BOOKS / Paperbacks

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The Independent Culture
Backlash: The Undeclared War against Women by Susan Faludi, Vintage pounds 6.99. With 'backlash', Faludi gave the feminist canon a new term (it was high time) for the dangerously smug assumption that the early feminists' ambitions had been achieved, and still we weren't happy. She fingers backlash attitudes throughout the media and women's working lives, and relates them to the new conservatism: a sane and valuable battle cry.

Hard Travellin' by Kenneth Allsop, Pimlico pounds 10. This vivid study takes to the road in order to track the old ways of the hobo, and penetrates a culture commemorated in such words as flophouse, boxcar, freeload, bedroll, hitchhike, Okie and Skid Row. Riveting social history, with Woody Guthrie and Jack Kerouac as its moving spirits.

The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova, trs Judith Hemschemeyer, Canongate pounds 17.95. 'And I grew up in patterned tranquillity, / In the cool nursery of the young century. / And the voice of man was not dear to me, / But the voice of the wind I could understand.' Over 900 pages of the most resolute, passionate and possibly the greatest Russian poetry of the early 20th century, including 80 new texts which came to light in 1990, plus paintings, photos, essays and notes. An indispensable volume.

China Diary by Stephen Spender and David Hockney, Thames & Hudson pounds 12.95. It was only a short trip, and at worst there's a banal, what-we-did-on-our-hols quality to the book. But Hockney's bright, quicksilver sketches and Spender's artless curiosity make it an oddly attractive package.