Here are some selections from the list of books due to be published this year. A further selection will appear next week.
HAMISH HAMILTON, of Hamish Hamilton Ltd.: Within 50 years of Captain Cook's landing in Tahiti in 1769, the population had been reduced by three quarters. When Captain Phillip landed in Botany Bay in 1788 the aborigines flourished; a century and a half later they were extinct. When Cook discovered South Georgia there was a wealth of marine and bird life; 50 years later there was little left to kill. These three facts form the tragic basis of Alan Moorehead's study of The Fatal Impact of "civilisation" in the South Pacific.
MICHAEL GEARE, of Dent Ltd.: I believe that John Fitzgerald Kennedy . . . As We Remember Him will be one of the spring successes. This is a unique biography — informal and authentic, superbly illustrated — of the most remarkable, most significant statesman of our age, from childhood to the White House — and on to Dallas.
JOHN TODD, of Darton, Longman & Todd Ltd.: Usual embarrassment about what to do. Pick out the heavies? Pick out the lights? Pick out the scandals? Pick out the heights? Well — one could say that all the requirements are catered for in Archbishop Roberts by David Abner Hum. It is a biography authorised by the Archbishop — and for the record the author's name is a pseudonym (not myself!). The sub-title is The Life and Writings of Archbishop Roberts.
IRIS CONLAY, of Bles Ltd:
Quite the most intriguing book on our list this spring is Lord Eccles' Half-Way to Faith. Ex-cabinet ministers are not in the habit of telling us about their religious development; this book may be unique. Lord (David) Eccles has some fresh and interesting things to say about problems which have baffled theologians, and his approach to religion is coma plctcly personal. He calls this spiritual biography Half-Way to Faith because he feels that he is still very much on the road—and only half-way there.
SAM CARR, of Batsford Ltd.: Pamela Vandyke Price enjoys eating and drinking and France. Better than most people, she has succeeded in combining the three. In France: A Food and Wine Guide she shows how the visitor, however inexperienced and English speaking, c a n profit by the knowledge of someone who holds the resounding title of Gourrnette de la Commanderie du Medoc et des Graves.
GILLON AITKEN, of Chapman & Hall Ltd.: Chaim Bermant's Diary of an Old Man stands a good chance of becoming a classic. This novel describes one winter month in the life of an old man living on a small pension. The prosaic events which are recounted conceal an extraordinary feat of imagination on the part of the author. Mr. Bermant's conception of Cyril, his narrator, is so complete that he really gives the reader an impression of just what it means to be old, poor and friendless, and yet not to lose a sense of humour or the will to live. CAROLINE HOBHOUSE, of Macmillan Ltd.:
I am plumping for Jon and Rumer Godden's Two Under the Indian Sun. This enchanting fragment of autobiography is the story of one year in the authors' lives, a year which they spent as children in their father's house on a river in Bengal. It is full of colour, period detail and charm, and should be a winner.
JAMES MITCHELL, of Constable Ltd.: Following up the success of Objections to Roman Catholicism, Michael de la Bedoyere has now assembled a new team of distinguished English and American Roman Catholics to consider The Future of Catholic Christianity. In many respects this is a far more radical and certainly a more considered book than the previous one. The contributors include Yvonne Lubbock, John Todd, Magdalen Goffin, Theo Westow, Bernardine Bishop, Daniel Callahan, Ronald Brech, Andrew Boyle, Jr. I. Watkin, and Archbishop Thomas Roberts, S.J.
* F. LEECH, of Mowbray Ltd.: The pick of our list is Lent with William Temple. The stature of William Temple does not grow less with the passage of years.
C. GRAHAM GREENE, of Cape Ltd.: I choose The Washing of the Spears by Donald Morris as being a particularly exciting and informative book. It deals with a little-known and fascinating aspect of British history, the Zulu War of 1879. During this war, the Zulus inflicted on the British the worst defeat a modern army has ever suffered at the hands of men without guns. The book is full of vivid and detailed descriptions of battles such as that fought at Rorke's Drift, when 140 men succeeded in repelling 4,000 Zulu impis. ROBIN DENNISTON, of Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.:
I choose The Naked Runner by Francis Clifford, not only because this is a first-class suspense novel by a Catholic writer, but because this author has been producing good books for comparatively modest returns for some time, and has now, with a string of fantastic sales (film, serial, paperback), broken into the big time with this story in a modern Iron Curtain setting of what might have happened to the good Samaritan after his initial act of help if he had been living today.
ANTHONY BLOND, of Blond Ltd.: From Germany of all places comes—don't groan—a new kind of spy in It Can't Always Be Caviar by Johannes Mario Simmel. He is a determined gourmet throughout the last war, has an old-fashioned eye for the ladies, and detests violence. His adventures working for more than one combattant power at the same time are both comic and extremely exciting. The menus of his crucial dinner-parties really work.
SIMON KING, of Burns Oates lad.: Robert Adolfs, Prior of a Dutch community of Augustinians, has written about Catholicity, the quality which helps us see how the Church's four marks are not just attributes but goals to work towards. In The Church is Different he shows how Catholics have inherited static concepts generally summarised in the slogan "we are the one true Church". The openness of Catholicity turns slogans into ambitions—"we have the obligation to become the one, true church". In this light, Fr. Adolfs questions the Church's attitudes to problems running from Reformation times, through Modernism and censorship, to contemporary nonconformism, Communism and morals. An exciting book.