Sir Alec Guinness was one of the greatest actors of the 20th century. With a talent recognized by discerning critics from his very first appearance on the stage, he gained a world-wide reputation playing roles on the screen such as Fagin in "Oliver Twist" and "The Man in the White Suit". His performance as Colonel Nicholson in "Bridge on the River Kwai" won him an Oscar and in his later years he captivated a new generation of admirers as George Smiley in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and Ben Kenobi in "Star Wars". Guinness was a man who vigorously guarded his privacy and, despite publishing an autobiography, "Blessings in Disguise" and two volumes of diaries, he remained an enigma to the general public and a mystery even to his family and closest friends. After his death in August 2000, his widow Merula asked Piers Paul Read, who had been a friend of her husband, to write his autobiography. Given full co-operation by the Guinness family and free access to Sir Alec's papers, including his private and unpublished diaries, Read has written a penetrative and perceptive account of an intriguing and complex man.
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Piers Paul Read is the author of thirteen acclaimed novels, most recently ALICE IN EXILE, and four works of non-fiction, among them a history of the crusading order, THE TEMPLARS and the international bestseller ALIVE! Past novels have won the Hawthornden Prize and the Geoffrey Faber, Somerset Maugham and James Tail Black Awards. His occasional journalism includes a profile of Sir Alec Guinness written for THE INDEPENDENT MAGAZINE in 1985.
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