Books

The Purple Decades

Tom Wolfe

The Purple Decades brings together the author's own selections from his list of critically acclaimed publications, including the best from The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Radical Chic, From Bauhaus to Our House, The Right Stuff and the complete text of Mau-Mauing and the Flak Catchers. An essential introduction to the non-fiction writing of the inventor of New Journalism.

The Right Stuff

Tom Wolfe

A wildly vivid and entertaining chronicle of America's manned space program, from the author of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY US ASTRONAUT SCOTT KELLY

‘What is it’ asks Tom Wolfe, ‘that makes a man willing to sit on top of an enormous Roman Candle…and wait for someone to light the fuse?’ Arrogance? Stupidity? Bravery? Courage? Or, simply, that quality we call 'the right stuff'?

A monument to the men who battled to beat the Russians into space, The Right Stuff is a voyage into the mythology of the American space program, and a dizzying dive into the sweat, fear, beauty and danger of being on the white-hot edge of history in the making.

‘Tom Wolfe at his very best… Learned, cheeky, risky, touching, tough, compassionate, nostalgic, worshipful, jingoistic...The Right Stuff is superb’ - New York Times Book Review

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

Tom Wolfe (and others)

Tom Wolfe's genre-defining ride through the 1960s published in Vintage Classics for the first time to mark its fiftieth anniversary

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY JARVIS COCKER

In the summer of 1964, author Ken Kesey and his Merry Band of Pranksters set out on a trip like no other. Blazing across America in their day-glo schoolbus, doped up and deep ‘in the pudding’, the Pranksters’ arrival on the scene – anarchic, exuberant and acid-infused – would turn on an entire counter-culture, and provide Tom Wolfe with the perfect free-wheeling subject for this, his pioneering masterpiece of New Journalism.

'The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test is not simply the best book on the hippies, it is the essential book...the pushing, ballooning heart of the matter' New York Times

The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby

Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe's debut collection of essays - a brilliant, form-bending dive into the future of America as it careened through the 1960s

In 1965, Tom Wolfe dropped like a bomb onto the American literary scene with his first book, The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, an incandescent panorama of American counter-culture, its dances, bouffant hairdos, customised cars and rock concerts. Capturing the energy of the age in its portraits of Phil Spector, Cassius Clay, Las Vegas and the Nanny Mafia – as well as asking, why do doormen hate Volkswagens? – Wolfe’s flamboyant essay collection remains one of the great, revolutionary landmarks of modern non-fiction.

'Journalism, it is said, is the first draft of history. Nobody exemplifies the dictum better than Wolfe, the cultural observer and social critic par excellence' Daily Telegraph

The Kingdom of Speech

Tom Wolfe

'A great journalist with a whip-like satirical prose style… Wolfe’s great gift is to make the heavy seem light and this book is such an entertaining polemic that I read it in a day and immediately wanted to read it again.' - Bryan Appleyard, Sunday Times

Tom Wolfe, whose legend began in journalism, takes us on an eye-opening journey through language. The Kingdom of Speech is a paradigm-shifting argument that speech - not evolution - is responsible for humanity's complex societies and achievements.

From Alfred Russel Wallace, the Englishman who beat Darwin to the theory of natural selection but later renounced it, and through the controversial work of modern-day anthropologist Daniel Everett, who defies the current wisdom that language is hard-wired in humans, Wolfe examines the solemn, long-faced, laugh-out-loud zig-zags of Darwinism, old and Neo, and finds it irrelevant here in our Kingdom of Speech.

Back to Blood

Tom Wolfe

The Bonfire of the Vanities author, Tom Wolfe, ingeniously dissects the turbulent heart of America’s racial vortex in this exhilarating tale of sweltering Miami

As the police boat speeds across Miami’s Biscayne Bay, the scene is set for Officer Nestor Camacho’s great moment of heroism. Except that in this feverous melting pot of a city, Nestor's one act of heroism can be seen as an utter betrayal of his Cuban roots.

