Unforgettable MemoirsSix NYRB Classics

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This collection offers a firsthand look into six extraordinary lives of the twentieth century, from poets to public health crusaders—including eyewitness accounts of the Second World War and the Russian Revolution. A counterpart to her classic War in Val d’Orcia, Iris Origo’s A Chill in the Air collects her 1939-1940 wartime diaries and traces Italy's halting momentum to join in a disastrous alliance with the Nazis. Miron Białoszewski’s Memoir of the Warsaw Uprising is an urgent account of the Polish revolt against Nazi control and its subsequent repression as Soviet forces stood aside and watched.

The Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva holds a rightful place alongside Akhmatova, Mandelstam, and Pasternak, and in Earthly Signs she records the difficult years of the Russian Revolution and Civil War in prose alive with beauty and wisdom. Lesley Blanch’s Journey into the Mind’s Eye, meanwhile, is a spirited, unconventional travelogue of 1960s Russia that doubles as autobiography, history, and a love story.

S. Josephine Baker’s autobiography Fighting for Life is the work of a true pioneer: at a time when women were almost completely absent in medicine, Baker transformed the health and hygiene of many of NYC's most vulnerable residents. Among her greatest achievements were capturing “Typhoid Mary,” the silent spreader of the typhoid fever outbreak, and saving countless children’s lives by introducing the concept of preventive care. And Helen Keller’s The World I Live In, a long overlooked companion to The Story of My Life, offers integral insights into the personal and intellectual experiences of an American icon.