Sunday 11 September 2016

'We are Many' director and 'Left Field'

 Amir Amirani, director of "We are Many' talks about 'Left Field': "This book is a testament to a life well lived, a life about ideals and principles. This memoir of a very colourful life in activism is both entertaining and illuminating, the pages filled with a great variety of characters from the worlds of music, politics and the arts, and in many places very emotional. It shows that a person with a passionate belief can create great change and inspire others to share a vision for a better society. It's a personal, often humorous account, of personal tragedies, losses as well as triumphs such as co-founding the charity War Child and directing the Pavarotti Music Centre. Highly recommended." See interview with Amir at Waterstones's book launch with others here and buy the book here  

Saturday 10 September 2016

Left Field - 'Really Impressive'

Left Field quotes


ABC TALES: Through his involvement in the charity he began, War Child, he met movers and world shakers such as Luciano Pavarotti and included a walk-on cameo of meeting Nelson Mandela. The latter asking for his advice and support. You don’t get much bigger than Pavarotti, but Mandela dwarves him. This is an autobiography worth reading not for any of these reasons, but for its humanity. (Full review here: )
MUNDHER ADHAMI: A brilliant achievement. The cover, the quotes, the dedication, the arrangement and titles of chapters. The language of novels. Really impressive.
AMIR AMIRANI, Director of We are Many: This book is a testament to a life well lived, a life about ideals and principles. This memoir of a very colourful life in activism is both entertaining and illuminating, the pages filled with a great variety of characters from the worlds of music, politics and the arts, and in many places very emotional. It shows that a person with a passionate belief can create great change and inspire others to share a vision for a better society. It's a personal, often humorous account, of personal tragedies, losses as well as triumphs such as co-founding the charity War Child and directing the Pavarotti Music Centre. Highly recommended.
1) Best to start this book when you have a clear day, as you probably won't want to put it down. A touching and inspiring life story with a narrative that restores faith in humanity while simultaneously being utterly destroyed by it. A very enjoyable read with the additional bonus of some very funny moments as well.
2) This is a wonderful memoir, wide ranging, dramatic, amusing, and a must read for anyone who cares about the state of the world and wants to be involved at any level in action that makes a difference. Most of all, it is a very personal account of an amazing life, and an insider perspective on the big political issues of the modern era. Enjoyed it very much indeed.
3) A really compelling read ... I could not put it down ... David Wilson is a superb story teller.
4) This is a beautifully written and constructed book. I am actually reviewing when only half way through, but am fully confident that my words will hold true right the way through. The author has great descriptive powers and I have certainly been moved both to laughter and to tears. His life is certainly one worth writing about and he is more than able to do so. I highly recommend this book to almost anyone it is so easy to read even when the subject is tough.
SEBASTIAN BALFOUR: A vivid account of a life fought for justice, full of indignation and tenderness.
MANUELA BESTE: This is surely going to be your core readership - the 1960's generation who grew up with you, agitated like you, still hold true to these struggles like you and today's new generation of angry, frustrated, hopeful young people who are organising for a better and fairer world ...I found the book interesting, moving, thought-provoking, instructive. It thoroughly held my attention .. I wish I could think in visual metaphors like you.
BECCA BLAND: I really enjoyed this book from start to finish. It tells the story of the life of a man who seems so dedicated to helping others who are less well off than those in the west. This guy has a no bulls*** approach to life and has the strength to live by his beliefs! It's really tender too - a nice account of cross cultural romance and relationships. The writing is great and the anecdotes made me giggle more than once. If you're into political activism, I would read this book!
NORMAN BOYER: You write very sensitively and lovingly about your parents. It must have been very hard for you and your Dad to cope with your mother’s accident. And secondly to cope with his slow death for your father and for you with - pardon the cliché - the long goodbye.
SUE BROCK: There are parts of these unique memoirs that are akin to opening the door to episodes and aspects of history that society chooses to forget. The book is a must read and 'unputable' down.
DOROTHY BYRNE, Head of Channel 4 News and Documentaries: What a life this man has led.
CAMDEN NEW JOURNAL: From heavy drinking to launching a charity, David Wilson’s life story is an absorbing read.
KIERAN CONLON: This is a wonderful memoir, wide ranging, dramatic, amusing, and a must read for anyone who cares about the state of the world and wants to be involved at any level in action that makes a difference. Most of all, it is a very personal account of an amazing life, and an insider perspective on the big political issues of the modern era. Enjoyed it very much indeed. 
