Books: Paperbacks

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The Independent Culture

Collins Gem, pounds 4.99


DESPITE ITS titchy format, the profuse illustrations in this snappy guide to the swinging decade will trigger potent memories in baby-boomers: Torrey Canyon smoulders; Ursula Andress reaches for her diving knife (Dr No opened in 1962); and Sharon Tate poses in op-art jeans (she was murdered on 9 August 1969). On the minus side, there is too much about the Beatles and not enough on Vietnam. Companion volumes cover the Fifties, Seventies and Nineties.


by Richard Price,

Bloomsbury, pounds 6.99


READING RICHARD Price - one of Hollywood's best paid hacks - is like living through a particularly hyper episode of NYPD Blues. Author of Clockers and several screenplays (The Sea of Love, Ransom), Price's latest book is a meaty thriller set in New Jersey's scummier housing projects and run-down A&E departments. The book's hero, DI Lorenzo Council, faces a long summer with the disappearance of a young boy from his mother's car and an unsolved double homicide.

A Social History of Madness

by Roy Porter,

Phoenix, pounds 8.99, 261pp


"MADNESS IS a foreign country" but, as Porter reveals, it has its own rationality. Sketching a design for Kew, George III said that it was "not bad for a man who is mad." An outburst by John Perceval, incarcerated son of a PM, rings as true today as in 1838: "Drench a young man with medicines, shut him in a room of ranting madmen... what good can you expect?" Noting "the mad talk about God, kings and devils as we do... with different nuances", Porter says "we all have phantoms in the head."

Once in a House on Fire

by Andrea Ashworth,

Picador, pounds 6.99, 330pp


OXFORD ACADEMIC Andrea Ashworth's memoir of growing up Northern, poor and abused is a hard book to categorise. Told from a child's point of view, with no retrospective spin, it feels more like a novel than a memoir - not that any of this stops it being an unputdownable read. Brought up in inner- city Manchester, nourished on Spangles and Refreshers, Ashworth tells how she and her sisters survived life in a household dominated by a violent stepfather.