When Words Fail | Granta

  • Published: 04/07/2019
  • ISBN: 9781783783373
  • 130x20mm
  • 496 pages

When Words Fail

Ed Vulliamy

Can music make the world a better place? Can it really ‘belong’ to anyone? Can the magic, mystery and incertitude of music – of the human brain meeting or making sound – can it stop wars, rehabilitate the broken, unite, educate or inspire?

From Jimi Hendrix playing ‘Machine Gun’ at The Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 to the Bataclan under siege in 2015, Ed Vulliamy has lived the music, met the legends, and asked, when words fail, might we turn to music? There’s only one way to find out, and that is to listen

Intriguing, deeply felt

Graeme Thompson, Mail on Sunday

An ambitious exploration of the soundtrack of Vulliamy's eventful life and how much music inspired him

Mark Brennock, Irish Times

Wise and wonderful

Church Times

The Author

Ed Vulliamy is a journalist and writer. He has won numerous British journalism awards for his work in the Balkans, Iraq and Mexico, including the James Cameron Memorial Award, and in the Poland, the Ryszard Kapuscinski Award for literary reportage. His latest book is When Words Fail: A Life With Music, War and Peace. He is currently working on a book about music and musicians at war in Ukraine.

More about the author →

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Ed Vulliamy on music in Ukraine.

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My Writing Playlist

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Ed Vulliamy on the nine best songs to listen to while you write.