‘Orange, Red, Yellow’, 1956, by Mark Rothko

A strain of mysticism is discernible in the floating colour fields of Mark Rothko’s glowing canvases

Books feature

One of the curiosities of western art is that, until the 20th century, few visual artists were of Jewish ancestry. With odd exceptions such as the Pissarros and Simeon Solomon, the culture tended to produce verbal rather than visual imaginations.… Read more

Robin Day interviews Margaret Thatcher for BBC's Panorama, 1984 Photo: Getty

Another enemy within: Thatcher (and Wilson) vs the BBC


A review of Pinkoes and Traitors by Jean Seaton suggests that we take Auntie too much for granted

A print of girls in a gym from 1884

2,500 years of gyms (and you’re still better off walking the dog)


In a review of the Temple of Perfection by Eric Chaline, Mark Mason sees the gym as our modern place of worship

A short-eared owl in the Highlands, one of many predators still being killed by gamekeepers

John Lister-Kaye tracks Highland wildlife through a pair of binoculars as he lies in his bath


Mark Cocker celebrates the vivid poetry of John Lister-Kaye’s Highland diary

Patrice Lumumba celebrates his release so he could attend a conference on the future of the Congo.  He had been in jail on charges of inciting an anti-colonial riot, 1960 Photo: Getty

Both Belgium and the United States should be called to account for the death of Patrice Lumumba


A review of Death in the Congo by Emmanuel Gerard and Bruce Kuklick reveals the full scandal of a 50-year-old murder


If ‘incorrect’ English is what’s widely understood, how can it be wrong?


The ‘rules’ of English grammar are often just incoherent prejudices, according to Oliver Kamm’s Accidence Will Happen


A Father’s Day tragedy: what exactly happened when a car plunged into a reservoir in Australia in 2005?


A review of This House of Grief by Helen Garner recounts how an ex-husband exacted the ultimate revenge

Poster for Pulgasari, Shin’s answer to Godzilla

The Dear Leader’s passion for films — and the real-life horror movie it led to


The plot of A Kim Jong-il Production by Paul Fischer would rival one of Ian Fleming’s own

‘The Faithful Couple’ in Yosemite National Park

When two young Britons go camping in Yosemite their lives are changed for ever


A review of The Faithful Couple by A.D. Miller recounts how one youthful ‘incident’ can permanently affect a friendship

Author John Gray Photo: Getty

John Gray’s great tour-guide of ideas: from the Garden of Eden to secret rendition


In a review of The Soul of the Marionette Tibor Fischer celebrates the vast scope of John Gray’s reading

Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir in 1946

Jean-Paul Sartre was perhaps the 20th century’s most famous thinker - if you can get beyond the verbiage


The thrill of violence was key to Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophy, says his latest biographer

A ‘nurse log’ — a tree stump in which a seed has germinated, thereby avoiding browsing herbivores and the overshading of undergrowth. From Uncommon Ground by Dominick Tyler

‘Broadband’ for ‘bluebell’...‘chatroom’ for ‘catkin’: standard vocabulary is being increasingly lost to the new technology, says Robert Macfarlane

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Wolfsnow is a dangerous blizzard at sea; slogger the sucking sound made by waves against a ship’s sides; ammil the sparkle of morning sunlight through hoar-frost; af’rug the reflection of a wave after it has struck the shore; blinter is… Read more

French mathematician Cedric Villani Photo: Getty

How could anyone enjoy Cédric Villani’s ‘Birth of a Theorem’? I think I’ve worked it out


Alexander Masters finds a great mathematician’s ‘popular’ book impenetrable from page four

Sonic Youth in happier days in 2003. Left to right: Lee Ranaldo, Jim O’Rourke, Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore and Steve Shelley

Tracey Thorn on Kim Gordon’s wounded marriage memoir


Tracey Thorn is surprised that Kim Gordon, once the embodiment of cool, should be sounding off so publicly about her husband’s infidelity

Kazuo Ishiguro Photo: Getty

Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel, set in a mythical fifth-century Britain, may try the patience of even his most devoted fans


James Walton, reviewing The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro finds it more admirable than enjoyable


Reading one book from every country in the world sounds like fun - until you come to North Korea


A review of Reading the World by Ann Morgan finds a year-long blog also makes a brilliant, unlikely book


Michael Arditti is the Graham Greene of our time


A review of Michael Arditti’s Widows and Orphans suggests that we are all waifs and strays now in our broken society

Portrait of Lord Dufferin, 1893

The first Lord Dufferin: the eclipse of a most eminent Victorian


A review of the Lost Imperialist by Andrew Gailey wonders how Queen Victoria’s distinguished proconsul, who met everyone from Sitting Bull to Bismarck, could have slipped so far into oblivion

After the driverless car — will airplanes be next?

Don’t buy The Glass Cage at the airport if you want a restful flight, warns Will Self


Will Self,  reviewing Nicholas Carr’s The Glass Cage, predicts the inexorable rise of the computer in a defiantly soulless society

Gillray’s satirical etching of 1795 entitled ‘The Zenith of French Glory — The Pinnacle of Liberty. Religion, Justice, Loyalty and all the Bugbears of Unenlightened Minds, Farewell!’

The revolutionaries behind the Reign of Terror were themselves living permanently in terror, says Ruth Scurr

Books feature

For his holiday reading in the summer of 1835, the literary and political journalist John Wilson Croker packed the printed lists of those condemned to death during the Reign of Terror in revolutionary France. The several thousand guillotined in Paris… Read more

Poster for an exhibition of Mayakovsky’s works, 1930

A Futurist in despair: Vladimir Mayakovsky shot himself aged 36, appalled by the hollow slogans of Stalinism


A review of Mayakovsky by Bengt Jangfeldt reveals how the great avant-garde Russian poet lost his voice to Soviet doublespeak


With suicide a dominant theme, Nobody is Ever Missing is a misery novel which still manages to be funny


Nobody is Missing by Catherine Lacey, a novel of extremes about a woman on the very edge, is a stylish rendering of acute suffering

Isaak Israelevich Brodsky’s depiction of the execution of the ‘26 Martyrs’, painted in 1925 and already the stuff of Soviet legend

From Reggie to Ronnie: the intriguing story of the British Intelligence officer who changed his name and vanished from view for 70 years


A review of Most Secret Agent of Empire by Taline Ter Minassian explores the lengths one British spy went to to avoid the long arm of Soviet vengeance


Music’s unsung heroes: we owe a debt of gratitude to the passionate talent-spotters who actually discover the stars


A review of Cowboys and Indies by Gareth Murphy pays tribute to the men behind the scenes in the music industry

Emer O'Toole on This Morning showing off her pits

Emer O’Toole is a joyless bore compared with my heroine Caitlin Moran, says Julie Burchill


In a review of Girls will be Girls by Emer O’Toole Julie Burchill dismisses the feminist now most famous for her hairy armpits

Joseph Stalin Photo: Getty

Philby’s case officer was playing for high stakes when he fled to the United States


A review of Stalin’s Agent by Boris Volodarsky unearths many nuggets of gold about 20th-century Russian intelligence history


All roads lead to Blackpool in Andrew O’Hagan’s latest novel, The Illuminations


A review of The Illuminations praises Andrew O’Hagan’s equally vivid portrayals of an old woman with dementia and a young squaddie home from Afghanistan

Author, Alexandra Fuller

Alexandra Fuller now lives in America, but it is always the Africa of her childhood that comes across most vividly in her memoirs


A review of Alexandra Fuller’s Leaving Before the Rains Come celebrates a writer born to capture the tragi-comedy of her deeply eccentric family life