The Maverick

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781474621106

Price: £12.99

ON SALE: 29th August 2024

Genre: Biography & True Stories / Biography: General

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After arriving in London just before the Second World War as a penniless and friendless Austrian-Jewish refugee, George Weidenfeld went on to transform not only the world of publishing but the culture of ideas. The books that he published include momentous titles such as Lolita, Double Helix, The Group and The Hedgehog and the Fox, with authors he championed ranging from Joan Didion, Mary McCarthy and Edna O’Brien to Henry Miller, Harold Wilson, Saul Bellow and Henry Kissinger.

In this first biography, Thomas Harding provides a full, unvarnished and at times difficult history of this complex and fascinating character and crafts a portrait of the publisher’s life that is inextricable from the efforts and intricacies of putting a book into the world. Structured around twenty books associated with George Weidenfeld, and intercut with explorations of contemporary concerns such as the right to publish, freedom of speech and separating the art from the artist, The Maverick tells the captivating story behind the life of this iconic publisher.


An entertaining biography . . . The Maverick is packed with fascinating accounts of book deals and debacles during the 'golden age of publishing,' as well as plenty of high-society gossip
A fascinating biography of an unlikely cultural hero. I couldn't put it down
ALAN POSENER, journalist for Die Welt
A history of the golden age of publishing from the perspective of one man . . . fascinating
Anne de Courcy, SPECTATOR
The Maverick recalls a champion of ideas with a knack for networking and a taste for the high life . . . an organizational feat
Weidenfeld was perhaps the most well-connected man in the Western world, whose calls to politicians, thinkers, business leaders and philanthropists - even popes - would always be taken. The strength of Thomas Harding's biography is the context it provides . . . by structuring the book as a series of chapters telling the stories behind Weidenfeld's publication of various key books, and then diverting within those stories to other aspects of his life - ignoring chronology to explore what made Weidenfeld tick, what he was interested in and what he was doing - The Maverick well reflects Weidenfeld himself, who was never at any time focused on just one thing . . . a sensitive and worthy study of a great man
[An] intriguing life story
George Weidenfeld was a titan of a man, an irresistible character and something of a genius. This book does him full justice
Harding has fun detailing his subject's four marriages and associated romantic interludes . . . We're always on the edge, wondering if George, the cosmopolitan charmer who made it to the House of Lords, will pull another cracker from the hat
Andrew Lycett, DAILY MAIL
Offers a behind-the-scenes peek at an imprint that published some of the most seminal works of the 20th century, when books, and the ideas within them, were far more revered. A golden age indeed
Meticulously researched, cunningly constructed and compellingly written. A vivid account of publishing's glory years told through the action-packed life of one of its most charismatic pioneers
[George Weidenfeld] modernized Britain's small but influential publishing sector. . . The Maverick traces the parallel arcs of Weidenfeld's career and postwar publishing through his contacts and contracts . . . a skillful and subtle study in biography, British attitudes and the book business
Like George Weidenfeld himself, Thomas Harding's accomplishment is substantial, lively and full of interest. The Maverick is a fine biography
The Maverick is a vivid portrait, warts and all, of perhaps the most successful publisher in post-war Britain. But it is much more than this - a gripping study of the assimilation of Jewish emigres into Britain's strangely rigid but porous class system, a guide to the golden age of publishing, an analysis of post-war intellectual life through a succession of landmark books
ADRIAN WOOLDRIDGE, Bloomberg Opinion
A revealing look behind the scenes . . . Harding takes an intriguing approach by looking at Weidenfeld's life story through the lens of specific books he published. Along the way, readers are treated to firsthand accounts of author versus publisher spats and insights into the challenges of managing international rights for a surefire bestseller . . . will leave readers with a vivid picture of the working life of a publisher
A marvellous biography . . . Thomas Harding has brought a great publisher and the shenanigans of the book trade gloriously to life
Jilly Cooper, DAILY MAIL
Thomas Harding has doggedly unearthed fascinating and surprising tales from George Weidenfeld's life as he rose from poverty and Nazi persecution to become one of the world's most powerful publishers. Harding reveals a complex personality in a richly told narrative that leaves the reader awed
LYNN MEDFORD, former editor, Washington Post Magazine
[George Weidenfeld] was fascinating in many ways. [He] had more backbone than most . . . his life was courageous, too
Thomas Harding's admirably even-handed and readable biography places Weidenfeld in both his social and cultural contexts, never excusing his more dubious actions, but also celebrating his undeniable pizzazz, application and drive
Alexander Larman, OBSERVER
The Maverick anchors George Weidenfeld as one of the foremost influencers in modern literature and a man who rose from extraordinary circumstances to lead an even more extraordinary life and legacy. A treasure trove of insight and history
Uncovers the secrets of a chameolonic outsider who made himself a fixture of the cultural establishment . . . [A] compact, unfussy and well-sourced life
Financial Times
If a publisher can be called a genius . . . [George Weidenfeld] undoubtedly merits a place on this list. [He made] an astounding contribution to the world of literature and ideas. The riveting standout among Harding's chapters is the story of Weidenfeld's publication, in 1976, of David Pryce-Jones's biography of Unity Mitford
Mark Bostridge, THE OLDIE