Best books ... chosen by Harold Evans
<em>The Week’</em>s editor-at-large and author of <em>The American Century</em> names six favorite­ bio­graphies and memoirs. His autobiography, <em>My Paper Chase,</em> is publishe
Enemies of the People by Kati Marton (Simon & Schuster, $26). A searingly personal memoir of growing up in 1950s Hungary and seeing your journalist parents arrested—pawns of the Cold War. Marton got access to secret police files on her mother and father. Her search for their lost identities pulsates like a thriller, with stunning scenes when she confronts the betrayers.
Eating: A Memoir by Jason Epstein (Knopf, $25). Lunching with this legendary Random House editor, an author never knows whether Epstein will vent on the virtues of St. Thomas Aquinas or a properly prepared artichoke. His memoir, more a collection of amusing short stories, is stuffed—no, graced—with recipes, and is designed to seduce the most frugal.
Journal of a Disappointed Man by W.N.P. Barbellion (Cornell, $24). A literary sensation in 1919, this vivid memoir-diary has just been reissued. A witty and observant naturalist, its author learned on the day he was declared unfit for service in World War I’s trenches that he was already fatally ill. His diary assumes a dramatic intensity and becomes an uplifting journey.
John Osborne by John Heilpern (Vintage, $17). Osborne revolutionized English theater in 1956 with Look Back in Anger, a play that exposed the raw emotions in class and gender warfare. This hugely enjoyable biography of the original angry young man is in a class of its own as literary biography.
The Education of an American Dreamer by Peter G. Peterson (Twelve, $35). If, as an 8-year-old Greek boy at the cash register of a restaurant in the Great Depression, you can induce a jobless man to spend 10 cents on apple pie, you can do anything. And that is just what Peterson did—business innovator, commerce secretary, Lehman Brothers banker, co-founder of Blackstone, and a billionaire philanthropist to boot. Inspiring, shocking, funny, and immensely readable.
Courting Justice by David Boies (Miramax, $16). The “Michael Jordan of the courtroom” tells the inside stories of some famous cases—cross-examining Bill Gates, acting for Al Gore in the disputed Florida recount—as well as his personal life. The book is quietly persuasive, like Boies in front of a jury.