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.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Mayor says there should be 'no comparison' to Ferguson
- 3 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 Northern Lights in the UK: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
Cruel Woman in Black prank sees cinema-goers terrified by movie poster - watch their reactions
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Christmas TV guide 2014: The best shows to watch from Doctor Who to Downton Abbey
Merry Xmas Everybody: Slade tops 'most-streamed' Spotify Christmas tunes of 2014
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever