In War and Peace (1868-9), Tolstoy entwines grand themes - conflict and love, birth and death, free will and fate - with unforgettable scenes of nineteenth-century Russia, to create a magnificent epic of human life in all its imperfection and grandeur.
Captain Ahab is an eerily compelling madman who focuses his distilled hatred and suffering (and that of generations before him) into the pursuit of a creature as vast, dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself.
Flashman and the Great Game takes our man into the world of Kim, as he spies for the British, dallies with a luscious maharani and - despite spectacular acts of spinelessness - not only survives the bloodbath of the Indian Mutiny but emerges with a Victoria Cross and a knighthood.Impossible to put down and some of the greatest comic writing of the last 100 years.
'America was never innocent.'
Thus begins the Underworld U.S.A. Trilogy. It's James Ellroy's pop history of the 1960s, his window-peeper's view of government misconduct, his dirty trickster's take on the great events of an incendiary era. It's a tour de force of the American idiom, and an acknowledged masterpiece.