The Biography Buff Dad

  • TPGD
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    A top gardening judge who presides over the UK's favourite flower shows, Jim Buttress reveals his life story in this warm and funny memoir.

    Starting his career as a practical gardener, Jim reveals how he managed to achieve one of the most impressive careers in British horticulture. He fondly looks back on his boyhood obsession with Percy Thrower and the 10 years he spent as Superintendent of the Central Royal Parks - a job that could involve anything from having a chat with the Queen Mother to figuring out ways to water elephants in Hyde Park.

    He also reveals what it's like to exhibit - and win gold - at the Chelsea Flower Show and shares some of the stories he's seen as judge. From the joy of awarding medals to grateful winners to the shock of being threatened by an irate loser, this book is packed with colourful characters and a grand love for all things gardening.
  • SPMM
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    Mike Massimino always wanted to be a spaceman. Even being rejected by NASA twice could not stop him achieving his dream. This is his inspirational story.

    Combining high science with thrilling adventure, Mike reveals how even when he was told his eyesight was too poor to be an astronaut, he wouldn't give up on his goal - he simply trained his eyes to be better and was accepted by NASA at the third time of asking.

    This was the beginning of an 18-year career (1996-2014) that found him servicing the Hubble telescope, walking in space and even being the first man to tweet from space. Mike talks movingly about the Columbia tragedy and how it felt to step into a space shuttle following this horrific experience.

    Vivid and awe-inspiring, he also provides a fascinating insight into the hard work, camaraderie and sheet guts it takes to step into space and live as an astronaut.
  • BSFI
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    Ben Stokes is one of the most exciting talents in cricket today. Not cast in the same mould as the majority of English cricketers, he is fiery, combative and gladitorial. In this stunning autobiography, he talks about his love for the sport and how he has managed to achieve so much in so little time.

    An all-rounder who bats, bowls and fields at full throttle, he describes how he spent his childhood in New Zealand and then found a home in Cumbria with his family when he was just 11. This move sparked off a career that saw him playing county cricket for Durham and then the England team.

    He looks over the most pivotal moments in his career so far - from thrashing the fastest ever Test century at Lord's to achieving the quickest ever Test double-hundred by an Englishman. Ben puts in 100% effort and commitment every time he steps onto the field of play; this is his story and is a must-read for cricket fans.
  • Smoky the Brave - Hardback - 9781786483072 - Damien Lewis
    STBR
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    Smoky was a four-pound Yorkshire terrier with a big heart. One of the heroes of the Second World War, she was found in mysterious circumstances and adopted by Corporal William 'Bill' Wynne, a member of the US Air Force.

    This book, written by acclaimed historian and war reporter Damien Lewis and based on the recollections of 93-year-old Wynne himself, tells the heart-warming and inspirational story of Smoky's life. He looks over all the air and sea rescue missions she embarked on and the awards she won. He also talks about how she used to parachute using a special rig!

    This book looks over Smoky's most heroic exploit - running a cable through a 70-foot pipe that enabled phone lines to reach a nearby occupied airbase in Luton. Smoky's efforts saved so many lives.
  • STMH
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    This flexibound book contains a hand-picked selection of quotes, off-the-cuff remarks, retorts and announcements that have helped shape our history.

    From as early as 73 BC through to the modern day, these speeches from figures as diverse as Karl Marx, Gandhi and Barack Obama offer a wealth of opinions, statements and ideologies.

    From lengthy and impassioned pleas to the shorter soundbites that make our world go round today, these speeches are all thought-provoking and tackle subjects ranging from history and love to science, sports and war.
  • Trials and Error - Hardback - 9781471170614 - Dougie Lampkin
    TEDL
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    Dougie Lampkin, the world's greatest off-road rider, talks about his life in motorcycling in this incredible and unique autobiography.

    He reveals the inspirations behind his stunts and how he always believed he was set for a life on two wheels - his dad placed a motorcycle next to his cot before he arrived home for the first time, after all!

    Dougie comes from a family of sportsmen and had won seven consecutive outdoor world titles and five indoor world titles, earning him the MBE by the age of 25 and this book he brings the excitement of his sport vividly to life - sharing behind-the-scenes drama of his Red Bull challenges including riding over a multi-million-pound F1 car without leaving a scratch.

