The World of Paperbacks

Contemporary Review, January 2005 | Go to article overview

The World of Paperbacks


Among new titles from OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS we have the paperback edition of Austin Woolrych's Britain in Revolution 1625-1660 ([pounds sterling]14.99) which was highly praised on its hardback publication. It covers an extraordinary period in British history and is a model of historical writing. Also from OUP is a paperback edition of The Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization ([pounds sterling]20.00) edited by Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth. With over 600 entries from over 300 scholars the volume contains the 'essential material' from the third edition of the Oxford Classical Dictionary. The numerous illustrations add enormously to an extremely valuable reference book for anyone interested in the politics, literature and civilisation of the ancient world. A second reference work centred on the Classical period is The Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and Religion ([pounds sterling]8.99) edited by Simon Price and Emily Kearns. With some 1600 entries this gives users a very accessible introduction to the religion of the ancient world in all its bizarre splendour. Also from OUP we have two new titles in the World's Classics' series: Jane Austen: Selected Letters ([pounds sterling]7.99) edited and introduced by Vivien Jones and Edmund Gosse's Father and Son ([pounds sterling]7.99), a famous if inaccurate and unfair portrait of his father and his childhood, here edited and introduced by Michael Newton. The final new title from OUP is Simon Winchester's The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary ([pounds sterling]7.99), the moving story of one man's dedication and the hard work of hundreds of volunteers to create a monument of English scholarship.

THAMES & HUDSON have recently brought out a re-designed and updated fourth edition of Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice ([pounds sterling]24.95) by Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn. This now widely respected introduction was first published in 1991. With a vast number of maps, drawings and illustrations this tells readers the ins and outs of archaeology, from its history to a discussion of how archaeologists actually go about their work. This new edition is to be warmly welcomed.

From ROBINSON, the paperback wing of Constable, we have Roy Moxham's Tea: Addiction, Exploitation and Empire ([pounds sterling]7.99) which tells a reader all he needs to know about our national drink and its place in history, and Emmanuel Todd's After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order ([pounds sterling]8.99) which was first published in France and then in the U.S. Given current American attitudes towards France one doubts that many will consider M. Todd's arguments worth reading but they remain an interesting analysis of the U.S.'s current position in the world.

Another new title from VINTAGE is Andrew Turnbull's Scott Fitzgerald ([pounds sterling]8.99) released as part of their Vintage Lives series. It was published in 1962. Although there have been other biographies and studies since then, this remains one of the best ever written.

W.W. NORTON has brought out a paperback edition of Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism ([pounds sterling]9.99), the widely praised study which sees the present troubles as part of the age-old attack on the idea of a pluralist society.

During the 1990s SUTTON PUBLISHING brought out the four volumes of Alison Plowden's biography of the first Queen Elizabeth. Now it has brought the four together in one volume, Elizabeth I ([pounds sterling]12.99). The author writes with ease and uses her researches well to give readers a balanced portrait of one of England's most extraordinary sovereigns.

To tie in with their publication in hardback of Flora Fraser's biography of George III's daughters JOHN MURRAY has published a paperback edition of the author's The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline ([pounds sterling]10.99) first published by Macmillan in 1996. Murray has also brought out a paperback edition of Trevor Fishlock's Conquerors of Time: Exploration and Invention in the Age of Daring ([pounds sterling]9. …

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