The World of Paperbacks

Contemporary Review, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

The World of Paperbacks


HARPER PERENNIAL has recently released a treasure trove of new titles including Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch ([pounds sterling]8.99) which, after its publication in 1970, quickly became a best seller and de facto 'bible' for the feminist movement and two works from Norman Mailer. The first is The Naked and the Dead ([pounds sterling]8.99), his first novel originally published in 1948 and based on his experiences during the Second World War. (This edition includes a short introduction written by Mailer in 1998). The second is An American Dream ([pounds sterling]7.99), the novel first published in 1965 with its peculiar twist to the 'American dream'. Also from Harper Perennial we have a wide range of biographies: Katheryn Hughes' The Short Life & Long Times of Mrs Beeton ([pounds sterling]7.99) which made use of new manuscript sources to give us the full story of the Victorian writer on household affairs; Richard Ingrams' The Life and Adventures of William Cobbett ([pounds sterling]8.99), a sympathetic account of the great radical by an author that resembles him in so many ways; David Crane's Scott of the Antarctic ([pounds sterling]8.99), a new look at an old hero; Claire Harman's Robert Louis Stevenson: A Biography ([pounds sterling]9.99) which combined affection and erudition; Christina Hardyment's Malory: The Life and Times of King Arthur's Chronicler ([pounds sterling]9.99), in which the author uses the skills of a forensic scientist to describe Malory and his times; and Max Hastings' Warriors ([pounds sterling]8.88), his examination of courage in battle. Finally we have a wide range of historical studies: Sidney Day's London Born ([pounds sterling]5.99), a compilation of memoirs of a vanished London edited by Helen Day; Richard Holmes' Sahib: The British Soldier in India ([pounds sterling]8.99) which the reviewer in this journal referred to as an 'unique and impressive study'; Paul Preston's The Spanish Civil War: Reaction, Revolution and Revenge ([pounds sterling]8.99) which is specially interesting when discussing Spain and the war's legacy after 1939; Alice Hogge's God's Secret Agents: Queen Elizabeth's Forbidden Priests and the Hatching of the Gunpowder Plot ([pounds sterling]8.99), a study of the role of Catholic priests after the defeat of the Armada; and Leanda de Lisle's After Elizabeth: The Death of Elizabeth and the Coming of King James ([pounds sterling]8.99), a fascinating investigation into the change-over after Elizabeth I's death and the advent of the new, Stuart dynasty.

New titles from FABER AND FABER have emphasised history. M.J. Gaskin's Blitz: The Story of 29th December 1940 ([pounds sterling]8.99) is, in the words of this journal's reviewer, 'a valuable study of one terrible night during Hitler's blitz on London'. Mark Urban's Generals: Ten British Commanders who Shaped the World ([pounds sterling]8.99) sets out to show the influence individual leaders can have on history. Catherine Merridale's Ivan's War: The Red Army 1939-1945 ([pounds sterling]9.99), is a devastating account of the Russian army and a tribute to the average Russian soldier. Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul: Memories of a City ([pounds sterling]8.99) (translated by Maureen Freely), is a personal invocation of Constantinople, the ancient capital of the Roman Empire, by the Nobel Prize winning novelist. James Shapiro's' 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare ([pounds sterling]8.99) looks in detail at the year which saw Shakespeare work on four of his greatest plays and has insights not just into the playwright's genius but into the world in which he wrote. On the biographical front we have Lorna Gibb's Lady Hester: Queen of the East ([pounds sterling]8.99), a balanced account of the exotic Lady Hester Stanhope and the legends surrounding her. Finally we have Prof. John Carey's What Good are the Arts? ([pounds sterling]7.99) which tries to take the clap-trap out of intellectuals' talk about 'the arts'. He has included a delightful Postscript in which he answers his critics: the battle continues and more power to his elbow. …

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