Off the shelf
SUN Tzu's great-grandson Sun Pin adds his bit to the renowned military treatise Art of War in the book Military Methods (Westview Press $190) translated by Ralph Sawyer.
Although Sun Pin was battling away back in the fourth century BC, his methods of selecting his troops, going on the attack and dealing with losses offer handy hints for today's business world.
Those who fancy more modern soldiering derring-do can try True Stories of the SAS by Robin Hunter aka Robin Neillands (Virgin $60). It first appeared in 1985 and now gets a fresh, updated outing with the Gulf War and the killing of the three IRA members in Gibraltar included. Older exploits include the SAS' war-time work and its role in then Malaya between 1950-53 in fighting communist guerillas.
Three leading men of past years find themselves once more in the spotlight as the biography industry continues in overdrive. In Search of Churchill (HarperCollins $96) is Martin Gilbert's 30-year project to document Sir Winston Churchill; The Lonely Leader: Monty 1944-5 (Pan $119) finds Alastair Horne tracking down the real General Montgomery, with the help of the soldier's son David; and Brian Hoey's Mountbatten: The Private Story (Pan $119) dusts down the less appealing characteristics of Lord Mountbatten (overly keen on money, liked to interfere in other people's lives) and gives them an airing.
A more contemporary hero is the subject of Tim Jackson's Virgin King (HarperCollins $84). Richard Branson has achieved success by combining business flair with good marketing. This unauthorised biography looks at both the man and his methods.
P J O'Rourke is at it again, pronouncing in his bitter and twisted way on the plight of the planet in All the Trouble in the World (Picador $85). Here he tackles among other things, pestilence, famine and death.
Jasmine Nights by S P Somtow (Penguin $119) offers a literary look at cross-cultural dilemmas. A 12-year-old boy is caught between Thai and English traditions in Bangkok. Teaming up with a black American boy, he sets off to find himself in a series of coming-of-age adventures.
Robin Norwood tackles that most puzzling of phenomena, fate, in her latest work Why Me? Why This Why Now? (Arrow $60). She examines the different forms adversity can take and offers ways to come to terms with it.
Into the ever-expanding oeuvre on The Beatles comes Summer of Love : The Making of Sgt Pepper by George Martin (Pan $102). The album was created by the fab four under the auspices of Martin in 1967 when peace, love and flower power in full swing. Martin anecdotally recalls his relationship with the band and how the songs and music on the album came to pass.
Jack Nicholson and his life on and off the screen come under the scrutiny of Patrick McGilligan in Jack's Life (HarperCollins $84). The author tracks the star from his breakthrough role in Easy Rider to his current position at the top of the Hollywood charts and draws neat parallels between his mixed-up childhood and his mixed-up approach to relationships in adult life. Pictures are included.
To coincide with the television series of the same name, Lynda La Plante's The Governor (Pan $85) appears in paperback. The story is based on the pilot episode for the show. A prisoner dies in his cell and a riot follows. The subsequent inquiry elevates Helen Hewitt to the top spot as Barfield prison's first female governor.
The men who put her there, don't intend her to stay. They want her to remain just long enough to see the prison through a difficult stretch until it's safe for a man to be appointed once more. She, however, has other ideas.