Caroline Moorehead rss

Paul Rosenberg with a Matisse painting in the 1930s

Picasso’s dealer

4 October 2014
My Grandfather’s Gallery Anne Sinclair

Profile Books, pp.224, £15.99, ISBN: 9780374251628

When she was four, Anne Sinclair had her portrait painted by Marie Laurencin. It is a charming picture, a little dark-brown-haired girl with a white bow, very blue eyes and… Read more

Robert Capa in Picture Post, featuring his Spanish civil war photo-journalism, December 1938

The Spanish Civil War hotel that Capa, Hemingway and Gelhorn called home

21 June 2014
Hotel Florida Amanda Vaill

Bloomsbury, pp.464, £25, ISBN: 9780374172992

In February 1924 the Hotel Florida, a ten- storey marble-clad building with 200 rooms, a glass-roofed atrium and red plush furnishings, went up on Madrid’s Gran Via. Along with the… Read more

Monsieur le Commandant, by Romain Slocombe - review

28 September 2013
Monsieur le Commandant: A Wartime Confession Romain Slocombe

Gallic Books, pp.208, £8.99, ISBN: 9781908313508

There can be few characters in modern fiction more unpleasant than Paul-Jean Husson, the narrator in Romain Slocombe’s Monsieur le Commandant. Indeed, he is at times too nasty. If this… Read more

The Nile has teemed with crocodiles and hippopotami from the first century BC onwards, as this Roman mosaic shows

Red Nile, by Robert Twigger - review

25 May 2013
Red Nile: A Biography of the World’s Greatest River Robert Twigger

Weidenfeld, pp.466, £25, ISBN: 9780299866497

When Bernini designed his fountain of the four rivers for the Piazza Navona in Rome in 1651 he draped the head of the god of the Nile with a loose… Read more


Thinly veiled threats

2 March 2013
Sex and the Citadel Shereen El Feki

Chatto, pp.368, £16.99, ISBN: 09780307377395

No one could ever accuse Shereen El Feki of lacking in courage. To spend five years travelling around the Arab world in search of dildos, questioning women about foreplay and… Read more

A pirate keeps vigil on the coastline at Hobyo town in north-eastern Somalia

Apocalypse now

12 January 2013
The World’s Most Dangerous Place: Inside the Outlaw State of Somalia James Fergusson

Bantam, pp.406, £20, ISBN: 97805306859

In his introduction, James Fergusson apologises for the title of his book. Somalia, he writes, may no longer be the most dangerous place on earth. Since the summer of 2012,… Read more


Occupation Diaries, by Raja Shehadeh

18 August 2012
Occupation Diaries Raja Shehadeh

Profile Books, pp.154, 12.99, ISBN: 9781781250167

A group of friends, Palestinian and foreign, go to picnic at a wadi between Jerusalem and Jericho. They are wearing bright, casual summer clothes. On a nearby rock sits another… Read more

From Austria to Australia

4 August 2012
Good Living Street: The Fortunes of My Viennese Family Tim Bonyhady

Allen & Unwin, pp.376, 16.99, ISBN: 9780307378804

Moriz Gallia from Moravia and Hermine Hamburger from Silesia met and married in Vienna in 1893, when the city was the third largest European capital after London and Paris. They… Read more

Lest we forget

17 March 2012
The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir Claude Lanzmann

Atlantic, pp.528, 25

It was not possible, as Primo Levi memorably wrote, to convey the full horror of the Nazi extermination camps because no one had survived to describe death in the gas… Read more


Good companions

16 July 2011
Seen in the Yemen: Travelling with Freya Stark and Others Hugh Leach

Arabian Publishing, pp.308, 45

‘Choose your companions’, says an early Arab proverb, ‘thereafter your road.’ In the 1970s, Hugh Leach’s companion on his travels to Northern Yemen was Freya Stark, and she has become… Read more


Days of wine and shrapnel

11 September 2010
Looking for Trouble Virginia Cowles

Faber Finds, pp.480, 18

Virginia Cowles was a 27-year-old American journalist working for the Hearst newspapers when she went to Spain for the first time. It was March 1937; the battle of Guadalajara had… Read more


Stemming the human tide

5 May 2010
The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War Ben Shephard

Bodley Head, pp.486, 25

Long before the Allies landed in Normandy in June 1944 and began their advance across France, preparations were underway for what to do about the civilians who had been displaced… Read more

