- Author Bio
Barbara Amiel’s much-talked-about life has been a subject of endless fascination for the media, many unauthorized biographies, as well as screen depictions. An instinctive feminist and now a foe of feminism’s political correctness, she covers a formidable array of experiences—political, sexual, marital, and material—in these memoirs.
Born in London during World War II’s Blitz, the only consistent strains in her life were a fi erce belief in her identity as a Jew, even as the Jewish community disowned her, and an unquestioned view that women were free to do anything in any arena they chose without the need to win society’s approval. Which she very often did not.
Her rise to the senior rungs of journalism began in Canada after the emigration of her family and continued in the United Kingdom on her return. With four marriages and an assorted number of beaus, some famous, some infamous (some rather young, some rather elderly), she moved through different worlds, encountering problems made more intractable on occasion by her own faulty choices.
Though her views on political and social issues were controversial and unpopular, it is a measure of her writing skill that she held down plum jobs for many decades in Canadian and British journalism, as well as appearances in U.S. publications ranging from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times to the National Enquirer and Vogue.
When Barbara Amiel’s family life broke apart in her early teens, she faced problems solved without the benefi t of parental
guidance in moments that are often hilarious as well as touching. As an adult and a writer of unabashedly libertarian views, she was derided as much for her wardrobe as for her ideas. Promoted by Maclean’s magazine with the slogan “Love her or hate her,” she was philosophical. “I love liberty, opera, sex, and fashion,” she once told an interviewer. “But life would have been easier if my passions had been for trainspotting and stamp collecting.”
Her life has an operatic quality played out against a backdrop of physical and mental difficulties with a wildly diverse cast
including Elton John, Henry Kissinger, Anna Wintour, Oscar de la Renta, Princess Diana, Tom Stoppard, Brooke Astor, Margaret Thatcher, Gianni Agnelli, David Frost, and an array of the aristocrats of Manhattan and the stately homes of England. All handled, she writes “with my fatal combination of naiveté and self-absorption.” The epic battle with the U.S. justice system leading to the trial and imprisonment of her husband, Conrad Black (eventually substantially vindicated), became a litmus paper for sorting out friends from those who were quick to judge and brutal in their dismissal. Friends and Enemies is not a book of vengeance but an attempt to fi nd her own truth: a life that reads like a novel—eloquent, surprising, written with deeply personal candour and utterly unputdownable.
EAGERLY AWAITED: Barbara Amiel has stayed silent for a long time while her husband, Conrad Black, has done all the talking. That dramatically changes with this book. Her perspective on the “troubles,” as she calls the downfall of Hollinger and Conrad’s imprisonment and her part in it, will surprise and even shock her readers.
NAMES NAMES: The cast of characters in the book (friends and enemies both) reads like an A-list in arts, letters, finance, politics, and high society. Amiel came into contact, and/or knew well, an amazing list of celebrities from all over the world. The book includes actual lists of her friends and enemies.
MEMOIR OF THE HIGHEST ORDER: As a seasoned journalist and storyteller, Barbara Amiel gives us here an incredibly juicy and readable life story, whether you have heard of her or not.
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“Barbara Amiel hasrobustly led morecolourful lives thanthe most exoticCheshire Cat. Friendsand Enemies is anextraordinary readshowing unfl inchingcandour from a trulyremarkable woman.” —ELTON JOHN
“Undoubtedly theautobiography of thedecade. Powerfully,dangerously,profoundly selfrevelatory.” —ANDREW ROBERTS, New York Times bestselling author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny