Teller of Many Tales by J. D. F. Jones
The Lives of Laurens van der Post

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The celebrated Laurens van der Post made a life of lies. Those who know him as the advisor of Prince Charles and Margaret Thatcher, author of twenty-three popular, award-winning books, (several of which were made into films) and a speaker for the cause of African peoples will be startled by the revelations in this fascinating biography of a consummate fabricator. Among the romantic highlights in van der Post’s version of his life were an Afrikaner childhood that featured a Bushman nursemaid, decorated military service, a brutal stretch as a POW in the Pacific, his devoted friendship with Carl Jung, and his sympathetic chronicles of the Kalahari Bushmen. Peeling away van der Post’s stories, J. D. F. Jones’s biography shows that most of his tales were tall—designed to dazzle an all-too-gullible world. In reality, van der Post had no Bushman nanny; his World War II military service, for which he abandoned his wife and children, was not particularly distinguished; and his relationship with Jung was tenuous at most. He also advised Britain’s elite, although his credentials were only a tissue of invention that he kept aloft until his death at age ninety in 1996. While disclosing van der Post’s many fictions, Jones never loses sight of his very real charisma and the widespread devotion he inspired. At once probing and unsparing, Teller of Many Tales is also a model of biographic balance and illumination. “...a fantasist, a liar, a serial adulterer... It was to this man that Lady Thatcher turned for advice... Devastating...”—Sunday Telegraph

About J. D. F. Jones

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Jones is a writer and journalist.
Published May 30, 2002 by Carroll & Graf. 528 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Though there are some longueurs to overcome (especially the plot summaries of van der Post's many books), Jones's exposé, often surprisingly generous to its slippery subject, is admirably researched and difficult to put down—though lovers of van der Post's work may be shocked.

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