AbeBooks' Reading Copy » bestsellers http://www.abebooks.com/blog AbeBooks book blog Fri, 19 Sep 2014 18:08:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Louis Zamperini Dies at 97 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2014/07/03/louis-zamperini-dies-at-97/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2014/07/03/louis-zamperini-dies-at-97/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 16:30:51 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=21267 Unbroken

Louis Zamperini, the subject of Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller Unbroken, died on July 2 at the age of 97.

At age 19, Zamperini participated in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games as a long-distance runner. When WWII broke out, he joined the US Army Air Forces and served as a bombadier in the South Pacific. In April, 1943, his plane crashed in the Pacific, killing eight of the eleven crew members on board.

One of the three survivors, Francis McNamara, died after 37 days at sea. Fourteen days later, Zamperini and fellow survivor, Russel Allen, landed on the Marshall Islands and were immediately captured by Japanese forces. They remained in captivity, enduring sevedevilre mistreatment, until the war ended in August, 1945.

Zamperini went on to become an inspirational speaker and wrote two memoirs detailing his experiences, both titled Devil at My Heels. The first was published in 1956 and as of this writing, is still available. The second, published in 2003, was completely rewritten and contains a significant amount of new material.

In 2010, Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand, published a biography of Zamperini called Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. An international bestseller, copies of Unbroken signed by Zamperini still regularly appear on AbeBooks Bestselling Signed Books list. A movie based on the book, adapted by Joel and Ethan Coen and directed by Angelina Jolie, is set for release in late 2014.

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Signed copy of Robert Galbraith’s Silkworm sells for $1,720 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2014/06/20/signed-copy-of-robert-galbraiths-silkworm-sells-for-1720/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2014/06/20/signed-copy-of-robert-galbraiths-silkworm-sells-for-1720/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 13:42:39 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=21245 One day, that’s all it took for The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith to become a collectible book. Yesterday, the day of the novel’s release, a signed copy of The Silkworm written by JK Rowling under the Galbraith pen name sold for $1,720 on AbeBooks.

The book was sold shortly after being listed for sale on the marketplace. It had been signed on the title page by ‘Robert Galbraith’ with a JK Rowling hologram attached to the opposite page. It appears a small number of signed copies were distributed to certain bookstores in the UK.

The Silkworm is Rowling’s second novel writing as Galbraith. The book is a crime mystery starring Cormoran Strike – a one-legged ex-military policeman. The sale confirms that the Rowling magic has not dimmed and that book collectors are still interested in anything that carries her signature. There are currently five signed copies for sale on AbeBooks ranging from $1,600 to $2,100 in price.

Yesterday, AbeBooks also sold a first edition of The Cuckoo’s Calling – the first Robert Galbraith novel – for $1,206. The book was not signed. It appears only a small number of first editions of The Cuckoo’s Calling were printed, perhaps 1,500.

The most expensive Rowling book to ever sell on AbeBooks was a rare first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which sold for $37,000 in 2005.

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From Written Word to Silver Screen: 17 books hitting theaters in 2014 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2014/01/27/from-written-word-to-silver-screen-17-books-hitting-theaters-in-2014/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2014/01/27/from-written-word-to-silver-screen-17-books-hitting-theaters-in-2014/#comments Mon, 27 Jan 2014 17:12:49 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=20426 Books have a long history of becoming great films. It goes without saying that the two make a good pair, in fact, five of this year’s Oscar Best Picture nominees are book-to-film titles. American Hustle is based on The Sting Man: Inside Abscam by Robert W. Greene. Captain Phillips was inspired by A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Captain Richard Phillips. Philomena: A Mother, Her Son, and a Fifty Year Search by Martin Sexsmith became Philomena starring Dame Judi Dench. Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave and Jordan Belfort’s Wolf of Wall Street are also on the list.

So what’s next? Here are 17 books hitting theaters in 2014:

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard

1. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard becomes a film of the same title, starring Kate Winslet.

2. The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter becomes The Monuments Men starring George Clooney and Matt Damon.

3. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead is a shoe-in for film following the Twilight phenomenon.

