Recent Reading 18

The latest in a sequence of lists of recently-read books, listed in reverse chronological order.

  • Miles A. Copeland III [2021]: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: My Life In The Music Business. Jawbone Press. As well-written as his brother Stewart’s memoir, and a fascinating account of career in front of the leading edge of popular music (punk, post-punk, world music). His understanding of the Arab musical street led to Miles Copeland III being asked by the US Defense Department to advise them on winning hearts and minds in Iraq after the invasion of 2003. Everyone always becomes their father eventually, it seems. Not that anyone in Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon took his advice.
  • Geoffrey Robertson [1998]: The Justice Game. Chatto and Windus.
  • Gordon Corera [2020]: Russians Among Us: Sleeper Cells, Ghost Stories and the Hunt for Putin’s Agents. William Collins.
  • Caroline Stafford and David Stafford [2021]: The Police: Every Little Thing: The Adventures of Sting, Stewart and Andy. Omnibus Press. An account of the lives and times of The Police, written by people who were at the same parties, vomiting on the same cars. Very snarky style, which quickly grated.
  • Stewart Copeland [2009]: Strange Things Happen: A Life with “The Police”, Polo and Pygmies. Igniter Press. Who could believe that Sting was 70 last year, that this year Stewart Copeland will be 70 or that Andy Summers 80? This is a memoir written by Copeland back in 2009, and it is one of the most enervating books I have read for many years. Copeland has had a very interesting life (starting by growing up in the Middle East as the son of a famous former CIA officer) and he has pursued several fascinating careers. He has had major changes in career direction (from drummer to film & video game music composer to ballet & opera composer to film-maker to successful amateur polo player), most of which seem to have occurred by accident or synchronicity. But he has always been quick to recognize and to grasp opportunities and to work hard. The book radiates energy, enthusiasm, intelligence, and mental agility, and Copeland would clearly be a fascinating person to know. He understands the shamanic power of music, and the emotional and psychic resonances of its performance. The writing is warm and positive while still being honest, and reading the book is ennobling. I think differently about life after reading this book.

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