Political life can seem glamorous, but it often stems from humble origins. In Berdichev to Basildon, author Eric Moonman describes his journey from dropping out of school as a child to British Parliament and beyond.
Born in the Russian Jewish community of Berdichev, Moonman moved with his family to Liverpool to work in the dairy business. The “Blitz” during WWII forced them out of their home and their business, and they worked to start over. Moonman writes in somewhat scattered prose about bouncing from school to school, finally going to work at age 13 as a printer’s apprentice. He gradually enters the political fray and is a Member of Parliament (or MP) for a period of time. The book includes a collection of photos that show the author in a handful of work situations.
Moonman’s life is interesting, but the story is hampered by unfocused writing; for example: “We edited together the annual Student rag magazine, Panto sphinx which produced an article of sexy ladies and the pictures I used were from my family’s stock photo file.” Occasional random repetition (“I wanted to share my experience and personal development with and personal development with young people who…”) adds to the confusion. And the inclusion, at one point, of letters to a newspaper editor by authors other than Moonman seems unnecessary and derails any sense of a linear story.
The author also oversells things a bit on the back cover, touting an “exclusive” story about the murder of actress Sharon Tate by Charles Manson when the story related inside is that he met her at a party once.
Berdichev to Basildon recounts a life worth reading about; with editing for clarity and more attention to storytelling without so many diversions, it could be a highly entertaining account. As written, it is difficult to navigate and feels incomplete.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.