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Make Believe: A True Story [Paperback]

Diana Athill
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Oct 2012
In Make Believe, Diana Athill, acclaimed author of Instead of a Letter and Stet, remembers her turbulent friendship with Hakim Jamal, a young black convert to the teachings of Malcolm X, whom she met in London in the late 1960s. Despite a desperately troubled youth, he became an eloquent spokesman for the black underclass, was Jean Seberg's lover and published a book about Malcolm X, before descending into a mania that had him believing he was God. A witness to his struggles, Diana Athill writes with her characteristic honesty about her entanglement with Jamal, Jamal's relationship with the daughter of a British MP, Gail Benson, and the couple's eventual murder.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; Reprint edition (4 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847086322
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847086327
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.3 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 680,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Diana Athill was born in 1917. She worked for the BBC throughout the Second World War and then helped Andre Deutsch establish the publishing company that bore his name. She is the author of five volumes of memoirs - Stet, Instead of a Letter, After a Funeral, Yesterday Morning, Make Believe - and a novel, Don't Look at Me Like That. A selection of her memoirs appear in Life Class published in November 2009. She lives in London.

Product Description


Unnervingly candid, cooly harrowing, redolent of the hectic late Sixties and early Seventies but oddly suggestive of the tortuous depths that all relationships hold A memoir with the immediacy and grip of a good novel

About the Author

DIANA ATHILL was born in 1917. She helped Andre Deutsch establish the publishing company that bore his name and worked as an editor for Deutsch for four decades. Athill's distinguished career as an editor is the subject of her acclaimed memoir Stet, which is also published by Granta Books, as are five volumes of memoirs, Instead of a Letter, After a Funeral, Yesterday Morning, Make Believe, Somewhere Towards the End and a novel, Don't Look at Me Like That. In January 2009, she won the Costa Biography Award for Somewhere Towards the End, and was presented with an OBE. She lives in London.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will keep you up all night... 6 Dec 2012
Well, maybe that's not the best title for this particular review, bearing in mind the incident in which Hakim, the charismatic, self-proclaimed spokesman for Malcolm X, in cohoots with his biddable muse, verbally intimidates the author over the course of a night, trying to convince her that his is the chosen way. I haven't seen the film The Master, which is said to be about the origins of Scientology, but I imagine it's similar to that. The 'keep them up all night, wear them down verbally' thing is a well-known brainwasher's trick.

It is best to devour this 130-page book in one sitting, as you can see more clearly how he manages to charm and inviegle his way into Athill's life, whereas if you dip into it over two weeks, you may be irritated at the lack of narrative and simply think, why is she still giving this guy the time of day? The book should be devoured in one sitting, in the same way that these blokes are devoured, or rather they hope to devour you; looking back the relationship being one all-consuming, continuous stretch, during which they wear you down.

So this is less a book about a spokesman of Black Power than about someone tied up with a neurotic, a paranoid schitzophrenic who is intoxicated by his own rhetoric, so that their madness becomes your madness. Athill is compelling; like the best women authors she has produced a page turner with no intrusive passages of great literature to bore you down, the information provided is enough to convince you that the account is correct, I guess it is journalistic in the Hemingway tradition.

Her conclusion is unusually sentimental however, and I do get the sense that she is rather more bitchy and unforgiving towards the women here rather than the man who is the cause of all the trouble.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fasinating reading . 14 Oct 2014
By mutti
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very very interesting .Diana Anthill has a way of holding your attention . .You can hardly believe these people exist.She forgives a conniving person by blaming his upbringing .This Guy seemed to be irresistible to wealthy women and Jean Seberg is an example of the sort of woman who fall under his spell.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing 24 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I lve Diana s writing she is honest .....extreemly......vivid with words and it ois compulsive reading Diana I love you
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 26 April 2014
By Timothy E. Green - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We are told that the subject is interesting, but he doesn't come to life. Anthill is usually amazing, but she falls flat here.
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