Tuesday 19 May 2009

The Penguin Magnum Collection

I received an email last week from Penguin books telling me about an old selection of non fiction books that have been revamped and have rare and unseen photographs from their archives. I thought they might interest anyone who is part of the Non Fiction Five Challenge, as the books are quite varied and cover some really interesting topics.

The Fight by Norman Mailer
Synopsis from the Penguin site.
In 1975, at the World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in Kinshasa, Zaire, Muhammad Ali met George Foreman in the ring. Foreman's genius employed silence, serenity and cunning. He had never been defeated. His hands were his instrument, and 'he kept them in his pockets the way a hunter lays his rifle back into its velvet case'. Together the two men made boxing history in an explosive meeting of two great minds, two iron wills and two monumental egos.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
A True Account of a Multiple Murder And Its Consequences
Synopsis from the Penguin site.
Controversial and compelling, In Cold Blood reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and children. Truman Capote's comprehensive study of the killings and subsequent investigation explores the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime and the effect it had on those involved. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who, vividly drawn by Capote, are shown to be reprehensible, yet entirely and frighteningly human. The book that made Capote's name, In Cold Blood is a seminal work of modern prose, a remarkable synthesis of journalistic skill and powerfully evocative narrative.

Hiroshima by John Hersey
Synopsis from Penguin site
When the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945, killing 100,000 men, women and children, it was the beginning of a terrifying new episode in human history. Written only a year after the disaster, John Hersey brought the event vividly alive with this heart-rending account of six men and women who survived despite all the odds. He added a further chapter when, forty years later, he returned to Hiroshima to discover how the same six people had struggled to cope with catastrophe and with often crippling disease. The result is a devastating picture of the long-term effects of one very small bomb.

A Man on the Moon by Andrew Chalkin
The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts
Synopsis from Penguin site
The race to the moon was won spectacularly by Apollo 11 on 20 July 1969. When astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took their 'giant step' across a ghostly lunar landscape, they were watched by some 600 million people on Earth 250,000 miles away.
'A Man on the Moon' is the definitive account of the heroic Apollo programme: from the tragedy of the fire in Apollo 1 during a simulated launch, through the euphoria of the first moonwalk, to the discoveries made by the first scientist in space aboard Apollo 17. Drawing on hundreds of hours of in-depth interviews with the astronauts and team, this is the story of the twentieth century's greatest human achievement, minute-by-minute, in the words of those who were there.

The Jerry Lee Lewis Story by Nick Toches
Synopsis from Penguin Site
The dramatic and tormented life of Jerry Lee Lewis is the most fabled in rock 'n' roll history. Hellfire is a wild, riveting, and beautifully written biography that received universal acclaim on its original publication and is now an American classic. Born in Louisiana to a family legacy of great courage and greater madness, Jerry Lee was torn throughout his life between a harsh Pentecostal God and the Devil of alcohol, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. At twenty-one he recorded 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On', which propelled him to stardom. Almost immediately, news of his marriage to his thirteen-year-old cousin all but destroyed his career. Over the next twenty years, Jerry Lee, ever indomitable and ever wild, would rise again as a country star, and then lose it all again to his own inner demons. Hellfire is a brilliant, audacious journey into the soul of a rock 'n' roll legend, and into the soul of rock 'n' roll itself.

Hells Angels by Hunter S. Thompson
Synopsis from Penguin site.
With 'long hair in the wind, beards and bandanas flapping, earrings, chain whips . . . and Harleys flashing chrome', the Hell's Angels erupted into 1960s America paralysing whole towns with fear. Determined to discover the truths behind the terrifying reputation of those marauding biker gangs, Hunter S. Thompson spent a year on the road with the Angels, documenting his hair-raising experiences with Charger Charley, Big Frank, Little Jesus and the Gimp. Hell's Angels was the result: a masterpiece of underground reportage whose free-wheeling, impressionistic style created the legend of Gonzo journalism, and made Thompson's name as the wild man of American writing.

I really do like the look of these books and hope to read a few of them. I definitely want to read The Man On the Moon, Hells Angels and Hiroshima.
Do you like the look of any of these books and if so which ones would you like to read?


  1. I have read In Cold Blood and Hiroshima and both are very good. It is an impressive looking set.

  2. I read In Cold Blood last year and it was great. I just love Capote's writing. That new edition has a fantastic cover.

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  4. I've added Hiroshima and In Cold Blood to my wish list - they both look like books that I would like.

  5. I wish that I did read more non-fiction. Hiroshima and In Cold Blood sound quite interesting.

  6. I read Hiroshima back in high school and I do remember it being an emotional book.
    The Fight sounds interesting.

  7. Thanks for highlighting these books, Viv! I'm interested in the Hiroshima one. :D

  8. I'd love to read Hellfire! These pics are very neat.


Hiya, thanks for stopping by, it is always nice to hear what you have to say, so do leave a comment if you have time.