Iain Hamilton: Koestler - A Biography
(London: Secker & Warburg 1982)

The first full-size biography of Arthur Koestler, this book is definitely worth thorough study. Care must be paid, though, to Koestler's ever-present tendency to instrumental self-representation. Iain Hamilton tells us that Koestler himself recommended him to write "as if his subject were dead". In reality, Koestler made all possible effort to influence somehow Hamilton's work, and feeling his strengths lessening and his end forthcoming (the book was printed in 1982 while Koestler took his life in 1983), he tried as hard as possible to have Hamilton finish his book within the expected time-frame, getting near to a law-suit.

Therefore, this book should be considered also as Koestler's extreme effort in leaving us a specific image of his, an effort that had begun a few decades before with his autobiographies and that was to end after a few months with Bricks to Babel, an omnibus to Koestler's works edited by Koestler himself, the last book he sent to print and therefore his final self-portrait.


George Mikes: Arthur Koestler - The Story of a Friendship
(London:Deutsch 1983)

The title says it all: this is a commemoration of Koestler as a friend. It was written just after Koestler's death by George Mikes, one of the few who could call Koestler a friend in those last years, and, although not really important as a biography, gives us a personal touch that is otherwise difficult to grasp in the more "canonical" biographies.


David Cesarani: Arthur Koestler - The Homeless Mind
(London: William Heinemann 1998)

In this wonderfully researched book, Cesarani almost for the first time goes through the curtain of self-representation that Koestler built up in the second half of his life. We have access to Koestler's private and yet undisclosed diaries, to documents and witnesses of people who lived with Koestler, and even to papers that Koestler himself could not see, like his CIA file or his KGB file, where a large batch of documents and manuscripts has emerged that where sacked by the French police in Koestler's flat in Paris in 1940 (Koestler considered them as lost, but in effect the Gestapo took these papers from the archives of the French Police, and in turn the Russians took them from the Gestapo archives).

This books also highlights some aspects of Koestler's character that were until now scarcely known, as his childhood, his real attitude towards his Jewishness, his behavior with woman. Cesarani also fully revealed an episode of Koestler raping a friend's wife, episode that has triggered huge discussions but that has somehow overshadowed the value of Cesarani's work, as being the most "itchy" aspect in the book it also was the part that got the largest coverage.