    For fans of: Guy Martin, Michael Dunlop, Carl Fogarty
  • The Freedom Trails: Escaping Hitler - Hardback - 9781509865826
    FTEH
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    A companion to the brilliant Channel 4 series of the same name, The Freedom Trails: Escaping Hitler tells the incredible story of some of the brave individuals who managed to escape Nazi Germany.

    Over 5,000 British, Commonwealth and American servicemen made the journey over the Pyrenees, the Slovenian mountains and the Italian alps and many died en route. However, the brave men and women of the resistance still managed to defy the odds and keep the routes open.

    Among those you'll read about are Blondie Haslar, the leader of the Cockleshell Heroes, US airman Chuck Yaeger (whose story was retold in The Right Stuff) and Andree de Jongh, a young woman who risked her life to smuggle men through occupied France and survived being sent to two concentration camps.

    Based on in-depth research and interviews with survivors as well as his own experiences walking the trails, broadcaster and former Royal Marine Monty Halls book is dramatic and gripping from first page to last.
  • FRGU
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    The most decorated manager in the history of football, it's fair to say that former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson knows a few things about leadership. In Leading, he reveals the secrets to his success - both on and off the field.

    A truly inspiring read, Sir Alex looks back over his 38 years in management and tells all about the key tools he used to cover everything from tactics to teamwork and hiring to firing. Covering some of the most pivotal leadership decisions he made during his long and successful tenure at Old Trafford, he aims to provide you with the knowledge of what it takes to make it at the top, whatever your career.

    Not only a great read for Man Utd supporters, but also for anyone interested in the psychology of management at the highest level, this is a collaboration with successful businessman Sir Michael Moritz that is full of hints, tips and advice for becoming a champion.
  • WHKG
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    As the man in charge at the time the nation entered the Civil War, Charles I's reign is one of the most dramatic in history. However, Charles as a man was an elusive individual. He is often regarded as weak and his wife, Henrietta Maria, as spoilt but Leanda de Lisle's thoroughly researched biography reveals him to be principled and brave but also blinkered.

    Charles I is revealed to be a complex man who pays the price for bringing radical change; Henrietta Maria a warrior queen and political player as impressive as any Tudor. This book also focuses on the cousins who befriended and betrayed the royal couple - the peacocking Henry Holland, whose brother engineered the king's fall and the 'last Boleyn girl' Lucy Carlisle.

    This is an almost unbelievable story that ties in everything from populist politicians and religious war to a new media and reshaping of the nation where women vied with men for power.
  • APBB
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    Actor. Film star. Martial artist. Mountaineer. Trained undertaker. Unlikely diplomat. There's no one quite like Brian Blessed and in his new autobiography, Absolute Pandemonium, the national treasure takes readers on a riotous journey from his childhood to finding fame.

    Told in his own words (you can even hear his bellowing voice as you read!), Brain leaves no detail to the imagination as he regales readers with tales such as falling for Katharine Hepburn on the set of The Trojan Women, suffering some unfortunate wire problems when he's hoisted to the heavens on the set of Flash Gordon and charming George Lucas to land the part of Boss Nass in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

    There are far less 'Hollywood' stories along the way, too, where Brian takes secret revenge on his headmistress (and her very big bottom), woos his wife Hildegard Neil and braves the shocking death toll on the hit drama series My Family and Other Animals...

    A perfect book for his many, many fans and those with an interest in film and theatre, Brian Bessed's autobiography is hilarious, light-hearted and very, very loud.
  • TOAH
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    On 8 November, 1923, Adolf Hitler stormed into a beer hall in Munich, fired his pistol in the air and declared the start of a revolution.

    Seventeen hours later and he was on the run from the police, with his career seemingly in tatters. All that remained of his bold move was a trail of destruction... Written by historian David King, this is the true story of the monumental criminal proceeding that followed as Hitler and nine other suspects were charged with high treason.

