Who Killed Sir Walter Ralegh by Richard Dale (History Press, £18.99) Richard Dale, former barrister and now a professor at the University of Southampton, tackles the mystery of Walter Ralegh’s death. From Queen’s favourite to the gallows, his journey was short but fatal. Was he deliberately set up by Sir Robert Cecil or by Lord Cobham? Dale scours the intrigues and records of the royal court to probe into this mystery and offer his own conclusions.
The Trinity Six by Charles Cumming (Harper, £7.99) A master of the modern-day spy thriller and heir apparent to John le Carré, Charles Cumming has produced possibly his best novel yet. Academic Sam Gaddis stumbles upon a source that tells him there was a sixth member of the famous Cambridge spy ring, undiscovered until now. What follows is a stylish trip through Europe, the dark shadows of the past always looming. Kissing The Mask by William T Vollmann (Ecco, £14.99) Our greatest chronicler of the weird and wonderful, William T Vollmann turns his masterful eye to the questions of what exactly defines femininity. Vollmann tackles this question through a meditation on Japanese Noh theatre. Detailed, pithy and trenchant as always, Vollmann’s prose and insights are powerful. This is an original meditation on identity and morality.
The Crisis Behind Our Crisis by Alexander Boot (St Matthew Publishing, £12.99) An apt book for our times, The Crisis Behind Our Crisis takes a novel and important look at the current financial panic. The author asks whether the current financial crisis has roots in a deeper spiritual malaise. Boot says that since we’ve dropped Christianity as a moral force, we’ve become self-centred and material-worshipping. This is a fascinating take on current problems. Six Weeks by John LewisStempel (Orion, £9.99) The title of this heartbreaking account refers to the average life expectancy of a subaltern in the First World War. Always over the top first, the junior officers suffered the highest rates of casualties.
The statistics are appalling, but the individual tales are gut-wrenching, of young men desperately trying to keep their honour in the most dangerous and bewildering environment.
Pevsner: The Early Years by Stephen Games (Continuum, £10.99) Nikolaus Pevsner was probably the most renowned architectural historian and chronicler of the 20th century yet, surprisingly, this is the first biography of the man. Focusing on his earlier life (later volumes to follow) Games looks at how Pevsner dealt with Hitler’s Germany and the fact that he was no longer welcome in his own country. A fascinating book about a fascinating man.