ENGLISH artist John Constable thought it ‘‘ almost as bad’’ as ancient Mexican painting, but the Bayeux Tapestry — depicting the Battle of Hastings in 1066 — has survived criticism, world wars, bad storage and being copied for movie title sequences ( The Vikings, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves). Carola Hicks’s lively study shows a treasure that has been employed overtime for its symbolism: Napoleon believed it reflected his victories, while the Nazis saw in the tapestry their ultimate objective, an invasion of England. AT 19, having caused the death of another motorist, Adam Sutton was sentenced to prison, a confinement that reflected his secretiveness about being gay. Out of jail, he not only found his passion — working with horses — but also summoned the courage to come out: Mum, I’m me. I’m happy now.’’ The celebrity overtones in Sutton’s story, through his work on and friendships with Heath Ledger and other Hollywood stars, are countered by hard- won insights into a life of being country gay’’. When the Press Fails: Political Power and the News Media from Iraq to Katrina By W. Lance Bennett, Regina G. Lawrence and Steven Livingston University of Chicago Press, 263pp, $ 39.95
STUNNINGLY homogenous outcomes’’ across the mainstream outlets, a drastic reduction in the public watchdog role of journalism, lock- step coverage of the Bush White House agenda; since 9/ 11, the US media has fallen into crisis, argue the authors of this critique. Why is the media not working as it should? Blame the
strange mutual dependencies’’ between reporters and officials at the core of the
Washington power game’’, which challenges the American promise of freedom, democracy and civility’’.
‘‘ Foxbats Over Dimona: The Soviets’ Nuclear Gamble in the Six- Day War By Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez Yale University Press, 287pp, $ 52 WAS the 1967 Six- Day War a regional clash between Israel and its Arab neighbours or a strategic play in the Cold War? Isabella Ginor and Gideon Remez, digging through ex- Soviet files for this 40th anniversary tome, make a startling claim: the conflict was engineered by Moscow to provoke Israel into a pre- emptive strike that would justify use of Russian bombers to destroy Israel’s nuclear reactor at Dimona. Farfetched? The evidence seems strong. The consequences for the Middle East and the world may well have been nuclear war. The Bayeux Tapestry: The Life Story of a Masterpiece By Carola Hicks Vintage, 358pp, $ 27.95 Say It Out Loud: Journey of a Real Cowboy By Adam Sutton and Neil McMahon, Random House, 285pp, $ 34.95