Remembering My Good Friends: An Autobiography

George Weidenfeld, Author
George Weidenfeld, Author HarperCollins Publishers $30 (483p) ISBN 978-0-06-017286-2
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Eminent British publisher Weidenfeld, who emigrated to London from Vienna in 1938 to escape Nazi persecution, has had a turbulent life, as revealed by this convivial autobiography. His father, Max, a Jewish insurance executive in Austria, was imprisoned by the Nazis for 15 months. Both parents imbued their son with a sense of destiny, and as founder and chairman of Weidenfeld & Nicolson, he has been at the center of literary, cultural and political life. From 1948 to 1950, he served as liaison officer for Chaim Weizmann, first president of Israel; and in 1976, as a member of British Prime Minister Harold Wilson's inner circle, Weidenfeld undertook an intelligence mission to Washington to investigate rumors of CIA support for Britain's right wing. He candidly discusses his four marriages; his obsessive affair with friend Cyril Connolly's wife, Barbara Skelton, who briefly became Weidenfeld's second wife; his wartime job as a BBC scriptwriter and as a translator of enemy broadcasts; and his oppositional stance as liberal ``cross-bencher'' in Thatcherite Britain. Weidenfeld also reviews his relations with authors he has published (Vladimir Nabokov, Mary McCarthy, Henry Kissinger) and offers sharp glimpses of Ian Fleming, Guy Burgess, Picasso, Bernard Berenson, Graham Greene and other friends and acquaintances. But only in passing does he mention his partnership with oil heiress Ann Getty in the Manhattan publishing house Grove Weidenfeld during the mid-'80s. Photos. (Apr.)
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