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Brief Lives

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  37 ratings  ·  6 reviews
'I now present for the reader two hundred or more sketches of people I have come across
during over sixty years as a writer, editor, historian, broadcaster and lecturer, all over the world. Some are mere glimpses, others attempts to pluck out the mystery. I have been obliged to exclude a number of interesting people who are still living, and I present my findings more for
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 3rd 2010 by Hutchinson (first published 2010)
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Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
For enjoyment I should really give this book 3 stars. But I am subtracting 1 star for some of the comments that I thought were unnecessary and nasty. One would expect better of an outspoken catholic. This book contradicts Paul Johnson's statement in a Telegraph interview : where he says " view increasingly is that if I don’t have anything good to say about somebody, I don’t say it." Well Mr Johnson, maybe you should practice what you preach?

It is a bit presumptuous of me to comment on this
stephanie suh
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Biography is an ancient branch of literature that attests to the unchangeability of human nature against the flow of time. In its literary context, the Bible, composed of 66 books, is about the prophets, kings, sinners, let alone Christ and his disciples. Homer's Odyssey and Iliad recite the ancient Greek heroes' honors and foibles during the Trojan War and the aftermath. Plutarch's Lives reveal the naked truth about the ancient Greek and Roman powers-that-be who seem to be no less different tha ...more
Terry Feix
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A first hand impressions of the many influential and famous people Johnson met. Witty, opinionated and refreshing.
John Winterson
Jun 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was bought to have something in which to dip at odd moments, but proved such a page-turner that is was read through in a couple of sessions.

The historian Paul Johnson has obviously lived a full life, especially in his earlier career as a journalist, and met a great many interesting, or at least famous, people – the famous not necessarily being the most interesting, and vice versa. He sums them up very neatly in short, journalistic articles, ranging from a single paragraph to several pa
Emily Fuentes
May 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fun and interesting book. Johnson has a way with words and paints amazing frameworks for the stories he tells. He brings a unique story to already famous people, and makes those who are less famous quite interesting to read about. My only complaint is it had a "gossipy" feel to it, and I prefer to read biographies with a sense of propriety, knowing the author isn't taking cheap shots for unpleasant encounters in the past. Other than that, great read. ...more
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Marc A
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Feb 01, 2020
Brian Harris
quite brilliant summary of the great and not so great in the UK
Ashok Banker
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Feb 06, 2012
Miss M
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Paul Johnson works as a historian, journalist and author. He was educated at Stonyhurst School in Clitheroe, Lancashire and Magdalen College, Oxford, and first came to prominence in the 1950s as a journalist writing for, and later editing, the New Statesman magazine. He has also written for leading newspapers and magazines in Britain, the US and Europe.

Paul Johnson has published over 40 books incl

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