Review: The Memory Chalet

By Anthony Rudolf, January 10, 2011

By Tony Judt
William Heinemann, £16.99

Tony Judt was a brilliant historian of the European left, a social democrat, and a Jewish intellectual in the great dafka tradition. His later views on Israel were controversial and radical (the one-state solution) but they were thought through and he retained an open mind.


Review: Life is a Joke

By Madeleine Kingsley, December 31, 2010

By Rosemary Friedman
Arcadia, £11.99

Nabokov envisaged life as "a great surprise", Lewis Carroll deemed it "but a dream". At 81, Rosemary Friedman suggests in her memoir that it is a joke borrowing W. S. Gilbert's line to infer that amusement and advancing age are by no means mutually exclusive.

Friedman (one of our most deft and durable novelists) sketches pensionable years (as if with a very literary eyebrow raised at their relentless drollery) that are still shared with her lifelong love, eminent-psychiatrist husband Dennis and pass in material comfort.


Nadine Gordimer: Life Times: Stories 1952-2007

By Eva Tucker, December 30, 2010

By Rosemary Friedman
Bloomsbury £30

Nadine Gordimer, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991, devotes most of the 38 stories in this volume to a multi-faceted exploration of the coarsening effects apartheid had on black, coloured and white people alike. Yet, however fraught the situation, she never allows the political to obscure the personal - someone always remembers milk for the cat.


Review: Kapitoil

By Peter Moss, December 28, 2010

New York, 1999. The Twin Towers are still twins… and towers. Out of the elevator and on to the 88th floor steps a young Muslim, hero of Kapitoil, by Teddy Wayne (Duckworth, £8.99) He is soon to make his mark on the USA - not in ways more stereotypically associated with his brethren, but by intellect alone.


Review: Thirty Four

By Gilead Sher, December 22, 2010

By William Hastings Burke
Wolfgeist Limited, £14.99

Ever since Cain and Abel, there have been siblings who have behaved in totally opposite ways, but surely none as dramatically as Hermann and Albert Goering.

Hermann Goering was Hitler's second-in-command and an architect of the "final solution". His brother Albert was a passionate anti-Nazi who risked his life to save Jews. As Richard Sonnenfeldt (a leading interpreter at the Nuremberg trials) put it: "one brother destroyed the world and the other bettered it."


Years of Persecution, Years of Extermination. Saul Friedländer and the Future of Holocaust Studies.

By David Cesarani, December 22, 2010

Christian Wiese and Paul Betts (Eds)
Continuum, £22.39

With Nazi Germany and the Jews, volume one, The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939 (1997) and volume two, The Years of Extermination 1939-45 (2007), Saul Friedländer established himself as the greatest living historian of the period. In addition to synthesising a mountain of research into a lucid narrative he established the viability of an approach that integrates the voices of Jewish victims.


Saul Bellow: Letters

By David Herman, December 20, 2010

Editied by Benjamin Taylor
Viking, £30

In the best essay ever written on Saul Bellow, Philip Roth wrote that his friend "managed brilliantly to close the gap between Thomas Mann and Damon Runyon". Bellow indeed brought together the teeming, busy world of post-war America, with its wise-guys, money men and "reality instructors", and the high seriousness of old Europe.


Leslie Howard: The Lost Actor

By John Nathan, December 20, 2010

By Estel Eforgan
Vallentine Mitchell, £45

When Leslie Howard was shot down over the Bay of Biscay by Luftwaffe Junkers, the loss of this quintessentially English and, perhaps much less obviously, Jewish film star at the age of 50 was much mourned.

It was 1943 and Howard had just left Lisbon, the final stage of his latest and, as it turned out, last anti-Nazi propaganda trip on behalf of Britain. The purpose was to bolster pro-British opinion in countries that were neutral in the war but where fascists were still active.


Critical mass 2010

December 14, 2010


● Zweig… brings to life the horrors of the First World War, of famine and inflation in post-war Austria and Germany, where in 1923, "a shoe lace cost more… than a luxury shop with a stock of two thousand pairs of shoes". And then he describes leaving his Salzburg home for the last time: "as the train crossed the border, I knew, like the patriarch Lot in the Bible, that all behind me was dust and ashes, the past transformed into a pillar of bitter salt."
David Herman on Stefan Zweig's memoir 'The World of Yesterday', reissued by Pushkin Press


Romain Gary: A Tall Story

By Stoddard Martin, December 6, 2010

By David Bellos
Harvill Secker, £30

By virtue of linguistic skill and geographical displacement, the Lithuanian Jew who called himself Romain Gary was able to devise a storybook life.

Born under Russian imperium prior to the First World War, he grew up in a renascent Poland, only to move to Franco-Italian Nice before the Nazi-Soviet pact brought catastrophe to his region.