The World of Paperbacks

Contemporary Review, December 2004 | Go to article overview

The World of Paperbacks


Among new titles from OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS reference works lead the way. The first three deal with religion: Peter and Linda Murray's Oxford Dictionary of Christian Art ([pounds sterling]9.99), W. R. F. Browning's A Dictionary of the Bible ([pounds sterling]8.99) and David Farmer's Oxford Dictionary of Saints ([pounds sterling]8.99). All three are examples of great learning condensed into an accessible form. The next two volumes are concerned with history: Jan Palmowski's Oxford Dictionary of Contemporary World History ([pounds sterling]9.99), with over 2,500 entries, and John Cannon's Oxford Dictionary of British History ([pounds sterling]9.99) with some 3,600 entries: each is an example of multum in parvo and each is a welcome addition to anyone's library. The final reference work is The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories ([pounds sterling]8.99) edited by Glynnis Chantrell, a compendium of useful information about the words we use and an ideal volume for the beginner. The last new O.U.P. title is John Shepherd's highly praised, scholarly and accessible biography, George Lansbury: At the Heart of Old Labour ([pounds sterling]21.99). From Clarendon Press we have Ittai Gradel's Emperor Worship and Roman Religion ([pounds sterling]21.99), a well argued analysis that will enrich our understanding of Roman life and shape our knowledge of Roman religion for generations.

PIMLICO has brought out the concluding volume of John Campbell's Margaret Thatcher Volume Two: The Iron Lady ([pounds sterling]9.99) which covers her time as Prime Minister, her ignoble loss of power and her time afterwards with objectivity and balance. Also from Pimlico we have: Ruth Dudley Edwards' Newspapermen: Hugh Cudlipp, Cecil Harmsworth King and the Glory Days of Fleet Street ([pounds sterling]12.50), a fascinating story of two of the greatest figures in twentieth-century British journalism; Sir Roy Strong's The Arts in Britain: A History ([pounds sterling]9.99), first published in 1999; and Jeremy Lewis's enjoyable biography of the great eighteenth-century poet, novelist and travel writer, Tobias Smollett ([pounds sterling]8.99). Pimlico has also republished Rupert Christiansen's 1988 study of the Romantics as seen through individuals, Romantic Affinities: Portraits from an Age 1780-1830 ([pounds sterling]14.00).

PAN BOOKS have published the one-volume, admittedly one very large volume, abridgement by Robert Skidelsky of his three-volume biography of the twentieth century's leading economist, John Maynard Keynes 1883-1946: Economist, Philosopher, Statesman ([pounds sterling]20.00). This boiled-down version was revised and carries a new introduction yet still contains some sixty per cent of the original and thereby retains the author's balance and ability to make economics almost attractive. Other Pan titles include Norman Davies' Rising '44: 'The Battle for Warsaw' ([pounds sterling]9.99), the moving account of the uprising by Polish fighters, of the German revenge and of the Soviets' duplicitous behaviour and Andrea Stuart's Josephine: The Rose of Martinique ([pounds sterling]8.99), a biography of Napoleon's first wife. Finally we have Wars against Saddam: Taking the Hard Road to Baghdad ([pounds sterling]7.99) by the BBC reporter, John Simpson. This edition brings the story reasonably up to date with new material on Saddam's capture and a discussion on the legacy of the war for those who have to cope with its consequences.

Recent releases from PENGUIN BOOKS centre on history and biography and include: T. M. Devine's Scotland's Empire 1600-1815 ([pounds sterling]8.99) which looks at Scotland's contribution to the expansion of the Empire, something that has often been overlooked; David Carpenter's The Struggle for Mastery: The Penguin History of Britain 1066-1284 ([pounds sterling]12.99), which was highly praised in this magazine on its hardback publication; Niall Ferguson's Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World ([pounds sterling]8. …

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