Books

Review: Golda Meir: The Iron Lady Of The Middle East

By Ahron Bregman, July 25, 2008
By Elinor Burkett
Gibson Square, £17.99

Golda Meir, Israel's fourth Prime Minister, whose premiership ran from 1969 to 1974, was admired throughout the western world, though less so in post-1973 Israel.

Despite suffering from cancer, she was called out of retirement at the age of 70 to fill the Prime Ministerial post following the death of Levi Eshkol and thus save the party a succession war between arch rivals Moshe Dayan and Yigal Allon that could have torn it apart.

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A family traced back with tears

By Michelene Wandor, July 25, 2008

Nancy Kohner's memoir My Father's Roses (Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99) was completed in touching and distressing circumstances. Kohner's daughter, Bridget McGing, describes in a prologue her mother's death from cancer in 2006, a week after finishing the manuscript.

Although the book follows the trajectory of a post-Holocaust story, it is more than that. Kohner organised a vast jumble of family letters, diaries and papers, which took months to translate. Her additional research involved returning to Prague 40 years after her family's departure.

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Review: Touching Distance

By Madeleine Kingsley, July 18, 2008

By Rebecca Abrams
Macmillan, £12.99

The author of When Parents Die blends history and fiction in the story of a doctor battling 18th-century medical mores


That naches follows new birth is our 21st-century norm. Not so in 1790 Aberdeen, where delivery led to a shattering succession of maternal deaths.

Rebecca Abrams’s first novel puts fictionalised flesh on the real-life records of that puerperal fever epidemic and its unsung physician hero Alec Gordon who, way ahead of his time, fathomed its cause and likely cure.

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Review: Sashenka

By Francesca Segal, July 18, 2008

By Simon Montefiore
Bantam Press, £12.99

Simon Sebag Montefiore has achieved international success with his accessible and engaging historical biographies, Catherine the Great and Potemkin; Stalin: The Court of the Red Star; and Young Stalin. In what must be a rare triumph for a historian, he has even sold the film rights to Young Stalin — to Miramax.

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Review: The Butt

By Lawrence Joffe, July 18, 2008

By Will Self
Bloomsbury, £14.99

Smoking can damage your health; but giving up could adversely affect your sanity. In fact, the discarded fag-end of the opening pages in Will Self’s latest novel is a mere bit-player in a romp covering much more than the question of whether to puff or not to puff. The real butt in this moral tale is Self’s anti-hero, Tom Brodzinski, a whipping boy for the world’s problems.

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Review: Chasing Harry Winston

By Madeleine Kingsley, July 11, 2008

By Lauren Weisberger
Harper, £6.99

Lauren Weisberger’s latest is the perfect paperback for any label-lover en vacances, laced as it is with allusions to Valentino, le Cirque, la Perla, scarlet BMW convertibles and multi-carat HW diamonds-to-go. In her third book, Weisberger, best known for The Devil Wears Prada, delivers another neat line in female friends with ultimately sound values but somewhat suspect men.

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Review: Gideon's Spies

By Ahron Bregman, July 11, 2008

By Gordon Thomas
JR Books, £16.99

Nine years after reviewing Gideon’s Spies, Gordon Thomas’s book about the Mossad, for the JC, I am holding a new, updated and much expanded version. Thomas is a talented writer and his is an irresistibly exciting subject. But, in my view, if I am to find space for it on my bookshelf then it will probably go in the fiction, rather than the non-fiction section.

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When Feinstein met Pasternak

By Anthony Rudolf, July 11, 2008

Talking to the dead

By Elaine Feinstein
Carcanet, £9.95

The Russian Jerusalem

By Elaine Feinstein
Carcanet, £9.95

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Review: City Of Thieves

By Madeleine Kingsley, July 4, 2008

By David Benioff
Sceptre, £12.99

Statistics of the Leningrad siege (632,000 dead in the 900 days, 4,000 starved in a single day) should make irredeemably grim reading. From this sombre history, however, David Benioff spins one of the year’s most captivating yarns, a swashbuckler illuminated by love among the lawlessness, by chicken soup and cut-throat chess.

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Review: Swimming In A Sea Of Death: A Son's Memoir

By Julia Neuberger, July 4, 2008

By David Rieff
Granta, £12.99

‘In the valley of sorrow, spread your wings,” wrote Susan Sontag when receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer 30 years before her death. “Be cheerful, be stoic, be tranquil.” Facing her last illness, Sontag was none of these things, and David Rieff records his complicity with his mother’s denial of the fatality of her condition. Sontag, famous intellectual, critic and writer, could neither imagine a world without her in it, nor summon up any reserves of spiritual strength for that final journey.

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