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The Remarkable Lives Of Bill Deedes [Paperback]

Stephen Robinson
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 May 2009
Drawing on a rich selection of private papers and hours of interviews with Deedes and his contemporaries, Stephen Robinson charts brilliantly the depths and shallows of the life of the man who inspired Evelyn Waugh's hapless reporter William Boot in Scoop and was the recipient of Private Eye's famous Dear Bill letters. Deedes was also a husband and father of five and Robinson explores the rumour and reality with equal measure to reveal the true character of one of the most extraordinary men to have graced the pages of the British national press.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (7 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349118965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349118963
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 945,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

...beautifully written but fair rather than fond. Robinson must be applauded for unearthing so much new information. (- Lynn Barber, The Daily Telegraph 'Robinson writes clearly and sparely, and the book reads well . . . Masterly’)

- Sunday Telegraph 'This intelligently probing and well-written authorised biography . . . succeeds definitively (Spectator)

Book Description

* The long and fascinating life of a national institution, Bill Deedes: journalist, war hero, Cabinet Minister, newspaper editor, and journalist again * 'A compelling portrait' INDEPENDENT

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Account 13 Aug 2008
Format:Hardcover
Even for those with no connection to the journalistic canon, Bill Deedes has always proved an inspirational and somewhat legendary figure. Robinson, an exceptionally gifted former Daily Telegraph writer and close personal friend of his subject for decades, cleverly peels back the many layers of the Deedes persona to posthumously reveal a far more complex and enigmatic character than appeared in life. Written with a reporter's eye for detail, and a novelist's command of the language, The Remarkable Lives of Bill Deedes offers a unique and not uncritical insight into Fleet Street's so-called Patron Saint. This biography cannot be recommended too highly.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warts and All 16 Jun 2009
By Neutral VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Stephen Robinson's biography of W F "Bill" Deedes is a masterpiece. No flattering portrait this, just an honest "warts and all" examination of someone who had several remarkable careers despite lacking many skills other than those of the army subaltern. Deedes was deferential to the point of diffidence, frequently bored and took full advantage of the nepotism that led him to journalism as the first member of his family for five hundred years to actually take a job. Nepotism got him into the newspaper industry and his reputation for not rocking the boat kept him there even after the Daily Telegraph was taken over by Conrad Black and by the end the Barclay brothers. His judgement was frequently at fault (his role in the Profumo Affair was discreditable) and his attitude to his family was so distant at times one wonders how he managed to father five children.

If Deedes was on occasion a moral coward, failing to stand up for what was right, no one could deny his physical courage which earned him a Military Cross of which he rarely spoke and even then in self depreciating terms. His personality was insular and this insularity (the enjoyment of the company he chose rather than that which family and friends would choose for him) was sufficient to sustain him. Robinson's pithy characterisation of Deedes as being "without pomposity or self importance (who) never believed politicians or journalists should take themselves too seriously" catches the self-sufficient flavour of the man.

One suspects that he felt he was a hostage to fate as in the final forty eight hours of the second world war a shell fell within yards of him but failed to explode. "Deedes was one technical malfunction away from being killed".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knockout 12 Aug 2008
Format:Hardcover
I must admit that I knew and worked with Bill Deedes, but that only makes me appreciate this exceptional biography even more. Stephen Robinson gets the mixture of war hero, journalistic legend and Evelyn Waugh inspiration spot on.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written 27 May 2009
By Jon D VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Stephen Robinson's account cannot be faulted for it's elegance of writing and for the depth of painstaking research it represents.

Though a cynic might opine that the most remarkable thing about the lives of Bill Deedes was just how far someone could get on by virtue of their being high born, that would be an injustice. I found the book hugely enjoyable and informative, not just as a biography but as a socio-political history of British society (albeit rather focused on one small class grouping) running from 1913 to 2006. Robinson takes care to put his subject's life into proper historical context, far more so than many biographies I have read, and the book is better for it.

I don't think I'd have liked Bill Deedes very much had I known him, but I cannot deny that he was a fascinating character whose impact on journalism particularly cannot be overstated.
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