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter 4. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin will star Colin Farell in it’s big screen adaptation.

5. Thérese Raquin by Émile Zola becomes the film In Secret, starring Elizabeth Olsen.

6. A Long Way Down is not the first Nick Hornby book to hit theaters.

7. Divergent by Veronica Roth is screaming blockbuster.

8. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is yet another YA read turned movie.A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

9. The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais stars none other than Helen Mirren.

10. The Giver by Lois Lowry will come to life with Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep.

11. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn isn’t the author’s only appearance on the big screen this year…

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green12. Gone Girl is also hitting theaters and stars Ben Affleck.

13. This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper stars funny man Jason Bateman.

14. Rainier and Grace by Jeffrey Robinson inspired the film Grace of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly.

15. Wild by Cheryl Strayed will feature Reese Witherspoon as the author who walks to redemption.

The Giver by Lois Lowry16. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand isn’t the author’s first film experience – she also wrote Seabiscuit.

17. Serena by Ron Rash will star on-screen duo Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

Get reading before you grab the popcorn!

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Lisbeth Salander to return in Millennium Trilogy sequel http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/12/17/lisbeth-salander-to-return-in-millennium-trilogy-sequel/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/12/17/lisbeth-salander-to-return-in-millennium-trilogy-sequel/#comments Wed, 18 Dec 2013 00:58:06 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=20286 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson  The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson  The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

Fans of Lisbeth Salander probably weren’t expecting to meet her again, considering Stieg Larsson‘s best-selling Millennium Trilogy was published posthumously.  The widely popular series was originally intended to include 10 parts, but it ended with just three titles due to Larsson’s death in 2004.   Norstedts, the Swedish publisher of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, has signed up ghostwriter David Lagercrantz to produce a fourth book, expected to be released next summer.  The yet-to-be-titled novel is said to have a different plot from the unfinished fourth book Larsson was penning before he passed away, but it will include the characters Lisbeth and Mikael Blomqvist.

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More on The Cuckoo’s Calling – Signed First Sells for $4,453 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/07/18/more-on-the-cuckoos-calling-signed-first-sells-for-4453/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/07/18/more-on-the-cuckoos-calling-signed-first-sells-for-4453/#comments Thu, 18 Jul 2013 18:38:50 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=19425 CuckoosCallingCoverMore news around The Cuckoo’s Calling and JK Rowling‘s (Robert Galbraith’s) recent marketing brilliance.

The most expensive copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling that we at AbeBooks have sold on the marketplace this week was a signed first edition that went for $4,453 / £2,950. The signature was Robert Galbraith (we wondered – would a copy signed by Rowling’s hand as Galbraith be worth more, less, or the same as a copy signed by Rowling’s hand as Rowling?).

As mentioned previously, before the news that previously-unknown-ex-British-army-officer-and-debut-novelist Robert Galbraith was actually JK Rowling, Galbraith’s book had sold just 1500 copies since its April publication. And amid excitement, gesticulation and speculation, others have reported that number (sales) may actually be closer to 500, and that 1500 is actually the number of first editions published in the novel’s first print run. Even that seemingly tiny number would be thrice that of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, whose first run was a very modest 500 copies. And we all know how that went.

Unsurprisingly, industry types all over book-related social media are speculating about all kinds of numbers – including the number 300,000, which is rumored to be the reprint run that publisher Little, Brown have now ordered.

What we can speak to with certainty is the number of copies of Cuckoo’s Calling that have been flying off the virtual shelves here at AbeBooks. It is worth noting that we had not sold a single copy of the book before the weekend, and it is a very different story now.

Among the more interesting sales were two unsigned first editions, which sold for $907 each on Wednesday, as well as the above-mentioned signed copy at four-and-a-half grand. As of the writing of this post, there is only one signed copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling left, currently offered at $6,188 / £3,950.

