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Books in brief

30 July 2021

More covers in the gallery

More covers in the gallery

CHARLES SPENCER’s The White Ship: Conquest, anarchy and the wreck­ing of Henry I’s dream was widely acclaimed when it was published in hardback last year, picked as Best Book of the Year by three national news­papers, and called by Bill Bryson “as gripping as any thriller”. Now it has appeared in paperback (William Collins, £9.99 (£9); 978-0-00-829684-1). It describes the shipwreck of the White Ship in 1120, on board which were Henry I’s only legitimate son and heir, as well as two of his beloved illegit­imate children, and much of the flower of the aristocracy, leading officials, and celebrated knights. “No Ship that ever sailed brought England such disaster,” William of Malmesbury recorded. Spencer tells how the consequences unfolded. Two sections of colour plates are included.






JACKY COLLISS HARVEY, in Walking Pepys’s London, seeks to explore the city as the great diarist would have experienced it himself. This hardback, with five maps, a QR code to access them in a digital format, and a ribbon marker, leads its readers on a series of five walks, all taking half a day to com­plete, she suggests, except for one, for which she recommends setting aside a full day; but her detailed descriptions, peppered with quotations from Pepys himself, would also make it possible to enjoy her itinerary without stirring from home (Armchair Traveller/Haus, £12.99 (£11.69); 978-1-913368-28-9).


ALISTAIR MOFFAT’s To the Island of Tides: A journey to Lindisfarne was described by Philip Welsh (Books, 31 January 2020) as “a moving, entertaining, and occasionally indulgent memoir by a very engaging indi­vidual who is making peace with life and death through the companion­ship of a saint whose faith he does not share” when the book was published in hardback last year. The paperback edition is now available (Canongate, £10.99 (£9.89); 978-1-78689-634-6).


JOSH IRELAND’s Churchill and Son (John Murray, £20 (£18); 978-1529-33775-4) argues that Winston Churchill “built and broke” his son, Randolph, who idolised him. Despite Winston’s ob­­session with his tal­ented son, his sense of his own destiny was too great, and this lay at the root of the MP Randolph’s sense of failure, heavy drinking, and early death, the author says.


ANNA SEBBA’s Ethel Rosenberg: A Cold War tragedy is a new bio­graphy that tells the disturbing story of Ethel, her trial, and her execu­tion with her husband, Julius, as spies in the United States in 1953 (Orion, £20 (£18); 978-0-297-87100-2).


Peter Smith of Newbery Smith PhotographyButtressed: one of the specially commissioned photos in Exeter Cathedral: The garden of paradise by Jonathan Foyle and Diane Walker (Scala, £19.95 (£17.95); 978-1-78551-235-3). The title acknowledges the profusion of carved plants and animals in this building begun nine centuries ago

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