Saturday, February 13, 2021


"I did not have to wait for more than a few minutes. Then, to the chagrin and annoyance of the mighty, an attendant appeared and whispered to me to accompany him. I smiled amiably and followed him into the police chief's office, a large airy room with a massive desk set against one wall. The man behind it had a still youthful face, but one on which burgundy and lobster already seemed to have left perceptible traces. He politely extended a soft, well-tended hand, exposing his small protuberant belly. I noted how well dressed he was, and remembered that his friends had mentioned this. He owned several hundred ties, eighty suits by Saraceni, the most expensive tailor in Rome, and countless pairs of shoes made for him by a bespoke bootmaker who was no less expensive and just as well known." 

- A description of a 1936 encounter with Arturo Bocchini, the chief of Mussolini's secret police, from The Interpreter: Memoirs of Doktor Eugen Dollmann

Everyone knows about the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, Winston Churchill, and Charles de Gaulle but those by the lesser-known can be even more interesting. [Eugen Dollmann was both charming and repulsive. A scholar, he went into the SS and translated for Hitler and other Nazis.]

Here are some other unusual memoirs that I recommend:

  • Chronicles of Wasted Time and The Green Stick by Malcolm Muggeridge
  • Churchill by Lord Moran
  • Captured by History by John Toland
  • The Past Has Another Pattern by George Ball
  • On the Border with Crook by John Bourke
  • Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James
  • The Moon's a Balloon by David Niven

Your recommendations?


Chad Wren said...

I forget the title but it was Louis Lamour's memoir. It read like a Jack London novel.

Michael Wade said...

I think that was "Education of a Wandering Man."

Looks interesting. Will check it out.