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Robert Maxwell


The Mystery of Robert Maxwell

John Preston

  • Imprint: Viking
  • Published: 04/02/2021
  • ISBN: 9780241388679
  • Length: 352  Pages
  • Dimensions: 240mm x 33mm x 162mm
  • Weight: 592g
  • RRP: £18.99



‘The best biography yet of the media magnate Robert Maxwell – by turns engrossing, amusing and appalling’ Robert Harris, Sunday Times

‘Electrifying… the supreme chronicler of modern British scandals’ Mail on Sunday

From the bestselling author of A Very English Scandal, the jaw-dropping life story of the notorious business tycoon Robert Maxwell.

In February 1991, the media mogul and former MP Robert Maxwell made a triumphant entrance into Manhattan harbour aboard his yacht, the Lady Ghislaine, to complete his purchase of the ailing New York Daily News. Crowds lined the quayside to watch his arrival, taxi drivers stopped their cabs to shake his hand and children asked for his autograph. But just ten months later, Maxwell disappeared from the same yacht off the Canary Islands, only to be found dead in the water soon afterward.

Maxwell was the embodiment of Britain’s post-war boom. Born an Orthodox Jew, he had escaped the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, fought in World War 2, and was decorated for his heroism with the Military Cross. He went on to become a Labour MP and an astonishingly successful businessman, owning a number of newspapers and publishing companies. But on his death, his empire fell apart, as long-hidden debts and unscrupulous dealings came to light. Within a few days, Maxwell was being reviled as the embodiment of greed and corruption. No one had ever fallen so far and so quickly.

What went so wrong? How did a war hero and model of society become reduced to a bloated, amoral wreck? In this gripping book, John Preston delivers the definitive account of Maxwell’s extraordinary rise and scandalous fall.

‘Preston is a natural storyteller’ The Times

John Preston is a former Arts Editor of the Evening Standard and the Sunday Telegraph. For ten years he was the Sunday Telegraph’s television critic and one of its chief feature writers. His novel, The Dig, based on the 1939 archaeological excavation at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, has been filmed starring Ralph Fiennes, Carey Mulligan and Lily James. His first nonfiction book, A Very English Scandal, was published to great acclaim in 2016 and turned into BAFTA-winning BBC drama series. His latest book, Fall, tells the story of the rise and fall of the politician and business magnate Robert Maxwell.

Penguin books

Other books by John Preston


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In the Wars, Waheed Arian

Waheed Arian is an NHS A&E doctor. His pioneering charity, Arian Teleheal, works directly with clinicians on the ground, and provides governments and global organizations with a blueprint for delivering innovative healthcare and education. Dr Arian has been recognized as a UNESCO Global Hope Hero, a UN Global Goals Goalkeeper, an NHS Innovation Mentor, and was appointed to the WHO Roster of Digital Health Experts in 2019. In the UK, he has been awarded the Rotary Internation Peace Award and the prime minister’s Points of Light Award. He is a sought-after speaker at national and international conferences and events.

Penguin Books

In the Wars

Waheed Arian

A story of conflict, survival and saving live

  • Imprint: Bantam Press
  • Published: 17/06/2021
  • ISBN: 9781787633964
  • Length: 320  Pages
  • Dimensions: 240mm x 40mm x 156mm
  • Weight: 750g
  • RRP: £20.00

‘A thrilling and absorbing read from first to last. What a life and what an inspiration.’ Stephen Fry

Born in war-torn Afghanistan, Waheed Arian’s earliest memories are of bombs. Fleeing the conflict with his family, he spent much of his childhood in refugee camps in Pakistan, living sometimes ten to a room without basic sanitation or access to education. After he contracted tuberculosis, his first-hand experience of the power of medicine inspired Waheed to dedicate his life to healing others. But how does a boy with nothing hope to become a doctor?

Waheed largely taught himself, from textbooks bought from street-sellers, and learned English from the BBC World Service. Smuggled to the UK at fifteen with just $100 in his pocket, he found a job in a shop. He was advised to set his sights on becoming a taxi driver. But the boy from Kabul had bigger ambitions.

Working through PTSD and anxiety, he studied all hours to achieve his vocation. He was accepted to read medicine at Cambridge University, Imperial College and Harvard, and went on to become a doctor in the NHS. But he wanted to do more. In 2015 he founded Arian Teleheal, a pioneering global charity that connects doctors in war zones and low-resource countries with their counterparts in the US, UK, Europe and Australia. Together, learning from each other, they save and change lives – the lives of millions of people just like Waheed.

For readers of Educated and War Doctor, this is the extraordinary memoir of a boy who recognized the power of education and dreamed about helping others. It’s a tale of courage, ambition and unwavering resilience in the face of all the challenges that life can throw in your way.


A thrilling and absorbing read from first to last.



