Books 12 September 2013 Books in Brief: Andrew Lycett, Robert Calderisi and Tom Cheshire Three new books you may have missed. Sign up for our weekly email * Print HTML Auguste and Jean Piccard, along with Auguste's wife Jeannette, on another expedition in May 1934. Image: Getty Wilkie Collins: a Life of Sensation Andrew Lycett Andrew Lycett, a biographer of Rudyard Kipling and Arthur Conan Doyle, has done some investigating into the father of the detective novel and in this biography reconstructs Wilkie Collins’s tangled domestic life, which revolved around two mistresses. The writer who specialised in family secrets had secrets of his own. He also had a limitless capacity for drugs and a place at the centre of Victorian cultural life – he was a friend of Charles Dickens and the painter John Everett Millais. Here is the author of The Moonstone as a character from one of his “sensation” novels . . . except that this is all true. Hutchinson, 544pp, £20 Earthly Mission: the Catholic Church and World Development Robert Calderisi The former director of the World Bank takes a balanced look at the contradictory and controversial stances of the Catholic Church, which has been criticised for its position on birth control, abortion, child abuse and priestly celibacy. Here, Robert Calderisi points out that 65 per cent of Catholic schools are in developing countries and that in some parts of Africa it provides up to 50 per cent of health and education services. It is also a provider of antiretroviral drugs to combat Aids and has established credit unions to promote economic self-sufficiency. There are two sides to the Catholic coin. Yale University Press, 304pp, £20 The Explorer Gene Tom Cheshire The Swiss family Piccard has a habit of going higher, deeper and further than anyone else. In 1931 Auguste Piccard reached a height of 51,775 feet in a balloon, higher than any man before him. His twin, Jean Felix, then promptly went higher. Auguste’s son Jacques went to the deepest place on earth, the Mariana Trench, in a family-designed submarine, and his grandson Bertrand was the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon. Tom Cheshire tells the story of these high – and low – achievers and examines what pushed them ever onwards. Short Books, 301pp, £20 › Business quote of the day: pensions Michael Prodger is an Assistant Editor at the New Statesman. He is an art historian, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Buckingham, and a former literary editor. Subscribe This article first appeared in the 09 September 2013 issue of the New Statesman, Britain alone More Related articles How A Series Of Unfortunate Events went from a children’s book to a postmodern masterpiece Counting the ways: what Virgin and Other Stories teaches us about want What can a new book of Holocaust testimony tell us about the Third Reich?