Admirable...consistent with its subject's unassuming intelligence.... Meyers relates [Orwell's] life crisply and judiciously.
A respected biographer and no stranger to his subject.
[B]riskly paced, absorbing narrative...offers keen insights.
[Meyers] convincingly demonstrates the essence of [Orwell's] character.
[A]dmirable for its portrayal of Orwell the man and writerdark, disturbed, obsessing, contrary....both moving and edifying.
[L]ikely to be seen as the most insightful and balanced portrait...for a long time to come.
Meyers has uncovered fascinating aspects of Orwell's life that put a new face to one of Britain's most influential authors.
Succinct, graphic, freshly researched, this is easily the best life of George Orwell to date.... What comes most vividly out of Meyers's book is not any simple contrast between darker and lighter sides, but the extent to which Orwell the man and Orwell the writer differed.
Sunday Times (London)
There are few examples in the field of modern letters where the cliche of suffering for one's art is as gruesomely true as it is with George Orwell. Even though he succeeded in several professions (novelist, colonial policeman, journalist, soldier, radio propagandist), Orwell, arguably the twentieth century's greatest satirist, had an almost pathological urge not to belong. Biographer Meyers shows us an unhappy man who translated misery into powerful, era-defining fiction and reportage. He was also an elusive and willfully contradictory figure. "Bourgeois bum, Tory Anarchist, Leftist critic of the Left, puritanical lecher, kindly autocrat," writes Meyers, who, though obviously a fan of Orwell's writing, does not believe him to be above fault. Meyers offers a smart, insightful reading of the many works by the man he places in the "English tradition of prophetic moralists" along with William Blake and D.H. Lawrence.
Two major biographies sit on shelves dedicated to George Orwell (1903-50)--Bernard Crick's Orwell: A Life (LJ 3/15/81) and Michael Shelden's Orwell: The Authorized Biography (LJ 10/1/91). Is another detailed look at Orwell really necessary? The answer is an unqualified yes. Meyers, a prolific biographer and critic, has contributed widely to the Orwell literature, and this is his first reassessment of the writer in 25 years. It is also the first important study to utilize the 20-volume The Complete Works of George Orwell (Secker & Warburg, 1998). With freshness, clarity, and compression, Meyers presents the now familiar saga of Orwell's difficult and ultimately tragic life, effectively interweaves excerpts from letters and interviews with Orwell's contemporaries (appending his account of difficulties with interviewees), and generously describes and critiques Orwell's writings, placing him firmly "in the English tradition of prophetic moralists." His writing about Orwell's persistent womanizing may surprise some readers, and his account of Orwell's activities during the Spanish Civil War is especially lucid. More readable and insightful than Crick's effort, though not as substantial as Shelden's, which is better suited to true Orwell aficionados, this will be welcomed by general readers and Orwell admirers. Highly recommended for all academic and public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/00.]--Thomas A. Karel, Franklin & Marshall Coll. Lib., Lancaster, PA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Delves into the complex personal history of the writer whose visionary work gave us the great anti-utopias of 20th-century literature, drawing on the new edition of Orwell's , interviews with family and friends, and research into unpublished material in the Orwell Archive. Meyers is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has written biographies of other literary greats. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The breadth of Meyer's research is impressive. He is at his most interesting identifying the many real-life models that Orwell used for his writing, particularly in Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.
New York Times Book Review
Mr. Meyers relates the life crisply and judiciously, with Orwell emerging
as a darkly enlightened sort of character whose vision of the world came
out of real experience...Mr. Meyers does not claim to have produced a
great deal of new information, but his focus on Orwell's inner life and on
the connection between the unsparing lucidity of his work and the gritty
self- destructiveness of his personality add up to an altered vision...Mr. Meyers's fine biography is a reminder of the
uniqueness of the man who titled one of his essays "Revenge Is Sour," of
just how much he lived, and of how morally and intellectually cauterizing
was his thought.
New York Times
A discerning psychological reading of a highly fraught writer's life.