This Week’s Books (23/02/14)

All the Best Lines

Mo Yan – Red Sorghum (1987)Red Sorghum

The acclaimed novel of love and resistance during late 1930s China by Mo Yan, winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature

Spanning three generations, this novel of family and myth is told through a series of flashbacks that depict events of staggering horror set against a landscape of gemlike beauty, as the Chinese battle both Japanese invaders and each other in the turbulent 1930s.

A legend in China, where it won major literary awards and inspired an Oscar-nominated film directed by Zhang Yimou, Red Sorghum is a book in which fable and history collide to produce fiction that is entirely new—and unforgettable.

Verdict: 4/5

Story of a Secret StateJan Jarski – Story of a Secret State: My Report to the World (1944) 

Jan Karski’s “Story of a Secret State” stands as one of the most poignant and inspiring memoirs of World War II and the Holocaust. This definitive edition — which includes a foreword by Madeleine Albright, a biographical essay by Yale historian Timothy Snyder, an afterword by Zbigniew Brzezinski, previously unpublished photos, notes, further reading, and a glossary — is an apt legacy for this hero of conscience during the most fraught and fragile moment in modern history.

With elements of a spy thriller, documenting his experiences in the Polish Underground, and as one of the first accounts of the systematic slaughter of the Jews by the German Nazis, this volume is a remarkable testimony of one man’s courage and a nation’s struggle for resistance against overwhelming oppression.

Karski was a brilliant young diplomat when war broke out in 1939 with Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Taken prisoner by the Soviet Red Army, which had simultaneously invaded from the East, Karski narrowly escaped the subsequent Katyn Forest Massacre. He became a member of the Polish Underground, the most significant resistance movement in occupied Europe, acting as a liaison and courier between the Underground and the Polish government-in-exile. He was twice smuggled into the Warsaw Ghetto, and entered the Nazi’s Izbica transit camp disguised as a guard, witnessing first-hand the horrors of the Holocaust.

Karski’s courage and testimony, conveyed in a breathtaking manner in “Story of a Secret State,” offer the narrative of one of the world’s greatest eyewitnesses and an inspiration for all of humanity, emboldening each of us to rise to the challenge of standing up against evil and for human rights.

Verdict: 4/5

George Tiffin – All the Best Lines (2013)All the Best Lines

Pithy put-downs, hard-boiled snarlings, words of love and regret… ALL THE BEST LINES presents 500 memorable movie quotes, embracing both one-liners (‘My name is Pussy Galore’) and slices of snappy dialogue from pictures as diverse as When Harry Met Sally and Pulp Fiction. Arranged under such timeless themes as Dreams, Friends, Libido and Memories, the quotes juxtapose films and stars from every era and every genre.

Dotted throughout the text are feature capsules focusing on themes and stories in the movies from Goldwynisms to Mae West, plus a generous scattering of cinema anecdotes, making the book both a joy to browse and an authoritative reference.

Lavishly illustrated with full-colour photographs, ALL THE BEST LINES will delight and entertain you in equal measure, reacquainting you with your favourite movies and introducing you to some forgotten classics.

Verdict: 5/5

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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