Books

Shots Fired At Santa Monica College

Black-on-black murder was ignored by the LAPD as ‘no human involved’ — until one of their number decided to get involved

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Jill Leovy, author of Ghettoside, embedded herself for two years with the only effective police section on LA’s killing streets

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The casual way in which Twitter can destroys lives shocks even habitual Twitterer India Knight

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Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed makes for grim but gripping reading

Sir Winston Churchill and Earl Clement Attlee Photo: Getty

Most of Giles Radice’s Odd Couples can’t stand the sight of each other, but muck in together to reach the finishing line

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Reading accounts of the New Labour years in Giles Radice’s Odd Couples is rather like touring an abattoir before the cleaners have been in

Cuckoo chick with wren parent

Until the last century it remained a total mystery how the cuckoo managed to hijack other birds’ nests

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The ornithologist Mark Cocker is full of admiration for Nick Davies’s Cuckoo — as gripping as any detective story

Author Tom McCarthy Photo: Getty

Tom McCarthy is more interested in form than content — so don’t expect anything as traditional as a plot

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Jonathan Beckman takes pleasure in Tom McCarthy’s agile thinking, even if Satin Island’s hero is just a tongue-tied initial

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British colonialism is once again under attack in Aatish Taseer’s sprawling Indian epic

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Bright bazaars and dark family secrets are temptingly on offer in Aatish Taseer’s The Way Things Were,

The Kinks in their Sixties heyday— Ray Davies is far right, next to his brother Dave

You Really Got Me, Ray Davies, confesses Andy Miller, lifelong fan of the Kinks

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Andy Miller finds Johnny Rogan’s biography scrupulously fair,though Ray Davies himself remains an enigma

For his supposed involvement in a conspiracy against Nero, Seneca is ordered to commit suicide — as depicted in The Nuremberg Chronicle , 1493

Roman culture at its most debased: even Seneca was guilty of savagery

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A review of a biography of Seneca by Emily Wilson shows the Roman empire at its rotten best

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Monstrous, beautiful, damaged people make for tiresome company in Polly Samson’s The Kindness

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It’s all to do with sperm motility in Polly Samson’s The Kindness. You can see it coming, as the actress said to the bishop

Patrick Gale Photo: Ulf Andersen/Getty

Coming in out of the cold: Patrick Gale’s hero sees stars in the Canadian prairies

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What prompted Patrick Gale’s great-grandfather to abandon his English family and up sticks suddenly to Canada? A Place Called Winter provides a convincing (fictional)answer

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Vitamins are the oil keeping the human machine working — to be used sparingly

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A review of The Vitamin Complex by Catherine Price points out our basic ignorance about some of the body’s essential nutrients

Henry Walter Bates supervises the capture of an alligator in the Amazon

All in the name of science: three young naturalists go on an Amazonian killing-spree

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A review of Naturalists in Paradise by John Hemming describes how the naturalist Russell Wallace helped solve the problem of the origin of the species

G Division Attack

The Irish Times: read by the smug denizens of Dublin 4 and responsible for the Celtic Tiger property bubble

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Mary Kenny is shocked that the Irish Times, once champion of the British empire, now feels it has to apologise for any Irishman who fought in the Great War

Lieutenant William Alexander Kerr earns the Victoria Cross in the Great Uprising of 1857

Even William Dalrymple, seasoned historian of India, finds the scale of violence and racism during the Raj quite jaw-dropping

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‘Sometimes, strolling through the ruins of earlier civilisations, we idly wonder what it must have been like to live through the end of one of them,’ writes Ferdinand Mount at the end of The Tears of the Rajas. ‘Now we… Read more

A world beyond Grafton ‘Merriecolour’ beckons...

Princess Margaret and the divorcé: a cautionary tale of 1950s woman gone astray

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A review of Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes by Virginia Nicholson reveals that it wasn’t just men blocking female emancipation: women themselves were equally to blame

Self confessed mass murderer Anders Breivik Photo: Getty

Anders Breivik: a moronic knight is called to arms

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A review of One of Us by Åsne Seierstad reveals a lonely misfit set on a murderous mission to purify the Nordic race

The dreadful prospect of taking up agriculture in old age

Ancients on oldies: tips on ageing from the Romans are all Greek to Richard Ingrams

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Reviewing the Ancient Art of Growing Old by Tom Payne, Richard Ingrams remembers sweating blood at school translating the smug, self-satisfied Cicero

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Hock and partridge help fascism go down in 1930s London

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A review of Curtain Call by Anthony Quinn celebrates London’s gay 1930s society where much is shrouded in secrecy

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First novel choice: do you prefer your author on a skateboard, or in a vineyard?

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Keith Miller is impressed by the latest first novels - but deplores the way publishers oversell them

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John Aubrey and his circle: those magnificent men and their flying machines

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A review of Ruth Scurr’s biography of John Aubrey tells how the distinguished scholar and antiquarian, friend of Pepys and Hobbes, died in penury and was buried in an unmarked grave

Mary Portas: anything but ordinary

Madly Modern Mary overcomes childhood hardships to become the Queen of Shops

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Nicky Haslam admires the thoroughly extraordinary Mary Portas, monarch of the malls

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A novel set in an aquarium in Seattle is as addictive as a first-class detective story

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Fish become humans, humans fish in the fairy-tale world of David Vann’s poetic novel, Aquarium

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

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

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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

How the BBC helped turn Diana into a dream princess

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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

2,5000 years of gyms (and you’re still better off walking the dog)

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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
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

Shame on Uncle Sam: Eisenhower was guilty of monstrous hypocrisy in the overthrow of Patrice Lumumba

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

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

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