Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Birlinn at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, 2012

The Book Festival
In amongst all the lovely big white marquees in Charlotte Square, you might notice a small orange, two-man tent. This is Birlinn HQ at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. We’re joking, of course, but it does seem as if we move lock, stock and barrel to the EIBF every year to support all our lovely authors, and this year will be no exception!

History fans are extremely well catered for this year with MSP Struan Stevenson talking about Russia under Putin, ahead of his new book Stalin’s Legacy, on Sunday, 26 August (now sold out). Cartophiles (that’s map lovers) can get their fix with Christopher Fleet on 13 August. Christopher is one of three authors of Scotland: Mapping the Nation, which was hugely popular in hardback and looks to be even more popular in paperback (available for the festival). And Birlinn stalwart Alistair Moffat will be revealing the hidden history of Scotland we all carry around with us in our DNA in The Scots: A Genetic Journey on 14 August (now sold out).

And if your history fan is a little bit younger we heartily recommend taking them along to see Allan Burnett on Tuesday, 14 August at 3.30 p.m. His And All That … series is a hilarious introduction some of the big names in Scottish history, including Bonnie Prince Charlie, Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots and Macbeth. Allan is a brilliant – and extremely enthusiastic – communicator of history and we generally come back from his events exhausted but much better informed! You have been warned …

"‎String-pulling, name-dropping, opinionated in every line,” Michael White called The Importance of Being Awkward: The Autobiography of Tam Dalyell and he wasn’t wrong. But it is also an insightful and urbane look back at a career in politics which we probably won’t see the likes of again for a very long time. As he turns eighty-years-old, join Tam Dalyell on 15 August as he talks about his life, and again on 20 August as he joins Merlin Waterson to discuss families who have donated their homes to the nation as the Dalyells did with The House of the Binns, their ancestral home for over 400 years.

In our modern world conflict is never far away. John Ashton was a researcher for the legal team of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the only person convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. He has uncovered evidence in the course of his research which throws doubt not only on Megrahi’s conviction but also the subsequent furore surrounding his appeals. John will be talking about his book Megrahi: You Are My Jury, The Lockerbie Evidence on 11 August in a discussion with Hans K√∂chler, the UN's official observer at the Lockerbie trial and Jim Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the tragedy.

Max Benitz grew up surrounded by his father’s memorabilia of his time in the Scots Guards. He decided to find out what the day to day life, away from the headline and protests, for the average soldier in Afghanistan. He spent eighteen months with his father’s regiment in tanning and in Afghanistan and his book Six Months Without Sundays is a poignant, funny and thought-provoking piece of work from such a young writer. Join Max on 17 August when he will be talking about Afghanistan with veteran broadcaster Sandy Gall.

But if all that sounds too serious there is one man guaranteed to raise a laugh at the Book Festival. Bob Servant is a hero for our time, taking on email spammers promising everything from love to lions. About to become a star of television and radio, Bob’s creator Neil Forsyth brings us up to date with his meteoric rise to fame on 15 August. And for foodies, Mary Contini of Valvona & Crolla – the legendary Italian deli – takes us through The Italian Sausage Bible on 11 August. No drooling at the back.

Our noisy wee sister imprint will be along shortly to shout about her authors, but information on all our events can be found at www.birlinn.co.uk. Enjoy!