    While reporters from all over the world came to witness the trial, things clicked into place for Hitler and he ended up hailing the fiasco of the beer hall putsch as a victory for the fledgling Nazi Party. This trial thrust Hitler into the limelight and provided him and set him on his journey to power.

    Using trial transcripts, police files and a host of sources, including 500 documents recently discovered from the Landsberg Prison record office, King's The Trial of Adolf Hitler explains how this failure of the justice system changed the world forever.
  • NMDL
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    Dare Not Linger is a fascinating, thought-provoking and poignant biography of Nelson Mandela's time as president of South Africa. It draws on Mandela's writings during this time and has been completed by Mandla Langa and features a prologue from Mandela's widow, Graca Machel.

    In 1994, Mandela became the first president of democratic South Africa and in his five years in office, he managed to transform a nation that had been divided by centuries of colonialism and apartheid into a fully functioning democracy where everyone was considered equal.

    Mandela kept many detailed notes during his time in charge and this fascinating book reveals how he and his team changed SA for the better. It shows all of the challenges he had to overcome in his quest to achieve his dream of a liberated South Africa.
  • CLDR
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    Sir Ranulph Fiennes is Britain's greatest living polar explorer and this book provides a visual guide to the trials and tribulations he has gone through while on his expeditions.

    Fully illustrated, the book (with some adventures that were previously published in the narrative memoir, Cold) has maps, diary notes and personal photography from Fiennes' expeditions including the Transglobal Expedition and his unsupported crossings of Antarctica.

    The detailed maps showcase his routes across the various arctic landscapes he has traversed and there are captions that provide analysis of exactly what he has achieved. The book is not only full of stunning scenery, but also shows how Fiennes has pushed the boundaries of the human body in cold conditions.
  • TREE
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    Jack Cooke loves nothing more than climbing trees. Especially those trees that line the streets of London.

    In this witty and personal memoir, he talks about exploring England's capital city through the treetops. Part-guidebook and part-meditation on the joys of nature, this is a thoroughly entertaining read that finds Jack climbing all sorts of trees and scurrying up a Scots pine to get views that very few have seen.

    From London's parks, canals and rivers to the secret gardens he spots sometimes just 10 foot above street level, this is an oddball celebration of viewing things from a different angle. It might inspire you to go outside and climb a tree - but please be careful among the bark and branches!
  • PTSB
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    Pete Wedderburn is the Telegraph's resident vet and in Pet Subjects, he recalls some of his favourite animal patients.

    From animals big to small, Pete the Vet has seen it all. He recalls both the heart-warming and heartbreaking moments from his career and tells them all with a tender and witty turn of phrase.

    Among the critters you'll get to read about are Apollo the hamster, Nero the cat and Ned the terrier.
  • RLPD
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    Retired policeman Tom Watkins is the founder of Animal Search UK - Britain's foremost search service for missing pets. The Real Pet Detective is his story.

    Tom talks about the various ways in which he and his team have managed to reunite animals with their grateful owners and these range from recording owners' voices to lure cats from hiding places and even organising a fly-over to raise the profile of a missing terrier.

    Animal Search UK reunites over 2,000 pets and owners every month and The Real Pet Detective spans 20 years of dramatic and heart-warming rescues.
  • RCHD
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    Written by historian Chris Skidmore, Richard III reveals how the last Plantagenet king was one of the most significant figures from medieval times and how his actions and behaviour underlined the true nature of power during this era.

    Richard III is one of the most famous and controversial monarchs of all time. A loyal and dedicated nobleman, his personality was forged by experiences in exile and in combat. He was ambitious and successful and stunned the nation when he seized the throne and disinherited his nephews following the death of his brother, Edward IV.

    His two-year reign would end up being tumultuous and terrifying, culminating in his death on the battlefield at Bosworth. This extensively researched biography highlights Richard III as his contemporaries knew him...
  • AAST
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    A former bricklayer who decided to follow his passion for the stars after working on sites for 25 years, Gary Fildes is the founder and lead astronomer of Kielder observatory.

    Part-memoir, part-seasonal guide to the night sky, An Astronomer's Tale finds Gary explaining why he loves the stars so much and the reasons why he decided to set up an observatory in the forests that are located in what is officially the darkest place in England. Sitting beneath a sky that is so clear that thousands of stars can be seen every night, you can even see Venus cast a shadow and the Northern Lights on many occasions from his observatory.

