Some years ago, I had occasion to read The Sabres of Paradise by the late Lesley Blanch, published more than sixty years ago. It is a remarkable story of resistance to empire, heroism and treachery, savagery and generosity, religious fanaticism and imperial ambition. Though the tale it tells occurred over 150 years ago, its implications for our era are evident on nearly every page. If you want to understand something of the futility and hubris of the American effort to pacify Afghanistan and the unruly clans of Pakistan, not to mention the theocratic fanaticism and tribal irredentism tearing apart Mesopotamia, or the forlorn and ruthless Russian war against Chechnya’s murderous insurgents, you would do well to consider the story of Shamyl, Imam of Daghestan.Continue reading “Steve Wasserman on The Sabres of Paradise by Lesley Blanch “
Far To Go and Many To Love: People and Places is the sequel to the memoirs of Lesley Blanch, published posthumously by Virago, On the Wilder Shores of Love: A Bohemian Life. Available for the first time as a paperback and an e-book.
The collection opens with an insightful introduction about her two great loves: émigré theatre director, Theodore Komisarjevsky, and twice-Goncourt-winning novelist, Romain Gary. Her impressions of people and places have an enduring intensity and she writes of them as vividly as she does her own experiences.
We see rising stars Vivien Leigh and Peter Ustinov in 1940s London; and war reporter Germaine Kanova, the ‘French Lee Miller’; the last great Ruritanian Queen Marie of Rumania in her Balkan setting; and Pierre Loti in Turkey, or rather Loti-land.Continue reading “Media Release Far To Go and Many To Love: People and Places”