Ferdinand Mount rss

The first suicide bomber was probably Samson, who died while pulling down the temple of the Philistines

Religion does not poison everything - everything poisons religion

20 September 2014
Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence Karen Armstrong

Bodley Head, pp.499, £25, ISBN: 9781847921864

It slips so easily off the tongue. In fact, it’s a modern mantra. ‘Religion causes all the wars.’ Karen Armstrong claims to have heard it tossed off by American psychiatrists,… Read more

Karl Marx Photo: Getty

Piketty’s decaff Marxism would be just as oppressive and intrusive as the old variety

24 May 2014
Capital in the Twenty-First Century Thomas Piketty

Harvard University Press, pp.685, £29.95, ISBN: 9780674430006

If a title works once, the chances are it will work again. Half the punch of Marx’s masterwork is in its name. Better in German of course, with the kick… Read more

Respect For Elders

Ferdinand Mount

25 January 2014

You have to hand it to Supermac. Fifty years after the event, he is still running rings round them. The esteemed Vernon Bogdanor (The Spectator, 18 January) tells us that… Read more

Isaiah Berlin (left) and Isaac Deutscher

Isaac & Isaiah, by David Caute - review

21 September 2013
Isaac & Isaiah David Caute

Yale, pp.335, £25, ISBN: 9780300192094

The scene is the common room of All Souls College, Oxford, in the first week of March 1963. It is the idle half-hour after lunch when fellows slump into armchairs… Read more

Thatcher Family

Mrs Thatcher’s triumph

13 April 2013

There was never a more disenchanted victory. The moment the size of the Tory swing was known, the doubts began, not least among those hundreds of thousands who had voted… Read more


Oh, Calcutta!

23 February 2013
Calcutta: Two Years in the City Amit Chaudhuri

Union Books, pp.308, £14.99, ISBN: 9781908526175

The Chandan Hotel is not a bit like the Exotic Marigold Hotel. It occupies, not a rambling rundown mansion, but a piece of pavement, about six feet by six feet,… Read more

Keats in his last illness, by Joseph Severn

A life of sad romance

20 October 2012
John Keats: A New Life Nicholas Roe

Yale, pp.464, £25, ISBN: 9780300124651

‘What porridge had John Keats?’ Browning offers this as the crass sort of question that stupid people ask. But in fact the first person to answer it would have been… Read more

Class is back

25 February 2012

…and the divisions are more bitterly felt than ever Until recently, the British middle classes felt quite good about themselves. The class war was over, and they had won it.… Read more


Spiritual superhero

25 February 2012
Ashoka: The Search for India’s Lost Emperor Charles Allen

Little Brown, pp.460, 25

When totting up the positives from the British Raj, people often put the railways first, followed by the Indian Civil Service or the Indian Army. The Empire was won by… Read more


The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Volume II, 1941-56, edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck

29 October 2011
The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Volume II, 1941-56 edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck

CUP, pp.791, 30

The die was miscast from the start, more’s the pity. As we reach the halfway point in this massy four-volume edition of the letters of Samuel Beckett, I cannot stifle… Read more


Elegy for wild Wales

4 June 2011
Three Journeys Byron Rogers

Gomer, pp.268, 16.99

If you drive West out of Carmarthen on the A40, you pass through a landscape of dimpled hills and lonely chapels and little rivers full of salmon trout. This is… Read more


A time to moan and weep

2 October 2010
State of Emergency: Britain 1970-74 Dominic Sandbrook

Allen Lane, pp.768, 30

Ferdinand Mount recalls the crisis years of the early 1970s, when Britain was pronounced ‘ungovernable’ The residents of Flitwick, Bedfordshire, were enjoying a wine-and-cheese party in the village hall when… Read more


Raise a glass to Alan Watkins

12 May 2010

Ferdinand Mount mourns the passing of his friend and colleague — and a former Spectator columnist — whose wit, humour and clarity of expression remain unrivalled As Alan Watkins lay… Read more


Refusing to play the game

31 March 2010
J. D. Salinger: A Life Raised High Kenneth Slawenski

Pomona Books, pp.423, 20

What sort of person would you expect to be bringing out a life of J. D. Salinger two months after his death, bearing in mind that Salinger was more obsessive… Read more


David Cameron should honour his marriage vow

20 January 2010

Labour’s Green Paper on families makes it clear that the party is opposed to promoting marriage. Ferdinand Mount says it’s crucial that the Tories don’t waver, but stick to their… Read more

A long journey

14 December 2009
Concerning E. M. Forster Frank Kermode

Weidenfeld, pp.180, 14.99

I never liked E. M. Forster much. He was too preachy and prissy, too snobbish about the suburbs, too contemptuous of the lower classes. I know this is not how… Read more

Ferdinand Mount

7 October 2009

Alan Clark will always have a special place in my heart. He remains the only person ever to sue me for libel. I still occasionally have a nightmare in which… Read more

The Go-Away Bird

12 August 2009
Muriel Spark: The Biography Martin Stannard

Weidenfeld, pp.627, 25

There is no plaque yet on No 13 Baldwin Crescent, otherwise known as ‘Dunedin’. There ought to be. For on the top floor of this shabby yellow-brick house, hidden away… Read more

How different from us?

18 February 2009
The Ends of Life: Roads to Human Fulfilment in Early Modern England Keith Thomas

OUP, pp.393, 20

The Ends of Life: Roads to Human Fulfilment in Early Modern England, by Keith Thomas The English past is not what it was, for professional historians anyway. The rest of… Read more

The downfall of a pessimist

5 March 2008
George Gissing: A Life Paul Delaney

Weidenfeld, pp.472, 25

In some moods, I would rather read George Gissing than any other 19th-century English novelist. In the 1890s he was ranked with Hardy and Meredith, at a time when they… Read more


A sensitive bounder

31 October 2007
Kipling Sahib: India and the Making of Rudyard Kipling Charles Allen

Little, Brown, pp.426, 20

He was a noisy boy from the start. At the age of two, he was taken out for walks in order not to disturb his ailing grandfather and he would… Read more

Intolerable, unstoppable, indispensable

25 January 2007
Edith Wharton Hermione Lee

Chatto, pp.854, 25

There is no getting away from it, Edith Wharton was grand. It never occurred to her to spare expense. On her honeymoon cruise, she and her feckless husband Teddy chartered… Read more

The monster we hate to love

9 November 2006
The Life of Kingsley Amis Zachary Leader

Cape, pp.996, 25

What is it about fruit? There is no more searing passage in the memoirs of Auberon Waugh than the bit when three bananas reach the Waugh household in the worst… Read more

The Voltaire of St Aldates

12 July 2006
Letters from Oxford: Hugh Trevor-Roper to Bernard Berenson edited by Richard Davenport-Hines

Weidenfeld, pp.326, 20

Ah Oxford! Welcome to the City of Dreadful Spite, otherwise known as Malice Springs, the permanent Number One on the Bitch List. Not since the vituperative pamphleteers of the English… Read more

Looking back in judgment

22 May 2006
John Osborne: A Patriot for Us John Heilpern

Chatto, pp.528, 25

Listing page content here The heart starts to sink on the very first page, p. xiii to be precise, because this is still the Preface: ‘When I began work on… Read more