Ralph McAllister chooses non-fiction for Xmas

Ralph Macalister presents his holiday selection of non-fiction books…

Whether you prefer reading fact or fiction, or jump back and forward,these books may help you decide on who gets what during this festive season.

Let’s start with the facts.

EDUCATED by Tara Westover is one of the most chilling and enriching autobiographies of this or any year.

That Westover survived the most rigid upbringing in a Mormon family in Utah where she was isolated from civilisation, except for Sunday morning church, is a minor miracle in itself.
No doctors, no friends, a sadistic father, a brother who was perhaps worse than the father, a way of life which, while still being practised, belongs in the dark ages.

All in the name of religion.

Westover didn’t even know what the word holocaust meant when she was finally allowed to begin her study, age seventeen.

She now has a PhD, via Harvard and Cambridge,and is a rich example of the triumph of the human spirit.


Stranger than fiction would also apply to THE SPY AND THE TRAITOR by Ben McIntyre ,
a fiercely gripping story of one of  the spies of the 20 th  century.

Oleg Gordievsky ,a KGB officer of the highest rank, was turned, and became MI6’s most important mole in eighties England.
The story of his rise and fall and subsequent escape after 11 years is brilliantly told by McIntyre and offers a challenge to the equally brilliant fiction of John Le Carre and others.
If you watched the fictional  THE AMERICANS for six years you will not want to miss this
reality check.

A must.




OSCAR. by Matthew Sturgis is the new biography of Oscar Wilde , thirty years after the definitive, until now, Richard  Ellmann view of one of the strangest and most controversial stars of Victorian England.

700 pages may put some readers off but Sturgis unfolds the story of this genius with style and sensitivity.
He offers new material and objectivity which ensure that he remains in the top rank of biographers.
Love him or hate him Wilde remains someone who may or may not have said: “I have nothing to declare except my genius” but still fascinates us today.

Illusion or reality?

Take your pick.

Fiction recommended in the next article




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