    Describing his love in an accessible style, he shares his enthusiasm and the chapters alternate between accounts of his life and a month-by-month guide to stargazing for a general reader. Gary states how if he can reconnect with the wonders of nature, you surely can, too!
  • SMIM
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    Historian Nicholas Shakespeare reveals how Winston Churchill almost didn't become prime minister following the fall of Neville Chamberlain's government in May, 1940...

    Showing how easily events could have gone in a different direction, this biography explains how Churchill was to blame for a disastrous battle in Norway before then going on to rise to the most powerful post in the country just weeks later.

    Based on fascinating new research that delves deep into the backgrounds of all the key players in the government during World War II, this book offers a new perspective on Churchill's election and leadership (as well as the personal issues that appeared) while also covering the dramatic action that took place on the battlefield in Norway.
  • TCKG
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    Charles Spencer's thrilling sequel to Killer of the King tells an old story with new eyes as it recalls the manhunt for Charles II that followed the rebellion that spurred his father's beheading in 1649.

    A true story packed with action and adventure, Spencer has thoroughly researched the events and uses Samuel Pepys account to reveal what happened.

    He explains how Charles relied on a variety of hiding places to hide Catholics from lethal persecution while on the run from Oliver Cromwell's armies and how in the 1650s, they returned the favour by saving his life...
  • PRRW
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    Jon Bounds and Danny Smith - two friends from the landlocked Midlands - have a drunken idea to visit all the surviving pleasure piers in England and Wales. Recruiting a driver called Midge and revving up a 10-year-old Clio, they embark on this most British of road trips...

    Full of the kind of oddball humour that has made Danny Wallace and Dave Gorman so popular and beloved, our heroic duo provide a funny and nostalgic look at Britishness at the beach, amusement in the arcades and friendship on the road.

    As they approach the end of their youth, Jon and Danny have a list of 55 piers to visit and are determined to fulfil their hare-brained destiny - no matter what gets in their way. Full of peculiar people, local interests and fun facts, this is an eccentric read celebrating a British tradition.
  • IOTM
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    Taxi! This hardback book tells the astonishing story of three mates, the taxi they drunkenly purchased and a 43,000 mile-round trip of global misadventure.

    Like many, Paul, Johno and Leigh had plans to travel the world. Little did they know that when they bought themselves a London cab, they'd end up embarking on a journey that took them off the beaten track to some of the most fascinating, dangerous and deadly places on Earth.

    From altercations with the Iranian Secret Police to a terrifying experience with the Taliban, the trio had all kinds of experiences on their fantastic, thrilling and dangerous journey. They even managed to break two World Records along the way!

    With its crazy premise and some colourful language, this highly entertaining and quirky memoir will delight fans of Dave Gorman and Danny Wallace.
  • Churchill: The Life - Hardback - 9781844038596 - Max Arthur
    URCH
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    Commemorating 50 years since the death of Winston Churchil, this is a unique illustrated biography for anyone interested in the history of Britain.

    It includes rare and previously unpublished images from the vaults of the Churchill Archive Centre and family pictures from the Broadwater collection. Written by historian Max Arthur, the book covers everything from Churchill's youth and early military career through to the First and Second World Wars and his post-war life.

    Endlessly fascinating, it includes timelines, speech drafts, telegrams and insights into Churchill's key influences, acquaintances and family.
  • KHWD
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    Katherine Howard was Henry VIII's Fifth Queen and this biography provides an in-depth look at her life right up until her beheading in 1542 for crimes of adultery and treason - one of the biggest scandals of the Tudor era.

    Having first come to court as a young girl of 14 years old, Katherine's fate was sealed from an early age. This book looks beyond the traditional story of her sexual exploits before she married the king and instead reveals a life blighted by child abuse, family ambition, religious conflict and political and sexual intrigue.

    Revealing Katherine as a bright and intelligent woman who tried to be a good wife to Henry, the book reveals how she was really no more than a child in a man's world - and the tragic victim of those who held positions of authority over her.