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Something Sensational to Read in the Train [Hardcover]

Gyles Brandreth
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 Oct 2009

This is a diary packed with famous names and extraordinary stories.  It is also rich in incidental detail and wonderful observation, providing both a compelling record of five remarkable decades and a revealing, often hilarious and sometimes moving account of Gyles Brandreth's unusual life - as a child living in London in the 'swinging' sixties, as a jumper-wearing TV presenter, as an MP and government whip, and as a royal biographer who has enjoyed unique access to the Queen and her family.

Something Sensational to Read on the Train takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride from the era of Dixon of Dock Green to the age of The X Factor, from the end of the farthing to the arrival of the euro, from the Britain of Harold Macmillan and the Notting Hill race riots to the world of Barack Obama and Lewis Hamilton.

With a cast list that runs from Richard Nixon and Richard Branson to Gordon Brown and David Cameron - and includes princes, presidents and pop stars, as well as three archbishops and any number of actresses - this is a book for anyone interested in contemporary history, politics and entertainment, royalty, gossip and life itself.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 720 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; First Edition edition (29 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848543115
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848543119
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 15.9 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 176,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Uproarious memoirs' (Daily Mail)

'The deliciously indiscreet diaries of a society insider with a wicked (and shameless) sense of fun...packed with famous names and wildly indiscreet stories' (Daily Mail)

Gyles Brandreth is the ultimate insider. In this year's most colourful diaries, he shares his secrets (Daily Mail)

Praise for Gyles Brandreth: (---)

'Searingly honest, wildly indiscreet, and incredibly funny' (Daily Mail)

'A touching access to the secrets of the human heart' (The Times)

'A fine and sympathetic writer' (Times Literary Supplement)

'Brilliant' (Daily Telegraph)

'Brilliant' (Spectator)

'Wonderfully sharp....there is something very potent beneath the froth, and a bullet-proof vest beneath the novelty jumper' (Mail on Sunday)

'He's a warmer and more guileless version of Boris Johnson, a smarter and less crooked version of Jeffery Archer, a cuddlier and less punk-rock version of Bungle from Rainbow... he merits the backhanded compliment 'impossible to dislike'. He is happy and he is successful. He earned the latter. The former seems to be temperamental.' (The Spectator)

'full of tales and catty asides about royals and celebrities' (Sunday Times)

'Brandreth has enjoyed unique access to everyone from prime ministers and royalty to pop stars and actors. For more than 50 years he has faithfully recorded every encounter, every secret and wild indiscretion, in his diary. Something Sensational to Read in the Train is a rollercoaster ride through what Gyles happily admits has been, at times, a ridiculous life' (Daily Mail)

'Really rather charming' (The Herald)

'This book is a romp, stuffed with anecdotes and wry reflections on life in the artificial world of Westminster and the real world of show business, TV and the stage. It's a perfect winter read' (Sunday Express)

'Ought to be beside everyone's bed...The man is phenomenal' (Sunday Express)

Book Description

The Diary of a Lifetime

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Also Sensational to Read in Bed! 4 Dec 2009
This is one of the most consistently entertaining books that I've encountered in a very long time. Although it's a chronological romp through the author's real-life adventures, it reads like great fiction. The experiences are related in a conversational and almost alarmingly candid style. If you can grasp the concept of an up-market Jack Kerouac, that will give you something of an idea of what to expect. Bits of it are quite disgracefully hilarious, and I had to be careful not to disturb the neighbours with eruptions of laughter during my late night reading sessions.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than sensational 20 Nov 2009
Gyles Brandreth's latest book, "Something Sensational to Read in the Train: The Diary of A Lifetime" is funny, touching, and intensely readable. The section on his career as an MP, taken from "Breaking the Code", his Westminster diaries, is the best account available of how Parliament really works. But that's just one part of Brandreth's varied life. Like Wagner, he really can do most of the things he thinks he can, but unlike Wagner he comes across as an amiable optimist, who is never averse to telling a story against himself.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So-so 20 Jan 2010
I think G Brandreth is a sensation and was expecting this to be better than it actually was. I felt like I was revising the musings of Adrian Mole, aged 70-odd. It's an OK read, but was not as funny as certain other autobiographical pieces I've had the good fortune to read ... that said, I'd still watch Mr B when he's on TV simply because I think he's incredibly humorous and for me, this is his best medium for communication with the public
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than matches the title! 23 Nov 2009
This is Gyles Brandreth's diaries from 1950 to the year 2000. It begins with his surprisingly racy childhood and ends after the 1997 election defeat. With so many years covered there is plenty to get your teeth into and its a great review of the last half of the 20th Century.

