The World of Paperbacks

Contemporary Review, September 2003 | Go to article overview
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The World of Paperbacks


Happy is the author who, decades after his book has first appeared, discovers that it is to be included in a series of paperback reprints. Happy too is the reader who once again has access to books no longer available but of which he has heard. Because of this the 'reprint industry' is thriving and SUTTON PUBLISHING has joined it with a 'new range of historical classics--resurrected'. The first group has recently been published and includes eight 'classics' published between 1955 and 1978. Some, such as E. S. Turner's Amazing Grace: The Great Days of Dukes, Stewart Perowne's The Life and Times of Herod the Great, A. J. P. Taylor's Bismarck: The Man and the Statesman, Richard Barber's The Black Prince and Christopher Hibbert's The Roots of Evil: A Social History of Crime and Punishment, still carry great weight. Others, such as George Rude's Hanoverian London, Daniel P. Mannix's The History of Torture and Donald Pearsall's The Worm in the Bud: The World of Victorian Sexuality, whilst still of value, now seem somewhat dated. All are priced at 8.99 [pounds sterling] except for Pearsall and Hibbert which are 9.99 [pounds sterling]. This is an impressive beginning to a new series. Also from Sutton we have Shakespeare's England: Life in Elizabethan and Jacobean Times (7.99 [pounds sterling]), a valuable collection of first-hand sources edited by R. E. Pritchard, and, finally, a new edition of Edwin Jones' 1998 committed look at English history and historical writing, The English Nation: The Great Myths (7.99 [pounds sterling]). This has a new Afterword praising the Blair Vision for a Europeanised Britain by an author committed to the 'European Ideal'.

John Simpson is one of the BBC's best known reporters and his reputation was enhanced further by his reporting on the war in Iraq. PAN BOOKS has brought out a paperback edition of his third volume of autobiography, News from No Man's Land: Reporting the World, which describes his work in the Anglo-American war to liberate Afghanistan. Pan has also published: Munro Price's The Fall of the French Monarchy: Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and the Baron de Breteuil which sheds new light on the doomed efforts of the King and Queen to save the French Throne, and Tim Severin's Seeking Robinson Crusoe in which he investigates the real-life source of Defoe's fictional castaway. All three titles are priced at 7.99 [pounds sterling].

PHOENIX has republished Richard M. Watt's famous 1969 book on the collapse of the German monarchy in the wake of the country's defeat in 1918: The Kings Depart. The Tragedy of Germany: Versailles and the German Revolution (14.99 [pounds sterling]). This remains a useful corrective to more recent views which praise the peace conference's attempt to create a new Europe. Phoenix has also added a new title to its 'traveller's history' series with David Mason's A Traveller's History of South Africa (8.99 [pounds sterling]), a balanced and wide-ranging survey of 'the forces and trends' that have shaped a country that 'is like no other'. Phoenix has also issued a fully revised and updated, second edition of Tim Boatswain and Colin Nicolson's A Traveller's History of Greece (9.99 [pounds sterling]). This replaces the oft-reprinted 1989 edition. A third title brought back for a new generation is Philippe Erlanger's Louis XIV (12.99 [pounds sterling]) first published in English in 1970.

ROBINSON has released two new titles in its 'brief history' series: A Brief History of Christianity by Bamber Gascoigne first published in 1977 and Derek Wilson's A Brief History of The Circumnavigators which traces the various attempts to sail round the world, beginning in 1521. Also from Robinson we have a paperback of Carolly Erickson's Alexandra: The Last Tsarina, the hardback edition of which was highly praised in this journal and, finally, another of their 'mammoth' collections: The Mammoth Book of Journalism which is edited by Jon E. Lewis and contains 101 journalist pieces from Orwell to Robert Risk on the recent bombing of Baghdad.

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The World of Paperbacks
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