A History of the Board of Deputies, 1760-2010

By Geoffrey Alderman, July 15, 2010

By Raphael Langham
Vallentine Mitchell £35

The writer of an official history faces multiple dilemmas. Should the history be focused narrowly upon the institution, or seek to place the institution within some wider context? Should the institution's archives dictate the shape of the history, or should a broader range of original sources be consulted? Above all, should the history be sanitised and celebratory or frank and critical?


The power of wisdom

July 8, 2010

My Happiness reads very much like a journey of discovery. Can you say something about your own journey in writing it?

Taha Muhammad Ali's poetry was what sent me out on this trail: when I first encountered it, through my husband Peter Cole's translations, like thousands of other readers I was immediately fascinated by its humanity, wisdom, humour, vital music and rich relationship to place - a place, I should say, that both is and isn't the place I also call home.


Review: The Chosen One

By Jenni Frazer, July 8, 2010

By Sam Bourne
Harper, £7.99

It would, I suppose, be deeply frustrating, both for the reader and the writer, if real life were to intrude on the neatly wrapped plots of mysteries and thrillers.

Whenever a hero or heroine comes up against a brick wall, in the real world, generally, that's where they tend to stay.

Thrillers, however, demand that the protagonist solves a mystery or unravels the next clue with phenomenal ease.


Interview: Michael Meacher

By Simon Rocker, July 1, 2010

While some of his fellow MPs were busy racking up expenses, Michael Meacher was preoccupied with astronomical figures of a different kind, such as the rate of expansion of the universe, or its temperature moments after the Big Bang.

The veteran left-winger, who entered the Commons 40 years ago last month, has written a book, whose title, boldly alluding to Darwin, proclaims its intellectual ambition. The product of 15 years' work on and off, it asks the question: is there a purpose to the universe or are we all here by chance?


The rebbe: The life and afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schneerson

By David Klinghoffer, July 1, 2010

By Samuel Heilman and Menachem Friedman
Princeton University Press, £20.95

For a biography of a man who never went to war, never ran for public office, never endangered his health with drugs or alcohol, never indulged a passion for fast women, but mostly taught religion and, before that, dreamed of being an engineer, The Rebbe tells an at times riveting story. The question is whether it is an entirely true story.


Review: The Woman Who Thought Too Much

By Hephzibah Anderson, June 24, 2010

By Joanne Limburg
Atlantic, £14.99

As a child, poet Joanne Limburg was fearless. Aged just three, she ran away to the fun-fair. At seven, she was a tree-climbing champ and, at nine, a bicycling girl-racer. Then something changed.


Review: Everything Flows

By Mark Glanville, June 24, 2010

By Vasily Grossman (Trans: Robert and Elizabeth Chandler)
Harvill Secker, £16.99

As a war reporter accompanying the Red Army during its pyrrhic victory over the invading German forces, Vasily Grossman was present at the siege of Stalingrad. He also witnessed the consequences of the Holocaust at Treblinka. What he saw became the source material for his masterpiece Life and Fate, a novel which, in terms of its theme, scope and humanity, is not unreasonable to compare with War and Peace.


Review: Beatrice and Virgil

By John Nathan, June 17, 2010

By Yann Martel
Canongate, £15.99

How can Holocaust survivors talk about their experience? This is the question at the heart of Yann Martel's new book. That, and: how do you follow your first novel when that was a prize-winning, stonking great hit?


So was de Gaulle really antisemitic?

June 17, 2010

Was France's greatest leader of the 20th century antisemitic? The question hangs over Charles de Gaulle 40 years after his death. It is easy to reach such a conclusion of a man who spoke at a press conference in the Élysée Palace in 1967 of Jews as an "elite people, domineering and sure of themselves" who, once they had gathered in a state, were destined to show "burning and conquering ambition". But, after studying the question while writing a new biography of the General, I think the verdict should be more nuanced.


Brilliant Baron is back

By David Herman, June 10, 2010

From The City, From The Plough
By Alexander Baron
Black Spring Press, £9.99

The Lowlife
By Alexander Baron
Black Spring Press, £9.99