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One on One Hardcover – 22 Sep 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (22 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007360622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007360628
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 4 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 172,570 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 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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5 of 5 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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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Paul Donnelley on 26 Oct 2011
Format: Hardcover
Craig Brown is best known to most people as a parodist but I first became aware of him way back in 1982 when he co-wrote "The Book Of Royal Lists", one of the best of its genre. It was apparent then that he had an eye for the cute and the funny, the way out and the wacky. In "One On One" he returns to this arena recounting 101 meetings between the famous and the infamous. the righteous and the rotters, the good and the very bad. Each entry has the exact date (where known) and place of the encounter, is told in 1,001 words and is written in the present tense. The stories are symmetrical and we begin and end with the same man, Adolf Hitler. So we start with Hitler being knocked down by Old Etonian John Scott Ellis in Briennerstrasse, Munich on 22 August 1931. Unfortunately, Mr Scott Ellis wasn't driving quickly enough to do any harm to the Austrian. Then Mr Scott Ellis meets Rudyard Kipling who meets Mark Twain who then has a rendezvous with Helen Keller and so on until the 101st meeting when the Duchess of Windsor takes tea with Hitler and so the circle and the book is complete.

Mr Brown is a terrific writer with a light touch and the book is in terms funny, charming, sad and poignant. More of this please...
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Mar 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is really one of the most enjoyable reads I have had in a long while. A book describing 101 chance meetings, each described in exactly 1001 words, making it perfect to dip into or read in it's entirety. The random encounters lead off each other - so, for example, the first meeting is between Adolph Hitler, who is knocked down by John Scott-Ellis in 1931. This leads into John Scott-Ellis meeting Rudyard Kipling and Rudyard Kipling meeting Mark Twain, etc etc. The whole book comes full circle, ending with Hitler meeting The Duchess of Windsor.

Just about everyone is in this book - these are famous people who are truly famous, not the wannabee's of today. Everybody from the Royal family, philosophers, authors, actors and singers are represented and you will know them all: from Jackie Kennedy to Marilyn Monroe, Paul McCartney to Frank Sinatra, Rasputin to Stalin. Some of the encounters are funny, others bizarre, some touching. There is Michael Jackson locking himself in the toilets at the White House, Andy Warhol's feud with Jackie Kennedy, Richard Burton misbehaving at a dinner party with the Duchess of Windsor, a creepy premonition at a meeting between Alec Guinness and James Dean, Evelyn Waugh giving out a public persona which says, "I am bored, you are frightened," and H.G. Wells asserting that Stalin "owes his position to the fact that no one is afraid of him," which leads on to the chilling death of Maxim Gorky. This really is a gem of a book and would make a great present, as a person is sure to be intersted in at least some of the people included. Fantastic stuff and highly enjoyable.
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