Books

Review: The Post Office Girl

By David Herman, April 16, 2009

By Stefan Zweig
Sort of Books, £7.99

Stefan Zweig was born in 1881, in the Vienna of Mahler and Freud. Between the wars, he was considered one of the great men of letters. Escaping from Vienna in the 1930s, he lived in exile in Britain, in America and finally in Brazil, where he committed suicide in 1942, convinced central-European humanism was destroyed forever.

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Israel/Palestine: a clash of arms and opinions

By Geoffrey Alderman, April 16, 2009

Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989
By Mark LeVine
Zed Books, £14.99

‘A Senseless, Squalid war’ — Voices From Palestine 1945-1948
By Norman Rose
The Bodley Head, £20

There is no shortage of books purporting to explain the origins and history of the conflict between Israel and the Arab world. By way of justification for adding to this ever-burgeoning library, Mark LeVine, of the University of California, promises a “fresh and honest” account of the collapse of the peace process initiated at Oslo in 1993.

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Review: A Life

By Natasha Lehrer, April 7, 2009

By Simone Veil
Haus, £16.99

Considering the life that Simone Veil has had, she could have written an autobiography twice as long as her allusive and fascinating memoir A Life, newly published in English translation.

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What creativity means in hell

By Stoddard Martin, April 7, 2009

The Seventh Well

By Fred Wander, Trans: Michael Hofmann
Granta, £7.99

Rezso Kasztner

By Ladislaus Löb
Pimlico, £12.99

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Review: The Informers

By David Herman, April 2, 2009

By Juan Gabriel Vásquez (Trans: Anne McLean)
Bloomsbury, £7.99

When Gabriel Santoro, a young journalist, publishes his first book, it is well received except for one reviewer who savages it — his father. The father is a distinguished professor and lawyer and he does not just take against his son’s book. He hates it. Clearly, the son has crossed some line. But what is it?

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Review: About Time - Growing old disgracefully

By Julia Neuberger, April 2, 2009

By Irma Kurtz
John Murray, £16.99

‘Before grey hair you shall stand up,” our Torah tells us. Respect for the old is deeply ingrained in Jewish thought, and our sense of communal obligation towards our old and frail is strongly felt across our community. And yet, despite the homes we support, the volunteers we involve and the activities we provide, I often think we have failed, in some quite profound way, to get to grips with the emotions of ageing.

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Review: The Samaritan’s Secret

By Jenni Frazer, March 26, 2009

By Matt Rees
Atlantic Books, £11.99

There is something slightly unsavoury about reading Matt Rees’s latest Palestinian thriller in the wake of the Gaza conflict. It is the third outing for his rather unappealing hero, Omar Yussef, whose base as a history teacher in Bethlehem is not what you might think of as the ideal background for a dogged detective.

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SAS hero’s guilty secret

By David Cesarani, March 26, 2009

In 1949, Major Roy Farran, a highly decorated 28-year-old veteran of the SAS, published his autobiography, Winged Dagger: Adventures On Special Service. It was an immediate bestseller. In vivid prose, he recounted his service as a tank commander in north Africa and Crete, where he was captured. He recalled his amazing escape from Greece to Egypt and his part in the retreat to El Alamein. The core of his story concerned his years in the SAS and a succession of daring missions behind enemy lines in Sicily, Italy and France in 1943-45.

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Review: Ruth Maier’s Diary

By Amanda Hopkinson, March 19, 2009

By Ruth Maier (Ed: Jan Erik Vold)
Harvill Secker

Though Ruth Maier died in 1942, her diary has only now been published in the UK, two years after its first publication in Norway, Maier’s home for the last four years of her short life preceding her deportation to Auschwitz. It takes its place within a climate of interest in such offerings alongside Helene Berr’s Journal in France and Deborah Moggach’s recent television adaptation here of The Diary of Anne Frank.

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Affecting, affected

By David Herman, March 19, 2009

At the end of the Second World War, Jacob Noah emerges from the forest, where he has been hiding. He goes to his Dutch hometown, Assen. His parents and brother have been taken away by the Nazis and their shop has become an Aryan bookshop. There, surrounded by Dutch nationalist books and posters of Teutonic heroes, Noah confronts the shop-owner, his head full of thoughts of revenge.

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