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The Assassin's Cloak: An Anthology of the World's Greatest Diarists Paperback – 24 Jan 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main - Re-issue edition (24 Jan. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841954594
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841954592
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 5.3 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

"I always say, keep a diary and someday it'll keep you", quipped Mae West, an insight that is wonderfully borne out in Irene and Alan Taylor's The Assassin's Cloak, an anthology of the world's greatest diarists. All of life can be found in this extraordinary compilation of diary entries by 170 of history's most famous (and infamous) diarists, beginning with "the Shakespeare of diarists", Samuel Pepys, and ending with the likes of the more notorious recent diarists, Roy Strong and Alan Clarke. The editors have cleverly arranged the book like a diary--there are entries for every day of the year, leading to fascinating juxtapositions, such as the thoughts of Leo Tolstoy, Queen Victoria and Josef Goebbels on three very different days in April. The selections are wonderfully judged, as they move from the momentous and the revealing--Noel Coward admitting "Gandhi has been assassinated. In my humble opinion, a bloody good thing but far too late"--to the banal and the downright bizarre--Wilhelm Reich claiming "I yearn for a beautiful woman with no sexual anxieties who will just take me! Have inhaled too much orgone radiation". Prepare to be shocked by the comments of those famous diarists you know, and intrigued by those you have never heard of (helpfully covered by short biographies at the end of the book), but more than anything be captivated by the sheer lust for life in all its detail reflected in a book that is clearly a long and arduous labour of love on the part of its authors. The sheer wealth of fascinating material in The Assassin's Cloak is overwhelming, and should be sampled day by day--rather like a diary. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A substantial treasury to dip into for years and years, to inspire new thoughts and enlighten all dullness ... it amply fills a gap in the classics of English-language anthologies." (Muriel Spark TLS)

"The result is a succession of surprises and delights, as all those solitary voices strike up a conversation across the years." (The Times)

"Gossipy, funny, perceptive and vicious extract. Every dip-in is a sheer delight." (Kenneth Baker Observer)

"Brilliant ... It's the perfect bedtime book." (Evening Standard)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is a wonderful and quite novel idea. Instead of being split up into themes and categories, this collection reads like a normal diary (ie. January 1st to December 31st). It features famous diary writers like Samuel Pepys, Andy Warhol and Victor Klemperer but also introduced me to some people I'd not heard of before. What impressed me about this collection was the small details, the everyday things that many diary keepers consider too mundane to note, but it is in these details that we find real life. This is a book to read and re-read every now and again. Truly a book to treasure.
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By Four Violets TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 Feb. 2007
Format: Paperback
Of the around 170 diarists quoted in this anthology, one, James Lee-Milne, writes "If a man has no constant lover who shares his soul as well as his body he must have a diary - a poor substitute but better than nothing". Whatever compelled these people, rich or poor, famous or obscure, to jot down their thoughts and feelings, and record the events that made up their daily existence, we are given a glimpse here of their own, very different lives. As well as between five and ten daily extracts from diarists, there are brief biographies which I found very useful for placing the diary into a context. I have already marked a few I would like to follow up and read more of - surprisingly Byron being one, and one more obscure, William Souter who was bedridden and paralysed from 1930 onwards. He wistfully records watching the servant women outside hanging up the washing,and wondering if anyone would want to marry him. I also liked the fact I could cheat by looking up all the dates for one particular diarist and reading them all ahead...I am trying to strictly ration myself to only read the date I am actually on, but find it very hard not to get ahead of myself.

There is a giddy kaleidoscope of human life from tragedy, financial ruin, philosophical musings, guilty regrets, political observations, the worlds of religion, art, music, literature, to POW camps and concentration camps.

On the 7th February 1856 Tolstoy "quarrelled with Turgenev, and had a wench at my place". On the 31st January 1987 it is recorded that Enoch Powell was asked by his hairdresser how he would like his hair cut - "in silence" was the terse reply.
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Format: Paperback
To anyone who loves reading diaries this volume is a must. It is massive in size and scope. The diarists featured are among the most interesting and diverse group that you could hope for in one volume. I read most of this title in one sitting, it is so addictive. I know that I will be dipping in and out of this book for years to come. Highly recommended and well earns a five star rating.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A brilliant read. The title is off-putting but this is an enormously varied anthology of excerpts from diaries of some very very interesting, and intriguing people. Recommended as a bedtime read (it is enormously thick) or for anyone who is ill long-term (and still strong enough to lift it!)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you enjoy reading Adrian McKinty , including the Troubles Trilogy (of 4...) which is the masterpiece of modern urban civil war, you will know that the author recommends music and books . Including this excellent anthology of diary entries. Like Ronseal it is exactly what it says on the lid and could have been as dull as ditchwater...But the editing is outstanding and makes it totally addictive. I set out to read the entry for the right present date and ended up reading the whole (big) book in 2 days. Highly recommended by me as well as Mr McKinty.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book to dip into - I've owned it for two years and have only reached August! Apart from the interesting mix of quotes that reflect the times and events in which they were written, it makes you want to seek out further writings by the authors included in the book. I bought a copy for a gift for a friend, an eclectic reader, and she appears to be enjoying it too!
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Format: Paperback
If ever there was a book that was non-linear and didn't fit the cover to cover model of reading this is it. I enjoy it as you should enjoy a good cheese board sampling the delights of different flavours and tastes without having to have a full meal. Delectable.
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Format: Paperback
I find this is a wonderful book, for me one to dip in to, not read from cover to cover. The variety, humanity, humour, sadness and so more contained there in is a constant pleasure.
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