JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN (WITH HELP FROM SEYMOUR AND NORMAN)
BOOK REVIEW: Creature Comforts: New Zealanders and their Pets
By Nancy Swarbrick (Otago University Press, RRP $55)
Kiwis tend to fall into two categories when it comes to our furry, feathered and/or scaled friends: we are either pet-owners or poorly adjusted human beings who are incapable of forming real, meaningful relationships and doomed to a life of loneliness and social ineptitude.
OK, perhaps that is a tad harsh and judgmental. I guess there are some pet-owners out there who may be a little poorly adjusted.
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with a 2011 survey showing 68 per cent of Kiwi households had a least one pet. Of those, almost half were occupied by cats (take that, Gareth Morgan) and nearly a third by dogs.
Author Nancy Swarbrick says she set out to gain some understanding of why New Zealanders are so fond of their animal companions by tracing the development of pet culture in this country.
REVIEWED BY MARK HOTTON
BOOK REVIEW: The Bassett Road Machine-Gun Murders
By Scott Bainbridge ($37 Allen & Unwin)
This book was published to mark the 50th anniversary of a shocking crime that drew a line in New Zealand's criminal history and heralded a more sinister era.
Set against a backdrop of six o'clock closings, a Chicago-style underworld, bent cops, prostitution and the lure of a quick buck or two, the book helpfully provides a brief history of the sly-grog dens in Auckland, which helps create an interesting backdrop to the environment in which the murders took place.
It's a tale of old New Zealand, of seedy bars, safecrackers and honour among criminals.
The murders, by machine- gun execution, of two members of the underworld shocked the nation and the two men convicted, Ron Jorgensen and John Gillies, became household names.
BOOK REVIEW: Hanns and Rudolf
By Thomas Harding (Random House, RRP $38)
Subtitled "the extraordinary true story of the Jewish investigator who pursued and captured one of Nazi Germany's most notorious war criminals", Hanns and Rudolf shows that a true story can be every bit as exciting as any work of fiction a Hollywood scriptwriter could come up with.
Hanns Alexander, the son of a wealthy German family, fled Berlin in the 1930s and made his way to London.
Rudolf Hoss was a farmer and soldier who moved through the ranks to become the commandant of the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp, where millions of men, women and children were brutally murdered during World War II.
After the war, the first British war crimes investigation team begins to hunt down the high- ranking Nazis responsible for the greatest atrocities the world had ever seen: Lieutenant Hanns Alexander is one of the lead investigators, Rudolf Hoss one of his most elusive targets.
T K Roxborogh (Penguin, RRP $35)
Reviewed by F Mulligan
Birthright is the third book in the Banquo's Son trilogy.
Fleance, the son in question, is now king of Scotland.
He is married and his wife, Rachael, is pregnant with an heir. All should be well, with his claim to rule seemingly secure. Alas, he of course, is in for stormy weather.
REVIEWED BY JILLIAN ALLISON-AITKEN
Flying Kiwis: A History of the OE
By Jude Wilson (Otago University Press, RRP $45)
Going on the big OE is something of a rite of passage for many young Kiwis, so it should come as no surprise that there is now a book looking at the history of this trend.
This is the first detailed account of the uniquely Kiwi phenomenon: the extended overseas working holiday also known as the "overseas experience", or OE.
Our little country is so far away from the bright lights of the European/American big smokes that a 10-day package holiday just doesn't cut it, so, as the cost of long-haul flights have reduced, an increasing number of young New Zealanders have headed overseas for their big adventure.
As Kiwis headed for London during the 1980s, newspapers and magazines aimed at the expats became more common and parts of the city - such as Earls Court - became known as Kiwi zones, where New Zealanders could hang out together, reminisce about home and compare notes.
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