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One on One Hardcover – 22 Sep 2011

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; 1st edition (22 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007360622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007360628
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 4 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 154,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"The book describes real encounters. Truth being stranger than fiction, many of them are every bit as bizarre as Brown could have invented, and some are as funny… this is much more than a comedy book."--Spectator

"One on One is entirely a work of non-fiction, and very thoroughly researched one, too, while still as funny and perspective as anything else Brown has given us… Those who find gossip not only highly entertaining but also highly revealing about the most complex things we know of in nature will relish One On One from first chapter to 101st."--Sunday Times

"Marvelously inventive and witty book… it’s hard to imagine anyone could do it better. He has an acutely attuned comic ear, an unmatched eye for spotting the absurdities of human behavior and a bloodhound-grade nose for sniffing out phoniness and pretension. You couldn’t wish for a finer exponent of this literary parlour game."--Mail on Sunday

"For those who know Brown as a parodist, this book will come as a surprise. Though often very funny, it’s a work of straight non-fiction whose great virtue is not excess but restraint… A hugely enjoyable book that looks with affection and melancholy on the whirring roundabouts of history and celebrity, and reminds us that the paths to glory lead, handshake by handshake, pratfall by pratfall, to the grave."--Sam Leith, Guardian

About the Author

Craig Brown has been writing the Private Eye celebrity diary since 1989. He has also written parodies for many other publications, including The Daily Telegraph, Vanity Fair, The Times and The Guardian. He is the author of several books, most recently ‘The Lost Diaries’ and ‘One on One’.


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4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Christopher Nancollas on 22 Oct. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Craig Brown will be familiar to most people as Britain's foremost satirist, and the author of the merciless Private Eye 'diaries'. In 'One on One' he has taken the brave decision to try something entirely unexpected, recording meetings between famous people in which one leads to another, like a daisy chain. So, the book opens with Adolf Hitler meeting John Scott-Ellis, then Scott-Ellis meets Rudyard Kipling, who then meets Mark Twain and so on through 101 encounters until the Duchess of Windsor meets Adolf Hitler. All the encounters actually took place, and the author has taken great care to record them as accurately as possible. He has also written them as straight prose, with no attempt to tweak them with humour of his own.
The result is an absolute page turner, as good as any thriller. Each encounter gives a glimpse, often sidelong, of a famous personality. Some are quite sad, like the picture of a destitute Oscar Wilde lingering in Parisian cafes because he can't pay the bill. Others reveal the true nature of people you had always suspected were pretty ghastly, like Noel Coward and various other effete Englishmen. The Royal Family come across as pretty dull, and the circle surrounding them as equally dull, and sycophantic to boot. On the other hand, you revise your opinions of others - Kingsley Amis has a particularly good entry. The encounters will vary depending on your taste - I was not particularly interested in the Russian section - but they are all interesting, and absolutely addictive. The book would serve as a work of reference, and Craig Brown has helpfully listed his sources at the end. All in all, a triumph.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By jfitzg on 6 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love this kind of thing - writing within a highly specific formal structure demands brevity and wit. Craig Brown would be less challenged than most by restriction, given his pieces for Private Eye, but it is impressive. The "chain" drives you on to continue to read the next of the 101 pieces - I read all at a single sitting. Not all of the one on ones are riveting, but even then there's a kind of fascinating awkward silence about them.

Strangest encounter for my money is between Elvis and the Beatles. Biggest "what if" is the man who might have killed Hitler using only a Model T.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T. D. Welsh TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 6 July 2014
Format: Paperback
I wondered how good this book would be, but bought it mainly on the strength of Craig Brown's excellent work in "Private Eye". It was really very hard indeed to put down, even for meals - partly because each story is so short, and partly because the next one is so tempting. I suppose Mr Brown may have hit on the idea while contemplating the wealth of material his research had turned up over the years. As other reviewers have done such a good job of describing the theme and some of the contents, I shan't focus on them. Instead, I would like to propose a theory about why some reviewers found this book so disappointing - indeed, in some cases, it appears to have made them spitting mad.

I'm not exactly a "people person": on the whole I prefer curling up with a good book (like this one) to partying or anything so strenuous. But I am very interested in history, politics, and the whole subject of what motivates human beings to behave the way they do. And I think that is why I loved this book so much. Very nearly every single anecdote touched on at least one person I find interesting, and had read about before. Let's see: Hitler, Kipling, Twain, Warhol, Queen Elizabeth, Liz Taylor, James Dean, Alec Guinness, Evelyn Waugh, Marilyn Monroe, Khrushchev... and on and on and on. I had always wondered whether (and if so, how) Kipling and Twain had met, and what they talked about. Moreover, the juxtapositions are so often amusing in themselves: Monroe and Khrushchev, Warhol and Jackie Kennedy, Allen Ginsberg trying to seduce Patti Smith in the mistaken belief that she was a pretty boy, Nixon and Elvis, Bertrand Russell and Sarah Miles, Barry Humphries and Salvador Dali... you really couldn't make it up!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By F.R. Jameson on 18 Aug. 2012
Format: Hardcover
Here's an interesting bauble of a Christmas book. The superb British humourist Craig Brown writes up 101 one on one encounters between the great and the good (as well as the not so great and the not so good), to shine a torch onto the darker - and probably somewhat inconsequential - corners of history. Each of these meetings follows on from the one before and clearly the more incongruous they are, the better Brown likes them. So we have Frank Lloyd Wright designing a house for Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn Monroe wearing her tightest and sexiest dress for Nikita Khrushchev, Khrushchev having a stand up row with Labour politician George Brown, George Brown provoking a different stand-up row with Eli Wallach on the night JFK is assassinated, Eli Wallach being greeted by Frank Sinatra, Sinatra dealing with Dominick Dunne and so on.

In his satire, Brown (Craig, rather than George) is superb at the grotesque exaggeration, but here he plays it dead straight - and the result is a joy. There are 101 mini essays in this book (each of them lasting 101 words, so there is an anal quality to it) and all are amazingly entertaining and include beautiful and amusing nuggets of information. This is a book where even the footnotes are wielded with consummate skill, and one of my favourite passages occurs in those footnotes - the author briefly detailing a meeting (he was actually present at) between Anthony Burgess and Benny Hill! So I suppose that's 102 encounters, each one very surprising but deeply amusing.
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