Vintage Minis. Series: Vintage Minis

Tim Parks

  • Imprint: Vintage Classics
  • Published: 08/06/2017
  • ISBN: 9781784872595
  • Length: 112  Pages
  • Dimensions: 178mm x 6mm x 110mm
  • Weight: 65g
  • RRP: £3.50

How do we find calm in our frantic modern world? Tim Parks – lifelong sceptic of all things spiritual – finds himself on a Buddhist meditation retreat trying to answer this very question. With brutal honesty and dry wit, he recounts his journey from disbelief to something approaching inner peace and tackles one of the great mysteries of our time – how to survive in this modern age.

Selected from the book Teach us to Sit Still by Tim Parks


A series of short books by the world’s greatest writers on the experiences that make us human

Also in the Vintage Minis series:
Swimming by Roger Deakin
Motherhood by Helen Simpson
Work by Joseph Heller
Liberty by Virginia Woolf

Born in Manchester, Tim Parks grew up in London and studied at Cambridge and Harvard. He lives in Milan. He is the acclaimed author of novels, non-fiction and essays, including Europa, In Extremis, A Season with Verona, Teach Us to Sit Still and Italian Ways. He has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize, won the Somerset Maugham Award, the Betty Trask Prize, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the John Florio Prize and the Italo Calvino Prize.

Penguin Books

Hafsa Zayyan

How I wrote it: Hafsa Zayyan on We Are All Birds of Uganda

Hafsa Zayyan managed to write her debut novel in six months, while working full time as a lawyer. Here the winner of the Merky Books New Writer’s Prize discusses the hours of research and late nights it took to produce her brilliant first book. 

Weeks after publishing her debut novel, Hafsa Zayyan still considers her career as an author to be something “random and flukey”. The 29-year-old won a publishing contract after entering the first New Writer’s Prize from Merky Books on something of a whim, and ended up having to deliver an entire manuscript in six months – while working full-time as a dispute resolution lawyer.

Nevertheless, We Are All Birds of Uganda is a thing of beauty: an ambitious first novel that spans decades and continents, with two twisting love stories at its core. Tackling issues of identity, religion and colonialism, Zayyan’s story explores the legacy of Idi Amin’s expulsion of thousands of people of South Asian heritage from Uganda in 1972. Here, she tells us how she wrote it.

Before your novel, did you write often?

Ever since childhood I’d enjoyed writing short stories, and I wanted, always, to maybe write a book, but I never considered it seriously as a sole career option. I kind of saw writing in the same way that I saw acting or singing, anything that you would maybe have to be a little bit lucky to get your break. In my family, it seemed to be a more secure option to go for an established professional career and degree, and I was interested in the law anyway. So I went and did a university degree in law, then a masters, then I got a job working in the City. And I’ve been there ever since. I did some creative writing at university, but after being rejected by agents with a children’s book I wrote during my holidays I gave up.  

How did you come across the prize?

I had been listening to Stormzy for a while and following what he’d been doing, because he’d been doing lots of unusual stuff for a grime artist. So I went to the Barbican and the launch of Merky Books and Rise Up, and heard about the competition and thought, well, why not? Just apply. You only have to write 2,500 words and it’s a wonderful opportunity for you to exercise this part of your brain that’s been dusty completely unattended to for years.

How did you settle upon the subject of your novel?

The prize encouraged entrants to write stories that weren’t being told, that you hadn’t heard people talking about. The 1972 Ugandan-Asian expulsion was something I had only learned about in the past five years, despite it being a massive part of British Colonial and African industry. The idea of someone being able to just expel tens of thousands of people who had been living there, some for multiple generations, and that had happened in the Seventies, not even 100 years ago, and I had no idea. It seemed to have been erased from history. I thought, well, this is a good idea.

What happened next?

I wrote one of Hassan’s letters, the first one, for the competition entry [the letters form the historical part of We Are All Birds of Uganda, and date from 1945 to 1981] and even for that the research was extensive. I went to the British Library to read academic texts on the experiences of refugees on multicultural Britain, and various other text books and memoirs and literature about the Ugandan/Asian expulsion specifically. I wasn’t expecting anything to come of it, not in the slightest.

A month passed and I was shortlisted, and I was asked by Merky to submit the rest of my manuscript within seven days – and I had absolutely nothing. So I had to bash out as much as I possibly could! I think I did another Hassan chapter, because I didn’t have the time to research more of his story, and a couple of Sameer chapters [Sameer is a 20-something lawyer living in modern-day London]. It was like, 20,000 words – definitely not the real novel. And that’s what they judged it on.

When I won, they asked if I could submit the full manuscript by December. At this point, it was June. So I was like, “I guess, I’ll try?”

How, practically, did you balance your full-time job with writing a novel?

I look back at that period of my life and it’s a complete blur. I can barely remember it because I was in a hole writing, whatever, whenever I could. I made a lot of sacrifices socially and I cancelled going on holiday, taking the time off to write.

My hours as a lawyer vary but you can, in lawyer-terms, have a life: you won’t be working that many weekends or late at night. Monday to Friday, if I finished work by 6pm, I’d run to the British Library and read until they closed at 8pm. Then I’d run back home and write as much as I could until midnight. If I didn’t get out at six then I’d be writing 9-11, 9 to midnight, or 10 to 12. I’d basically squeeze it in when I could, and it would be completely fine with me if I only wrote about two or three paragraphs. I didn’t have targets, to meet certain numbers of words or chapters by a specific time, I just did what I could when I could.

