A NAPOLEONIC ODYSSEY
Stanley Kubrick's Napoleon
The Greatest Movie Never Made
Edited by Alison Castle
Taschen, 1,112 pages, $50
In the history of "what if?" movies, the late Stanley Kubrick's unmade Napoleon epic is unsurpassed. Forty years after the film was scuttled as too expensive, we now have a colossal book on the movie, worthy of the obsessions of Kubrick or Napoleon himself, Originally published by Taschen as a collectors' edition of 10 books nestled under one cover, S tanley Kubrick's Napoleon: The Greatest Movie Never Made is now in one volume, which includes Kubrick's draft of the script, essays on the project, costume studies, examples of the 15,000 location photos, interviews and correspondence, including Audrey Hepburn's handwritten note declining to star as Josephine. As well, the book includes access to an online database of almost 17,000 slides of Napoleonic imagery. With the reconnaissance and battle plan complete, all that is needed is another filmmaker of Kubrick's ambition to bring about Napoleon's return.
HELL IN THE PACIFIC
Onwards Towards Our Noble Deaths
By Shigeru Mizuki
Translated by Jocelyne Allen
Drawn & Quarterly, 372 pages, $25.95
Shigeru Mizuki is one of Japan's greatest illustrators, a master of both realism and manga. This, his first book rendered into English, is a powerful anti-war document. Combining cartoonish drawings of men with naturalistic ones of landscape and mayhem, Mizuki crafts a fictionalized memoir based on his experience as a draftee in Japan's Imperial Army in 1943. The setting is the South Pacific island of Rabaul, now Papua New Guinea, where we follow the fate of a battalion of men as they come under onslaught from vastly superior U.S. forces. The results are both comic and grim, vulgar and affecting. The entire book is spent in the company of individuals longing for home and real food and the comfort of women, while their arrogant commanders urge them on to suicide missions. Mizuki's affection for ordinary grunts is clear on every page; his disdain for their "superiors" palpable.
THE HERO OF 1812
The Astonishing General: The Life and Legacy of Sir Isaac Brock
By Wesley B. Turner
Dundurn, 369 pages, $35
Just in time for Canada Day weekend comes this thorough account of the life of the hero of the War of 1812. A retired professor of history (at Brock University, no less), Wesley Turner has written several books about that watershed war. This one focuses on Isaac Brock, a British general who earned his military bones, and his public fame, not only in capturing Detroit but in earning the trust of the great native leader Tecumseh. The most unlikely thing about this unlikely hero is that his role lasted less than five months before he was killed at the Battle of Queenston Heights on Oct. 13, 1812. Dressed in a bright-red uniform, he led an attack on a much larger American force and was shot by a sniper. He was just 43. He survives in the hundred of Canadian schools and streets named for him.