John Wesley: A Personal Portrait by Ralph Waller SICK £12.99. Wesley's reputation took a bit of a knocking with the publication of Roy Hattersley's biography last year, which portrayed the founder of Methodism as self-righteous and self-obsessed. Ralph Wailer, a Methodist minister, redresses the halance. He writes that any assessment of Wesley must acknowledge several great failures — mostly notably, his marriage, his mission 'to America and his attempt to keep Methodism within the Church of England. But, he adds, "he preached the love of God and brought faith and good works together in a manner in which few evangelical leaders have managed to do before or since ... Wesley's distinctive response to the world he found in 18th-century Britain was to inspire men and women to lead lives that were dedicated to worship. social care and personal holiness."
The Renaissance Bazaar: From the Silk Road to Michelangelo by Jerry Brotton, Oxford University Press £9.99. This is the first study to present the Renaissance as a global rather than a purely European-event. Indeed, it sets out to "explode the myth of the European
Renaissance as a founding moment of cultural superiority". Brotton argues that this was an era in which Europe exchanged not only material goods but also skills and ideas with its African and Asian neighbours — yet, in the process, created a legacy of slavery, colonisation and intolerance that continues to haunt us today.
Man Walks into a Pub by Pete Brown, Macmillan £10.99. An inspired title for an intoxicating tale: a history of beer "from the first sacred sip of ancient Egyptian bouza to the last
pint of lager on a Friday night." Brown. an advertising man who has worked on the Heineken and Stella Artois accounts, claims (convincingly) that beer and its spiritual home, the pub, help to define this country, remaining a focal point for our social lives even among non-drinkers. He also sets out the many synonyms in the English language for the state of drunkenness, most of them unsuitable for reproduction in a Catholic newspaper. The list takes up four pages. John Wesley, incidentally, had no objection to the consumption of beer in moderation; he was, however, passionately opposed to the drinking of that pernicious liquid, tea.
Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner, Phoenix £7.99. An autobiographical account of the rise of the Nazis that created a literary sensation when it was published in this country last year. "This is the most remarkable memoir." wrote Craig Brown in the Mail on Sunday. "If you have never read a book about Nazi Germany before, or if you have already read a thousand, I would urge you to read 1704,1g Hider. It sings with ks isdoin and understanding, and, through a deft patchwork of the historical and the personal, somehow manages to explain the inexplicable."