The week in books

五月 1, 2008

Summits: Six Meetings that Shaped the Twentieth Century by David Reynolds, professor of international history, University of Cambridge. Allen Lane, £25.00, ISBN 9780713999174

"David Reynolds reveals how governments as foreign policy machines actually worked. These summits seldom followed strict patterns, and Reynolds himself admits defeat when he tries to draw up rules for political leaders. Knowledge tempered by realism is always impressive. Summits is an important book, which should change the way we think about the international history of the 20th century."

David Reynolds, Times Literary Supplement

Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind by Gary Marcus, professor and director of the NYU Infant Language Learning Centre, New York University. Faber and Faber, £15.99, ISBN 9780571236510

"Gary Marcus presents a lively tour of the shortcomings of human minds and concludes that evolution has left us with something of a mess ... Marcus makes his case by describing cognitive difficulties, including false beliefs, linguistic ambiguity, impulsiveness and mental illness."

Sandra Aamodt, Nature

Reappraisals: Reflections on the Forgotten Twentieth Century by Tony Judt, Erich Maria Remarque professor in European studies, New York University. William Heinemann, £20.00, ISBN 9780434017416

"Tony Judt is an intellectuals' intellectual. To review a book composed of his book reviews, which are often about other people who wrote a lot of book reviews, you feel you really ought to be sitting in a cafe on the Rive Gauche, smoking Gauloises and sipping Pernod."

Niall Ferguson, The Financial Times

The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain, professor of internet governance and regulation, Oxford Internet Institute. Allen Lane, £20.00, ISBN 9781846140143

"In 1995 Robert Metcalfe, an American networking guru, predicted that the internet would collapse. It didn't ... This doesn't worry Jonathan Zittrain. In The Future of the Internet he claims that it is in danger in a more subtle way: its culture of innovation is under threat and we will all be the poorer for it ... The trouble is that Zittrain overstates the case. None of his examples is terribly convincing. Just because I have an iPod and an Xbox does not mean I no longer use a PC."

Tom Standage, The Sunday Times

Isaac Rosenberg: The Making of a Great War Poet by Jean Moorcroft Wilson, lecturer in English, Birkbeck, University of London. Orion, £25.00, ISBN 9780297851455

"Wilson's book is not the first on Rosenberg but by far the fullest. The problem, as often with 'full' biographies, is that the facts take over from the tale. Sometimes their sheer weight forces the writer to take refuge in banality. It feels odd that Rosenberg should be frequently taken to task for his 'self-pity', for seeing himself as 'an outsider', for being 'difficult' - why shouldn't he, given the circumstances?"

Laura Thompson, The Daily Telegraph.



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