As Nestor’s world disintegrates – his family disowns him, he can’t get a Cuban coffee without ugly stares, and his girlfriend Magdalena leaves him for her sex-addiction psychiatrist boss – his quest to right the wrongs brings him into contact with the full panorama of modern Miami. The Cuban mayor, a Yale-marinated journalist, the black police chief, the clueless baying art-buyers and an Anglo billionaire porn addict all come up for scrutiny in Tom Wolfe’s high-energy, scrupulous and hilarious reckoning with our times.

‘Back to Blood dazzles so much that you might want to read it through dark glasses’ Independent on Sunday

Hooking Up

Tom Wolfe

In Hooking Up Tom Wolfe ranges from coast to coast, observing the 'lurid carnival actually taking place in the mightiest country on earth in the year 2000' - everything from teenage sexual manners to how genetics and neuroscience are changing the way we regard ourselves. Also included in this collection are some of his most classic and enduring pieces of journalism, and 'Ambush art at Fort Bragg', his fiercely satirical novella about sting TV.

Funny, often savagely so, hard-hitting and wise, Wolfe remains a unique master-chronicler of America and its future.

A Man In Full

Tom Wolfe

A dissection of greed-obsessed America a decade after The Bonfire of the Vanities and on the cusp of the millennium, from the master chronicler of American culture Tom Wolfe

Charlie Croker, once a fabled college football star, is now a late-middle-aged Atlanta real estate entrepreneur-turned conglomerate king. His expansionist ambitions and outsize ego have at last hit up against reality. Charlie has a 28,000 acre quail shooting plantation, a young and demanding second wife and a half-empty downtown tower with a staggering load of debt. Wolfe shows us contemporary America with all the verve, wit, and insight that have made him our most admired novelist.

‘Enthralling enough even to satisfy The Bonfire of the Vanities devotees...humane and redemptive’ – Sunday Times

The Bonfire of the Vanities

Tom Wolfe

An exhilarating satire of Eighties excess that captures the effervescent spirit of New York, from one of the greatest writers of modern American prose

Sherman McCoy is a WASP, bond trader and self-appointed 'Master of the Universe'. He has a fashionable wife, a Park Avenue apartment and a Southern mistress. His spectacular fall begins the moment he is involved in a hit-and-run accident in the Bronx. Prosecutors, newspaper hacks, politicians and clergy close in on him, determined to bring him down.

Exuberant, scandalous and exceptionally discerning, The Bonfire of the Vanities was Tom Wolfe's first venture into fiction and cemented his reputation as the foremost chronicler of his age.

‘The air of New York crackles with an energy that causes the adrenalin to pump… The feeling is perfectly reproduced in Wolfe's novel… Electric’ – Sunday Times

‘The quintessential novel of The Eighties’ – The Guardian

I Am Charlotte Simmons

Tom Wolfe

A scandalous exploration of elite undergraduate life from the author of The Bonfire of the Vanities

Dupont University: the Olympian halls of learning housing the cream of America's youth, the roseate Gothic spires and manicured lawns suffused with tradition... or so it appears to beautiful, brilliant Charlotte Simmons, a sheltered freshman from Sparta, North Carolina, who has come here on a full scholarship. But Charlotte soon learns that for the upper-crust coeds of Dupont, sex, status, and kegs trump academic achievement every time.

As Charlotte encounters Dupont's elite, she gains a new, revelatory sense of her own power, that of her difference and of her very innocence. But little does she realise that she will act as a catalyst in all of their lives.

‘A firecracker of a novel... A pyrotechnic delight just as dazzling as The Bonfire of the Vanities’ - Sunday Express

Biography

Tom Wolfe (1930-2018) was the author of more than a dozen books, among them The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, The Right Stuff, The Bonfire of the Vanities, A Man in Full, I Am Charlotte Simmons and Back to Blood. He received the National Book Foundation's 2010 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.