BOOK BITES | Leander Kahney, David Katz, Peter Heller

A well-researched biography about Apple's Tim Cook, a provocative work which provides honest answers to questions surrounding the Desert War, and an ominous thriller set in the remote wilderness of Northern Canada

23 June 2019 - 00:00 By Sunday Times Books

Published in the Sunday Times: 23/06/2019

'Tim Cook', 'South Africans versus Rommel', 'The River'.
'Tim Cook', 'South Africans versus Rommel', 'The River'.
Image: Supplied

Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level ***
Leander Kahney, Penguin, R320

Kahney does a great job in detailing Cook's rise to power within Apple and just how different he is to Steve Jobs. Though Apple did give the book its blessing, Cook himself never spoke to the author. This has resulted in a well-researched biography but one that does lack personal depth. Either way, if you're an Apple fanatic, then this is one to add to your collection. Though the timing of the book isn't great as Apple faces major competition and many of its new releases have been criticised for a lack of innovation, there's no denying that the changes Cook has made to the business since taking over have been successful. His leadership shows that it is not only creativity and personality that wins the race, but silent and steady work too. Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

South Africans versus Rommel: The Untold Story of the Desert War in World War II *****
David Katz, Jonathan Ball Publishers, R280

This is a professional analysis of the campaigns in which the Union Defence Force (today the SA National Defence Force) fought from 1940 to 1942 in Italy-occupied Somaliland and Abyssinia, and in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts. Katz describes and analyses the dramatic clashes not only with German commander Erwin Rommel, but also between the SA commander and the British generals directing the campaigns. The South Africans were ill-prepared because of inter-war financial constraints and the Union government's poor understanding of Hitler's ambitions. Katz's provocative work provides profound, honest and thought-provoking answers to the questions asked by the veterans of 77 years ago, such as why did General Klopper surrender the fortress of Tobruk. Deon Fourie

The River ****
Peter Heller, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, R305

Jack and Wynn, best friends since college, take time out from their studies to canoe down the Maskwa River in the remote wilderness of Northern Canada. But as they paddle downstream they smell smoke and realise a wildfire is approaching. They're not alone: a disoriented man appears on the river, claiming his wife had disappeared in a fog. They go back and search for her and find her upstream in a critical condition. Jack suspects she was assaulted by her husband and left for dead. They put her in the canoe and paddle to where they left her husband, only to find he has trashed their supplies and left, armed with a shotgun. The fire is fast approaching. Is the husband waiting to ambush them? The trip becomes a race for survival. Heller's poetic description of the wilderness is breathtaking, reminiscent of Tim Winton's lyrical narrative of the Australian outback. Highly recommended. Gabriella Bekes @Gabrikwa