BOOKS / Paperbacks

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The Independent Culture
Worst Journeys: The Picador Book of Travel, ed Keath Fraser, pounds 6.99. Exquisitely uncomfortable far-flung moments from all the usual suspects, both venerable - Greene, Gellhorn, Newby - and chic - Chatwin, O'Hanlon, Amis, O'Rourke - plus unfamiliar gems (Mary Morris's haunting account of a boy's drowning in Mexico) and novel extracts, like the wonderful segment of Russell Banks's Continental Drift, that leave you eager for more.

De Gaulle the Ruler: 1945-1970 by Jean Lacouture, Harvill pounds 12.50. Follows the great man from his triumphal return to post- war Paris to his old age, when - still behaving like a king of the old regime - he lost all credibility in the student uprising of 1968. You have to admire his brio and sagacity (it was he who discovered Pompidou) but his pride was pathological. By the end, he was a broken-hearted widower: France, his spouse, had died on him.

Revolution from Within by

Gloria Steinem, Corgi pounds 5.99. Relentlessly cheery, evangelistic feminism, a self-help manual of self-esteem - a jumble of quotes, inspirational stories, reminiscence and counselling that purports to prove that unhappy women can reshape their pasts through such techniques as meditation and artistic expression. Trouble is, Steinem never stays with one subject long enough to make a convincing argument: this may look like a book, but it's really just cheap, perky journalism.

Some Lives] A GP's East End by David Widgery, Penguin pounds 5.99. The poor are always with us; only their habits and habitats change. Despite the Eighties boom and Docklands, they were always with David Widgery, who sadly died last year at 45, leaving this book - a record of his life as a London doctor, and a polemical onslaught on the myth of urban renewal - as a powerful last testament.

Fields of Glory by Jean Rouaud, trs Ralph Manheim, Harvill pounds 6.99. Marvellous, short, subtle, Prix Goncourt-winning novel. Set entre deux guerres, it opens as a leisurely, minutely detailed family chronicle and builds inexorably towards its climax, with skulls, in a cemetery in Northern France.