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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hillary's Tips on Kids

Experience has taught Hillary Rodham Clinton to step cautiously and watch her back. And this may explain why her recently published book about society's role in child-rearing, "It Takes a Village," is so resolutely nonconfrontational and anodyne.

Espousing conservative, old-fashioned family values, the first lady advocates a more discipline-orientated education system complete with school uniforms and a focus on educational standards. She expresses a woolly preference for social ideals such as the two-parent family and sex-free adolescence in general, but comes up with few new ideas or specific initiatives to achieve her aims.

Clinton peppers her prose with heart-warming personal anecdotes from both her own traditional, suburban Chicago childhood, and the peculiar experience of living with the president of the United States. And herein lies the secret of the book's success.

"It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons That Children Teach Us" by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Simon & Schuster, $20.


Frederick Brown, an American biographer, has written a long, lively and thoroughly readable account of the extraordinary life of Emile Zola.

Born in 1840, Zola lived during a turbulent time in French politics when the Commune was defeated and the Third Republic struggled into life. His involvement in the Dreyfus case, as the author of the outspoken manifesto against anti-Semitism, "J'accuse," made him the target of much abuse from the Catholic right. And Brown toys with the possibility that it was one such enemy who engineered his death from carbon monoxide poisoning in 1902.

Reacting against the romanticism of the past, Zola espoused a raw and bleak naturalism in literature, and drew heavily on the industrial and scientific innovations of his era for his themes. An indefatigable worker, early in his career he set himself the task of writing a cycle of 20 novels which, through the vast and tangled history of two families would encompass every aspect of the new, bourgeois France.

In his personal life Zola managed to sustain a successful m?nage ? trois; his wife, Alexandrine, eventually came to regard the children of Zola's much loved young mistress as her grandchildren.

"Zola: A Life" by Frederick Brown, Macmillan, ?25 (about $38).

-- Compiled by Natasha Fairweather from

The Times, The Financial Times and

the International Herald Tribune.