“I became a life insurance salesman in London in May 1969, for the glamour, the fast cars, the groupies… the beautiful women who’d stop at nothing to buy life insurance. It’s a very well kept secret.”
Thus begins Peter Rosengard’s extraordinary account of his life so far, and the endless adventures in which he made, lost and remade a fortune; founded London’s famous Comedy Store, discovered and managed some of the greats in stand-up comedy; turned an unknown boy band into a chart-topping sensation; and sold the world’s biggest life insurance policy ever in history, for which he is still celebrated in the Guinness Book of Records.
But it’s not what he has done that makes this book so funny and inspiring. It’s how. That record-breaking insurance policy began with a cold-call from a public phone box. His success with chart-topping pop prodigies was based on a hunch and a sense of fun. His many escapades with presidents, prime ministers, princes and mayors; musicians, moguls, comics and actors; addicts, brawlers, gamblers and mobsters, and even terrorists, happen simply because Rosengard sees no reason why they should not.
This is a book about “chutzpah”. Rosengard’s relentless, manic, often infuriating, energy is a testament to his simple belief that “nothing’s impossible”.
Writer and journalist Sarah Murray never gave much thought to what might ultimately happen to her remains. That was until her father died. Puzzled by the choice he made for the disposal of his “organic matter”, she set off on a series of voyages to discover how death is celebrated and commemorated in different cultures. Making an Exit is Murray’s exploration of the extraordinary creativity unleashed when we seek to dignify the dead. Along the way, she encounters everything from a Balinese royal cremation, Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations, a Czech chandelier made from human bones, a weeping ceremony in Iran, and a Philippine village where the casketed dead are left hanging in caves. She even goes to Africa to commission her own Ghanaian coffin.
Her accounts of these journeys are engaging, poignant, and funny. But this is also a very personal quest — for on her travels, Murray is seeking inspiration for her own eventual send-off.
Italy’s longest-serving prime minister, television tycoon, property mogul, football magnate, singer, Casanova and joker, Silvio Berlusconi has put his stamp on Italy like no other politician since Benito Mussolini.
Accused of paying for sex with an under-aged belly-dancer, the legal case is but the latest in a string of lurid tales, including allegations that he hosted orgies at his luxurious villas. A hero to many of his compatriots, ridiculed abroad, his antics raise questions about Italy’s image in the world.
Does Berlusconi represent the true face of his country – its fragile democracy, crony political system, opaque industry and poorly-regulated media – or is he a maverick, an anomoly, soon to pass on, and be remembered simply as The Last Emperor of Rome.
Who deserves what they earn? Seldom has this question been more relevant than now, as senior executives grab outrageous salaries while the companies they manage go bankrupt, and British parliamentarians fiddle their expenses. From jargon-spouting consultants to the financial “whiz kids” undertaking risky deals, oversized pay packets are justified on the flimsiest of grounds – that the recipients possess extraordinary talent without which no company or organisation could prosper. But the evidence suggests otherwise. This book explodes the myth of “talent”, and shows how the term has been deliberately misused and abused. Pay Check aims to win capitalism back for those who actually take the risks, and expose those who merely snatch the rewards.
- Foyles Award for Paperback Original Non-Fiction, 2011 –
The impact of multinational companies in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union 1989-2004
by Charles Paul Lewis
Despite widespread criticism of multinational companies, they have made an unparalleled contribution to the development of Eastern Europe over the past two decades. They have brought opportunities to the young, improved working conditions, saved communities from destitution, rehabilitated corrupt banking systems and laid a modern telecommunications network. They have improved and promoted local products, not destroyed them. Their exports have driven economic growth; their presence has boosted civil society. The impact has not always been positive, but their power and dynamism, if effectively harnessed, can help defeat poverty elsewhere too.
A novel set in the frenetic gold rush of post-communist Russia before its all-too brief taste of raw capitalism collapses in the great economic crash of 1998. The brilliant but volatile Godunev, a former Moscow kiosk worker, returns from New York and Miami hoping to make a quick fortune while the country’s assets are still up for grabs. Using his hipster credentials to infiltrate Moscow’s aspirational emerging super-rich “biznismen” scene, he gets caught up in machinations to privatize the Kremlin, and eventually finds himself out of his depths in a Russia of oligarchs, gangsters, models and prostitutes that is hurtling towards its own demise. But amidst the violence, callousness and audacity of the time, Gudonev also reflects many of his countrymen’s sentiments: the passion of relationships; the extremities of life; a re-assertion of Russian culture; and a pervasive love-hate relationship with the US and the West.