Thatcher’s death triggers book frenzy

News roundup published on April 11, 2013.

Whatever people thought of Margaret Thatcher, the lingering fascination with the former prime minister – whose leadership left a life-long imprint on the face of British society – is inescapable. A report in The Independent says that in the days following her death, Waterstones saw a 300% increase in sales of her autobiography The Downing Street Years. According to The Guardian, Amazon reported an extraordinary 100,000% increase in the book’s sales alongside an increase of 25,000% for The Path to Power. In the commotion, Harper Collins has rushed to release Margaret Thatcher – The Autobiography 1925-2013, which, The Independentsays, combines the two memoirs in a single volume.

Meanwhile, The Authorized Biography: Not For Turning, by former Telegraph editor Charles Moore, is due for release on Wednesday to coincide with Thatcher’s funeral. The story in The Guardian says the book, which contains detail from Thatcher’s private papers, was commissioned in 1997 with the understanding that it would not be published until after Thatcher’s death. And yet another book entitled Not For Turning, written by her former speechwriter Robin Harris is due for release in April, says The Guardian.

Margaret Thatcher may top the memoirs list of 2013, but booksellers predict a new bestseller next year. Hillary Clinton’s new book about her time as US secretary of state is expected to be one of the biggest political memoirs of 2014, says The Guardian. But, it says, sales are unlikely to eclipse the record-breaking 400,000 copies sold in the US in 24 hours, achieved by Bill Clinton with his memoir My Life.

Also making news is the imminent merger of publishers Penguin and Random House. The BBC says the European Commission has given the proposal the go-ahead, forming the “world’s largest book publisher”. A report in The Guardian puts the scale of the new business – to be called Penguin Random House – into perspective, saying it will account for one in four books sold in the UK.

Elsewhere, a tale of post-war Europe has won this year’s PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for non-fiction books of historical content. The Telegraph says Keith Lowe, author of Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II, will pick up the £3,000 prize on April 16 at the 2013 London Book Fair. Meanwhile, contenders of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction will battle it out for the honour of having a pig named after their winning title. The Independent says shortlist candidates include Howard Jacobson for Zoo Time and Michael Frayn for Skios. And men have taken the lead in the world of post-apocalyptic dystopia and interplanetary love – at least in this year’s shortlist for the Arthur C Clarke Award for science fiction. The Guardian says the all-male contenders include Nod by Adrian Barnes and Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway.


London in the Eighteenth Century, by Jerry White


An extract from How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin, by Leslie Woodhead

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