Dan Jones rss

Sean Connery shopping for clothes in 1967. These days James Bond would buy his knitted silk ties online

Of Mice and Menswear

1 October 2014

Of the many sorrows bestowed upon man at the Fall, the most tiresome was his sudden compulsion to wear clothes. The King James Bible tells us that when Adam and… Read more

American heavyweight champion Joe Frazier kept his title at the end of the fight called the "match of the century" against Muhammad Ali Photo: Getty

When boxing ruled the world

30 August 2014
Bouts of Mania: Ali, Frazier, Foreman and an America on the Ropes Richard Hoffer

Aurum, pp.278, £18.99, ISBN: 9780306822223

The early 1970s was a good time for heavyweight boxing. Indeed, it was probably the last truly great age for the sport. Flamboyant fighters contested brutal matches in exotic locations,… Read more

The harrowing of hell from the 14th-century ‘Bologna Cope’

English embroidery: the forgotten wonder of the medieval world

28 September 2013

Think of an art at which the English have excelled and I doubt you would come up with the word ‘embroidery’. As I muttered when my agent asked whether I… Read more


Mud, madness, music — and mattresses

22 June 2013

Festivals? A young man’s game. I know this because I was a young man until quite recently, so I went to loads of them and can tell you exactly what they… Read more


Polo, Anyone?

23 June 2012

There’s a moment when the day turns. The sun has gone down, the clonk of mallet on ball has fallen silent, and the wicker hampers have been packed away, back… Read more


Bookends: Terribly Tudor

31 March 2012

History publishers like a gimmick, so I assumed Suzannah Lipscomb’s A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England (Ebury, £12.99) must be a cheeky rip-off of Ian Mortimer’s Time Traveller’s Guide series.… Read more


When treason was the last resort

7 January 2012
Blood Cries Afar: The Forgotten Invasion of England, 1216 Sean McGlynn

The History Press, pp.288, 20

One hundred and fifty years after Anglo-Saxon England was invaded by the Normans, Anglo-Norman England was invaded by the French. On 21 May 1216 King Philip Augustus’ eldest son, Louis… Read more


A beautiful bloody world

10 December 2011
The Age of Chivalry: Culture and Power in Medieval Europe, 950-1450 Hywel Williams

Quercus, pp.224, 20

The half-millennium or so that followed the division of the Carolingian empire in 843 AD was a time of profound social and political change in Europe. Kingdoms were established, new… Read more


Sad, not mad

2 July 2011
Sister Queens Julia Fox

Weidenfeld, pp.456, 20

The Catholic Monarchs — Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile — had five children together. The Catholic Monarchs — Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of… Read more


Enduring love

5 March 2011

Just over two years ago, Barack Obama delivered a calculated insult to Britain. He returned the Epstein bust of Sir Winston Churchill that had been loaned to America by the… Read more


Gym junkie

16 October 2010

A trip to the local bodybuilders’ gym under the influence of muscle drugs If you want to get ahead in sports, there’s nothing better than a nice big helping of… Read more


The match that sparked the Civil War

18 September 2010
A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of Charles I and Henrietta Maria Katie Whitaker

Weidenfeld, pp.363, 20

There are turbulent marriages. And then there are turbulent marriages in which the husband ends up getting beheaded on a stage. This book describes the latter. One doesn’t normally need… Read more


A rather orthodox doxy

16 June 2010
Anne Boleyn G. W. Bernard

Yale, pp.237, 20

‘His cursed concubine.’ That was the imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys’ judgment on Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. ‘His cursed concubine.’ That was the imperial ambassador Eustace Chapuys’ judgment on… Read more


Becoming a Victorian

17 March 2010
Churchill’s Empire: The World That Made Him and the World He Made Richard Toye

Pan Macmillan, pp.524, 25

Churchill Paul Johnson

Viking, pp.192, 15.99

The Churchills: A Family Portrait Celia Lee and John Lee

Palgrave Macmillan, pp.288, 20

Winston Churchill was a racist. He said things like ‘I hate people with slit eyes and pig-tails. I don’t like the look of them or the smell of them’. Winston… Read more


A society celebrating itself

27 January 2010
Empires of the Imagination Holger Hoock

Profile Books, pp.514, 30

The years between the middle of the 18th century and the middle of the 19th century, argues Holger Hoock, ‘saw Britain evolve from a substantial international power yet relative artistic… Read more

The scent of a new man

4 November 2009

When I was an editor at a men’s magazine, we used to keep a bottle of a unisex perfume called The Breath of God (£45/45ml, bnevertoobusytobebeautiful.co.uk) on the features desk.… Read more

It’s Gin Lane all over again

28 October 2009

Hogarth’s satire is as appropriate now as it was 250 years ago, says Dan Jones. What we need is a new approach to our age-old drinking problem In 1751, as… Read more

The new age of enlightenment

12 August 2009
God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science James Hannam

Icon Books, pp.421, 20

God’s Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science, by James Hannam We all have our hobby-horses. James Hannam’s is the abuse of the word ‘medieval’. Hats… Read more

Free for all

3 June 2009
What Price Liberty? How Freedom was Won and is Being Lost Ben Wilson

Faber, pp.461, 14.99

I normally make it my policy when writing book reviews never to read anyone else’s. I normally make it my policy when writing book reviews never to read anyone else’s.… Read more

Running on envy

20 May 2009
Deadly Sins Nicholas Coleridge

Orion, pp.486, 12.99

Please, someone give me a pound for every PR floozy who’s told me over breakfast that she’s ‘writing a novel’ about the dirty world of, er, PR. One minute you’re… Read more

All hands on deck at Westminster

13 May 2009

Dan Jones on how the Armada tapestries, destroyed by fire, are being recreated Anthony Oakshett points to a palette and shows me a colour called ‘sea-monster grey’. The tall and… Read more

Only a mediaevalist can understand the present

13 May 2009

‘It was an age of apocalypse. People across the world lived in fear of a new pandemic disease that leapt with ease from animals to humans, which spread on the… Read more

The long and the short of it

22 April 2009
The Hundred Years War III: Divided Houses Jonathan Sumption

Faber, pp.1,006, 40

An apocryphal housemaster is asked, on the occasion of his retirement, how he intends to fill his days. ‘Gibbon,’ he replies, succinctly. Real-life housemasters might now answer ‘Sumption’. Such is… Read more

There is no sacred right to be a lazy fat slob

22 April 2009

If political reality means we can’t tax the overweight, then at least let’s have tax breaks for those who bother to take exercise, writes unashamed metrosexual Dan Jones Hands up… Read more