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In the Critics this week

Julian Assange, Shirley Bassey and questionable Booker prize judges.

This week's issue of the New Statesman contains our autumn books special. Our critic at large, Jonathan Bate, Provost of Worcester College, Oxford and one of the country's leading Shakespeare scholars, writes about our fascination with the Tudors. More important in the Tudor period than Henry VIII's sexual indiscretions or Elizabeth I's spy network, he argues, was the development of of the printing press. The NS's lead book reviewer John Gray reviews Arguably, a collection of Christopher Hitchens's journalism, former WikiLeaks staffer James Ball assesses about Julian Assange: the Unauthorised Autobiography and Dava Sobel talks to Jonathan Derbyshire about her latest book A More Perfect Heaven. Elsewhere, Leo Robson wonders how qualified this year's Man Booker Prize judges are for their role and Ryan Gilbey reviews Lars Von Trier's latest film, Melancholia. Plus: Karl Miller on Diana Athill, Vernon Bogdanor on Max Hastings, Ed Smith on Rafael Nadal, Lisa Appignanesi on Darian Leader and madness, Antonia Quirke on our attitude towards robots, Will Self on body piercings and Rachel Cooke on Shirley Bassey.