By Olivier Philipponnat and Patrick Lienhardt (Trans: Euan Cameron) Chatto and Windus, £25.
By 1942, French Jews were so restricted, they were even forbidden to ride a bicycle. Yet, as the corrupt, collaborationist Paris government issued one vicious, petty edict after another, the celebrated novelist Irène Némirovsky sat in a village only a few miles from the border where the Nazi writ had yet to run.
This year Jerusalem celebrates an important anniversary in which Anglo-Jewry has a unique stake. It is exactly 150 years since a handful of Jews moved out of the dirty, overcrowded Jewish quarter in the Old City and into a purpose-built row of cottages on the desolate hillside overlooking the Jaffa Gate. Built decades before the birth of Zionism by a British Jew with money donated by an American called Judah Touro, these modest almshouses are rightly celebrated as the seed of modern Jerusalem.
Lew Grade was Mr Showbusiness. Agent, television boss and latterly movie producer, he brought the likes of Louis Armstrong to the London Palladium, The Muppets to the small screen and Sophie’s Choice to the big one.
Exuberant and witty, as an agent he complained that “the clients [Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan among them] got to keep 90 per cent of my earnings.”
His leadership of ATV helped shape commercial TV, introducing Sunday Night at the London Palladium among other variety, game and quiz shows.
Arsenal has played a big part in Brian Glanville’s life. They were the team his father supported, they were the first club side he ever watched and, as a child in the 1930s and ’40s, he was obsessed by the team, particularly their star player Eddie Hapgood, to whom he wrote regular fan letters.
The problem for Ahron Bregman in updating his book, first published in 1999 and reissued in 2001, is that Israel’s wars are like London buses; nothing for a while, then they come in clusters. He has amplified his chapter on the Al-Aqsa intifada of 2000-05, and included an appraisal of the 2006 Second Lebanon War. But last year’s foray into Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, came too late.
This remarkably self-conscious book is about one man’s strivings to become the new Simon Wiesenthal. It is also a painful record of just how difficult it is to bring war criminals to justice. Again and again, Efraim Zuroff is forced to admit that the Nazis he went after got away with their crimes on account of the complexities of legal jurisdiction and the unwillingness of so many governments to act.