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Books

Outside Downing Street in June 1943. Ten years earlier, no one would have thought it remotely likely that Winston Churchill would be regarded as his country’s saviour

Does Boris Johnson really expect us to think he's Churchill?

Books feature

As you would expect, it’s impossible to read this book without drawing fairly direct comparisons between its author and its subject. In promotional exchanges, with the well-worn practice of self-deprecation, its author will of course insist that there is no… Read more

The charge of the Scots Greys at Waterloo by the British-American artist Richard Caton Woodville. From A History of War in 100 Battles by Richard Overy (William Collins, £25)

Four ways to win Waterloo

Books

If you want Sharpe-like drama, go for Bernard Cornwell. For Eurocentric revisionism, go for Tim Clayton. If you’re short of time, there’s Brendan Simms’s 80 pager. But in a class of its own is former soldier Robert Kershaw making ‘order out of disorder’

Author Anthony Horowitz

While Holmes is away

Books

Anthony Horowitz's Moriarity makes an entertaining job of Sherlockian London without Sherlock or Watson – but it would be so much better to have them back

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Sweeping away evidence: where in those calm, tile-floored 17th-century rooms can we even glimpse a spittoon? ‘Dutch Interior’ by Pieter Janssens Elinga

The history of the home – with the spittoons put back in

Books

A review of The Making of the Home, by Judith Flanders, and Common People, by Alison Light. Both books are absorbing but it’s Light’s history of subsistence living that I’ll want to read twice

Author Michael Connelly arrives at the premiere of 'The Lincoln Lawyer'

The Burning Room, by Michael Connelly - review

Books

A review of The Burning Room, by Michael Connelly. The 19th book for Connelly's obssessive detective Hieronymous Bosch is as strange and relentless as ever

Antiquity 2’, 2009–11

Jeff Koons's latest achievement: a new standard in prolix, complacent, solipsistic, muddled drivel

Books

A review of Jeff Koons: Conversations with Norman Rosenthal. Koons’s sub-adult work is not worth getting cross about – although it has nonetheless proved poisonous to younger artists

Norman Mailer and Dylan Thomas Photo: Getty

Lolita's secret revenge mission, and other daft theories of literary spite

Books

Literary Rivals: Feuds and Antagonisms in the World of Books, by Richard Bradford, is a compendium that never sees the roses for the thorns

Cat among the pigeons: Jennifer Fry, the exotic beauty who so disrupted life at Farringdon House in the 1940s

My mad gay grandfather and me

Books feature

Family history is all the rage at the moment — finding out about one’s ancestors, digging back into one’s roots. Sofka Zinovieff has written the strange, and strangely moving, tale of her family’s unorthodox relationships. By turns comical, tragicomical and… Read more

Chilean miner Jorge Galleguillos is brought to the surface following a 10 week ordeal in the collapsed San Jose mine Photo: Getty

From working-class heroes to Disney World mascots: the sad fate of the Chilean miners

Books

A review of Deep Down Dark, by Hector Tobar. The Chilean miners thought they were screwed trapped underground – but they were even more screwed when they got out

Students at the Wartburg festival in October 1817, celebrating the tercentenary of the Reformation and the fourth anniversary of the Battle of Leipzig, cause panic in the courts of Europe

How a clumsy drummer started the 1848 revolutions

Books

A review of Phantom Terror: The Threat of Revolution and the Repression of Liberty, 1789 – 1848, by Adam Zamoyski. This masterful history shows how secret policing arrested the development Europe

Philip Marsden gets close to the impenetrable secrets of Tintagel (left) and Bodmin Moor (right), among many other mysterious sites

The bonkers (and not-so-bonkers) theories of what the pre-historic people of Cornwall believed

Books

A review of Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of the Place, by Philip Marsden. A fascinating book about the human endeavour to make meaning of life

'Jack' in his St John’s Wood studio, his portrait of Luisa Casati on the easel

The Etonian peer who became an assistant to a Mexican commie

Books

A review of The Red Earl: The Extraordinary Life of the 16th Earl of Huntingdon, by Selina Hastings. A daughter's biography characterized by a beguiling mix of tenderness and puzzlement

English novelist Margaret Forster, 1964 Photo: Getty

A woman who wears her homes like garments

Books

A review of My Life in Houses, by Margaret Forster. It’s a book that feels like it’s being told over a cup of tea

Director Nora Ephron Photo: Getty

Why everyone wants what Nora Ephron was having

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A review of The Most of Nora Ephron, by Nora Ephron. A greatest hits album that includes several masterpieces of comic construction

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Detective drama Dostoevsky-style

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A review of The Buddha’s Return, by Gaito Gazdanov, translated by Bryan Karentnyk. The existentialist fiction of this 1920s Russian émigré speaks to our time

Grade II-listed Phoenix prefabs in Moseley, Birmingham

Why prefabs really were fab

Books

A review of Prefab Homes, by Elisabeth Blanchet. In 1946 you had to be very posh to have a house with an inside toilet

The theatrical Constance Markewicz founded the military boy scouts, who would later staff the IRA

When Irish nationalism meant sexual adventure

Books

A review of Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890 – 1923, by R.F. Foster. There will be many accounts of the Easter Rising but few will be as enjoyable as this

Ezra Pound in the early 1920s

Ezra Pound – the fascist years

Books

A review of Ezra Pound: Poet, Volume II: The Epic Years, by A. David Moody. This was also the period in which the controversial poet talked himself into madness

A still from 'A Few Days in the Life of I, I, Oblomov', based on the novel Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov Photo: Getty

Tolstoy’s favourite novel is a guide to being idle

Books

A review of Oblomov, by Ivan Goncharov, translated by Stephen Pearl. But like many apparent idlers, Oblomov isn’t really lazy – he just spends a lot of time in bed

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Is it boring being the god of the sea?

Books

Ces Nooteboom asks lots of presumptious questions like this in his Letters to Poseidon, translated by Laura Watkinson – but he’s more than a match for the trident-bearing earth-shaker

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Two small children dying together in the gutter in the Chinese famine of 1946

How Hitler's dreams came true in 1946

Books feature

I should begin this review, in the spirit of full disclosure, by admitting that I know the author very slightly. Something close to 14 years ago, we were on the same press freebie: a slap-up lunch in Paris courtesy of… Read more

Sir Hugh Walpole

An epic performance that brings a lost novelist back to life

Books

A review of The Herries Chronicles, by Hugh Walpole, narrated by Peter Joyce. Walpole’s dramatic chronicle of the Herries family is brilliantly recreated

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To be astonished by nature, look no further than Claxton

Books

A review of Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet, by Mark Cocker. This journal could do with some editing, though

Edwardian London

Imagine Eastenders directed by David Lynch

Books

A review of Printer’s Devil Court, by Susan Hill. No gothic element is spared in this possible rival to The Woman in Black

Shackleton’s ship the Nimrod in the ice at McMurdo Sound

Flawed, unproductive and heroic: the real Ernest Shackleton

Books

A review of Shackleton, by Michael Smith. It’s a classic story and Smith tells it with passion and commitment – especially when he tames his clauses

16th century French soldiers

A jaunty romp of rape and pillage through the 16th century

Books

A review of The Brethren, by Robert Merle, translated by T. Jefferson Kline. Even when this hit French historical novel is boring, there’s a dividend