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Books: Last-Minute Christmas Gifts

By Antoine du Rocher


NEW YORK, 22 December 2004


Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity
by Leo Braudy

There is enough war, gore, sex, race, sports and weaponry in this book to satisfy the most jaded adult male reader. Populated with striking warrior personalities—ranging from Saint James the Moor-Killer and the insult-hurling Beserkers of Northern Europe, through the fearsome Mamluk warrior caste of Turkish slaves in Egypt (who drove the Crusaders out of the East in the 13th century) and the Teutonic Knights of Prussia, to Carribean pirates, General Custer and the Crows of the North American Plains, and African-American combat units in the Pacific war, among countless others, it is the kind of easy-to-read book that one hates to finish.

Moreover, while some of Leo Braudy's conclusions may be worthy of debate, his inquiry spans domains as diverse as classics, gender biology, cultural anthropology, ancient and modern languages, medieval history, myth, genealogy, art history, the European wars and the conquest of the New World. There's even a chapter on War and Pornography, and another on Performance Anxiety, as well as detailed explanations of the remote origins of the usual vulgar expressions and slurs for male and female genitalia. Braudy deserves credit for making many of the concepts explored here accessible for the lay reader of today.

In short, thanks to his formidable research skills, sense of humour and thoughtful insights, Professor Braudy delivers not only a chronological and colourful panorama of what it means to be a man in the West, but also a revealing look at how renewed notions of warrior masculinity are at the heart of both Islamic terrorism and the war against it. A welcome gift alternative to the latest gadget, club tie or leather wallet.

Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity

Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity
by Leo Braudy
Hardcover: 640 pages
Alfred A. Knopf, New York (28 October 2003)
ISBN: 0679450351
$30.00


All the News That's Fit to Sell : How the Market Transforms Information into News
by James T. Hamilton


Economist James Hamilton develops an economic theory of news on how market forces drive the news. Through his analysis across a wide range of American media markets, he argues that the most frequent complaints about journalism—media bias, soft news, reporters and pundits' roles as celebrities—reflect economic factors driving news content, and that these same factors affect the selections of topics covered in the media.

Much of the book is devoted to a clear and concise presentation of evidence to support the author's economic model with a final chapter that details how policies to improve media markets might work. It makes for a fascinating read, and the chapters on Internet and rational ignorance are particularly seductive. Overall, this is an original and consistently engaging work that will appeal to news junkies, informed voters, politicians and public affairs advocates, budding media moguls and anyone that wants to understand news as a commodity.

All the News That's Fit to Sell : How the Market Transforms Information into News

All the News That's Fit to Sell : How the Market Transforms Information into News
by James T. Hamilton

Hardcover: 344 pages
Princeton University Press (February 2004)
ISBN: 0691116806
$35.00


The New Biographical Dictionary of Film
Expanded and Updated
by David Thomson


British film critic David Thomson returns with a fourth edition of his lively and irreverent reference work, which in its previous edition famously described Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman as "an Audrey Hepburn who'd give head," and Ben Affleck as "boring, complacent and criminally lucky to have got away with everything so far."

The 300 new entries include important film personalities such as Yasujiro Ozu, Graham Greene, Marcel Pagnol, Pauline Kael, Abbott and Costello, and Noël Coward, among others. Thomson's work makes an ideal last-minute Christmas gift for a film buff.

Click here for a review of the previous edition of The New Biographical Dictionary of Film.

The New Biographical Dictionary of Film

The New Biographical Dictionary of Film
Expanded and Updated
by David Thomson

Paperback: 344 pages
Alfred A. Knopf, New York (November 2004)
ISBN: 0375709401
$22.95


Oscar Night : 75 Years of Hollywood Parties
Graydon Carter(Editor), David Friend (Editor)


A splashy, oversize coffee table book of some 500 black and white and colour photos, documenting Vanity Fair's annual black-tie Oscar dinner dance from 1929 to the present day. Irresistible for incurable Hollywood celebrity junkies, decorators or those susceptible to bouts of nostalgia; others, however, can give it a pass.

Oscar Night : 75 Years of Hollywood Parties

Hardcover: 384 pages
Alfred A. Knopf, New York (October 2004 )
ISBN: 1400042488
$75.00



Antoine du Rocher is a French cultural journalist and writer based in New York. He is also a member of the editorial board of Culturekiosque.com.


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