The World of Paperbacks

Contemporary Review, Summer 2009 | Go to article overview

The World of Paperbacks


OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS leads this issue's survey of recently published paperbacks with the second volume of A New History of Ireland: II Medieval Ireland 1169-1534 ([pounds sterling]30.00) edited by Prof. Art Cosgrove et al. This monumental, nine-volume history, was published in association with the Royal Irish Academy. This second volume, first published in 1987, and republished in 1993, covers the period from 1169, when the Anglo-Normans arrived, to 1534 when the English Crown's claim to suzerainty was put to the test. The nineteen contributors have been drawn from Ireland, Britain, France and the US and provide a wide-ranging view of Irish life during this long and formative period. Other new titles include the two volumes of Julie Coleman's A History of Cant and Slang Dictionaries. The first volume covers the years 1567 to 1784 whilst the second is concerned with the period. 1785 to 1858. Each sells at [pounds sterling]21.99. Both these volumes contain learned examinations of the 'word-lists' and dictionaries published during these periods and put these volumes into their proper 'historical and textual contexts". She also looks at the accuracy of the works she considers and in doing so does a great service to students of the language. In addition we have: Gerd-Rainer Horn's The Spirit of '68: Rebellion in Western Europe and North America, 1956-1976 ([pounds sterling]19.99): Alan Kramer's Dynamics of Destruction: Culture and Mass Killing in the First World War ([pounds sterling]10.99), a masterly re-examination of the German policy of cultural warfare in the Great War; Bart D. Ehrman's The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed ([pounds sterling]8.99), an investigation into the 'Gospel of Judas' and beyond that, the place of Judas in the Gospel story; Robert Bud's Penicillin: Triumph and Tragedy ([pounds sterling]16.99), which describes the discovery of a 'miracle drug' and how its limitations were discovered: R.J. Crampton's Bulgaria ([pounds sterling]19.99), which is part of Oxford's History of Modern Europe that describes the history of Bulgaria from the midnineteenth century; and, finally a new edition of John Milton's Paradise Lost ([pounds sterling]9.99). For reasons best known to the Press, this is introduced by the secularist novelist, Philip Pullman, presumably on the grounds that the epic influenced his writing. His Introduction may safely be ignored.

From CONSTABLE we have Ian McIntyre's Robert Burns ([pounds sterling]9.99) in which the author has revised his 1995 text by revamping the last chapter to take account of this year's celebrations to mark the 250th anniversary of Burns' birth. Also from Constable we have Michael Boulter's Darwin's Garden: Down House and The Origin of Species ([pounds sterling]8.99) in which the author examines the role Darwin's garden at Down House played in his researches and the insight it still gives into his observations.

JOHN MURRAY has brought out paperback editions of Bee Wilson's Swindled: From Poison Sweets to Counterfeit Coffee - the Dark History of the Food Cheats ([pounds sterling]9.99), a valuable and much needed examination of the 'long history' not just of contaminated food (less frequent now than in the nineteenth century) but of fraudulently prepared and advertised food. A second title is Gregor Dallas' Metrostop Paris: History from the City's Heart ([pounds sterling]7.99), an unusual guide to seeing Paris. Of the hundreds of books on the city, this is the first to guide visitors round by means of Metro stops. This format allows Mr Dallas to use his wide knowledge of Paris to good advantage.

The Penguin Classics series, long a hallmark of PENGUIN BOOKS, includes three favourite titles: Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales: A Selection ([pounds sterling]18.99) in which the editor. Colin Wilcockson, has selected the General Prologue and nine of the most famous tales which he has presented in the original; facing each page is a modern translation. …

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