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Breaking News: JK Rowling Actually a Man Named Robert Galbraith http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/07/15/breaking-news-jk-rowling-actually-a-man-named-robert-galbraith/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/07/15/breaking-news-jk-rowling-actually-a-man-named-robert-galbraith/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2013 17:38:02 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=19397 cuckoos-calling-galbraith-rowling

All right, that post headling might have been a bit misleading, but I thought it was funny. JK Rowling is not actually a man. What she very well might be is a genius. And not just the sort we already knew about – the imaginative, creative writing genius who created Quidditch and butterbeer and Hogwarts – but a marketing genius, as well.

Back in April 2013, a crime novel called The Cuckoo’s Calling hit the shelves. Released as a debut from a male, first-time novelist named Robert Galbraith, the detective story is a dark one about the mystery-shrouded demise of a supermodel who plummeted to her death from a balcony.

Believing it to have been penned by previously-unknown ex-British army officer Galbraith, critics virtually unanimously praised The Cuckoo’s Calling, with some likening it to the works of Ruth Rendell and PD James (interesting that both of those writers are also women – perhaps something in the style?).

The jig began to be up when a Sunday Times of London writer read the novel, then speculated via Twitter that the book was far too good to be the work of who it claimed. Again, perhaps something in the style? Regardless, he began his own detective work, and it was soon revealed that the book’s author was indeed none other than blockbuster powerhouse Rowling, who briefly lamented:

I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.

So why do I think she’s a genius? In short, because not only does this type of fun mystery send her skyrocketing back to the top of all the news outlets, but because of the way she went about the whole thing:

1) Had she published the book under her own name, the preconceived notions that surround her fame as the Harry Potter creator would certainly have created expectations and even bias in the minds of every critic. This way, she was able to have her writing judged on its own merits, without any of the complications that come attached to being a star of Rowling’s caliber.

2) The Cuckoo’s Calling had only sold 1500 copies in the UK since its April publication, but guess what happened when the news hit yesterday? You’ve got it. It’s shot to the top of everything everywhere as Rowling fans rejoiced and scrambled to get their hands on a copy.

Clever girl, Joanne.

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Top 10 bestselling signed books on AbeBooks from June 2013 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/07/02/top-10-bestselling-signed-books-on-abebooks-from-june-2013/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/07/02/top-10-bestselling-signed-books-on-abebooks-from-june-2013/#comments Tue, 02 Jul 2013 20:49:08 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=19359 Top 10 bestselling signed books on AbeBooks from June 2013

Son by Philipp Meyer1. Son by Philipp Meyer
2. Transatlantic by Colum McCannhtt
3. American Assassin by Vince Flynn
4. The Last Man by Vince Flynn
5. The Guns At Last Light by Rick Atkinson
6. Extreme Measures by Vince Flynn
7. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
8. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
9. Memorial Day by Vince Flynn
10. Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen

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Print Copies Only: Stephen King’s “Joyland” Not for E-Readers http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/05/30/print-copies-only-stephen-kings-joyland-not-for-e-readers/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/05/30/print-copies-only-stephen-kings-joyland-not-for-e-readers/#comments Thu, 30 May 2013 17:01:47 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=19227 Joyland-Stephen-King

An interesting decision (and something of an about-face from a decade ago) from Stephen King recently. The incredibly prolific novelist and master of the macabre announced that his newest novel, Joyland, will be available in print only for the foreseeable future. He has not released the rights to a digital copy, and claims he has no plans to do so.

It’s a surprising move from King, and something of a 180° – he was one of the first proponents of e-books, championing the technology by making his novel “Riding the Bullet” available as an e-book via Simon & Schuster in 2000. He also introduced Amazon’s “Kindle 2″ alongside founder & CEO Jeff Bezos, in 2009.

This time King has decided to throw his support behind brick-and-mortar booksellers. “I have no plans for a digital version,” King told the Journal. “In the meantime, let people stir their sticks and go to an actual bookstore rather than a digital one.”

While this may be bad news for horror fans used to receiving their chills and thrills instantaneously with the click of a button, there is good news: the print copy will of course still be available from online retailers, so they won’t actually have to leave the house and go to a bookstore.

