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The Essential Koestler,
This review is from: Koestler: The Indispensable Intellectual (Hardcover)
There are few things I like better than a door-stop of a biography and Michael Scammell's biography of Arthur Koestler is just the thing. Koestler's story is told with just the right amount of narrative pace and the mind-boggling amount of research done is evident. Scammell knows his reader well enough to mention a 'Herr Issyvoo' in 1930's Berlin without having to elaborate who Herr Issyvoo was. This biography shares something with Peter Parker's actual biography of Herr Issyvoo in that Scammell has also dissected Koestler's own diaries, notes and memoirs to reveal omissions, errors and contradictions in the story Koestler has told about himself.
For those who might come to this book without prior interest in Koestler himself it is very illustrative of the political tumult in Europe between the wars and as to why many were very, very serious about politics to an extent that may seem, with eighty intervening years, melodramatic these days;Scammell's account of Koestler's early life shows why it wasn't.