EILEEN DAVIES: Wilson's exhilarating memoir takes us on adventures through the decades and across borders. We share his sadnessess and happinesses, successes and disillusionments....all expressed with an admirable directness and honesty.
STEVE DAY: Whatever your political currency or preferred methodology toward life, we can all agree on the absolute necessity for honesty, humanity and love, wherever possible, and on all fronts. Wilson's lively and challenging memoir keeps the reader in the grip of this, his frontline message. You weave through the rough and tumble of a life being shaped by events, then of a man intent on reshaping events, and helping rebuild the lives of others - particularly children - who were less fortunate. He held his line even when his own much beloved charity War Child was found to contain corrupt elements - whistleblowing on those he knew were threatening what had been built, and suffering the isolation that comes with this sort of honesty. History, celebrity, scandal, war and humour - Left Field is a personal report worth reading.
TIFFANY DRAKE, music therapist: David's courage and passion enabled those moments of reconciliation through music which was incredibly powerful to be a part of and a very real privilege for us to witness ... David's book can show us what can be hopeful and healing.
HATTIE EDMONDS, author: Finished your book on a train back from Dorset. Utterly inspiring and so well written. Yours is most definitely a life (thus far) well lived. The book really made me feel that anything is possible - with passion and drive and a bit of anarchy.
BRIAN ENO: This is an excellent and inspiring book. David is an adventurer and a freethinker, who, despite the best efforts of an education designed to equip him for obedient anonymity, somehow did something truly useful with his life. His stubborn and yet self-effacing commitment to his ideals carried him through many daunting situations, and his sense of humour kept him able to see the funny side.
IMOGEN EVANS: Moving and at times hilarious, this account is well written and utterly compelling. Highly recommended.
ALAISTAIR FRASER: A fascinating life journey account - warts and all - of an amazing person who has enriched all our lives with his dedication and commitment. Easy reading with a pleasant, humble, and often self-deprecating style. The author has a fine sense of humour as well as the ability to handle tragedy with a positive outlook. I really enjoyed the chapters describing how he founded the Pavaroti Music Centre and the ways it helped war-damaged children. Strongly recommended reading that conveys encouragement to us all to contribute in whatever ways we can to create a better world.
MELANIE FRIESEN. former VP for Martin Scorsese. I enjoyed the read and suffered the total despair of your myriad attempts to get the show on the road with War Child in spite of so many battles ... The childhood in an autobiographyinterests me the most because it’s watching how the seedling grew and seeing what might have influenced it … The horror and fascination of you staring at your dad’s concentration camp photos. … Love that you arrived in Rosario where Che was born … Yoruba having the highest rate of twin in the world – Wilmette, Illinois has the highest rate of multiple births in the US – that's where my identical twin nephews were born. Love it – Yoruba and Wilmette. The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb … I think it must be very comforting for those who are sad about a break-up to go there and be comforted by many others who have done same. Best line in the book (re: Ivo): “When he played his accordion, he looked as though he was telling himself a joke … I love the quotations that open some of the chapters … Also how many books have notes at the back that are just as interesting as the text?
GOOD READS (Jack O'Donnell): David Wilson has done a very great thing. He has given daily bread to the Bosniacs, fed tens of thousands in Mostar, bread to the poor, the cut off and the suffering. He has given the children music. Left Field it may be, but with the right heart he has made the world a better place. (Full review here: )
HARRY HARRIS: I am the man who sat next to you on the tube at Old Street a couple of weeks ago and asked you what you were reading. I couldn’t help myself from asking as I was only on for a couple of stops and couldn’t see the cover. I was engrossed in Cafe Slavia, “We are surrounded by fakes.” You told me you were the author and gave me your card. We had a brief chat about Corbyn. (Like you I joined the Labour party because of Corbyn. He is our only hope.) Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I love the book. Thank you. You are an inspiring man.
ALAISTAIR HATCHETT: I enjoyed Left Field very much. It tells a wonderful story of one person's engagement with so many aspects of the movements of the 1960s through to today. Wilson's formative years are important for a whole generation of anti-racists who were against apartheid in South Africa, witnessed the civil rights movement in the USA and were part of the student movement in 1968. David Wilson is obviously a lifelong incorrigible optimist.
DAVID HENCKE, former Guardian Westminster correspondent: This is the work of a determined guy who is prepared to expose fraud and injustice wherever he finds it.
RICHARD HORTON, Editor of The Lancet: You write absolutely beautifully. Thank you for your wonderful book.
KIRKUS REVIEW: "His shared heartwrenching observations are clearly a highlight of this richly textured, moving work … Raw and compelling; a story well told of a vital and varied life in a war-torn region.”
