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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As addictive as a good thriller
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,...
Published on 22 Oct. 2011 by Dr. Christopher Nancollas

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars When Harry Met Sally
This is a selection of pieces written to portray an instance from history when somebody famous bumped into somebody else famous and recorded the event. I struggled with this book at the start, as I am used to Craig Brown writing and taking on the persona of the person he's viewing the world from. So, were these meetings between the great and the good "encounters" made up,...
Published on 4 Dec. 2012 by Jim 8888


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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As addictive as a good thriller, 22 Oct. 2011
By 
Dr. Christopher Nancollas (Glos, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: One on One (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
4.0 out of 5 stars A structured approach, 6 Nov. 2011
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This review is from: One on One (Hardcover)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fascinating, 6 July 2014
By 
T. D. Welsh (Basingstoke, Hampshire UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: One on One (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!

So if you are interested in people like those, and the funny, charming, curious or embarrassing consequences when they rubbed up against one another, buy this book and read it as soon as possible! But if you find the whole idea rather boring, dispiriting or ignoble, don't. You have been warned.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An amusing bauble of a book, 18 Aug. 2012
This review is from: One on One (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
5.0 out of 5 stars One on One, 30 Mar. 2012
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: One on One (Kindle Edition)
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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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous idea, 26 Oct. 2011
By 
Paul Donnelley (Essex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One on One (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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4.0 out of 5 stars Good summer reading!, 3 Jun. 2013
By 
N. Young (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One on One (Kindle Edition)
According to the puff-pieces on the cover, a lot of people have some very nice things to say about Craig Brown's latest book. Whether or not this is because these reviewers fear that if they're mean to him in print he might choose to send them up in Private Eye, for which he writes the spoof `diary' column, is not for me to speculate.

Brown may be best known as a satirist but he's playing this one with a straight bat. The premise is startlingly simple: Take two people who have only met in passing and write about said meeting in exactly 1001 words. Then have one of those people meet someone else, have this someone else meet up with another person, and so forth. The result is (perhaps inevitably) good in parts, and overall it works.

There are some very good vignettes here, such as the murder of Rasputin, the Queen's visit to the dying Duke of Windsor and Howard Hawks getting so confused by the plot of The Big Sleep while adapting it for the movie that he contacts Raymond Chandler for some assistance, only to find that he doesn't know who killed the chauffeur either.

Some people come across as two-faced to say the least, the best example being Noel Coward who compliments the Beatles to Paul McCartney's face while privately thinking they're a bunch of `bad-mannered little shits'.

And there are some intriguing what-ifs, the top two of those being John Scott-Ellis running over Adolf Hitler and Harry Houdini being asked (but declining) to go to Russia to unmask Rasputin as a fake.

All in all, an entertaining book that can be read either in one go or by dipping into it at any chapter of the reader's choosing.
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3.0 out of 5 stars When Harry Met Sally, 4 Dec. 2012
This review is from: One on One (Paperback)
This is a selection of pieces written to portray an instance from history when somebody famous bumped into somebody else famous and recorded the event. I struggled with this book at the start, as I am used to Craig Brown writing and taking on the persona of the person he's viewing the world from. So, were these meetings between the great and the good "encounters" made up, embellished, wished for or just a straightforward true account? Once I got my head around the fact that it was the latter case - these are well researched and objective vignettes drawn from primary sources - I enjoyed the book much more. However,it's a bit too clever for its own good and often assumes we'll know more about history or the people involved than we actually do. I would also have liked a bit more of Brown's voice and observations to come through as he can be an extremely funny writer, but he has restricted himself due to some self-imposed "rules" he applied when writing each episode, including restricting the number of words he'd employ. I wasn't sure why he did this - some are consequently too long and others not long enough. Maybe he was worried that if he didn't, he'd find it hard to stop. There's probably a book about the collapse of Western Civilisation in Nancy Reagan meeting Michael Jackson, for example.
Ultimately this is a book to dip in and out of, interesting, amusing and whimsical, and it was an inspired idea. But, I felt, it was also a bit of a lost opportunity for Craig Brown to have a sarcastic swipe at some of the so-called icons of our age.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Light bedside reading, 15 Jan. 2014
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: One on One (Paperback)
A chain of 101 encounters: Hitler meets Scott-Ellis, Scott-Ellis meets Kipling, and so on, until the last one, the Duchess of Windsor meeting Hitler, closes the circle. Each encounter is just three pages long, so this is something of a beside book. Brown writes well and wittily. I particularly liked that between two Archbishops of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher and Michael Ramsey. A high proportion of the pieces are about bitchiness, especially in the world of media celebrities, a large number of them American, some of whom I have to admit I had never heard of. Often there is edginess when two famous people meet. There are relationships which begin with the characters thinking highly of each other, but then changing their minds (Gorky and Tolstoy, Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky): only a few (Kipling and Mark Twain, Madonna and Martha Graham, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff) are steadfast in their admiration of each other. Only two of them (Mark Twain and Helen Keller, Helen Keller and Martha Graham) are genuinely moving - more often the pieces partake of the nature of gossip columns. A minor irritant is that Brown distractingly puts a number of anecdotes into footnotes which break up the flow.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A review in 202 words, 11 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: One on One (Paperback)
Forget the 101 artifice; as the author says in a note at the end this is to lend order to the book. The important points are whether the stories are true and whether they are interesting.

On the first question the author states that everything is documented and an ample bibliography is provided. He also states that when accounts differ, he has sided with the more likely. That is indeed apparent from the stories, and Brown is perhaps more artful in relating them in an impersonal present tense which sounds like the old Pathe Newsreels. Certainly no one appears to have challenged the accuracy of any of the encounters, not even those who accuse him of peddling old gossip, as if truth could be tittle-tattle.

And they are interesting. There is a risk of attributing too general a significance to isolated encounters, as journalists like to do. But for the most part the author avoids this danger, and is not judgemental, leaving personal observations to the many notes. They give an insight into character. We may think the famous are more confident, but it is surprising how even they skirt around each other. This book provides a fascinating record of human behaviour.
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One on One
One on One by Craig Brown (Paperback - 5 July 2012)
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