The Berlin Wall. 13 August 1961 – 9 November 1989. Frederick Taylor. Bloomsbury, 2009.
The Berlin Wall reveals the strange and chilling story of how the initial barrier system was conceived, then systematically extended, adapted and strengthened over almost 30 years. Patrolled by vicious dogs and by guards on shoot-to-kill orders, the Wall, with its more than 300 towers, became a wired and lethally booby-trapped monument to a world torn apart by fiercely antagonistic ideologies. The Wall had tragic consequences in personal and political terms, affecting the lives of Germans and non-Germans alike in a myriad of cruel, inhuman and occasionally absurd ways. The Berlin Wall is the definitive account of a divided city and its people. Frederick Taylor’s drama of Cold War nuclear poker that divided humanity was reissued in November 2009 with a new preface to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Wall’s fall.
Ancient Egypt. A very short introduction. Ian Shaw. Oxford University Press, 2004.
Ian Shaw describes in this small book, a part of the Oxford University Press Very Short Introduction series, how our current ideas about Egypt are based not only on discoveries made by early Egyptologists, but also on fascinating new kinds of evidence produced by modern scientific and linguistic analyses. He also explores the changing influences on our responses to these finds, through such media as literature, cinema and contemporary art. Each chapter deals with a different aspect of ancient Egypt, from despotic pharaohs to dismembered bodies, and from hieroglyphs to animal-headed gods.
Wartime Courage. Gordon Brown. Bloomsbury, 2009.
In these eleven stories of courage in the Second World War, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown marks the unforgettable heroism of British men and women who fought to overcome tyranny. Some are accounts of decisive action taken in the searing heat of battle while others are of innovative, strategic thought and endurance in the face of dangers met day after day. Tribute is paid to heroes such as John Bridge, a physics teacher turned mine- and bomb-disposal officer, and to the bravery of clandestine operatives like Major Hugh Seagrim in occupied Burma and Violette Szabo in France. Simply and directly told, these inspiring stories celebrate the extraordinary courage of an exceptional generation.
Just After Sunset. Stephen King. Hodder, 2009.
Just after sunset, as darkness grips the imagination, is the time when you feel the unexpected creep into the everyday. As familiar journeys take a different turn, ordinary objects assume extraordinary powers. A blind intruder visits a dying man and saves his life with a kiss. A woman receives a phone call from her late husband. Enter a world of suspense, dark comedy and thrilling twists which will keep you riveted from the first page.
Child 44. Tom Rob Smith. Simon and Schuster, 2008.
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008, this book tells a story of officer Leo Demidov, an idealistic war hero, who believes he is building a perfect society in Stalin’s Soviet Union. But after witnessing the interrogation of an innocent man his loyalty begins to waver, and when ordered to investigate his own wife Raisa, Leo is forced to choose where his heart truly lies. Denounced by his enemies and exiled from home, with only Raisa by his side, he must risk everything to find a criminal who the state will not admit even exists.
This column is a selection by The Slovak Spectator of English-language books recently released in Slovakia; it does not represent an endorsement of any of the books selected. The column is prepared in cooperation with the Oxford Bookshop Bratislava, now located at Laurinská 9 in Bratislava.
22. Mar 2010 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff