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Books

Tenements in the Gorbals area of Glasgow — considered some of the worst slums in Britain — are replaced by high-rise flats, c. 1960

Corrie and ready-salted crisps: the years when modern Britain began

Books feature

In Burberry’s on Regent Street on a dank December day in 1959, David Kynaston records, ‘a young Canadian writer, Leonard Cohen [...] bought a not-yet-famous blue raincoat’. For those joining Kynaston’s groaning historical wagon train for the first time, this… Read more

River Kenmare

A Troubles novel with plenty of violence and, thank heaven, some sex too

Books

A review of Ashes in the Wind, by Christopher Bland. It's not all arson, ambushes, beatings and murders. Just mostly

Lu Kongjiang, taking part in a ‘bee beard’ competition in Shaoyang, Hunan Province, China, 2011 From In Praise of Bees: A Cabinet of Curiosities by Elizabeth Birchall (Quiller Publishing, £30, pp. 255, ISBN 9781846891922)

Bees make magic: an inspirational case for biodiversity

Books

A review of A Buzz in the Meadow, by Dave Goulson. This bumble specialist narrates the lurid life histories of insects – and the devastating decline of the bee – with the enthusiasm of a young Gerald Durrell

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A flashlight into the cellar of the lawless ‘dark net’

Books

A review of The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld, by Jamie Bartlett. Essential reading for anyone engaged with the web and the effects it is having on our culture

Henry VI did at least fulfil one function of kingship — that of ‘sacerdos’. Kneeling behind him is his uncle Henry Cardinal Beaufort, and standing (bearded) is another uncle, the ‘good Duke’ Humphrey

Britain’s own game of thrones

Books

A review of The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors, by Dan Jones, who says it's all Henry VI's fault

Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art

It’s not easy for a middle-aged woman to get inside the head of a 12-year-old innkeeper’s son in 1914

Books

A review of Mr Mac and Me, by Esther Freud. Though it sounds promising, Freud’s second novel doesn’t get the tone right

British Jewish author and journalist Howard Jacobson Photo: Hindustan Times via Getty

Howard Jacobson’s J convinced me that I’d just read a masterpiece

Books

But on reflection is it really imaginable that Britain will have anti-Semitic pogroms within the next few years?

Margaret Atwood Photo: Toronto Star via Getty Images

Margaret Atwood settles her accounts with this new short story collection

Books

A review of Stone Mattress, by Margaret Atwood. These sharp, wry, humane tales mark a return to form from the acclaimed author

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The jilted bride

Charles Saatchi’s new book of photos makes me feel sick

Books

A review of Known Unknowns, by Charles Saatchi. An old-fashioned chamber of horrors in the mould of Ripley’s Believe It or Not

Rachel Cusk

When Rachel Cusk went to Greece: would she be nice or nasty?

Books

A review of Outline, by Rachel Cusk. A surprisingly compelling, dream-like new novel from the acclaimed but difficult author

Screenwriter William Goldman Photo: Getty

How dare this author trash one of the great screenwriters of the 20th century?

Books

A review of William Goldman, by Sean Egan. Cursorily researched and wretchedly written, this biography needn’t be taken seriously

Scenes from a long life. Left to right: the vulnerable young queen, in thrall to Prince Albert; overcoming her demons with the help of John Brown — depicted in a popular souvenir cut-out; and the matriarch as Empress of India

Idle, depressed, weird – and wonderful: what Queen Victoria was really like after Albert

Books feature

Do we really need a thumping new life of Queen Victoria? She seems to be one of our most familiar figures, the subject of countless books; but the surprising fact is that there hasn’t been a full, authoritative study since… Read more

A British patrol advancing along the Waw river, Burma Photo: Getty

The forgotten flank of the forgotten corps of the Forgotten Army

Books

A review of Another Man’s War, by Barnaby Phillips. A book about courage and friendship that transcends time, distance and race

David Mitchell Photo: Getty

How on earth did David Mitchell's third-rate fantasy make the Man Booker longlist?

Books

A review of The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell. This restless new novel is full of student satire and undercooked fantasy

‘Some find their death by swords and bullets; and some by fluids down the gullet’. Thomas Rowlandson’s illustration of ‘The English Dance of Death’ by William Combe, 1815 — a satire on the evils of drinking gin

Enjoy gin but don’t read books? Or read them only while drinking gin? This is the book for you

Books

A review of Gin Glorious Gin, by Olivia Williams. A diverting, if not remotely scholarly, history that charts the social ascent of this spirit, from dram shop to the Queen Mother’s handbag

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A book about human nature that makes your head spin – in a good way

Books

Vincent Deary’s How We Are is crammed with ideas. William Leith can’t wait for the next two volumes

A demonstrator dressed in a Rupert Murdo

Owen Jones’s new book should be called The Consensus: And How I Want to Change it

Books

A review of The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It, by Owen Jones. The analysis is better when it is ideological rather than historical

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Improbable, unconvincing and lazy - Ian McEwan’s latest is unforgivable

Books

A review of The Children Act, by Ian McEwan. The characterisation is scant and the writing poor, and he never gives religion a chance

A romanticised portrait of Goethe by J.H.W. Tischbein

Germans see the best of their soul in Weimar. Everyone else, on the other hand...

Books feature

Thuringia, a region of former East Germany, occupies a special place in the thoughts of Germans, who like to regard it as the origin of all their best virtues. It’s an alluring place, full of wonderfully untouched stretches of densely… Read more

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This thriller is as good as anything by Hilary Mantel

Books

Andrew Taylor’s historical crime novel, The Silent Boy, is so good it makes you rethink all your high-low prejudices. It reminds me of Dickens

Peter Levi Photo: Getty

Peter Levi – poet, priest and life-enhancer

Books

A review of Peter Levi: Oxford Romantic, by Brigid Allen. A loving biography of a poet priest who went from emaciated El Greco to fat country squire

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Triumph of Apollo and Sign of Gemini, ca 1470, by Francesco del Cossa Photo: Getty

Ali Smith's How to be Both: warm, funny, subtle, intelligent – and baffling

Books

You may have to read this fictional account of a 15th-century painter at least one-and-a-half times to understand it, but it's worth it

A member of the London Home Guard demonstrates the use of old wallpaper as camouflage (1942)

The real Dad’s Army was no joke

Books

A review of Operation Sealion: How Britain Crushed the German war Machine’s Dreams of Invasion in 1940, by Leo McKinstry. Civil liberties went out the window when the Nazis threatened

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

Books

A review of Bouts of Mania: Ali, Frazier, Foreman and an America on the Ropes, by Richard Hoffer. Boxing was as much about politics, money and race as fighting

‘Flying Rock’

Floating bodies, seeing hands, rippling skies - is Jerry Uelsmann’s photomontage a tragic dead-end?

Books

A review of Uelsmann Untitled: A Retrospective, by Jerry N. Uelsmann. There's no denying that these strange images are part of a venerable tradition – or that a teenager with Photoshop could have done it quicker