…but it might be an adventure!

via NYDailynews

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Bookseller of the Week: Churchill Book Collector http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/05/29/bookseller-of-the-week-churchill-book-collector/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/05/29/bookseller-of-the-week-churchill-book-collector/#comments Wed, 29 May 2013 16:41:37 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=19209 Marc Kuritz of Churchill Book Collector was kind enough to answer our questions about his bookselling business. Churchill Book Collector is located in San Diego and it’s a partnership between Marc and Paul Shelley. Read on and you will also gain an insight into Winston Churchill himself, the business of rare bookselling and the people who collect Churchill’s books.

AbeBooks: What are the origins of your business?

Marc: “The short version first: Love of books in general. Persistent interest in this particular author. And of course a healthy dose of happy accident. Now the longer version: I’m sure it will come as a great surprise that I was a voracious reader since early childhood and inclined to collecting books. Amusingly, in college I won an award and accompanying cash prize for best private student library – which was *almost* enough to ship most of my books home upon graduation.

“As an undergraduate I spent a few terms in Washington, D.C.. One was with a brilliant professor quite versed in things Churchill. We discussed politics and leadership extensively. I admired Theodore Roosevelt and my professor asked me what about Roosevelt engendered my respect. He then recommended that I investigate Churchill as a par excellence example of the qualities that drew me to Roosevelt. This was 1989. I read the two excellent Churchill biography volumes by William Manchester, the latter of which had just been published. One of them – a pleasant memory – I read on a Cape Cod beach.

“I was studying and embarking upon a career in politics and was already a lifelong bibliophile. Churchill was a complex icon of political leadership who, whenever he wasn’t busy trying to lead the free world, spent his life writing a veritable library of books. I was hooked. Though I was amused to learn that Roosevelt met Churchill and did not like him – a fact my professor judiciously withheld when recommending Churchill.

“I spent a second term in D.C. taking the Metro lines out as far as they would go to explore any used bookstores I could walk to from the stations. I actually went shy on meals for acquisitions and managed to definitively hook myself on book collecting. For the rest of college (upstate NY), I took any opportunities to prowl out of the way bookshops in the Northeast. Of course, luck netted some neat items in my early years, but what I remember most are the things I passed up for want of knowledge or funds or both. I still remember four jacketed U.S. World Crisis first edition volumes on a floor in a New Hampshire bookshop – the first four no less. At nearly $100 and being a bit frayed at the dust jacket edges, I thought them too far a stretch for me. Of course they are worth a small fortune and the first volume in dust jacket is virtually unobtainable at any price.

“A post graduation fellowship and early career in politics meant that means lagged interest for some years, but I did not lose my affinity for Churchill. Eventually I became a more serious, discerning, and better financed collector. I learned a lot about the trade from the perspective of a customer – a good perspective to remember and one I’m particularly grateful for now as a dealer. Some years later my collection ran to excess. I became a dealer by happenstance, having acquired inventory, knowledge, and contacts that exceeded my own Churchill collecting goals. So, rather on a whim, I decided to dabble in the trade.

“I started by supplying other dealers. Then I met a fellow enthusiast via a sale. We decided to partner on the effort of retailing directly, diligently, and professionally. And here I am. I of course maintain a personal collection separate from the inventory, as does my Churchill Book Collector partner, Paul.

“At this time, we are well-established as specialists in printed works by and about Sir Winston Churchill. While we do feature a growing selection of non-Churchill material, our primary focus remains Churchill. Our inventory includes a strong selection of scarce and fine Churchill material – of course first editions, scarce editions, and signed and inscribed copies – as well as a stock of affordable reading copies of works by and about Churchill. Our business is primarily online, though we do invite customers by appointment to view our inventory in San Diego.

“The book trade has changed a lot since my days of traveling miles to delightfully dusty old bookstores and introducing myself to the resident cats and proprietors (in that order of course). Even though much business is now online, we try to bring the same level of personal care and attention that a collector might find in a traditional bookshop. We enjoy assisting fellow collectors, so we are happy to help answer questions about the daunting profusion of editions in the Churchill canon. Our descriptions are reliably detailed and accurate, always accompanied by images of the actual item offered, so our customers can come as close as possible to a visceral feel for what they are buying. We pack and ship all of our orders with care and attention. And we are able to help assemble full collections of Churchill’s works and commission exceptional quality fine bindings and preservation cases.”

