My ‘Life Changing Read’ is Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (Penguin Classics) published in 1862. The simplicity and beauty of the prose, plus Turgenev's uncanny gift to convey mood and character in just a few words, provide an object lesson and a challenge for every aspiring writer. It is a deceptively straightforward story of changing generations and values, in some ways comparable to Lampedusa’s The Leopard, but Fathers and Sons was far more controversial at the time of publication, mainly because its deeply humanitarian liberalism foretold the utterly destructive polarisation to come in Russia. Attacked by revolutionaries and reactionaries alike, Turgenev’s novel invented the term ‘nihilist’ with its character, the medical student Bazarov. Yet for me, its real importance was to teach the power of subtle inference in descriptive and narrative prose. I return from time to time with the greatest pleasure and in the hope of learning a little more from perhaps the greatest master of all.
Antony Beevor’s books, including Stalingrad, Berlin, D-Day, and The Battle for Spain have received major prizes in this country and abroad. His books have appeared in thirty-three languages and have sold more than eight million copies. A former chairman of the Society of Authors, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Historical Society, he has received honorary doctorates and fellowships from five universities. He was knighted in 2017.
A masterful and comprehensive narrative of World War II, by internationally bestselling historian Antony Beevor.