Saturday 05 July 1997
Hitler's Willing Executioners by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (Abacus, pounds 9.99) This controversial book pushes anti-revisionism to bizarre lengths: all Germans had been inculcated with an "exterminationist" anti-Semitism and were prepared to collaborate in the Holocaust. Does this include exiles? Or assimilated Jews? Goldhagen makes a case, but he is prosecuting an entire people.
Stalin by Edvard Radzinski (Sceptre, pounds 7.99) Writing a tyrant's biography forces historians into odd complicities; Radzinski obsessionally tells us how vile Stalin was to the point where condemnation becomes perverse praise. Stalin wanted to be a tyrant and learnt well from his mentors and rivals. Radzinski knocks many legends on the head, but never quite makes sense of the man.
The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir (Pimlico, pounds 8.99) This is heritage history as far as its subject matter goes, but Weir devotes considerable intelligence to telling the story and giving it a context. Romance is absent: women married Henry for power and security in a world of judicial murder and constant disease.
A People's Tragedy by Orlando Figes (Pimlico, pounds 12.50) Figes views the Russian Revolution as inevitable, and inevitably atrocity-packed; the old order just went on too long. He is brilliant on the sweep of events and underlying economic forces, and on the individuals made and broken by revolution. One of the best narrative histories of our time.
One Hundred Years of Socialism by Donald Sassoon (HarperCollins, pounds 14.99) This dour book ends up trapped by its sense of the inevitable. What happened to socialism - its metamorphosis into market-oriented social democracy - was always going to happen. Sassoon is an essential source on the facts of organisation and economics, though less good on the passions.
Empire by Dennis Judd (Abacus, pounds 9.99) Weak on the story of rivalry with France and protection of merchants in India, this is at its best in its memorable vignettes of the High Victorian and Edwardian empire, and in its account of the decline of the indefensible. As one-volume histories of huge subjects go, it is competent and readable.
Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre (HarperCollins, pounds 8.99) All accounts of the Raj's end are partisan. This is the best pro- Mountbatten book, and makes its case with skill. Fair-minded to all participants (without demonising Jinnah), it views the massacres of Partition as unforeseeable. This begs a few questions in an otherwise solid narrative.
God's Chinese Son by Jonathan Spence (HarperCollins, pounds 7.99) Chinese obsessions with unitary rule have their background. Hong Xiuquan, whose conversion to Christianity con- vinced him that he was Christ's younger brother, led a rebellion that nearly toppled the empire, helped European victory in the Opium Wars and killed 20 million. Spence's account is sparky and scholarly.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
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 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food