My East End by Gilda O'Neill, read by the author

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The Independent Culture

It is almost worth starting with the second tape of this extraordinary autobiography, as the beginning of Gilda O'Neill's memoir of the East End of London is an outline of distant history much less interesting than the meat of her story. This describes the place in her own lifetime, remembered not just by her but in recorded memories from contemporaries. Her account of the area is rich both in telling details of the way Eastenders really lived and in enthralling true tales of hardship, friendship and dogged resilience, as well as in the inhabitants' streetwise wisdom and humour.

Best of the rest

Plato: The Trial and the Death of Socrates, trans Tom Griffith, various readers (Naxos, unabridged, c4hr 40min, tape £9.99, CD £13.99).

Tom Griffith's elegant and easy prose offers the most approachable way imaginable of getting to know Plato's famous Socratic dialogues about the final act of his mentor's life, The Apology and the Phaedo. Even so, perseverance is needed during The Apology, Socrates' defence of himself in front of a 500-strong jury.

But there is no difficulty in staying with the philosopher during the last hours before he swallowed the hemlock, as relayed by his young acolyte Phaedo. This is read with sensitive energy by Jamie Glover, who has a voice in perfect counterpoint to the matter-of-fact and forceful Socrates portrayed by Bruce Alexander.

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