The Great Grisby: Two Thousand Years of Exceptional Dogs by Mikita Brottman (William Collins, £16.99). I have read thousands of books in my 81 years and this is the only one that has made me happy. Brottman, a psychoanalyst, contends that her French bulldog, Grisby, ‘forms a bridge between my inner life and the real world out there, towards which I am increasingly ambivalent’. This book deals frankly and unsentimentally with the question of whether dogs really love us and describes close relationships between dogs and their owners, going back to Alexander the Great and including Virginia Woolf, Galsworthy and Dickens. And into each learned, sprightly chapter pads Grisby.
The New Emperors: Power and the Princelings in China by Kerry Brown (I.B. Tauris, £20.) Brown, who was once at the Foreign Office, has written the best study I know of the ‘ruthlessly successful multinational corporation’ that is the Communist party of China, and its leaders, whose money, contacts, relatives and women have propelled them to the top.