BOOK REVIEWS / Paperbacks, Non-fiction
Sunday 20 December 1992
The Journals of James Boswell ed John Wain, Mandarin pounds 7.99. Selection from the famous biographer's journals that balances diary entries recording his daily hopes and fears along with a large and tasty dollop of London social history.
Laurence Olivier by Donald Spoto, Fontana pounds 6.99. Revelatory and emotionally analytic biography more interested in the great actor's performances between the sheets (and in the closet) than on the boards. It skimps on Olivier's valiant escape from the confines of 50s' theatre,
and serves up a rather trivial and mean-
spirited individual. But there is enough fact to re-capture the fugitive magic.
A Guide to Art ed Sandro Sproccati, Little, Brown pounds 14.99. A giddy dash through seven centuries of western art for the non-specialist but enthusiastic gallery visitor. The summaries are far from banal, but the tiny reproductions of hundreds of paintings are useful only as memory nudgers if you've already seen the pictures.
Odd Jobs by John Updike, Penguin pounds 12.99. Fat collection of occasional pieces ranging from impressive essays (Franklin and Emersonianism) to high-intensity reviews of modern novels. Updike is subtle, sympathetic, self-effacing and irresistibly quotable: for example, post-modernism is 'a cartoon-cat version of modernism - the cat keeps running even though he has only air beneath him'.
Passage to America by Terry Coleman, Pimlico pounds 10. You needed a strong stomach to take the transatlantic passage in the mid-19th century, sleeping in ranks of five bunks with everyone suffering from seasickness, or worse. With diligence and insight, Coleman takes us deep into the lives of millions of unknown people.
Seeds of Change by Henry Hobhouse, Papermac pounds 9.99. Five commercial crops arguably had a greater effect on the forming of the modern world than war or revolution: quinine, sugar, tea, cotton, potatoes. Their ignoble histories include the role of cotton and sugar in the slave trade; the potato's legacy in Ireland and America; and the evil opium-tea wars that destroyed a centuries-old Chinese civilisation. A fascinating study.
MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word
Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 4 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
- 5 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
I'm A Celebrity 2014: Jungle security stepped up after murder and 'suspicious death' near to camp
Zoella: YouTube sensation Zoe Sugg's debut novel set to become bestseller
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs
Naked free runner captured in breathtaking photographs above London's streets
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict