A Siberian exile prepares to shoot a black fox (c.1819)

Siberia beyond the Gulag Archipelago


A review of Siberia: A History of the People, by Janet M. Hartley. The region's past is harrowing, but its potential is staggering


Nation-builders on a sticky wicket: the farce and heroism of Pakistani cricket


A review of Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket in Pakistan, by Peter Oborne. Not even civil war stops play

ACF Fiorentina v Hellas Verona FC - Serie A

The hooligan and the psychopath


Painting Death, the latest of Tim Parks's Maurice Duckworth novels, draws profitably on A Season with Verona


The case of the amnesiac autobiographer


In The Answer to the Riddle is Me, David Stuart MacLean rediscovers who he is – and doesn't entirely like what he finds


A toast to beer, from Plato to Frank Zappa


‘He was a wise man who invented beer,’ said Plato, although I imagine he had changed his mind by the following morning. Beer: A Global History (Reaktion, £9.99, Spectator Bookshop, £9.49) is the latest addition to ‘The Edible Series’, following… Read more

Ian Fleming on the beach near Goldeneye Photo: Getty

From Jamaica With Love: how the Caribbean made Bond

Books feature

Ian Fleming’s first visit to Jamaica was pure James Bond. In 1943, as assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, he flew from Miami to Kingston to attend an Anglo-American naval conference and to investigate the rumour that Axel Wenner-Gren,… Read more

The dangerous allure of the unseen. Students of the occult are alarmed by their own success in conjuring up the dead

An invisibility cloak? You might just be able to see it on the horizon...


A review of Invisible: The Dangerous Lure of the Unseen, by Philip Ball. Scientists and occultists held hands in their quest for the invisible

Drawing of a goshawk by the leading wildlife artist Bruce Pearson. From A Sparrowhawk’s Lament: How British Breeding Birds of Prey are Faring, by David Cobham (Princeton University Press, £24.95, pp. 256, ISBN 9780691157641, Spectator Bookshop, £23.95)

Falling in love with birds of prey


A review of H is for Hawk, by Helen Macdonald. It’s when describing the murderous, sulky, fractious birds themselves that this story comes alive

Victorian Teatime

The Jane Austen of Brazil


A review of The Diary of ‘Helena Morley’, translated from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Bishop. A delightful, funny and revealing memoir of Brazilian teenage life in a 19th century mining town

‘Lady Sarah Bunbury Sacrificing to the Graces’ by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Reynolds produced some of the finest portraits of the 18th century – and a few of the silliest


A review of Reynolds: Portraiture in Action, by Mark Hallett, an investigation of the strate­gies by which the painter achieved unprecedented fame

Ismail Kadare Photo: Getty

Soviet greyness, literary mediocrity and hot dates


A review of Twilight of the Eastern Gods, by Ismail Kadare. Women rescue this Virgilian tour through Khruschev’s Russia

Laurie Taylor interviews Sir David Attenborough

Interviews with the great, the good, the less great and the really quite bad


A review of In Confidence: Talking Frankly About Fame, by Laurie Taylor. An artful distillation of over 60 long-form TV interviews, featuring everyone from Michael Frayn to Uri Geller

He who must be obeyed: portrait of the Kaiser by Ferdinand Keller, 1893

Kaiser Wilhelm's guide to ruining a country

Books feature

The role of personality in politics is the theme of this awe-inspiring biography. This is the third volume, 1,562 pages long, of John Röhl’s life of the Kaiser. It has been brilliantly translated — the labyrinth of imperial Germany navigated… Read more

The William A Clark Mansion on Fifth Avenue and recluse, Huguette Clark Photo: Getty / PA Images

The robber baron who 'bought judges as other men buy food’


A review of Empty Mansions, by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr, a materialistic, yet hypnotic bestseller about W.A. Clark, one of the most ruth­less accumulators of wealth in American history

Leading with the chin: Dusty Springfield in the mid 1960s

The mad, bad and sad life of Dusty Springfield


A review of Dusty: An Intimate Portrait, by Karen Bartlett. The sexually repressed and mentally unstable singer’s rise to stardom was as meteoric as her fall

Telluride Hot Air Balloon Festival in Colorado

Like Birdsong – only cheerful


A review of The Birdcage, by Clive Aslet. This Ripping Yarns version of British trench warfare makes for an entertaining – if not entirely serious - read

Russian communist party supporter carrie

The threat from Russia’s spies has only increased since the fall of Communism


A review of Britannia and the Bear, by Victor Madeira. This survey of interwar Soviet spying offers many lessons on how we deal with Putin’s Russia

Portrait of John Piper by Peggy Angus

Potato prints, paintings and the Soviet Union: the real Miss Jean Brodie


Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter, by James Russell. Angus’s playful, naïve designs were rich and strange, as were her politics


Creepy, dizzying and dark: a choice of recent crime fiction


A review of four very readable new thrillers: Research by Philip Kerr, Remember Me This Way by Sabine Durrant, The Final Silence by Stuart Neville and Cobra by Deon Meyer.

Volvo China Open - Day Three

Banned – and booming: the strange world of Chinese golf


A review of The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream, by Dan Washburn. A book about money, power and whim that tells you everything you need to know about modern China

Novelist Haruki Murakami Photo: PA Images

Murakami drops magic for realism in this tale of a lonely Tokyo engineer


A review of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel. It’s impressive that such a brilliant myth emerges from such unspectacular ingredients

Who’s in, who’s out: George Bernard O’Neill’s ‘Public Opinion’ depicts a private view of the annual exhibition at the Royal Academy

The age of the starving artist

Books feature

What remains of art is art, of course; and what chiefly interests us is the creative talents of a painter or a sculptor. What we forget is that the work of art wouldn’t be there without some kind of engagement… Read more

A boy named Marion: John Wayne pictured on the set of Stagecoach (1939)

I was John Wayne's driver


A review of John Wayne: The Life and Legend, by Scott Eyman. It borders on hagiography but for Wayne fans that’s no flaw

A derelict building in Jaffna – part of the legacy of Sri Lanka's years of civil war. Photograph: Luis Ascui/Getty Images

Tip-toeing through Sri Lanka


A review of Noontide Toll, by Romesh Gunesekera. One of the most delicate contemporary prose stylists tackles one of the most intractable conflicts

Dean Inge, one of the last Victorians. Photograph: Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Daring? No. Well written? Yes


A review of The Last Victorians, by W. Sydney Robinson. Ignore the misleading blurb and revel in the research, writing and bizarre characters in this portrait of four 20th-century eccentrics