Dublin’s docks were shelled from the Liffey by the British admiralty gunboat, the Helga, during the Easter Rising

Ireland’s getting ready to forget the real Easter Rising

Books feature

As Lytton Strachey remarked of the Victorian era, writing the history of the Irish revolution is inhibited by the fact that we know too much about it. As the centenary of the 1916 Rising approaches, an avalanche of books, articles and… Read more

St George as depicted in The Golden Legend

St George: patron saint of England, patronised by all


Not much is known about St George, says Christopher Howse, reviewing Samantha Riches’s biography, except that he had many lookalikes (including Islamic) — and his dragon was a bit of an afterthought

Snooker World Champion Steve Davis (Photo: Getty)

What did Steve Davis do to succeed at snooker? Everything his dad told him


Steve Davis was so boring Spitting Image nicknamed him Interesting — giving him the title for his third autobiography to date

Fatal attraction: a four-year-old picks her favourite handgun at the NRA’s annual meeting in Milwaukee, 2006

An inalienable right to bear arms in the States: the enduring mystique of the Second Amendment


Americans have an almost mystical belief that guns are synonymous with freedom, says Michael Moorcock, reviewing Gun Baby Gun. Every time there’s a call for stricter arms control, the sales of guns rocket

(Photo: Getty)

Monopoly is fascinating – as long as you don’t try to play it


I lose the will to live if forced to play Monopoly. But the story of the game’s invention, as related in Mary Pillon’s The Monopolists — now there’s a thing...

Bigger mouths and longer legs—all the better to bite you with, and run away

Bigger, better bedbugs bite back with a vengeance


However hard we try to eradicate bedbugs, they constantly outwit us, according to Brooke Borel’s Infested — and from Horace to Henry Miller they infest literature too

Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas (Photo: Getty)

Social comedy Peruvian-style


Two innocent men face kidnapping, death threats and haunting by the devil — and The Discreet Hero is Llosa-lite — a mere jeu d’esprit

Gore Vidal (Photo: Getty)

Brothels, hashish, a poisonous scorpion, a cursed necklace: all excuses for macho antics in the Valley of the Kings


Gore Vidal’s deservedly forgotten pulp thriller, now resurrected after 60 years, is so bad it’s good

Charity Storeroom

Working is good for you — even if it’s unpaid, in a charity shop — or writing book reviews for The Spectator


You don’t want to end up like those sour-faced children of the idle rich who invariably go to the bad, says Julie Burchill, reviewing All Day Long, by Joanna Biggs

Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell

There’s something about Mary (Wollstonecraft and Shelley)


If only Charlotte Gordon's Romantic Outlaws would let Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley speak for themselves

Bernard Berenson (Photo: Getty)

Bernard Berenson and Kenneth Clark: pen friends, not true friends


The 34-year correspondence between Bernard Berenson and Kenneth Clark was a substitute for a friendship that didn’t happen, says Duncan Fallowell, reviewing My Dear BB, edited by Robert Cumming

Psychoanalyst Carl Jung (Photo: Getty)

Carl Jung meets David Icke (and writes a book of bonkers business-speak)


Move Up is a torrent of random words arranged into perfectly focused falsehood

An Armenian orphan in 1915. Hundreds of thousands of Christian women and children who survived the genocide suffered forced conversion to Islam

At last: a calm, definitive account of the Armenian genocide

Books feature

For most of us, the centenary of the Great War means recalling the misery and sacrifices of the Western Front: Ypres, the Marne, Arras, Verdun, Passchendaele, the Somme. Few of us give as much thought to the Eastern Front and,… Read more


The miracle of modern flight, by a 747 pilot with a poet’s sensibility


In a review of Skyfaring, a memoir by Mark Vanhoenacker, Stephen Bayley overcomes his nervousness on the subject of flying and is entranced by a pilot’s poetic vision

Superstar curators like Hans Ulrich Obrist tour the world making items desirable through their selection alone, while paranoically insisting that what they do is ‘work’. Study for Tate Modern Sign (Bill Burns, 2012)

Spoilt for choice: we are all curators now


Curating embraces everything these days — including sandwiches — says Jack Castle, and the superstar curators of exhibitions have become far more important than the artists themselves

Lord Shaftesbury (Photo: Getty)

Murder on Grub Street


M.J Carter’s The Infidel Stain, set in the dark alleys of Dickensian London, combines pornography and the Chartist movement in high Victorian melodrama


Between town and country


The perpetual dilemma of where to live is explored in Melissa Harrison’s vibrant novel of roots and belonging

Gyalo Thondup (right) pictured with the Dalai Lama on their arrival in India in 1959

From diplomacy to disillusion with the Dalai Lama’s big brother


Gyalo Thondup, brother of the Dalai Lama, recalls in detail his many years directing Tibet’s foreign policy. But can we believe him?, asks Jonathan Mirsky

Latrines dating from the second century at Ostia Antica, outside Rome

How the Romans went about their business


We know a lot about Roman baths, says Peter Stothard, but not so much about their lavatories. Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow in The Archeology of Sanitation in Roman Italy has the subject comprehensively covered

Critic James Wood (Photo: Getty)

The theory wars have ended in stalemate


James Wood, Michael Hoffmann and the state of modern literary criticism


Women go off the rails


In a review of Caryl Phillips’s The Lost Child, Alex Clark finds shades of Emily Brontë in this novel about the erasure of female experience

Plotinus and Michel de Montaigne are included in George Steiner’s broad survey. His argument that we should elevate the pursuit of disinterested knowledge over the making of money is a familar one since classical times

From Plotinus to Heidegger: a history of European thought in 48 pages


George Steiner is a deeply erudite, elegant writer, with a profound knowledge of European culture. It’s a pity his latest essay, full of lovely disquisitions, lacks a single original argument

Magnus Mills (Photo: Getty)

The mysterious pleasure of Magnus Mills


Magnus Mills’s novel The Field of the Cloth of Gold is certainly not about is Henry VIII. And what it is about doesn’t really matter. Just enjoy its pure word music

From Russia with love

London’s Russian oligarchs are even more Gatsby than Gatsby


Vesna Goldsworthy’s novel about Moscow-on-Thames is a tense, witty page-turner, says Viv Groskop


Murder in a black Texas Arcadia


Attica Locke’s smart legal thriller, Pleasantville, is set in an elegant suburb of Houston, specifically designed for middle-class blacks. But it’s still a ghetto — with very few exit points

Tippi Hedren helps save schoolchildren in The Birds. Hitchcock confided to François Truffaut that he’d had ‘some emotional problems’ with Hedren during the shoot. For the final scene, live birds were attached to Hedren’s clothes. The actress became increasingly hysterical over the course of the week it took to film it, and when a bird finally went for her eyes, she collapsed

A profile of the worlds’s most famous film director — with the most famous profile


The Master of Suspense was full of fear and paranoia himself, reveals Christopher Bray in a review of two lives of Alfred Hitchcock

Philip Glass's seminal 1976 opera 'Einstein on the Beach' in its most recent outing

Plumber, taxi driver, mystic, musician — the many facets of Philip Glass

Books feature

Philip Glass is by now surely up there in the Telemann class among the most prolific composers in history. There must be an explanation, preferably a non-defamatory one, for how his technique has enabled him to produce such an enormous… Read more

Following Galileo’s discoveries, a rugged, cratered moon is depicted (with papal approval) by Ludovico Cigoli in his ‘Assumption of the Virgin in the Pauline Chapel’

Moving heaven and earth: Galileo’s subversive spyglass


A review of Galileo’s Telescope reveals how once it was considered the most dangerous instrument in the world