Did you encounter any writer’s block?

When I did, I would just read instead, stuff for the Hassan chapters. I was quite disciplined about researching; I felt the responsibility to get it as right as possible, because even though it’s fiction, I wanted the historical elements of it to be as accurate as possible. It’s also an educational tool, that’s another purpose of the novel, to teach people about this part of our history. So if I had a creative block I could still do stuff to progress the novel that wasn’t writing.

How did it feel to submit your manuscript?

It was the scariest time. I was just really worried: they had no idea what the plot was going to be, they had no idea where the book was going to go. I think it took them about a week for them to get back to me, and I didn’t receive any updates in between. So for the whole week I was feeling sick, like, what if they hate this, what if it’s terrible, what if I actually can’t write. But thankfully they were extremely complimentary when they got back to me; I’m sure he knew how to talk to vulnerable debut authors whose creative babies are in their hands!

What was it like when people read it for the first time?

The very first non-family review that I got on Goodreads felt so, so good. And I started getting DMs from people being like, “By the way, I read your book and wanted you to know that it really resonated with me”, or “I felt really seen” or, “it felt wonderful to feel represented.” That kind of stuff felt better than any money you could ever earn from writing a book. People reading it and learning something from it. It was the best feeling ever.

Hafsa Zayyan is a writer and dispute resolution lawyer based in London. She won the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize in 2019. We Are All Birds of Uganda is her debut novel, inspired by the mixed background from which she hails. She studied Law at the University of Cambridge and holds a masters’ degree from the University of Oxford.

[This post was originally published here]

Top 10 FinTech blogs to follow

Financial technology — also known as FinTech — continues to be one of the most hyped sectors to don the ‘tech’ suffix, outpacing its fellow innovators from EdTech to PropTech. As a FinTech company ourselves, we’re always curious  to learn about the  latest trends, technology and news that affects the world of FinTech. Here’s what we’re reading right now.

The Financial Brand is a digital publication focused on marketing and strategy issues affecting retail banks and credit unions. They provide strategic analysis on a broad range of topics relating to FinTech. They are a leading source of information for banking and finance industry with over 1.5 million readers in 200+ countries.

Bank Innovation curates content regularly from high quality contributors. They have been voted one of the top banking blogs by The Financial Brand. From blockchain, to FinTech Slack channels to the future of cryptocurrencies, you can keep up with FinTech on this site.

Consult Hyperion by Dave Birch. Birch writes insightful posts on FinTech trends and is an internationally-recognised thought leader in digital identity and digital money. He was named one of the 2014 “Power 50” in European digital financial services and one of WIRED magazine’s global top 15 favourite sources of news from the world of business and finance.

Next Money is a global network of FinTech innovators reinventing finance through design, innovation & entrepreneurship. Sign up to their newsletter to hear the latest on the future of financial services.

DailyFintech is a blog by Bernard Lunn, Efi Pylarinou and Jessica Ellerm. They post regularly about the latest news and research pieces aimed at financial institutions, ‘FinTech startups & scaleips’ and investors.

The Disruptive Finance is a personal blog by Huy Nguyen Trieu. In his own words, his articles can range from comprehensive profiles of the top 130 fintech startups globally to speculation on the future of artificial intelligence.

Finextra is a great site to follow all things FinTech. They are a leading newswire and information source covering a wide range of research articles, features, white papers and case studies. High quality authors from across the world contribute to the Finextra community.

BankNXT is a portal with content from thought leaders in banking, investing, FinTech, insurance and payments. You can also listen to its FinTech podcasts series that explores the traits and acumen of successful FinTech entrepreneurs.

Pymnts is a major platform for payments and commerce. They share news and research articles on B2B and retail payments. The brain behind Pymnts, Karen Webster is one of the world’s leading experts on emerging payments and she shares opinion pieces on a wide range of topics.

Finovate runs FinTech conferences around the globe, and has attended and presented at banking and technology events for 20 years. Apart from FinTech, their blog focuses on event roundups, interviews with industry influencers and banking and financial services innovations.

[This post was originally published here]

Fintech startup

Revolutionary FinTech startup to announce it’s ambitious plans for mass market appeal. The technology will be an extension to it’s online marketplace which will be developed alongside its’ startup Guru Magnet initiative. The founder of this visionary innovative Tech company has recently announced his plans to seek capital funding from interested investors. During his 45 minute interview, he eloquently discussed his plans to bring his passion of human rights and how his team will implement innovative processes into the FinTech Programme and enable a new generation of payment systems and products to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in society. The founder is keen to discuss his plans with many global leaders to bring forth everlasting change. The company will release a report detailing it’s initial marketplace offering and how this can be a common goal for all. For those interested in learning more about the companies innovative plans, simply fill in the contact form on the following website and somebody will be in-touch.