Format Hardcover
Publication Date 08/31/23
ISBN 9781639364459
Trim Size / Pages 6 x 9 in / 456

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The Maverick

George Weidenfeld and the Golden Age of Publishing

Thomas Harding

The captivating story of the famed publisher George Weidenfeld, from his struggles as an Austrian-Jewish refugee in London to his rise as a world-renowned literary figure.

After arriving in London just before World War Two as a penniless Austrian-Jewish refugee, George Weidenfeld went on to transform not only the world of publishing but the culture of ideas. The books that he published include momentous titles such as Lolita, Double Helix, The Group, and The Hedgehog and the Fox, with authors he championed ranging from Joan Didion, Mary McCarthy, JD Salinger, and Edna O’Brien to Henry Miller, Harold Wilson, Saul Bellow, and Henry Kissinger. His role as publisher brought him into the orbit of influential figures such as George Bush, Ann Getty, Donald Trump, and LBJ.

In this first biography, Thomas Harding provides a full, unvarnished, and at times difficult history of this complex and fascinating character. Throughout his long career, he was written about in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time Magazine, Vanity Fair, and other publications. Was he, as described by some, the “greatest salesperson,” “the world’s best networker,” “the publisher’s publisher,” and “a great intellectual”? Was his lifelong effort to be the world’s most famous host a cover for his desperate loneliness? Who, in fact, was the real George Weidenfeld and how did he rise so successfully within the ranks of New York and London society?

Drawing on author correspondence, internal memos, and other documents buried deep in the secret publishing files of Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Harding crafts a portrait of the publisher's life that is inextricable from the efforts and intricacies of putting a book into the world. Structured around twenty books associated with George Weidenfeld, and intercut with explorations of contemporary concerns such as cancel culture, the right to publish, freedom of speech, and separating the art from the artist, The Maverick tells the captivating story behind the life of this iconic publisher.

Thomas Harding is a bestselling author whose books have been translated into more than sixteen languages. He is the author of Hanns and Rudolf, which won the JQ-Wingate Prize for Non-Fiction; The House by the Lake, which was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award; Blood on the Page, which won the Crime Writers’ Association “Golden Dagger Award” for nonfiction; and most recently, White Debt, which the Guardian described as “striking [and] full of details that will send a chill down your spine.” Thomas lives in Florence, Italy.

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Endorsements & Reviews

"The Maverick is a vivid portrait, warts and all, of perhaps the most successful publisher in post-war Britain. But it is much more than this—a gripping study of the assimilation of Jewish emigres into Britain’s strangely rigid but porous class system, a guide to the the golden age of publishing, an analysis of post-war intellectual life through a succession of landmark books.”

Adrian Wooldridge, Bloomberg journalist
"Thomas Harding has doggedly unearthed fascinating and surprising tales from George Weidenfeld's life as he rose from poverty and Nazi persecution to become one of the world's most powerful publishers. Harding reveals a complex personality in a richly told narrative that leaves the reader awed."
Lynn Medford, former editor, Washington Post Magazine
"George Weidenfeld is an unlikely hero of the cultural revolution. The Jewish outsider rocked the staid world of British publishing, and yet became a pillar of the establishment. Harding paints a vivid picture of the man and his times. Reading Thomas Harding’s book, you are fascinated. I couldn’t put it down."

Alan Posener, journalist for Die Welt
Praise for Thomas Harding:
“An extraordinary book. Harding has extracted the past from the dust that collects between floorboards and from layers of peeling wallpaper.” The Washington Post on The House by the Lake
“An impressive feat of archival and investigative research. Fascinating revelations abound. [A] powerful book.” The Economist on The House by the Lake
“A tale of multiple dispossessions, but also of adaptation and resiliency.” The Boston Globe on The House by the Lake
“An epic, fact-filled, multi-voiced saga told with pace, verve and warmth, and rich in fascinating revelations.” Minneapolis Star Tribune on The House by the Lake
“Brilliant. Striking. Full of details that will send a chill down your spine. Harding delivers a masterclass in how authors of history can play an active role, for good and for bad, in how these moral questions are framed.” The Guardian (UK) on White Debt
“A page-turner. Harding lays out what happened with novelistic (but still assiduously researched) flair.” The Telegraph (UK) on White Debt