David Berry, Pluto Press, RRP£14.99/$19.95
The tennis club is often derided as a home of middle-class snobbery. But Berry argues in this fascinating, mostly UK-focused social history that tennis is also a surprisingly subversive sport. Men and women have played together since Victorian times, and there are long traditions of working-class and ethnic minority players.
Edited by Lawrence Booth, Wisden, RRP£55
The 157th edition of the game’s bible is as bulky as ever: 1,536 pages squeezed between the familiar yellow covers and packed with statistics, scorecards, match reports and titbits. It also ranges beyond the boundary to find cricket angles in theatre, technology, environment, films and even Julian Assange.
That Will Be England Gone: The Last Summer of Cricket
Michael Henderson, Constable, RRP£20
Henderson laments cricket’s decline to a niche of the English imagination. But all good sports books are about more than just sport, and this anti-modern elegy to an old rural England takes in countless bypaths from Vienna to Ken Dodd. The book is felt more than thought, but it is erudite and occasionally beautiful.
A Race with Love and Death: The Story of Britain’s First Great Grand Prix Driver, Richard Seaman
Richard Williams, Simon & Schuster, RRP£20
Richard Seaman died in 1939, aged 26, in the rain while leading the Belgian Grand Prix — one of many victims of an era when the fast died young. The Cambridge-educated son of an heir to a whisky fortune was subsequently almost forgotten. This charming account revives his memory.
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