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22 Reviews
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This must be definitive.
The best way to annoy Bruce Chatwin would probably have been, on the basis of this biography, to file his books under the Travel section, or the Gay Author section. Which is ironic, since his bisexuality and wanderlust are two key themes in this immaculately researched and skillfully written biography. Nicholas has been granted access not only to most of Bruce's...
Published on 23 Aug 2000

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bruce Chatwin bioography
Unfortunately I did not agree with the critics on the book about Chatwin. I was bored by him and have leftmore than half unread
Published 16 months ago by Sheila Goddard


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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A superb portrayal of a flawed genius, 4 Sep 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Bruce Chatwin (Paperback)
Chatwin's life is ultimately more interesting than any of his works, as if actually reading about how he wrote his books rather than the end-product seems better. Shakespeare astonishes with the sheer volume of perceptive detail he has included on this man, and this really is one of the great biographies...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the truly great biographies, 10 Mar 2014
This review is from: Bruce Chatwin (Paperback)
Echoing what almost all of the reviews have said, this is a truly remarkable book. For those people saying to themselves "I don't normally read biographies", please buy this book! Chatwin, whatever his faults ( and there were many ), was a fascinating character, and by the time you have finished the book, you feel as if you know more about Chatwin than Chatwin did himself. It's the perfect book to have by the bed for dipping into, as every page has something interesting to say. Few books are better than this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must be one of the best biograhies I have ever read, 23 Mar 2009
By 
warthog (Wales /England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bruce Chatwin (Paperback)
I actually read this book three times because it contained so much well researched material. I knew nothing about this character, other than reading "On Black Hill" and had no idea that he was such a complex and fascinating person. Nicholas Shakespeare does not fall into the trap of many biographers by using boring material to 'pad out' chapters. Although Chatwin had some unpleasant character traits, he also had many loyal friends, who were with him to the end. Not just a recommended read, I would consider this a "must" read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't read it if you don't like your idols with feet of clay, 11 Feb 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Bruce Chatwin (Hardcover)
A wonderfully researched book. And an example of admirable restraint from NC who appears from his other writings to have far more of an affinity with BC and his interests than this book would suggest. But far from being a paean of praise, NC is detached enough to show the truly vicious side of his subject's nature as well as (more rarely, it must be said) the attractive. All in all, a pretty loathsome character, and a great biog.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating portrait of the writer and man., 10 Aug 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Bruce Chatwin (Hardcover)
This biography is very well researched and written. I have not read much Chatwin but I knew I would find his life story rivetting stuff. In common with some of the other readers(below) I must say that the portrait painted is of someone I am pleased never to have met. I was amazed to read of the pretentiousness , selfishness, lack of honesty,bad grace,boorish behaviour (and his fey friends will say "oh but Bruce was never boorish ") . Didn't anyone ever have the courage put this man right? His long suffering wife is one of the few attractive people in this book. Bruce and his circle are precious and self-regarding and would tread on anyone (in the nicest possible way).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Searing port of a contemporary icon, 10 July 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Bruce Chatwin (Hardcover)
I HAVE JUST FINISHED THIS GLORIOUSLY TEXTURED BIOGRAPHY IN A FRENCH CAFE. I HAD TO TURN MY CHAIR TO FACE THE WALL--TO HIDE THE TEARS STREAMING DOWN MY FACE. What Mr. Shakespeare has achieved is extraordinary: to tell the story of this difficult, elusive and sometimes monstrous icon with a depth of compassion and sympathy one seldom encounters in biography. I would compare this to Painter's Proust in its scope and to Richardson's Picasso in its understanding. A magnificent achievement!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent study of a great writer & enigmatic character, 26 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Bruce Chatwin (Hardcover)
Shakespeare's study of Bruce Chatwin is thorough and leaves nothing out. Chatwin was a fascinating character who inspired strong feelings,whether of like or dislike, in all he met and this comes across very strongly. He was an enigma, hard to "pigeon hole" and Shakespeare makes no attempt, rightly, I feel, to do so. Shakespeare lets Bruce Chatwin's family, friends, colleagues and associates tell his story through Chatwin's letters and comments to them and their's to Chatwin and each other.
I feel that Shakespeare has captured, as far as it is possible, the essence of Chatwin and his struggle to write. Even though I found myself disliking the Chatwin that was described particularly in his twenties, by the end of the book Chatwin and his family had my entire sympathy and I felt again that the literary world was sadly robbed by his early and tragic death. Chatwin was truly one of "those whom the gods love".
Nicholas Shakespeare's book is superb and I feel bereft now that I've finished it.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant, beautifully written pen-portrait, 24 Aug 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Bruce Chatwin (Paperback)
I have just finished this book on holiday in Thailand. Difficult to get into, it is a very carefully researched portrait of someone I had vaguely heard of but was unfamiliar with. Bruce Chatwin is exposed with all his faults - and there are more of those than most would wish for themselves - yet at the same time, I shed a tear or two reading about his death.
Nicholas Shakespeare has produced a beautiful book. The character does not spring from the page, but gradually envelopes you until you feel you know Chatwin as well as the people who 'really' knew him.
An inspiring, highly recommended biographical masterpiece.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Biography of a Monster, 18 Aug 2004
By 
G. Coupe "Geoff Coupe" (Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bruce Chatwin (Paperback)
I recently purchased this biography of Bruce Chatwin written by Nicholas Shakespeare. I probably did it to confirm my own prejudices (the sneaking suspicion that Chatwin was 'not a nice man') and on that level it delivered in spades. Shakespeare gives a magnificent warts-and-all portrait. Chatwin's friends and his apparently long-suffering wife could obviously see beyond the warts - all I saw was a monstrous egotistical carbuncle called Bruce Chatwin. I am pleased to have made his acquaintance via this biography; I would never have wanted to meet him in real life. I would have viewed him as a black hole - always taking, never giving. And in answer to another reviewer on this site, you can also meet real people in Waitrose - you don't always have to go chanting on some remote hillside...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Clapp's is more fun, 5 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Bruce Chatwin (Hardcover)
This biography-for-posterity is NOT a literary biography,but crosses every 't' and dots every 'i'of Chatwin's painfully slow maturation. Good effort on Nick's part, but WHY people bothered with Big Baby Brucey is far more evident from Clapp's briefer study. Nick, as a writer, could've stopped to enjoy BC's writing between the seething condemnations and the repetitive remarks about talkativeness. But what a burden to be BC's biographer, and hence a worthy effort.
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Bruce Chatwin
Bruce Chatwin by Nicholas Shakespeare (Paperback - 6 April 2000)
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