MANDLA LANGA, author of The Lost Colours of the Chameleon and winner of the 2009 Commonwealth Writers' Prize: David Wilson is a national treasure.
MAUREEN LARKIN: Interlaced with humour, anecdotes and with a sense of irony, even in the most destructive of situations, the book is intelligently and engagingly written and gives a vivid and honest, blow by blow account of an exceptional life at both a personal and a political level. (Full review here:
SHADE MAKEKODUNMI: Have finally started reading THE book. It's fantastic. Love it. The early childhood stories remind me so much of my own childhood. Despite the fact that I was brought up in Lagos. Shows you the reach and influence of the British Empire. My parents also gave sherry parties!! And of course I too became an activist, perhaps not as young as you but by age 18, at uni, I had joined a Maoist type group and was marching against the Vietnam war.
ORHAN MASLO (OHA): One of the key people of my life has finished his book. There is a chapter that describes the times we spent together. What good times we had while giving spirit to the Pavarotti Music Centre. This was after my orphanage times and steered me to who I am and what I do today. Thank you David.
RUSSELL MILLS: You’ve done so much, achieved so much, that is for the good, the right, the just, that to be asked to undertake the cover design for you, which may be considered a minor thing in the great scheme of things, is for me a bloody major thing.
MORNING STAR: Sometimes funny, often moving and occasionally tragic, Left Field is always lively and always interesting ... one of my top recent reads. (Full review here:,-art-and-politics-from-left-field-veteran#.WA4J_yMrK8U )
CRAIG MURRAY, ex-Ambassador and whistleblower, David's entire life has been dedicated to trying to make the world a better place ... He was at War Child where he did a tremendous job and then he had the soul-destroying experience of finding the institution he had started being perverted and having to become himself a whistleblower and tell the truth ... As is always the case the whistleblower ends up being the person suffering damage. It is very much to David's credit he was willing to take that on.
ELVEDIN NEZIROVIC, Director Pavarotti Music Centre: I have to say I'm impressed by your book. I'm still reading it, but after I finished the chapter associated with Mostar and Pavarotti Center, I feel deeply touched. I don't know why. I don't know if it is because of hard times of war I passed through or it is because of the local significance of your humanitarian engagement in my city or it is maybe because of sincerity of the book. Thank you for everything you've done for my city and for my generation of people here.
GRAINNE PALMER: A fascinating and authentic account of political activism from someone who has walked the talk. This book is a 'must read' for anyone concerned with fighting injustice and violence in our world. It's an illuminating window into the social history of political activism over the last few decades. I couldn't put it down. It's also a page-turner peppered with passion, wit and human interest. Elegantly written too.
HEKATE PAPADAKI: They say life is stranger than fiction and when it comes to David Wilson's life, that's definitely the case. Left Field is an inspiring account of a man who never gave up on his principles and refused to settle, even when turning a blind eye would've saved him much hardship. I picked up the book for its insight into the Bosnian war, in which I was very emotionally involved in as a Greek sixteen year old, influenced by my country's biased coverage of events. The book exposes both the realities of war and the often unpleasant truth in the dealings of international NGOs operating at a time of humanitarian disasters. It is full of incredible anecdotes about the lives of bigger-than-life personalities such as Pavarotti and Mandela and it is in equal terms insightful, philosophical and funny. Left Field, however, is more than the political account of a lifelong activist; it is also a deeply moving and personal account of a man's struggles, loves and losses. Highly recommended.
DEBBI READ: I write this as I sit in the Pavarotti Music Centre in Mostar. It's obvious that David's tireless work before, during and after his time as Director of War Child still sits deep within those whose hearts have been touched by him in Bosnia Herzegovina. My time here confirms all that Left Field records, and only increases my admiration for the writer, his courage, wit, determination and politics. This memoir is a compelling read: the history of one man, lost battles and one war. If this doesn't inspire you nothing will.
REALTA FILMS: War Child was the biggest music charity since Live Aid. It raised millions of pounds to support children and families in conflict zones across the world. David Wilson, the co-founder has just published his memoir Left Field in conjunction with Unbound Publishing and Penguin Books. This is a wonderful account of the life of a man who has dedicated himself to the causes of peace and social justice, and been very active in using the power of art and music to restore societies after warfare. A very inspiring read.
EUGENE SKEEF: I am so elated to have read Left Field. I feel like a child at the fountain of narratives. David Wilson is truly one of the greatest storytellers I have ever met or read. For me he is right up there with Alice Walker, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Mandla Langa and Ariel Dorfman (Writing The Deep South) in his ability to enchant the reader while telling about harrowing and politically charged life experiences. Well done, my main man!