AbeBooks: Where are the majority of Churchill book collectors?

Marc: “Our largest number of sales, by both volume and total value, are to U.S. customers. The U.K. is a strong second, Canada third. This makes sense when you consider the respective populations of each country. That said, Churchill is truly a world figure, and our market is a world market. We contact our customers several times a month and our emails are routinely opened on at least five continents in roughly two dozen countries. Some of these countries might surprise you – Nicaragua, Jordan, Greece, Japan, China, and Portugal are a few examples.”

AbeBooks: What is the rarest Churchill book that you currently offer?

Marc: “We are going to give you three examples and let you be the judge. We have editions of books by Churchill for which there were only a few hundred or fewer copies issued. But we also have some books made exceptionally rare by virtue of how and when they are inscribed by the author.

“For pure bibliographic perspective, the rarest book-length Churchill work we currently offer is probably the 1909 first Canadian edition of My African Journey. All early Canadian editions of Churchill’s works were produced in very small numbers, but this one is particularly scarce. The number printed is unknown, but was almost certainly no more than a few hundred and likely fewer. This is only the third copy we have ever seen offered for sale.

“From another perspective, rarity is a function of the unique attributes of a specific book. For example, the two-volume British first edition of Lord Randolph Churchill – Winston’s biography of his father published in 1906 – is not difficult to obtain. However, we offer a copy bearing an unusually personal inscription written on the day before publication to Churchill’s lifelong friend, confidante, and best man at his wedding, Hugh Cecil. By itself, the set of books is not so rare. Inscribed thus it is truly unique.

“For a combination of both bibliographically rare and individually unique, our signed set of Churchill’s second published book, The River War, is noteworthy. This first edition, final printing of Churchill’s second book was signed by Churchill on 28 December 1900, during his first lecture tour of the U.S.A. and Canada. Signed thus, the set is a prize. But even unsigned, the set is a notable rarity; All three printings of the first edition (2,646 total) are nearly identical, issued respectively in November 1899, February 1900, and June 1900. Only 151 copies of this third printing were bound. Moreover, this 1900 third printing of the first edition is the *last* unabridged edition published to date. Churchill had been remarkably critical of the British army in his first edition. In 1902 Churchill (by then a new member of Parliament) revised and abridged his text, excising much of the criticism of Kitchener for political reasons. All of the many subsequent editions of The River War are based on the 1902 abridged and revised text.”

AbeBooks: Is there a Churchill book that all collectors desire?

Marc: “Yes. Everyone – from the most serious collectors to casual readers, from those most knowledgeable about Churchill to those who know him only as a wartime figure – wants a copy of Churchill’s history of The Second World War.

“During his long life, Churchill played many roles worthy of note – member of Parliament for more than half a century, soldier and war correspondent, prolific author, accomplished painter, ardent social reformer, combative cold warrior, Nobel Prize winner. But Churchill’s preeminence as a historical figure owes most to his indispensable leadership during the Second World War, when his soaring and defiant oratory sustained his countrymen and inspired the free world. Of course Churchill wrote quite a lot more – and some would say books that are better – than The Second World War. But this is the one everybody wants. Naturally we always stock a wide variety of editions of this iconic work.”

AbeBooks: What’s the most expensive Churchill book that you have sold?

Marc: “It is actually four books – a four-volume set of the first British edition of Churchill’s Marlborough: His Life and Times inscribed in all four volumes on the eve of the Second World War and with a really neat story.

First, a bit about the edition. Churchill’s monumental biography of his great ancestor, John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, was initially conceived a full 40 years before publication of the fourth and final volume. Churchill originally considered the idea of the biography in 1898, returning to it in earnest in 1928. Marlborough ultimately took 10 years of research and writing and is the most substantial published work of Churchill’s “wilderness years” in the 1930s. The final volume was published on the eve of the Second World War in 1938. Richard Langworth says ‘To understand the Churchill of the Second World War, the majestic blending of his commanding English with historical precedent, one has to read Marlborough.’ The work was very well received, both critically and aesthetically. The first edition is a physically impressive production. The books measure 9.25 x 6.25 inches and are roughly 2 inches thick. Each is bound in plum cloth with beveled edges, the Marlborough coat of arms gilt on the front cover, and a gilt top edge. Moreover, each volume is profusely illustrated.

