Daily Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 18/08/2007

Philip Wormack, Ed Lake, Benjamin Barch, Sameer Rahim, Jo Caird,
Simon Baker and Naomi Booth review the latest paperbacks

The Wages of Destruction by Adam Tooze Penguin, £12.99

Far from the invincible bulldozer of enduring myth, the Germany
that confronted the world in 1939 was a shambles. Hamstrung by
an unproductive farming sector and facing materials shortages, it
resorted to blitzkrieg-style campaigns because it could not have
coped with a long war.

But why fight at all? Adam Tooze lays bare the economic imperatives
that shaped Hitler’s ideology, and reveals how America came to replace
the USSR at the heart of Nazi demonology.

Fearing that, without large internal markets to rival those of the US,
Germany would be beggared by the advance of American-style capitalism,
Hitler gambled the spoils of unfought battles on a series of risky

The pursuit of lebensraum was understood as a struggle for
existence: the rising stakes only reinforced this impression. It
is incredible that there should be anything left to say about the
Second World War. But Tooze’s book is incredible: a coherent and
eerie reconstruction of the Reich’s strategic logic. EL

The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen Harper Perrenial, £8.99

Jonathan Franzen grew up in middle-class, 1960s America, a loser
longing to escape the suburbs. He spends the first part of this wryly
amusing memoir lurching from one social embarrassment to another.

Never quite the rebel he wanted to be, he is afraid to hang out
with the cool kids, but doesn’t want to be "social death". Franzen’s
cadenced prose realises perfectly his fraught relationship with his
family and his account of his failed marriage is poignant and honest.

Discussions of Hermann Hesse, Charlie Brown and birdwatching provide
light relief. PW

The Tribes Triumphant by Charles Glass Harper Perrenial, £8.99

Charles Glass is an American descended from Irish and Lebanese
Catholics. A keen awareness of tribalism has driven his reporting from
the Middle East over the past 30 years. Here he travels to Jordan,
Israel, the Occupied Territories, Syria and finally Lebanon – where
he escaped from Hizbollah 20 years ago.

Glass meets some fascinating people: Armenians living in Jerusalem;
Palestinians who educated themselves in Israeli jails; revisionist
Israeli historians. The most moving moment in this fluently written
account is when Glass meets an Iraqi Jewish novelist pining for

Over by Margaret Forster Vintage, £7.99

Three years after the death of her daughter Miranda, Louise begins
to write about how the tragedy has affected her family. An inquest
ruled that there was no one to blame for the sailing accident in which
Miranda died, but her father, Don, will not accept this conclusion
and wants retribution.

Margaret Forster’s prose rings true when describing human

Louise finds answers through her struggles with her writing, a process
that is interesting to follow.

There are, however, moments when her self-analysis becomes wearing,
making this gentle novel hard work. JC

In Spite of the Gods by Edward Luce Abacus, £8.99

In 1991, India’s reserves were less than $1 billion. By 2006, they
were $140 billion and growing. In this impressively researched book,
Edward Luce examines the revival of a country that was sophisticated
when much of Europe was hunter-gathering, and that may yet rise to
the top of the global order.

He shows the downside of India: famine, corruption, murder trials that
can take up to 15 years. But he also portrays an adventurous country,
conscious of its past but keen to thrive in today’s economic and
technological environments. An informative and entertaining read. SB

Selling Olga by Louisa Waugh Phoenix, £8.99

Louisa Waugh’s investigation into the fastest-growing form of organised
crime traces the journeys of her trafficked subjects backwards from
Sheffield massage parlours and Morecambe Bay to poverty in Albania,
Moldova and China.

Waugh examines UN and Nato peacekeepers’ use of trafficked women
in Bosnia and Kosovo, but also criticises the reporting that has
created the sex-slave cliché of "victim porn": trafficking is about
the forced labour of migrants from many backgrounds.

However, nearly all her stories have the same narrow focus on female
victimhood that she attacks. NB

Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel García Márquez Penguin,

The greatest delight of this novella is how well it reads: Gabriel
García Márquez’s lucid and colourful language makes for a captivating

An ageing journalist, desperate for a final night of passion before his
90th birthday, declares that "I have never gone to bed with a woman
I didn’t pay." He then divulges the details of his erotic past. The
memories fade, though, when he finally falls in love and realises he
must face death.

The tale is set in a timeless period that soaks up the fantastic
chaos of South American cosmopolitanism. BB