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'I did what I always do in times of trouble - consult not the Good Book, but a good book. This was Thinker, Failure, Soldier, Jailer, a collection of obituaries from the Daily Telegraph, the paper that first started printing warts and all descriptions of the dead.' Simon Hoggart, Guardian The Telegraph's obituaries pages are renowned for their quality of writing and capacity to distil the essence of a life from its most extraordinary moments. A unique mix of heroism, ingenuity, infamy and the bizarre, Thinker, Failure, Soldier, Jailer collects the very best of those obituaries to present an endlessly absorbing compendium of human endeavour. Organised day by day around the calendar year, with each life presented on the date it ended, the book features hundreds of remarkable stories. World statesmen jostle with glamorous celluloid stars, pioneering boffins sit alongside chart-topping rock 'n' rollers, while artists and their muses mingle with record-breaking sportsmen, Victoria Cross winners, spies, showgirls and captains of industry - as well as the titans of rather more esoteric fields. Here, for instance, can be found Britain's greatest goat breeder, a hangman who campaigned to abolish the death penalty, a priest to Soho's pimps, a cross-dressing mountaineer and a minister who preached a gospel of avarice - donations in notes only, please, as 'change makes me nervous'. A treasure trove of human virtue, vice and trivia, Thinker, Failure, Soldier, Jailer is the perfect gift for the armchair psychologist in all of us.