So what have I been reading recently?
The Run of His Life: The People vs OJ Simpson – the book that was adapted into the recent TV series. That's meant it's now available in the UK, albeit with the title changed to match the series. It largely assumes you know who OJ Simpson was – the very interesting five part series 'OJ Simpson – Made in America' that was apparently shown on BT Sport has much more of the background and the postscript – but if you saw the series, you'll know that almost no-one comes out of it looking good and this has more of the usually horrible why.
Boy Racer – Mark Cavendish on his remarkable 2008 Tour de France interspersed with stories about his career to that point. Obviously, quite a lot has happened since then, but this shows what it's like to be in the middle of a bunch sprint and why he's so good at winning single races: he's got a rare combination of talent, a drive to win and intelligence. (He reminds me of Stephen Hendry in that.) There's no 'with' writer credited, and I can believe that he needed an editor more than a writer, because his ability to remember – and learn from – what happened in any race is remarkable.
Neighbours – not the TV show, but the 'The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland'. This took place in July 1941 (the town had been conquered by the Germans in 1939, handed to the Soviets as part of the pact between them to split up Poland, and just been reconquered by Germans) and is summarised as half the town killed the other, Jewish, half. It looks like this is an overestimate of the deaths, but the investigation it lead to had to avoid overly disturbing the site of the massacre so their figure of the deaths could have been an underestimate. It did confirm that although the Germans were watching and could have stopped it, it was around forty Polish citizens that actually carried out the massacres. Obviously, this was hugely controversial in Poland, not least as an earlier Soviet investigation had used torture to get to the same conclusion.
Analyzing Politics – not so much 'what does an MP do' (not least as it's a US book) but 'why would someone who wants A vote for B?' Because it's better than C or D, usually, and one way or another they know they can't have A. The electoral system may not let them express preferences, or the order of votes may have been arranged by someone who knew what they were doing. (Unsurprisingly, the first edition of this was the basis of several of the games in the Playing Politics book I used for a session on how to win committee meetings at BiCon 2006.)
In the 'to read' pile: David Millar's autobiography, covering his cycling career before, during, and after cheating.