“I thought, ‘Robert Maxwell: why? It’s sad, it’s unpleasant, it was a long time ago.’ And I think I can say all of us judges were just gripped. It was the absolute readability of the book. I think there’s been around a dozen Maxwell biographies—someone counted them all up—and it shows you can still get new things out of an old subject. It’s all about the skill of the writing…Maxwell was born into an impoverished Czechoslovakian Jewish family on the eve of Nazism. It was very traumatic; he lost his family in the Holocaust. Preston never skates over that, not at all, but looks at what Maxwell did with that. For a long time, for instance, he denied that he was Jewish. And yet, he ended up being buried on the Mount of Olives because he put so much money into Israel.” Read more...
The Best Nonfiction Books: The 2021 Baillie Gifford Prize Shortlist