Perfect timing for a gutsy thriller with Olympics link
Short, sharp guidance and observations from a journalist with attitude. All books available from Exclusives
IF YOU READ ONE BOOK THIS WEEK
'A Private Business', by Barbara Nadel (Quercus) R199
GOOD timing here, in a gutsy thriller set against the backdrop of the Olympics. East End private eye Lee Arnold and his Muslim assistant Mumtaz Hakim are hired by a foul-mouthed stand-up comic who fears she is being stalked because of her non-PC attitudes. Big on grimy London colour.
Forbes has published its annual list of the world's richest authors. There are no real surprises in the round-up of 2011's top earners - James Patterson tops the list ($94-million), followed by Stephen King ($39-million) and Janet Evanovich ($33-million) - but EL James will be there next year, thanks to the 20-million copies her Fifty Shades trilogy sold in just four months.
"At the height of Fifty Shades mania, the erotic novels were estimated to be generating as much as $1.3-million per week for their author, EL James," the magazine said.
James's fans may or may not want to check out the Fifty Shades parody, The Diamond Club, by Patricia Harkins-Bradle. It has lines in it like, "The man could plant his seed in me, but thankfully, nothing shall ever grow, due to pesticides."
Writing so bad, it's good.
How do you choose which city to flatten with an atomic bomb? In Hiroshima Nagasaki (Doubleday), Paul Ham's controversial new book on the morality of the nuclear attacks on Japan, it would appear that nostalgia had more to do with target selection than strategic considerations.
Ham attacks the long-held myth that the nuclear bombings saved an untold number of lives because they shocked Japan into submission, and argues that the American naval blockade of the country and the defeat of Imperial Japan's army in Manchuria were more critical in forcing a surrender.
But Allied commanders had faith in the "war-ending" bombs, and had to use them. Kyoto, Japan's ancient capital, topped their target list.
Much of the densely populated city was built from wood and paper. A bomb would wipe out tens of thousands of civilians in an instant. Which was the point, of course.
Kyoto was, however, spared annihilation because the US secretary of war, Henry L Stimson, and his wife holidayed there in 1926 and had fond memories of the shrines and ancient temples.
Stimson was "disturbed" that all this would be destroyed and ordered Kyoto to be removed from the list. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were duly bumped up the list.
Other than Stimson's personal objection to Kyoto, there were no other objections - ethical, moral or religious - to using an atomic weapon without warning on an undefended city.
It was, in Ham's words, "a gung ho, indeed, diabolically zealous enterprise".
THE BOTTOM LINE
"Sometimes I think homosexuality is wasted on gay people." - How to be Gay, by David M Halperin (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press).