Recommended

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The Independent Culture
A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton, Doubleday, £14.99. A chilling American courtroom drama, threaded with a quiet sense of elegy.

Review by Natasha Walter, 7 January.

William Morris: A Life for Our Time by Fiona MacCarthy, Faber £25. A sympathetic and engaging portrait of the great designer, poet and socialist. Review by Claire Tomalin, 3 December.

Shaka's Children by Stephen Taylor, HarperCollins £18. A history of the Zulu nation which evokes its legendary savage grandeur while remaining both objective and humane. Review by Jan Morris, 7 January.

Biographical Dictionary of Film by David Thomson, Andre Deutsch £25. This passionate and idiosyncratic tome on the lives of the stars is far more than a mere reference book. Review by Anthony Quinn, 7 January.

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