Books

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

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

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

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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

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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

Elvis

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

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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

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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

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

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

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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

Books

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

Roman mosaic from Pompeii depicting Darius III at the Battle of Issus (333 BC), in which he was defeated by Alexander the Great

Darius III: Alexander’s stooge

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In 1891, George Nathaniel Curzon, ‘the very superior person’ of the mocking Balliol rhyme, and future viceroy of India, arrived at Persepolis. Torched in 330 BC by Alexander the Great, it had once been the nerve-centre of an empire that… Read more

primeval

They sought paradise in a Scottish field — and found hunger, boredom and mosquitoes

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A review of The Utopia Experiment by Dylan Evans reminds us that designs for living always end in tears, or worse

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Murder, mystery and sexual obsession

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Following S.J. Watson’s bestselling Before I Go to Sleep, Second Life provides a similarly compelling, claustrophobic slice of domestic noir

Still life in the old slogan: Maurice Saatchi’s famous 1978 poster was adapted three decades later when the unemployment figures were announced in March 2009

Even the people who make political adverts aren’t sure they work

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A review of Mad Men and Bad Men by Sam Delaney suggests that the admen in charge of political campaigns are the first to doubt their effectiveness

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Anne Tyler Photo: Getty

A pointillist painting in prose

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In a review of A Spool of Blue Thread, Anne Tyler’s latest and possibly last novel, Susan Hill is captivated by the everyday lives of an unremarkable Baltimore family

Admiral Dönitz, left in charge of the Reich after Hitler’s suicide, was lucky to have escaped the noose at Nuremberg

The madness of Nazism laid bare

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A review of After Hitler by Michael Jones describes the last defiant days of the German Reich and how the SS continued to massacre women and children to the bitter end

A live broadcast of Russian President Vladimir Putin shown in a restaurant in Moscow Photo: Getty

Sugar-daddy, gangster and Tsar: Vladimir Putin is all things to all men

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A review of Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev describes the chilling world of modern Russia where the aim is to fool all the people all of the time

John Galliano at Paris Fashion Week 2010

Drink, drugs and dressing-up: behind the scenes of the fashion industry

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It’s a curious subject, fashion, and those who write about it rarely want to jeopardise future access to it on the altar of clear-eyed analysis. The business must pretend that there is a single genius at work here, whose vision… Read more

The politician, Baron Brougham, directing a fire-hose onto gas flames issuing from the mouth of Nelson's former captain, Thomas Cochrane by George Cruikshank Photo: Getty

Filthy commerce: scandals have rocked the City ever since the Napoleonic wars

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A review of Forging Capitalism by Ian Klaus covers 200 years of theft and fraud in the City

The Sixtus V cabinet: the supreme example of the art of pietra dura

A passion for pietre dure: a very English 18th-century obsession

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A review of Roman Splendour, English Arcadia by Simon Swynfen Jervis and Dudley Dodd celebrates one of the great achievements of Renaissance craftsmanship

‘Chelsea pensioners reading the Waterloo Dispatch’ by Sir David Wilkie

The Iron Duke with flecks of rust: Wellington emerges as a lesser soldier than Napoleon

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A review of Went the Day Well? by David Crane singles it out as the best book so far to mark the bicentenary of Waterloo

A Palestinian boy during a rally in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip, 2015

Tony Judt: a man of paradox who made perfect sense

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A review of Tony Judt’s collection of essays, When the Facts Change, reveals a historian of rare subtlety and foresight

Bill Browder Photo: Getty

The fallen idol: seeing Putin in a new light

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A review of Red Notice: How I Became Putin’s No. 1 Enemy describes Bill Browder’s thorough disenchantment with Russia’s president

Yoko Ono performing ‘Cut Piece’, where her outfit is cut down to her underwear by predatory snipping scissors

You could do better on Wikipedia: a facile approach to art history

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A review of Art in History by Martin Kemp finds this 200-page potted outline absurdly sketchy

Nicole Minetti (with statutory sunglasses) in Milan in 2011. The bunga-bunga girl, catapulted into politics by Berlusconi, was accused of aiding and abetting prostitution and submitting fraudulent expenses

Italy on the brink: the dolce vita turns sour

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A review of The Italians by John Hooper warns that unless the birthrate in Italy rises the country is doomed

USS Jeanette Photo: Getty

The greatest American Arctic disaster

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A review of In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides describes the gruesome story of the USS Jeanette in 1879

Winston Churchill leaving Westminster Pier, with Harry Hopkins, John Winant, and William Bullitt Photo: Getty

Powers of persuasion: how Churchill brought America on side

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A review of Sleep in Peace Tonight by James MacManus describes how Winston Churchill charmed the Americans into joining the second world war

TS Eliot

A poet’s progress: from Tom the American boy to T.S. Eliot

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The musical Cats reopened in the West End in December, with a judge from The X Factor in the lead role. The music is by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the songs are, of course, by T.S. Eliot. Eliot died 50… Read more

English author and playwright, Edgar Wallace, 1927 Photo: Getty

The King Kong of the thriller: the phenomenal output of Edgar Wallace, once the world’s most popular author

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A review of Stranger than Fiction by Neil Clark explores the  turbulent life of King Kong’s creator