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The Life of Kingsley Amis Hardcover – April 24, 2007
"Hitler's Forgotten Children" by Ingrid von Oelhafen
The Lebensborn program abducted as many as half a million children from across Europe. Through a process called Germanization, they were to become the next generation of the Aryan master race in the second phase of the Final Solution. Hitler's Forgotten Children is both a harrowing personal memoir and a devastating investigation into the awful crimes and monstrous scope of the Lebensborn program. Learn more | See related books
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Top Customer Reviews
If I was going to pick out a novel of Amis for the uninitiated, I'd have to make it 3 of them to show his versatility: "Lucky Jim", "The Alteration", and "Ending Up". But you wouldn't go wrong with "Take A Girl Like You", "Girl, 20", "The Anti-Death League", his collected short stories or any of his criticism.
In fact however Leader's style is down to a combination of academic virtuosity and prodigious research. Reading this, you get the feeling there is no-one who ever met Amis he hasn't talked to and made notes on. Consequently, during his account of any event in his life, you get references to different articles, conversations, references and asides that any number of acquaintances have come up with. Until you get used to it this makes the book very hard to read.
This is not the kind of biography where the author tells a story. Nor is it one where the author feels obliged to burden us with his opinions. But he does want to make sure we have understood the opinions of everyone who was involved at any time.
At no point is Leader analytical. When it comes to the difficulties or tragedies in Amis's life, we are spared sermons or even anything but his casual opinions. We are just told the story in unremitting - if appropriate - detail.
In the end I got enormous enjoyment, captivated by Amis's life. I got used to the style and it all flowed along. It was also easy to skip the odd page when the events discussed were not of interest without losing the rhythm.
I had read about eight of Amis's novels recently and wanted to know more about him and about his other works. This book works well for that as each book is discussed for itself and also situated in Amis's life.
The discussion of Amis's family life is rewarding and moving. You get the goods without being given the benefit of any moralising.
I don't read a lot of literary biographies, but I would have thought this a model.
By Zachary Leader
This biography of Kingsley Amis runs to nearly 1,000 pages, including notes, index and bibliography. It's the third Life in a little over ten years and the most inclusive. The research is meticulous, incorporating extracts from letters to Conquest, Larkin, Wain and others of the Angry Brigade. Included are passages from Amis's Memoirs, his novels and his poetry. Zachary takes the reader through every stage of his subject's life, from London to Oxford, to Wales, to America and back, giving hundreds of potted biographies en route, and illuminating both Amis's acerbic and his vulnerable side as man and writer.
For those who relished Amis's first novel Lucky Jim, this is a must. Zachary is amusing and informative on literary cabals, academic infighting, spicy gossip and scandal. If you manage to pick this book up you won't put it down easily. It offers book groups enough material for a year, a veritable treasure house for the Amis fan.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Tremendous amount of relating incidents in the novels to real life. This is ok occasionally and if the event is significant. Read morePublished 5 months ago by brian reid
Zachary Leader's book intrigued me even though I'm not much of a fan of the novelist Kingsley Amis, but I had followed something of the fallout that attended the previous... Read morePublished on November 16, 2008 by Kevin Killian