Books

Tale of twist and shout

By Jennifer Lipman, October 19, 2012

The inner workings of Israeli intelligence, mischief from Wikileaks, the Iranian nuclear threat, a shady drug underworld and a glamorous femme fatale — it’s a recipe for a riveting spy thriller. And, to a point, that’s what Jake Simons’s Pure (Polygon, £12.99) is. It’s entertaining, well-written and delivers an array of plot twists.

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Ordinary people in hell

By David Cesarani, October 18, 2012

British military historians are in the vanguard of a genre that has been given new life. Today, it is as much about the routine experience of servicemen and women as it is about strategy and tactics. Nazi ideology and the fate of the Jews is integrated into the narrative and informs analysis of decisions made at the highest to the lowest levels.

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Brotherly hatred

By Jenni Frazer, October 12, 2012

Joachim Fest was a renowned German historian and publisher of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, who wrote award-winning biographies of Hitler and Albert Speer. Born in Berlin in 1926, he died in 2006 and had the perfect ringside seat to chronicle the rise of Nazism.

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1967: Disillusion and missed opportunity

By David Goldberg, October 12, 2012

I was a volunteer during the Six-Day War. Although the kibbutz where I worked was in the north, the spell of reunified Jerusalem frequently drew me back. In those days, I smoked a pipe. While walking through the Old City, Palestinian merchants outside their stalls would call me over to try my pipe in exchange for their hookahs.

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Edwina Currie uncovered

By Julia Neuberger, October 12, 2012

As ever, with Edwina Currie’s writing, this is an easy read. She’s funny, and she doesn’t change what she wrote in her diary at the time except to edit for length.

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Hitchens's memorial matters

By Sipora Levy, October 5, 2012

Christopher Hitchens, who died in 2011, was one of the most admired — and loathed — writers of his generation. The best of his writing, notably as an essayist and contributor to Vanity Fair and The Atlantic burns with passion and integrity.

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Last and best of the great literary editors

By Daniel Johnson, October 5, 2012

Literary editors are much envied by their fellow journalists. The latter take it for granted that we are as louche as the literati whose company we keep, leading leisurely lives in which long lunches and love affairs loom large.

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Gospels put into context

By Kate Saunders, October 5, 2012

Although Naomi Alderman’s 'The Liars’ Gospel' takes issue with the mythology around the life of Jesus, it shouldn’t surprise any Christians who did their Scripture homework at school. Most ought to have got over the shock discovery that Jesus was not the polite, Victorian, Anglo-Catholic of my unconscious imagination at least.

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Incorporate corporation

By David Herman, September 28, 2012

Simon Rich is the youngest writer ever hired on America’s top comedy show, Saturday Night Live, and is a regular contributor to the New Yorker. Born in New York (he’s the son of the New York Times journalist, Frank Rich) and educated at Harvard, he has a gently clever comic style. Though still in his 20s, he has a novel and two books of humorous stories to his name.

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Changed faces and altered points of view

By Melanie Abrams, September 28, 2012

Steve Schapiro has taken some of the most instantly recognisable photographs of the past 50 years so it must have been a tough challenge to decide what went into his new, retrospective photo-book.

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