There’s something for all lovers of non-fiction in issue 4 of Shiny New Books. History enthusiasts are particularly well catered for, with a wide range of approaches and periods, ranging from James Evans’ Merchant Adventurers through Jenny Uglow’s sweeping account of Napoleonic times in Britain, to Neil MacGregor’s fascinating survey of the German nation. Closer to the present day, we have David Richards’ Taking Command, a look at recent events in Afghanistan and elsewhere by someone who was in command there at the time. Theatre history gets a look in, too, in Terry Coleman’s The Old Vic, which follows the story of that famous London theatre for its beginnings in 1818. Finally, Men We Reaped is an agonising, important account of the terrible treatment of African Americans in the United States.
Nearer to home in every sense are two books on British social history. The Great Indoors, by Ben Highmore, takes the reader round the house room by room, giving a detailed account of how everything it contains has come to be what and where it is today. And, for anyone who loves television, Joe Moran takes a whizz through the ages in Armchair Nation.
There are two books on offer for lovers of poetry – Allan Crawford’s amazingly detailed Walt Whitman Illuminated illustrates the poetry of that great nineteenth century American poet, while David Moody’s Ezra Pound, the second in a three volume critical biography, looks at the rather troubling part of the poet’s life in which he allied himself to Mussolini and fascism.
Books about books and reading are always popular, and here you can choose from Rebecca Mead’s story of her relationship with the novels of George Eliot in The Road to Middlemarch, Tim Parks’ fascinating collection of essays, Where I’m reading From, and Jen Campbell’s totally delightful The Bookshop Book.
Only one autobiography this time round, but certainly one not to miss, Alan Cumming’s Not My Father’s Son. And, perfect for the time of year when Seville oranges hit the shops, Sarah Randall’s Marmalade.
Harriet, Non-Fiction Editor, Shiny New Books