Grab-bag book reviews #1



McCaig, Donald. Rhett Butler’s People – the authorized novel based on Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind.  London: Pan, 2008. 

McCaig’s novel should appeal to those who can’t get enough of Rhett and Scarlett’s romance during the American Civil War.  We find out what happened in Rhett’s past, about his family, and about his meeting with Scarlett.  It’s a new perspective, well-written, and will make GWTW devotees see their beloved characters in a different light.  At 514 pages of text, this is a read which will engross the casual reader and delight the fan of Mitchell’s original novel.  I find it more successful that the official sequel, ‘Scarlett’, by Alexandra Ripley.


Piazza, Jim & Kinn, Gail.  The Academy Awards: the complete unofficial history.  New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 2006 revised ed.

This book presents the story of the Oscars year by year, in ‘Chronicle of the Cinema’ style.  Alongside an array of photographs, there are details of all major winners, a commentary on each year’s awards, and notes on ‘sins of omission’, ‘unmentionables’, ‘firsts’ and so on.  From the 1927 awards (Jannings, Gaynor, Jolson, Chaplin) to 2005 (PS Hoffman, Witherspoon, Weisz, Clooney, Ang Lee), most big names are covered, and along the way we hear about the honorary awards, the nominees and also-rans, and a little bit of gossip.  This is my favourite Oscars book of the three or four I have in my collection, and it is the most accessible if you want quick, well-illustrated statistics and comment.


Hooper, John.  An illustrated history of Oldham’s railways.  Pinner: Irwell Press, 1991.

Now a definitively historical document with Oldham’s railway network now completely replaced by trams, this short history of Oldham’s stations and routes from 1842 through to the 1960s, this study is a little dry when it comes to the text, but has a huge amount of photographs, which not only show the tracks, stock, bridges, and buildings of the railway infrastructure, but also the factories, mills, and viaducts which surrounded them.


Riddell, Jonathan. Pleasure trips by Underground.  Harrow Weald: Capital Transport, 1998.

This book celebrates the poster artists who were engaged to promote the Underground as a means to travel to work, home, leisure and entertainment.  Published in association with the London Transport Museum, this is a sumptuous coffee table book which has full colour illustrations of the pick of transport poster art, split into sections on shopping, night out, sport, open air, day in town, ceremonial London, the countryside, the Thames, and holidays.  The vast majority of posters featured are from the 1920s and 1930s, with their bold colours and art deco feel.