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.
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.
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?
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.
By Jerold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler JR Books, £18.99
Bnei Sakhnin may just be the club that disproves the old cliché that football, the World Cup notwithstanding, is "only a game".
For Sakhnin's largely Arab-Israeli supporters, the fortunes of the club mean much more than 90 minutes on a Saturday. For Bnei Sakhnin's rise has become equated with its fans' identity, self-esteem and desperate wish to be accepted as equals.
Christopher Hitchens is a quintessential product of the 1960s. A student revolutionary and anti-Vietnam protester, his polemical targets have included Henry Kissinger and Mother Theresa. But 9/11 changed him utterly, leading him to break with his erstwhile comrades, and support the Iraq war against what he calls "Islamofascism".
Nikolaus Pevsner was the most celebrated architectural historian of his generation. Born in Leipzig in 1902, he settled in Britain at the age of 31. He became the pre-eminent cataloguer and critic of England's architectural heritage. As Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge from 1949 to 1955, and in his teaching at Birkbeck College, he embodied a concern for Englishness.