The World of Paperbacks

Contemporary Review, October 1999 | Go to article overview

The World of Paperbacks


Penguin is famous for reference books and three new titles have been published in recent weeks. The first is Sandra Clark's The Penguin Shakespeare Dictionary ([pounds]7.99. 232 pages. ISBN 0-14-051421-X) with over 1000 entries. The second is Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates' The Dictionary of Global Culture ([pounds]12.99.717 pages. ISBN 0-14-051313-2) which is an adventurous attempt to survey the world's religions, languages, philosophies, churches, rulers and artists. The third and final reference book is John Fleming, Hugh Honour and Nikolaus Pevsner's Dictionary of Architecture ([pounds]7.99. 498 pages. ISBN 0-14-051241). This is the fourth edition of this now standard text, first published in 1966 by the late Sir Nikolaus Pevsner.

Three other titles from PENGUIN include: a new translation of Plato's The Symposium ([pounds]5.99. 90 pages. ISBN 0-14-044616-8) by Professor Christopher Gill who also provides a helpful introduction to the Greek classic; Ronald Blythe's study of village life, Akenfield ([pounds]7.99. 287 pages. ISBN 0-14-118116-8) first published in 1969 and still one of the best introductions to English village life, written by a master of English prose; and, finally, Richard Overy's Russia's War ([pounds]8.99. 394 pages. ISBN 0-14-027169-4) which tells the chilling story of Russia's struggle against Germany from both the military and the civilian points of view.

ROBSON BOOKS have republished Vernon Scannell's Drums of Morning: Growing Up in the Thirties ([pounds]9.99.200 pages. ISBN 1-86105-246-4). This completes the poet's three-volume autobiography and describes his upbringing until the day when he and his brother joined up in 1940.

SUTTON PUBLISHING, which includes nicely illustrated history titles among its specialities, have brought out a third edition of John Schofield's The Building of London from the Conquest to the Great Fire ([pounds] 14.95.192 pages. ISBN 0-7509-2183-8). Like most great cities London has been built, destroyed and rebuilt again. The greatest disaster was not German bombs but the Great Fire of 1666 and this book shows us what London was like before that disaster.

There are two new titles from CONSTABLE. The first is the paperback edition of John Pollock's Kitchener: The Road to Omdurman ([pounds]12.99. 281 pages. ISBN 0-09-479870-2), the first of his projected two-volume biography which seeks to rehabilitate the public's perception of the famous general. The second is Andrew Sinclair's Death by Fame: a Life of Elisabeth, Empress of Austria ([pounds]9.99. 224 pages. ISBN 0-09-479880-X) first published in hardback last year.

GRANTA have brought out an edition of Neal Ascherson's 1963 book, The King Incorporated: Leopold the Second and the Congo ([pounds]8.99.310 pages. ISBN 1-86207-290-6). This not only describes the horrific conditions in the King of Belgian's private African colony, but tells the story of his own life and reign.

From DUCKWORTH we have a reprinting of Stuart Y. Silverstein's The Uncollected Dorothy Parker ([pounds]9.99. 256 pages. ISBN 0-7156-2937-9), first published in America in 1996. Here are the 122 poems by Dorothy Parker which were not included in her own published collections. There is also a most useful biographical introduction.

PIMLICO have published two titles about war as experienced by the individuals involved. The first is John Ellis's One Day in a Very Long War: Wednesday 15th October 1944 ([pounds]9.99. 592 pages. ISBN 0-7126-7465-9) in which he brings the worldwide impact of the Second World War into focus by concentrating on one specific day and the events that occurred during it. The second title is Philip Caputo's A Rumor of War ([pounds]10.00. 356 pages. ISBN 0-7126-6445-9), first published in 1977. This book, compared by some to All Quiet on the Western Front, presents the Vietnamese War as seen by a private American soldier over sixteen months. This edition also contains a new Postscript by the author. …

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