Love and War In The Pyrenees

By Rebecca Abrams, September 12, 2008

By Rosemary Bailey
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £18.99

Midnight parachute drops, secret mountain hideouts, coded messages hidden in bread crusts: the tales of derring-do in Rosemary Bailey's latest book would not be out of place in a Boys' Own adventure story.

Indeed, they do provide a certain light relief in this thorough, thought-provoking and at times deeply disturbing account of the impact of the Second World War on the villages and towns of the Pyrenees.


Review: The Act Of Love

By Madeleine Kingsley, September 12, 2008

By Howard Jacobson
Jonathan Cape, £17.99

Howard Jacobson's new novel presses the delete button on that old adage, "Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." The Act of Love explores in playful and provocative detail why, instead, it is better to love and lose, than ever to love and win. Better, at least, for a man like antiquarian bookseller Felix Quinn, for whom betrayal is not undiluted heartbreak but exquisite, addictive, anguish.


The Library at night

By Gabriel Josipovici, September 4, 2008

Alberto Manguel once used to read to the blind Borges, and it is perhaps from him that he acquired his passion for books, for all forms of writing and, above all, for libraries. In his home in rural France where, after a lifetime of wandering, this cosmopolitan Argentinian has finally settled down, he has built himself a library which appears to resemble more the library of a large institution than what you or I might have at home. Here, he tells us, he comes to read and meditate. Another, smaller room in his refurbished presbytery is devoted to writing.


A Choice of Enemies: America Confronts

By Ahron Bregman, September 4, 2008

By Lawrence Freedman
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £20

In the summer of 2006, the daughter of Sir Lawrence Freedman, a professor of war studies and one of the world's most important strategic thinkers, asked him a question about the Middle East. Recalling this conversation, Freedman writes: "The straightforward answer she sought got lost in the complexities of what Hamas was up to in Gaza, the state of Israeli politics, the role of Syria, the rows over the Iranian nuclear programme, and the fallout from the insurgency in Iraq."


My son’s depression nearly tore us apart

By Dana Gloger, September 4, 2008

Writer Ros Morris's son is bipolar. She describes life coping with his illness in a new book.


Seeing your child shackled to a bed in a foreign country might seem like any parent's worst nightmare. But for Ros Morris, it is just one in a long list of harrowing experiences she has been through with her son, Zach.

Diagnosed with bipolar disease, in which sufferers experience episodes of both mania and depression, Zach, now 29, has also been heavily addicted to a variety of drugs, including heroin.


‘The Soviets started the Six-Day War’

By Ahron Bregman, August 28, 2008

In 1967, Arab armies were mobilised and actions taken that eventually culminated in an all-out Israeli-Arab war in which Israel seized the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria and the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan. While most studies on this war tend to focus on the local participants - Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Syria, Foxbats over Dimona by Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez (Yale University Press, £10.99) concentrates instead on the Soviets. And what award-winning Israeli journalists and historians Ginor and Remez tell us is intriguing.


Review: Billy Joel: The Biography

By Paul Lester, August 28, 2008

Billy Joel has never been cool. A surrogate Elton John, Bruce Springsteen- lite, he lacks the cuddly flamboyance of the former, the gritty appeal of the latter and the critical respect of either - you will never see his albums, even multimillion-selling ones like 52nd Street, in those Greatest Ever lists.

Despite an attempt in the late '70s to present Joel as a sort of street-tough piano man, the quintessential pugnacious New Yorker, many still consider him to be the epitome of bland sophistry.


Aleksander Hemon: ‘I wrote it as I was angry’

By Annie Dare, August 28, 2008

Aleksander Hemon was visiting Chicago when war broke out in 1992 in Sarajevo, his birthplace. He has lived almost uninterruptedly in the American city ever since. Now 44, he cites Rainer Maria Rilke's definition of art of worth coming "out of necessity".

History weighs too heavily on Hemon for him to sign up to either post-modernism's arbitrary rhetorical whimsy or the contemporary US craze for self-centred memoir. All the turbulence, violence and suffering he has seen, or ever tried to imagine, fuels his urgency to write.


Review: Fieldwork

By David Herman, August 22, 2008

By Mischa Berlinski
Atlantic, £11.99

Mischa Berlinski's debut novel comes trailing rave reviews from the States.

The narrator, also called Mischa Berlinski, is a young Jewish-American journalist, who has followed his girlfriend to Thailand. She is working as a teacher; he is trying to make ends meet writing pieces for local newspapers.


Interview: Esther Woolfson

By Jenni Frazer, August 22, 2008

We meet the Chinese-speaking author who writes brilliantly about her close - feathered - friends

‘On Friday evenings, she recognises... the sound of Kiddush, the lighting of candles, the recitation of blessings (my one enduring nod towards the life spiritual)... and will express eager, vocal anticipation of the coming of Shabbat... or the cutting of the challah... Such frummers! Who'd have imagined!"