I hugely enjoyed this book. Its effectively a collection of anecdotes from a man who has been surprisingly deeply involved with a number of worlds - theatre, writing and politics. There are insights and character sketches aplenty from each of these arenas - so if you have any interest in people from Geilgud to Major its worth getting. The writing is clear and its well footnoted so that references are always explained and context for the personal in the wider historical is given.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Unputdownable' 24 Nov 2010
I absolutely loved this and was sad when it was over. I actually started rationing myself as I realised it was nearing its end. Brandreth's diary entries are so amusing and candid and entertaining the pages fly by. He takes us all the way through his life thus far, and, certainly from his post-Oxford days onwards, we get one playful revelation after another. From throwing up over Ted Heath's shoes to being irritated by the likes of Harriet Harman in Parliament, it's fascinating stuff.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it - a super read 10 Oct 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I galloped through this book - it was simply a great, light hearted, easy, enjoyable read. I had no idea about the early formative years of the author - he really has had the most interesting life, and seems to have done incredibly well out of not doing very much, but stumbling on some tremendously lucrative ideas. All fascinating and worth a (holiday) read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well, what a thing this is! 13 April 2010
By Sir Bob
Like me you probably know Gyles Brandreth but are not quite sure where from. You know you've seen him on HIGNFY, you seem to remember he was an MP at some point but quite why does everyone know him, what is he famours for?

This book answers all that, it's incredible how many pies Gyles has had his fingers in. From The stage, producing, directing, starring, to TV, to publishing, to journalism, charity worker and friend of the elite. And this is all without mentioning the jumpers, the horrible, horrible jumpers. (of which there is a photo section included in the book which some of the famous models would probably rather forget)
Gyles has done all the above and more, yet at the same time the promise he showed as scholar and president of the Oxford union was never really fulfilled in the sense some thought it might be. Gyles touches on this in the book too and the question is open, is this failure or a gleeful embracing of everything life has to offer?

There are some sharp comparisons in these diaries. One one hand is a man who must be admired for simply sucking every last drop of fun out of life and going, going, going when others may mock or try to put obstacles in his way. To live as you want and at 150mph is something we should all aspire to and damn anyone who tells you it's wrong or not serious enough.
On the other hand, this is an arch conservative, one of the old guard who believes the ruling class hsould be made out of Garrick members, the rich, the Oxbridge educated and sees nothing reprehensible in the likes of Aitken, Hamilton and Archer.

But oh the footnotes, soooo many takes twice as long as usual to read any page becausew you are checking all the references. I didn't need quite as much clarifying in line as this.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Angst-free teenager
Gyles Brandreth seems to have sailed through puberty and adolescence without ever experiencing the dark night of the soul -- those surges of anguished rebelliousness, the feeling... Read more
Published on 8 Dec 2011 by B. McCartney
4.0 out of 5 stars Gyles Brandreth
What a man Gyles B. is. The book fizzles with joy. I hadn't realised quite how much GB had done from such an early age too. A very warm hearted,enthusiastic and positive book
Published on 28 Mar 2011 by A. P. Mackay
3.0 out of 5 stars All about ME ME ME!!
Sensational it is not. Unless you actually really like Gyles B don't bother. I expected more but got less!! Read more
Published on 24 Aug 2010 by G. R. Chapman
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as likeable as he thinks he is
It would take a professional psychoanalyst to sort this one out. A precocious big-headed boastful schoolboy starts keeping a diary when he is 10 and almost 50 years later his diary... Read more
Published on 31 Mar 2010 by Hammersmith Resident
5.0 out of 5 stars Dear Diary
On several occasions the editors of Gyles Brandreth's diary indicate they have spared the reader many thousands of words which formed the notes on which the diary was based. Read more
Published on 25 Mar 2010 by Neutral
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'Sensational' Read
An immensely enjoyable book. I sped through the pages, dipping in and out of a world through Brandreth's eyes. Good fun to read, funny, touching and eye opening.
Published on 20 Nov 2009 by I. Stroud
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He should present a history series 0 6 Jul 2010
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