Prince Harry’s Spare: record-setting sales for someone not really interested in books

February 26, 2023 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: journalism.

When Prince Harry’s ghost-written autobiography Spare was released in January, it set sales records of 3.2 million copies sold in the first week.

Pretty good for a guy who isn’t all that interested in books and who isn’t sure about who William Faulkner is. Most of the credit for the book’s overall readability is given to the ghost-writer J.R. Moehringer, who has the reputation for being about the best in the business.

The book, with due credit to Moehringer, was generally panned as being silly and self-indulgent.

One of the few voices of dissent in this critical chorus came from Laura Miller writing for Slate. 

Her review’s headline called the book “just good literature,” and she says:

By his own admission, Harry is “not really big on books,” and while he was blown away by the Faulkner quote he uses as Spare’s epigraph—“The past is never dead. It’s not even past”—his first thought upon encountering the lines on was “Who the fook is Faulkner?” The Harry of Spare is a blokey bloke, a man more of action than of thought or words. He prefers outdoor adventure, video games, drinking with his mates. He loved being in the army, the physical challenges of basic training, flying Apache helicopters, and his two operational tours of duty in Afghanistan. He joined expeditions to both the South and North Poles, confessing in the book (to the unending delight of journalists, whatever their pretensions to the contrary) that during the latter he contracted a case of frostnip in his “todger.”

Maybe the book deserves another look.

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