
“Michael Palin is not just one of Britain’s foremost comedy character actors, he also talks a lot. Yap, yap, yap he goes, all day long and through the night . . . then, some nights, when everyone else has gone to bed, he goes home and writes up a diary.” So writes John Cleese about Monty Python co-member Michael Palin, also known for acclaimed travel programs such as Around the World in 80 Days and Full Circle. With a lucid and witty style, Palin chronicles the early days of Python (from fringe ...more
Fred
Jun 02, 2016 Fred rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: movies-and-tv, bio
With an attention span recently fractured by fatherhood, I've been estranged from the book world for the past year, save for a quick dip into parenting manuals for advice on how to induce sleep or diagnose ailments. But the diary format fit well with my current state of mental sharpness. I could blank out for minutes at a time and never worry that I'd lose the thread of the story.

Being a diary, the subject matter can run toward the mundane at times, even when the person writing it is living a ve
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Christopher Fox
Apr 25, 2015 Christopher Fox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must admit that while I style myself as a Python Fan, my acquaintance with and devotion to the troupe is mostly limited to their TV series and the first 4 films. Thus I found the first third of this extensive tome that covers to years up to 1975 to be of the most interest if for no other reason than that familiarity and recognition bring their own joy.

As in his other writings, Palin is a keen, accurate and sympathetic observer of the people and the world around him. These are of course diaries
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Elaine Meszaros
Dec 03, 2014 Elaine Meszaros rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thick 600+ page book, Palin's Diaries start slowly but become increasingly engrossing. Covering the very first year Python starts making shows until the release of Life of Brian, Palin describes Python's ever-increasing popularity. Palin writes with a witty, kind and endearing voice as he describes the vast extremes in his life. One day he is being flown on Concorde to New York to fill a SNL show, the next he detailing one of his children's birthday parties. Like Kyle MacDonald (One Red Paperc ...more
Joseph
Nov 28, 2014 Joseph rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Python Years is a collection of Michael Palin's journal entries just prior to the start of his affiliation with Monty Python's Flying Circus on through the decade the followed. It's audience is the die-hard Python fan who is fairly familiar with the comedy troupe, their show on the BBC and PBS, and their movies; as many entries simply mention people, sketches, and scenes for which the reader is expected to already be familiar.

The author rarely goes into the show- and film-making process and
...more
Angela
May 26, 2014 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A long, funny, fascinating and intimate selection of "the nice one"'s personal diaries. Hidden beneath these rather quotidian observations on restaurant meals, meetings with producers, trips up to the family, and occasional writing sessions with Terry Jones or the rest of the Pythons, is the remarkableness of Michael Palin himself. Remarkable because he seems to have been mind-bogglingly prolific: these diaries, already at 600+ pages, are only 20% of the total diaries he kept for himself. In one ...more
Laura
Jul 18, 2014 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
The actor and writer recalls how the influential comedy group reconvened in 1977 to make their most controversial film.
David farren
Mar 24, 2016 David farren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are a fan on British comedy in the 60,s and 70,s this is a great companion , Palin is a good writer and the diaries give a chronological history of his life from university through his start in writing and performing in the 60,s and his work with many British greats of that era . Then onto the formation of Python and the allegencies within the Group , Palin was very much connected with Terry Jones and to a certain extent Graham Chapman , it seemed initially Cleese and Idle worked apart fr ...more
Phil
Sep 28, 2014 Phil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Palin being, by common consent of those who know him and those of us who merely admire his work, one of the nicest men in show business, these diaries always threatened to be entertaining and enlightening, and so they are. From the inception of Monty Python to the huge success of Life of Brian, they track their author's burgeoning career, the growth of his family, his surprise at his business success, his sharp eye for character and absurd situations, and the modest professionalism with ...more
Paula
May 06, 2016 Paula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally finished! Part of what took me so long to get through this book was because I kept having to go to the computer and google people (Richard Beckinsale, Derek Taylor, Victoria Wood), places (Southwold, Shepperton Studios), and things ("The Spaceman and King Arthur", Penrhos beer).
This book covers Britain, the United States, and parts of Tunisia in the 1970's so I kept wanting to know more about things that were mentioned.
Being a Monty Python fan from way back, I enjoyed this in-depth look
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Greg Raleigh
Dec 15, 2014 Greg Raleigh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I confess I selected this book in hopes of learning all the ins and outs of being a Python, of writing and performing comedy, and specifically, details behind how specific skits or scenes were created, and in that regard I was mildly disappointed, but soon realized there were far more interesting things to know about Michael Palin.

In the end, I found myself antsy to return to the book whenever I had to put it down, and felt a small void whenever I reached the end. Being a Python made Michael Pa
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Cynthia Raleigh
Aug 15, 2014 Cynthia Raleigh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being a Monty Python fan since the show first aired on PBS, I enjoyed reading the background information about the making of the show and the movies. Michael Palin writes diary entries that are descriptive, thoughtful, and colorful. It was a well-blended mix of personal life, past family life, and current business. Lots of insights into the other members of Python; I find I am now interested in reading the books written by other members. The mention of 1970s actors or personalities I had forgott ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Wrong cover artwork 2 22 Jan 17, 2014 11:50AM  
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Michael Edward Palin, CBE, is an English comedian, actor, writer and television presenter best known for being one of the members of the comedy group Monty Python and for his travel documentaries.

Palin wrote most of his material with Terry Jones. Before Monty Python, they had worked on other shows such as The Ken Dodd Show, The Frost Report and Do Not Adjust Your Set. Palin appeared in some of the
...more
More about Michael Palin...

Other Books in the Series

Palin Diaries (3 books)
  • Halfway To Hollywood: Diaries 1980 to 1988 (Palin Diaries, #2)
  • Travelling to Work: Diaries 1988-1998

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“I am very cautious of people who are absolutely right, especially when they are vehemently so.” 78 likes
“As I work in the afternoon on committing to paper some of my morning's thoughts, I find myself just about to close on the knotty question of whether or not I believe in God. In fact I am about to type, 'I do not believe in God', when the sky goes black as ink, there is a thunderclap and a huge crash of thunder and a downpour of epic proportions. I never do complete the sentence.” 15 likes
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