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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Justice, Irish Woes, Mann

If you wasted days watching the O.J. Simpson trial on television, and hours arguing over the verdict, yet you still hanker for more, turn to Simpson's celebrated lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, for some crisp and brief thoughts on the subject.


In Reasonable Doubts: The O.J. Simpson Case and the Criminal Justice System (Simon & Schuster, $20) Dershowitz does not seek to persuade readers that Simpson is innocent, nor that they are wrong if they believe him to be guilty.


Instead, he tries to explain how the American criminal justice system works and to show that, because of police bungling, Simpson had to be acquitted. Time will tell whether one popularly perceived false acquittal "will promote truth in the long run" by putting a stop to routine police perjury in the courtroom as Dershowitz maintains.





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Thomas Mann was the last great European man of letters. He died in 1955, leaving behind at least four great novels, 26 years of detailed and intimate diaries and six children who were all psychologically damaged.


No fewer than three new biographers have recently tried to define the writer, the man and the repressed-homosexual.


Thomas Mann: Eros & Literature by Anthony Heilbut (Alfred A Knopf, $40) is an apologia for Mann's now unfashionable kind of "half-open closet" mentality. For Heilbut argues that writing was an act of erotic simulation for Mann.


Ronald Hayman seeks to analyze Mann through his fiction. Thomas Mann (Bloomsbury, ?25, about $38) succeeds in creating the impression of a man who was ruthless, snobbish and emotionally distant, but nonetheless sympathetic.


Donald Prater's Thomas Mann: A Life (Oxford University Press, ?25 or about $38) is the most detailed and scholarly of these recently published biographies.


Prater is particularly good at defining the gap between Mann's self-conscious and cherished public persona and the passion that lay at the heart of the real man.





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The Woman Who Walked Into Doors (Cape, ?14.99 or about $22) represents a distinct change of tone for Irish novelist Roddy Doyle, who has made a name for himself by harnessing happiness in former novels like Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha.


This new novel tells the story of Paula Spencer Boo Hoo Hoo. Persistently beaten by her husband, she has taken to the bottle. And as she looks back on the wreckage of her life, she seeks out little islands of pleasure. Her childhood was happy in parts, and her bride-groom "sat in his morning suit like a chicken in tin foil."


Parting company with his natural terrain, Doyle is less sure-footed in this novel. He should cherish his position as Irish fiction's "resident ray of sunshine."





Compiled from the International Herald Tribune, The Sunday Times, The Times and The Financial Times.