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Outlandish Knight


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About the Author

Minoo Dinshaw lives in London and this is his first book.


Brilliantly entertaining ... Mr Dinshaw's choice of subject for his first book is an inspired one. He interweaves the strands of a long and variegated life with sympathy, elegance and awareness of the wider picture ... Mr Dinshaw has done Runciman proud. To whom will he turn his attention next? * Economist *
Minoo Dinshaw's biography is itself a splendid mosaic, a careful and well-written account ... I wonder where Minoo Dinshaw goes from here. His is a splendid book, to be put at once onto the Wolfson Prize shortlist. -- Norman Stone * Oldie *
An astonishing feat of empathy as well as research ... What keeps the reader's interest on every page is, precisely, this biographer's sensitivity to atmosphere and his humorous awareness ... Near-omniscient thoroughness, gentle humour and psychological precision. -- Noel Malcolm * New Statesman *
'An extraordinary book ... exceptionally fascinating, always readable and penetratingly intelligent account of one of Britain's most distinguished and colourful historians' -- David Abulafia * Standpoint *
More than a biography; it is also a work of substantial literary criticism... This dazzling young writer is a mine of fascinating, memorable and totally useless information... I have been riveted by this book from start to finish, and leave the reader with one word of advice. Watch Minoo Dinshaw. He will go far -- John Julius Norwich * The Sunday Telegraph *
Casts fresh light on [Runciman's] sexuality and his adventures as a part-time spy. -- Tim Cornwell * The Sunday Times *
This biography is both funny and erudite and empathetic but critical as it chronicles a fascinating caste of dangerously charming spies, poet-scholars, scheming Oxbridge academics, dashing majors and clever queens. -- Barnaby Rogerson * Country Life *
Dinshaw does a superb job in avoiding a chronological cradle-to-grave account of the life. Only towards the end of the book, for example, does he deal with Runciman's homosexuality, and his judgment here is perfectly balanced. The account of Runciman's old age (he died, aged 97, in 2000), playing the laird and host at his Borders tower Elshieshiels, couldn't be bettered. ... [Dinshaw] vividly brings alive this secretive, ludic man, making good his case that Runciman, like all the best historians, should be considered, first and foremost, as a writer -- Jane Ridley * Spectator *
This obscure, ever-so-slightly discredited historian is an inspired choice of subject by Minoo Dinshaw. ... Dinshaw, rather than writing a crisp biography, has written a gigantic one, as rich, funny and teemingly peopled as Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time ... Dinshaw writes with wit and elegance, and the most elegiac passages of Outlandish Knight evoke a lost society London and way of life -- Ben Judah * Financial Times *
A kaleidoscopic biography, studded with vivid portraits and entertaining footnotes. The writing is as elegant and as attentive to cadence as Runciman's ... Dinshaw has Runciman's talent for characterisation. ... Minoo has triumphed. He conjures up the worlds, works and harlequin career of Runciman with a magical touch of his own. -- James Howard-Johnston * Literary Review *
Monumentally impressive: scholarly, witty and gorgeously written -- Lewis Jones * Spectator *
Dinshaw bubbles with nimble wit, wicked gossip, curious oddities and a walloping glee for his subject -- Richard Davenport-Hines * Spectator *
By the time he died, in 2000 at the age of 97, Sir Steven Runciman had become convinced that he was a relic of a past age and the embodiment of a nearly mythical era. A lively life of a colourful British historian who was best known for his work on the Crusades, by a promising young author. A debut to be proud of. * Economist Books of the Year *
There are times, reading this assured biography of Sir Steven Runciman, when one's attention swerves from the life and times of the great Byzantinist to focus on his biographer. Who is the young Proteus of research, balanced judgement and feline wit? Runciman was famously a stylist; so is Minoo Dinshaw. Historian, gossip and queer, Runciman was a mine of anecdote ... Dinshaw can certainly keep up... Dinshaw himself writes with extraordinary poise and confidence ... We are dealing with a high order of intelligence combined, what is more rare, with powerful diligence. Bravo. -- Jason Goodwin * Cornucopia *
Now, seventeen years after his death, Runciman has found a suitably inquisitive and industrious biographer. Minoo Dinshaw's immense book leaves no source untapped, no incident unexplored, no book undefended, and no character, however fleeting the appearance or walk-on part, unidentified. In his fascination with personal detail, Dinshaw mimics his subject. He captures both Runciman's kaleidoscopic social world and his elusive nature-ludic but paradoxically serious-with acuteness... for those interested in elite British life in the twentieth century, there is much to instruct, intrigue, and entertain. -- Christopher Tyerman * First Things *

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