Piers Paul Read rss

Jesus heals the paralytic

Do miracles happen?

5 October 2013

Two recent popes are to be canonised on 17 April next year: Angelo Roncalli, Pope John XXIII, and Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II. Both are being declared saints in… Read more

Colonel Georges Picquart

An Officer and a Gentleman, by Robert Harris - review

5 October 2013
An Officer and a Spy Robert Harris

Hutchinson, pp.496, £18.99, ISBN: 9780091944551

The Dreyfus Affair, the furore caused by a miscarriage of justice in France in 1894, is a source of perennial interest. It raises questions of national identity, political morality and… Read more

Victoria and Albert spoke German together when alone

Noble Endeavours, by Miranda Seymour - review

14 September 2013
Noble Endeavours: The Life of Two Countries, England and Germany, in Many Stories Miranda Seymour

Simon and Schuster, pp.502, £20, ISBN: 9781847378255

Like Miranda Seymour, the author of this considerable work on Anglo-German relations, I was raised in a Germanophile home. I spent summer holidays on the Bodensee and, after graduating from… Read more


Satan is back

23 March 2013

It used to be said by Catholic priests back in the 1950s that the Devil was delighted when human beings decided that he did not exist. In those days it… Read more

on December 25, 2012 in Vatican City, Vatican.

Benedict XVI in perspective

16 February 2013

In March 2005, when it became clear that Pope John Paul II would soon die, Boris Johnson asked me to write a piece for The Spectator predicting who would be… Read more

Piers Paul Read

9 February 2013

In a recent exchange of emails, my Member of Parliament, Mr Andy Slaughter, told me he intended to vote in favour of same-sex marriage. No doubt by now he has… Read more

Horrors too close to home

5 January 2013
On the Natural History of Destruction W.G. Sebald

Notting Hill Edition, pp.146, £12, ISBN: 9781907903557

Reading this new edition of W.G. Sebald’s discursive meditation upon the blanket bombing of German civilians during the second world war took me back to Berlin in the early 1960s… Read more


In a Greene shade

26 May 2012
The Man Within My Head: Graham Greene, My Father and Me Pico Iyer

Bloomsbury, pp.241, 16.99

One of the unanticipated benefits of British rule in India is the body of distinguished writing in the English language coming from the Indian diaspora — Naipaul, Seth, Rushdie, Mistry,… Read more

A bitter legacy

8 January 2011
At Home with Andre and Simone Weil Sylvie Weil, translated from the French by Benjamin Ivry

Northwestern University Press, Evanston, Illinois, pp.192, 22.50

André and Simone Weil are hardly household names in Britain today, but in the world of mathematics the former is acknowledged as a genius for his work on number theory;… Read more


Misogyny is not just for men

30 June 2010

‘Was it Vauvenargues or Chamfort,’ asks Pierre Costals in Henri de Montherlant’s novel Pity for Women, ‘who said that one must choose between loving women and understanding them?’ Most men… Read more

Between cross and crescent

1 July 2009
The Last Crusaders: The Hundred Year Battle for the Centre of the World Barnaby Rogerson

Little, Brown, pp.512, 20

By the time the First Crusade was launched by Pope Urban II in 1095, Christendom had been at war with Islam for almost 400 years. In the view of Al-… Read more


The Muslims’ letter to the Pope is not all it seems

17 October 2007

The Muslims’ letter to the Pope is not all it seems At first sight the letter from 138 prominent Muslim scholars and imams to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian… Read more

What’s become of Baring?

10 October 2007
Maurice Baring: Letters selected and edited by Jocelyn Hillgarth and Julian Jeffs

Michael Russell, pp.160, 15.95

Maurice Baring is one of those writers of whom it is periodically said that he is unjustly forgotten and ripe for reappraisal. In his own lifetime, he was a prolific… Read more

The Pope was not attacking Islam

21 September 2006

Piers Paul Read says that the controversial nature of the Pope’s address has been missed in the furore over Muslim sensitivities: he was daring to equate Europe and Christendom When… Read more

Post-war feuds and dilemmas

4 February 2006
Camus at Combat: Writing 1944-1947 edited by Jacqueline Lévi-Valensi

Princeton University Press, pp.334, 18.95

Albert Camus was an exceptional man who lived in interest- ing times. His parents were pieds-noirs — French settlers in Algeria. His father died at the battle of the Marne… Read more

The man who should be Pope

5 March 2005

Pope John Paul II’s recovery from his tracheotomy in the Gemelli Hospital in Rome will have delighted his well-wishers, but it may have come as a disappointment to the Pope… Read more

Decline and ascent

15 January 2005
Father Joe: The Man who Saved my Soul Tony Hendra

Hamish Hamilton, pp.288, 16.99

As a rule I decline to review books by old friends: it puts either one’s integrity or the friendship at risk. I make an exception of Father Joe because I… Read more

The Catholic Cheshire Cat

3 April 2004
In Search of a Beginning: My Life with Graham Greene Yvonne Cloetta

Bloomsbury, pp.209, 16.99

Yvonne Cloetta, the French wife of a Swiss businessman, was Graham Greene’s mistress for the last 30 or so years of his life. Her husband spent most of the year… Read more

From negative to positive

20 March 2004
The Society of Others William Nicholson

Doubleday, pp.224, 12.99

The late J. G. Farrell, author of Troubles and The Siege of Krishnapur, used to say that he never read novels by contemporaries: the bad ones bored him while the… Read more

A very errant knight

31 January 2004
Snowleg Nicholas Shakespeare

Harvill, pp.386, 16.99

Nicholas Shakespeare is one of the few contemporary British novelists who successfully integrate the political with the personal in the lives of his characters. Like Graham Greene, he has an… Read more