Good Reading : December January 2009
history word of mouth Hitler’s Private Library: The books that shaped his life Timothy Ryback collection, revealing some of the formative influences on his life and ideology. Though T only a small portion of Hitler’s 16 000-strong collection remains, several of these are scrawled with his notes, and range from the expected anti-Semitic and military titles to cowboy-and-Indian novels and works on the occult. True to this eclecticism, Ryback makes surprising selections, for instance, the Berlin travel guide Hitler purchased when he was a young message runner in World War I, and which conceals a wiry black moustache hair between pages 160 and 161. Ryback does an excellent job of balancing close analysis of each book with historical context and evocative scene-setting, such as of Hitler on the balcony of his Berghof retreat looking at the northern lights as he muses on imminent war. Though Hitler was certainly an avid reader, anxious to make up for being a high school dropout, Ryback suggests he had a scattergun approach to reading, his pencil markings in the margins like night-time raids. I felt uncomfortable identifying with Hitler’s love of books but I found this to be an illuminating read, offering insights into the delusional workings of Hitler’s mind. ??? Methuen $34.95 Reviewed by Sally Denmead C L A S S I C A L C O M I C S Also Available: JANE EYRE A CHRISTMAS CAROL Order Now! www.bookandvolume.com.au Phone: 03 5236 2593 Fax: 03 5236 2030 firstname.lastname@example.org ‘Cursedbe thehands that formedyou!’ Two Text Versions: Original Mary Shelley’s Quick Text FRANKENSTEIN C I N E B O O K imothy Ryback peers into the pages of well-thumbed books from Hitler’s private The Death of Captain Cook: A hero made and unmade Glyn Williams T he accounts of the English sailors who accompanied Captain Cook form the basis of most histories on him. But in addition to these there is a body of Hawaiian evidence recorded by missionaries in the early 19th century. The comparison of the English and Hawaiian accounts is instructive for anyone with an interest in the perils of reliance on oral evidence. Even the English accounts differ on major points – did Cook fire first or did the seamen in the nearby boats? Had Cook permitted the Hawaiians to worship him? Was his death the result of too little or too much force against the Hawaiians? The Hawaiian versions, however, portray ‘an arch-fiend, a blasphemer, a libertine’ responsible for the introduction of syphilis and whose death was a case of justifiable homicide. Having surveyed the two main clusters of primary evidence Williams goes on to show how subsequent historians have felt free to pick and choose depending on which axe they were grinding at the time. In the last ten years there has been a resurgence of a more nuanced and sympathetic view of Cook based on an appreciation of his achievements as a navigator, commander and observer of first contact situations. This is a work of great interest about how history really gets written. ???? Profile $39.95 Reviewed by Grant Hansen THEIMAGINARYWORLDOF MAGICSPELLS, LEGENDS, MEN&GODS In the wild and inhospitable European far north, in the land of Scandinavian myth and runic legend, Viking warriors discover a child in a space capsule ... MoreCinebookTitles: LUCKY LUKE - from the author of Asterix comes the cowboy who can shoot faster than his own shadow! PLUS: Biggles, Blake & Mortimer, Colonel Clifton, Papyrus, Yakari Wind in theWillows, Cedric, Ducoboo, Iznogood ... and manymore ...