Light thoughts in a dark time

10 June 2009
Ruth Maier’s Diary Edited by Jan Erik Vold, translated by Jamie Bulloch

Harvill Secker, pp.412, 18.99

Ruth Maier’s Diary, edited by Jan Erik Vold, translated by Jamie Bulloch ‘Why shouldn’t we suffer when there is so much suffering?’ wrote Ruth Maier to her friend the Norwegian… Read more

Poule de luxe

3 June 2009
Venus of Empire Flora Fraser

John Murray, pp.287, 20

‘Pauline was as beautiful as it was possible to be’, the Austrian statesman Metternich once observed. ‘Pauline was as beautiful as it was possible to be’, the Austrian statesman Metternich… Read more

Time out in Tuscany

4 February 2009
The Last Supper: A Summer in Italy Rachel Cusk

Faber, pp.219, 16.99

In the spring of 2006, Rachel Cusk and her husband decided to take their two small daughters out of school and spend three months, a season, exploring Italy. She felt… Read more

The yellow star of courage

22 October 2008
Journal Hélène Berr, translated from the French by David Bellos

Quercus, pp.300, 16.99

Journal, by Hélène Berr, translated from the French by David Bellos ‘What must be rescued,’ wrote Hélène Berr in her diary on 27 October 1943, ‘is the soul and the… Read more

A war of words

17 September 2008
Resistance: Memoirs of Occupied France Agnès Humbert

Bloomsbury, pp.370, 14.99

Resistance: Memoirs of Occupied France, by Agnès Humbert Paradoxically, wrote Jean Paul Sartre, never had French intellectuals been so free as they were under the German occupation, for having lost… Read more

Of zyzzyva and syzygy

10 September 2008
Letterati: An Unauthorised Look at Scrabble and the People Who Play it Paul McCarthy

ECW Press, pp.240, 12.99

Letterati: An Unauthorised Look at Scrabble and the People Who Play it, by Paul McCarthy Make no mistake: Scrabble is a brutal game. Given a chance to foil an opponent,… Read more

A futile solution

25 June 2008
Journey to Nowhere: One Woman Looks for the Promised Land Eva Figes

Granta, pp.184, 14.99

In 1939, the six-year-old Eva Figes escaped Nazi Berlin for London. Her family were secular Jews and her father, who had been arrested after Kristallnacht, had spent some months in… Read more

Less mighty than the sword

11 June 2008
The Translator: A Tribesman’s Memoir of Darfur Daoud Hari

Penguin, pp.210, 8.99

Caroline Moorehead on Daoud Hari’s memoir of Darfur When Daoud Hari was a boy, the villages of northern Darfur were peaceful places. He had a camel called Kelgi, to which he… Read more

Putting the jackboot in

12 March 2008
Italy’s Sorrow: A Year of War, 1944-45 James Holland

Harper Press, pp.606, 25

He who holds Rome, Churchill told Roosevelt and Stalin in November 1943, ‘holds the title deeds to Italy’. Two months earlier, immediately after the armistice and the surrender of the… Read more

Lost and found

6 June 2007
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Ishmael Beah

Fourth Estate, pp.240, 14.99

When Starbucks in the United States decided to promote Ishmael Beah’s memoir of life as a boy soldier in Sierra Leone it seemed to many a surprising choice. A Long… Read more

A Frenchman for all seasons

15 March 2007
Talleyrand: Betrayer and Saviour of France Robin Harris

John Murray, pp.436, 30

From soon after his death in 1838, Prince de Talleyrand, First Minister, Foreign Minister, President de Conseil and Grand Chambellan under a succession of French governments, became the subject of… Read more

Papa on the warpath

16 August 2006
The Breaking Point: Hemingway, Dos Passos and the Murder of José Robles Stephen Koch

Robson, pp.308, 14.99

Hemingway on the China Front: His WWII Spy Mission with Martha Gellhorn Peter Moreira

Potomac Books, pp.256, 14

In 1961, when he was 62, Ernest Hemingway shot himself. Almost half a century later, this bombastic, vainglorious, paranoid man, whose writing captured the minds not only of his own… Read more

Manners elevated to a high art

21 January 2006
The Age of Conversation Benedetta Craveri

New York Review of Books, pp.475, 17.99

No society has ever thought about itself more intensely, or spent more time considering how best to present itself, than the ancien régime in France for the 150 years or… Read more