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Finest Years - Churchill As Warlord 1940-45 by Max Hastings is published in hardback by Harper Press, priced pounds 25. Available now. Leading military historian Max Hastings has again come up trumps with his in-depth examination of Winston Churchill's role as wartime Prime Minister and tactician.

Potential readers should dismiss doubts about whether there could still be anything new to say on the subject. There is fresh material here, and Hastings' outspoken and sometimes abrasive judgments make the book a most entertaining read.

With a gimlet eye and forensic detachment, he strips away layers of propaganda and myth about the Second World War, and reveals startling and sometimes uncomfortable truths.

Although he applauds Churchill's heroic defiance of Hitler in 1940-41, he does not hesitate to criticise him where necessary. The Prime Minister's judgement was often dire and he was difficult to work with.

Hastings' knowledge of military matters is formidable, and his elegant prose is a joy to read. In content and style, Finest Years is a superb achievement. 9/10 ANTHONY LOOCH The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution by Richard Dawkins is published in hardback by Bantam Press, priced pounds 20. Available now.

Richard Dawkins is known for his unflinching style, and he again pulls no punches in The Greatest Show On Earth.

Tearing apart the claims of 'evolution-deniers', he sets out the facts of how the process has shaped the world, and his fascination with nature and wonder at the rich diversity of the planet shine through in every chapter. It's packed with evidence, from the transition of ape to man and the development of dog breeds, to his perhaps lesser-known assertion that dolphins, rather than evolving from sea creatures, had ancestors that walked the land.

He doesn't touch much on religion, but he doesn't shy away from displaying contempt for the views of creationists, comparing denial of evolution to denial of the Holocaust. That aside, it's a vivid tribute to the wonders of the natural world. 8/10 CLAIRE ENNIS
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 25, 2009
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