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on 12 January 2010
It is a mystery to me why this book doesn't have as many fans as it ought to, although considering Koestler's other works it is up against a lot of competition. Seldom have I been as captivated by an autobiography as I was with this one, what with the fascinating stories of Arthur's life interspersed with his unique perspectives on many questions of politics, psychology, religion, philosophy and more. An account of his life from 1905-31 in 415 pages, fans of Koestler's earlier works (pre 1952) will recognize a lot of material here though, as he often quotes from his own books where he obviously feels he's described something best. The accounts of his student life in the duelling fraternities of 1920s Vienna, his attempted settlement in Palestine, experiences as a journalist in pre-Hitler Berlin, travels in the Soviet Union in the early thirties, even a trip to the North Pole in the Graf Zeppelin are all equally absorbing. But it would just be another well-written autobiography if it wasn't for the unique wisdom and insight of Koestler, which shines through these pages, resulting in a book which is a must-read for both Koestler fans and the casual reader. It will no doubt leave you thirsting for part 2, The Invisible Writing (which covers 1932-40 in 526 pages), a more run-of-the-mill autobiography without as much of the philosophizing of part 1, but still enjoyable in its own right.
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on 12 February 2015
A humorous and easy-to-read account of his early life by a noted cosmopolitan intellectual. The breadth of his interests is amazing. You get the tale of his student days in the Unitas duelling fraternity, near starvation selling lemonade in the Near East, life as a prosperous journalist in Paris. He finishes the book as he is about to join the Communist Party after travelling to the North Pole in an airship. What a life, and told in a relaxed and masterly style.
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on 30 October 2014
spendildy engrossing. what a fascinating man koestler was, as well as deeply difficult,
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on 17 August 2016
awful binding by Clays Ltd, St. Ives PLC.
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on 28 September 2014
I read it many years ago as a young man. Now I felt that I had to read it again It is a great book written by a wise man.
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on 23 November 2012
I did, but it is an internalist view of Koestler's life from an expert (himself) and does not cover much such as his fascination with sex and his undoubted brutality towrds women.

Charkes Norrie
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