Santa: A Life (Picador, 2005). Simultaneously published as Nicholas: The Epic Journey from Saint to Santa Claus (Bloomsbury, US).
Featured on BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week.
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‘Santa Claus began as Nicholas, a Byzantine bishop whose anonymous acts of night-time charity would turn him into the most popular and enduring of all saints. Jeremy Seal’s journey follows Nicholas’ all-conquering expansion west from Turkey to the Crusader ports of Bari and Venice, and thence to sixteenth-century Amsterdam. Seal records his subject’s twentieth-century rebirth in the advertising boardrooms of Manhattan, and his own children’s encounter with Santa in his new Lapland home. This high adventure spans early Christian relics and Italian chicanery, reindeer, chimneys and chocolate coins, in a riveting narrative that combines epic sweep with cameos of childhood innocence. From the nature of belief to the settling of modern America, this is an extraordinary tale, triumphantly told.’
‘A sparkling gift of a book… as crammed with curious facts as a well-packed Christmas stocking.’ - Lucy Hughes-Hallett
‘A highly original, historically engaging and enchanting book.’ - Justin Marozzi
Seal never falters. Best of all, in a territory so scarred by excess, cheesiness and empty words, he manages both to entertain and enlighten, and so produce a perfect antidote to the contemporary Christmas.’ - Independent
‘Seal’s is a determinedly irreverent account… His travel descriptions are always lucid and stylish. He is a fine raconteur, and his lively anecdotes draw the narrative along at a cracking pace.’ - Guardian