Now, what made our set particularly special. Our four-volume set of Churchill’s Marlborough was inscribed and dated by Churchill in all four volumes for a specific individual – a woman named Gertrude Turquand. She was not a close confidante, relative, or colleague of Churchill. Even so, this set is hard to beat. We were able to obtain from The Sir Winston Churchill Archive Trust a copy of a handwritten 5 April 1939 letter from the recipient to Churchill that is about this very signed set. It not only establishes wonderful provenance, but is also a touching pre-war piece. The text of this letter follows:

Dear Mr. Churchill

I now have all your books & left four “The Life of Marlborough” at your home to be autographed by you as you so kindly promised to do sometime ago. I left them last week & shall be most proud and happy to receive them back autographed. They will always be amongst my greatest treasures.

I am following events very closely & even now with all the opposition you have to meet, do not despair of the Great day to come for you. For me there is only one great statesman in the House, indeed there are no real Statesmen but your self, & oh how you shine above them all.

Yours sincerely
Gertrude Turquand

“Ms. Turquand was, of course, correct. After the long, taxing stretch of his “wilderness years” Churchill would return to the Admiralty in September 1939 and then replace Chamberlain as Prime Minister in May 1940.”

AbeBooks: Why is there such a strong interest in the writing of Churchill?

Marc: “He was a terrific writer of course with a distinctive voice. All the wit and incisiveness and rolling cadences and sweeping sense of history inherent to his speeches permeate his books. But there are a lot of great writers. Churchill’s extraordinary life is what so compellingly infuses his writing. Churchill doesn’t just tell a great story; he is a great story. And most of what he wrote about were events and issues and people and places central to his life.

“Historian Sir Martin Gilbert rightly called Churchill’s life, ‘remarkable and versatile’. It has become common for each generation to claim that they have experienced more change – technological, cultural, and geopolitical – than any preceding. Before asserting your claim, I’d encourage you to consider Churchill.

“The young war correspondent and British imperial soldier who participated in ‘the last great cavalry charge in British history’ would later help design the tank, pilot aircraft, direct use of some of the earliest computers (for WWII code breaking), and ultimately preside as Prime Minister over the first British nuclear weapons test. This icon of the British Conservative Party dramatically repudiated the Conservatives in his early career and spent 20 years as a Liberal, championing progressive causes and being branded a traitor to his class. This soldier and scion of British Imperialism wrote his first published book in a tent on the northwest colonial Indian frontier. He would later bear witness to and hold power during devolution of the British empire, along the way supporting causes contrary to prevailing sentiment of his caste and country – early and vigorously – such as Irish Home Rule and a Jewish national home in Palestine. First elected to Parliament during the reign of Queen Victoria, Churchill would serve as the first Prime Minister under the currently reigning Queen Elizabeth II.

“Some seek to proselytize Churchill’s unerring judgment and prescience and envelop him in dull – and undeserved – hagiography. We don’t. Infallibility is boring and Churchill was anything but boring. In fact, it could be said his failures drove some of his best writing. On many occasions Churchill’s political career was viewed as all but over. Each time it very nearly was. And each time he took up his pen.

“His epic history of the First World War, arguably some of his finest writing, was spurred by his disgrace over the Dardanelles, his subsequent political exile, and his desire to clear his name. And of course Churchill found extra writing time in the 1920s after the electoral destruction of his Liberal Party, which left Churchill without a seat in Parliament for a few years. His tremendous literary output in the 1930s was at least partially enabled by the fact that he was once again out of power, out of favor, and out of money – his political fortune ruined by his implacable opposition to appeasing Hitler and his financial fortune ruined by the stock market crash of 1929. His first, wartime Premiership was a spectacular convergence of moment and man, limning both as a glowing place in the history of leadership. His second and final premiership… not so much.

