Where Are All The Men? by Garry and Ellen Duguid (Strategic Book Group, £7.50) This timely and important book asks two fundamental but related questions: why don’t more men commit themselves to God, and why don’t more men commit to marriage? These two issues are intrinsically related, according to the authors. It is men’s refusal to commit to God that also weakens the marriage bond. With chapters on Paul’s view of marriage and a couple’s roles, this is a great book. Vesuvius by Gillian Darley (Profile, £15.99) The most famous volcano in the world, Vesuvius, has gathered many myths around its fuming cauldron. Gillian Darley looks at Vesuvius from early history onwards, seeing how the ancients framed the fires and eruptions as the activities of angry gods, and how modern science has explained away most of its internal workings but not the timeless hold it has on us. Solomon by Steven Weitzman (Yale, £18.99) Solomon’s wisdom has become something of a cultural given but what do we really know about the man himself? Weitzman, a biblical scholar, uses all the latest research garnered from archaeological digs and literary history to try and unravel the mysterious personage of the fabled king. As a symbol of wisdom and judgment, Solomon is pivotal in our consciousness.
The Anatomy of England by Jonathan Wilson (Orion, £8.99) The eternally disappointing history of the England football team is told in novel fashion through 10 England games. It starts in 1929, with England’s 4-3 defeat in Spain, the first defeat to a non-British team, and covers our humiliation at the hands of Hungary in 1953, the 1990 semi-final defeat against Germany in 1990 and the famous 4-1 victory over Holland in 1996. Millions Like Us by Virginia Nicholson (Penguin, £25) Subtitled “Women’s Lives In War And Peace”, this is part of an ongoing re-examination of the role women played in World War Two. Where previous books focused on fighter aces and soldiers, the millions of women involved in the war changed history forever.
No longer could anyone say they weren’t fit to work. Nicholson does a great service in tracing and elucidating this lost history. Captain Cook by Frank McLynn (Yale, £25) Captain Cook is seen as a bit of a villain these days. In the language of postcolonial scholarship he’s regarded as an exploiter and overlord. But, above all, he was a brilliant seaman whose bravery and feats of navigation opened up the fast-shrinking world. Frank McLynn’s biography focuses on Cook’s famous voyages from his early days as deckhand to his unfortunate death in Hawaii.