The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan (Bloomsbury, £10.99). It usually pays to remain sceptical when historians attempt to redefine the grand forces that shaped human civilisation. Frankopan’s subtitle – “A New History of the World” – therefore gives pause. But he makes a compelling case for the pivotal and enduring importance of the meeting points between Asia and Europe. Here, many aspects of cultural, economic and intellectual life were hammered out and, unsurprisingly, the region has long been the site of political rivalry and military conflict. The future shows few signs of being any less frenzied.
The Search for God by Peter May (Malcolm Down Publishing, £8.99). May trained as a doctor and worked as a GP for 30 years. A lay member of the General Synod of the Church of England for 25 years, he makes a passionate case for Christian evangelism. He became a committed Christian aged 20 and his writing reflects his enthusiasm for his faith. He concludes: “There is no other like Jesus to be found in the other world religions … There is no remedy for the moral void that exists without God … The case for Christ has never been more compelling.”
Nomad by Brandan Robertson (DLT, £12.99). The author, who is the national spokesperson for the pro-gay marriage group Evangelicals for Marriage Equality, says he has always been “fascinated by the big questions about life”. He regards the way his church treats sexual and gender minorities as “deeply flawed”. He describes his book as less about sexual or gender identity than a “journey so far from the rigid confines of religion to the vast desert sands of true spirituality”. Nomad may be of interest to readers who want to know how critics of the Church’s teaching think.
So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighbourhood by Patrick Modiano (MacLehose Press, £8.99). Modiano’s sly, slinky and troubling novels are an acquired but addictive taste. This is the novel written just before Modiano received the Nobel Prize for Literature and it’s one of his very best. A reclusive writer finds himself entangled in the life of two young fans, which leads the author to question his memories of his own past. Like all of Modiano’s novels, this is an elegiac meditation on memory and forgetting, the scars of childhood imprisoned in the heart of a man.
Passage of Arms by Eric Ambler (British Library, £8.99). Eric Ambler was always one of Britain’s most perspicacious novelists, seeing trends in international politics and terror long before they made the headlines. His post-war novels, of which this is perhaps the finest example, survey a post-colonial world falling apart. In Passage of Arms, a young Indian clerk discovers a cache of hidden guns and decides to sell them. Ambler lifts the lid on international arms smuggling and Islamist terrorism with his usual panache and dry humour.
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