The good news for readers is that when he was wrong or intemperate or vulgar it was with Churchillian wit and panache. Churchill opposed Indian independence and called Gandhi: ‘a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well-known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Vice-regal palace…’ Even the unflappable Gandhi was pricked and goaded. As were most who suffered – deservedly or not – the scourge of Churchill’s tongue and ink.

Churchill was brash and ambitious and egocentric. Nonetheless, time and again Churchill showed – both as a leader and as a man – remarkable insight, courage, resolve, and decency.

Often the writings of a great statesman are just a polished literary headstone, secondary to a life spent in pursuit and exercise of power. Churchill’s life was writing. He wrote before he achieved power. He wrote after power passed from his aging hands. Words – evocative, emotional, reasoning, reckoning – were his personal currency and daily essential.

Churchill was many things, but perhaps above all a master wordsmith. Rough numbers tell part of the tale. He published 50 books, 150 pamphlets, and over 800 feature articles. His speeches fill 9,000 pages. And he won the Nobel Price for Literature.

Of course he wrote for practical purposes. He wrote to sustain himself and his family. He wrote to persuade and influence, and assert. But he also wrote as if words were not just a tool, but a compulsion, a part of him that he was driven to exhale onto page after endless page. During the course of his long life he left on paper perhaps more published work – and more that was revealingly himself – than any other great statesman.

But don’t take our word for it. Read some yourself…

AbeBooks: Is there much collectible ephemera associated with Churchill?

Marc: “Oh yes. Tons. A truly ridiculous profusion and astounding variety. Every possible item and material you could conceive has been afflicted with a likeness of Churchill at some point, from tea towels to cigarette cards and virtually anything and everything in between. I’m not judging, mind you. After all, I collect processed trees and ink.

“Some collectors take their Churchilliana quite seriously – and there is serious money in some of it. We recently had a collector and customer ask us about liquidating his collection of Churchilliana – which filled five rather spacious rooms in his house. Generally we stick to books and published writing. But I have a friend – a buyer for one of the respected giants in the trade – who sardonically delights in the most obscure and inane Churchill bric-a-brac. I keep a small trove of Churchill ‘white elephant’ items on hand and randomly send her items from time to time.”

AbeBooks: Churchill was a prolific writer – is there a bibliography you recommend to people interested in his work?

Marc: “For the serious collector, there is Ronald Cohen’s outstandingly comprehensive, 3-volume bibliography – rather forthrightly titled A Bibliography of the Writings of Sir Winston Churchill. My own copy is now heavily worn and annotated after years of almost daily use. Ron’s mammoth effort reflects decades of work and his singular experience as both a collector and bibliographer of Churchill’s work. The result is a most welcome replacement for Fredrick Woods’ worthy, but limited and now quite dated bibliographic work on Churchill.

“Comprising three volumes, Cohen’s Bibliography provides extensive detail and background on publications by Churchill, his contributions to the published work of others, articles by Churchill in serial publications, reports of speeches by Churchill on other published works, and several other categories of published Churchill contributions and communications. As testament to Ron’s thoroughness, only occasionally do we find items not detailed in his bibliography – and doing so feels like an accomplishment.

“Cohen’s bibliography is attractively bound in blue buckram with gilt stamping and red spine title boxes. The contents are printed on acid-free paper and each volume bears a red satin ribbon marker. This work is indispensible to any serious Churchill collector. That said, availability is limited, as publication was limited to 400 copies.

“For the more casual collector, or the Churchill collector just getting started, I strongly recommend Richard Langworth’s A Connoisseur’s Guide to the Books of Sir Winston Churchill. Langworth did a great service to Churchill collectors with this effort, not only discussing each edition at length, but also including hundreds of images of some extraordinary books. It is not a bibliography, but is truly what the title purports – a guide – and therefore bibliographic in spirit. Reading it will provide an aesthetic, critical, and historical sense for each of Churchill’s book-length works. Moreover, useful information is provided about most of the many editions of each of Churchill’s book-length works. While the market values cited are woefully out of date, the information about editions and the hundreds of outstanding photographs are terrifically informative.”