SOCIALIST REVIEW: Left Field is a thoughtful and gentle memoir. David’s obvious good nature and ability to connect with people is demonstrated over and over, from the influential individuals whose support he enlisted in the early days of War Child to the character sketches that he draws regularly throughout the book… I enjoyed his relaxed writing style and the chapters that veered from the chronology to reflect or add narrative detail... His is an enjoyable memoir, reflecting on a compassionate and varied life, and an important reminder of how destructive war is both on individuals and communities, and the important role we can all play in fighting for a better world. (Full review here: )
SIR TOM STOPPARD: David Wilson has lived a life and a half. I was proud to play a minor role in War Child, an organisation in which David was inspirational. The broken world needed people like David then; it still does and it always will.   
CLAIRE THOMAS: Thank you David Wilson. My mum has almost finished the book and she said it's amazing! I'm having it next and looking forward to it.
KATIE TRENT: I really found David's book engaging, amusing and tragic at times. Definitely worth a read
TABITHA TROUGHTON: I loved Left Field! What a book - I could have put it down, I suppose, but I didn't want to. Fascinating, heart-breaking, inspirational and memorably warm and kind. Thank you.
UNBOUND'S FIRST READER of Left Field: There’s a fascinating range of subject matter in this writing sample. As the author confronts the prospect of his elderly father’s immanent death, he reflects on his father’s successful career as editor of The Lancet and how that influenced his own career choices and life. This blend of childhood anecdote and adult memory makes powerful reading – not least because of the author’s ability to distil character and dramatise moments from his own past. In addition to this, he also gives us clear explanations of social, political, psychological and neurological theories that directly inform the anecdotes he tells. These two elements combine to create a personal and philosophical study of humanity – taking both the microcosm of family relationships and the bigger picture of wars between nations.  
ED VICTOR LITERARY AGENCY: Your relationship with your elderly father is described in such beautiful style that it would not be out of place from a literary novel by an established and seasoned author. The same goes for your childhood years at boarding school ... The 'Balkan years', including the bits where you fall in love with a Croat and the adventures of the mobile bakery could be from a historical thriller. The whole 'War Child' section could be an expose about the problems and hidden lives of charities, especially when they become powerful.
MICHAEL WALLING, Artistic Director, Border Crossings: Left Field is fantastic. So much I don’t know about someone I know well and so much vivid colour around the bits I did know well. The Mostar sections are incredible - and salutary.This is a born raconteur's account of a remarkable life. And it's not over yet… you can only speculate what David Wilson will get up to in old age. The most substantial and extraordinary section of the book deals with David's time in Mostar as the first director of the Pavarotti Centre. It's incredibly moving to read about the way in which music was able to bring solace and healing into the physical and spiritual devastation of a war-torn city. There's also an hilarious, picaresque section about his time as a gaucho and his journey home on a meat ship. Can all this be the same person?
ALEXANDER WATT: David Wilson's memoirs are out of the ordinary, to say the least. As a passionate political activist and co-founder of War Child - to name but a few - his endeavours are at once inspiring and fantastic whilst all together seeming almost impossible to have been achieved, or endured, by just one person! Having been put in the unfortunate position of having to whistleblow on HIS very charity War Child, this dreadful situation exemplifies the absolute integrity and fundamental 'decentness' of this remarkable man. Furthermore - it's a WONDERFUL read!!
PETER WILSON (no relation!) An excellent read. It is well written and entertaining as well as inspiring. Highly recommended.
HAIFA ZANGANA: Left Field is a memoir where the personal is entwined with activism and woven into a poetic multi-coloured tapestry.

Friday 9 September 2016

Left Field on Film

further films to follow shortly (with Amir Amirani and music from Eugene Skeef, Deicola Neves, Vanessa Lucas-Smith, Peter Wilson)

To buy Left Field - The memoir of a lifelong Activist, by David Wilson go to Waterstones, Amazon, WH Smith, Penguin Books and most good retailers. Best offer to date is from Public Reading Rooms at £13 including p&p

Thursday 8 September 2016

Two 'Left Field' talks: Migration & art and war

Here are upcoming 'Left Field' talks for London and Brighton

I will be talking on 'The Arts and War' on Saturday 5 November at Theatre Bay Acklam Village Market, Portobello, London.

This is a part of the three-week run (21 Oct-6 Nov) of Ashtar Theatre Palestine & Border Crossings 'Plays of Love and War'.

I will be talking on the role of NGOs in the refugee crisis on Saturday 15 October, as a part of 'Migration Awareness Day' at Sussex University.

More 'Left Field' talks to follow in 2017.