AbeBooks: What biographies of Churchill do you recommend?

Marc: “As might be imagined for such a towering figure, there is a daunting profusion of Churchill biographies. I’ll limit myself to recommending just four.

Winston S. Churchill: The Official Biography by Sir Randolph S. Churchill and Sir Martin Gilbert

“This is an epic piece of scholarship about a singularly epic life, comprising eight mammoth main text volumes and – so far – 16 accompanying document volumes. The eight main text volumes were published between 1966 and 1988. Publication of the document volumes continues today. In 1962, at the age of 25, Gilbert joined Churchill’s biography team, then led by Churchill’s son Randolph. Of what became his life’s work, Gilbert says: ‘I’d thought I’d last four or five months.’ Instead, when Randolph died in 1968 with only two of the eight volumes completed, Gilbert took over, committing the substantial portion of his scholarship and life’s work to documenting, comprehending, and communicating Churchill’s life. It is the definitive source. It is also a daunting proposition for a reader. Just the eight main text volumes alone claim 19 inches of shelf space, weigh more than 28 pounds, and fill nearly 8,700 pages. That’s not including the 16 accompanying document volumes.

Churchill: A Life by Sir Martin Gilbert

“This substantial one-volume biography (1,066 pages) published in 1991 is not an abridgement of Gilbert’s eight-volume Official Biography, but rather a ground-up biography including information not known when the original, earlier Official Biography volumes were written. This is a good option for those wishing to benefit from Gilbert’s unparalleled expertise, but not willing to undertake reading all eight massive volumes of the full Official Biography.

The Last Lion, Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 and The Last Lion, Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940 by William Manchester

“These highly acclaimed two volumes were my introduction to Churchill and enough to set me on the path of being a Churchill specialist dealer decades later. Enough said. Manchester died before undertaking a third and final volume, which was recently completed and published by Paul Reid (at Manchester’s behest). I cannot speak to this third volume, as I have not yet read it.

My Early Life by Winston S. Churchill

“This is Churchill’s extremely popular autobiography, covering the years from his birth in 1874 to his first few years in Parliament. Originally published in 1930, it has seen a dizzying array of reprints over the years, so affordable reading copies are readily available. Many assert that Churchill took liberties with some facts here and there, but that does not prevent the work from being revealing and informative about its author and a highly engaging read.”

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And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini published today http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/05/21/and-the-mountains-echoed-khaled-hosseini-published-today/ http://www.abebooks.com/blog/index.php/2013/05/21/and-the-mountains-echoed-khaled-hosseini-published-today/#comments Tue, 21 May 2013 17:54:16 +0000 http://www.abebooks.com/blog/?p=19176 And the Mountains EchoedSome authors churn out books nearly at the pace one would read them, but Khaled Hosseini takes his time with his craft.  It has been six years, less a day, since Khaled Hosseini published  A Thousand Splendid Suns; and  it is one week shy of the 10th anniversary of  his debut novel, The Kite Runner, but today the world can finally get its collective hands on the anticipated third novel And the Mountains Echoed

Early reviews are coming in with the consensus that this third novel is just as powerful and emotional as any of Hosseini’s previous work, and that the author has grown even further in his story telling capabilities making the novel well worth the wait.

Like his previous two novels the book is partially set in Afghanistan, however parts of the book also take place in California, Paris, and Greece.  And the Mountains Echoed also differs from his previous novels in style, rather than a continuous narrative this book is constructed as a series of stories each of a different time, place and point of view but woven together to paint the complete picture.

I loved the Kite Runner and if you are interested in learning more about Hosseini’s third book The Washington Post has a nicely written review which included this lovely quote: “Hosseini’s first two novels, “The Kite Runner” (2003) and “A Thousand Splendid Suns” (2007), spent a combined total of 171 weeks on the bestseller list. He knows how to please a crowd. In his case, the secret ingredient might be intense emotion. I’m not an easy touch when it comes to novels, but Hosseini’s new book, “And the Mountains Echoed,” had tears dropping from my eyes by Page 45.”

You can buy new copies as well as signed copies on AbeBooks.com

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