Books

Computer illustration of double-stranded DNA molecules

How Siddhartha Mukherjee gets The Gene wrong

28 May 2016 9:00 am

A clear, accurate, up-to-date pop science book on genetics would have been most welcome, says Stuart Ritchie. Sadly, this isn’t it

Author Philip Hensher (Photo: Getty)

Elegiac and exuberant: short stories from Philip Hensher and Helen Oyeyemi

28 May 2016 9:00 am

Discussions about the short story too often fall into a false dichotomy that can be characterised, in essence, by a…

‘The Letter’ by Rex Whistler

Going out in style: the English country house between the wars

28 May 2016 9:00 am

Contrary to popular myth, the exuberant flame of life in the English country house was not extinguished by tears at…

Diego Maradona runs past English defender Terry Butcher just before scoring his second goal during the World Cup quarterfinal, 1986

Football finally gets the writer it deserves

28 May 2016 9:00 am

Football, unlike cricket, has for the most part been ill served by its writers. For every Brian Glanville and Ian…

Patricia Highsmith (Photo: Getty)

Crime pursues the crime writer

28 May 2016 9:00 am

Patricia Highsmith was an accretion of oddities — a woman who doted on her pet snails and carried a selection…

Chris Herzfeld’s message: apes are really just like us

Going ape with boredom in captivity

28 May 2016 9:00 am

King Kong, the story of a violently amorous gorilla, Me Cheeta, the autobiography of a slanderous Hollywood chimpanzee, and now…

A crowded Nevsky Prospect in St Petersburg (Photo: Getty)

Sexual tension and Siberian magic mushrooms

28 May 2016 9:00 am

On her arrival in Russia in 1914, Gerty Freely finds it refreshingly liberal compared to her native Britain: here servants…

Bridge Club (Photo: Getty)

No place for sissies among the Bridge Ladies of Connecticut

28 May 2016 9:00 am

Not a single line of this highly distinctive memoir happens out of doors. All of it takes place in rooms:…

Alex Otto, the German actor and theatre director, as King Lear c. 1920

Sneers and jeers over Lear

28 May 2016 9:00 am

In the 18th century, as Shakespeare began to take on classic status, editors began to notice differences between the texts…

St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai

Breaking the commandments on Moses’s mountain

28 May 2016 9:00 am

A medieval party of 800 Armenians at the top of Mount Sinai suddenly found themselves surrounded by fire. Their pilgrim…

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Equipped for life with a copy of Thucydides

28 May 2016 9:00 am

‘What distinguishes Cambridge from Oxford,’ wrote A.A. Milne in 1939, is that nobody who has been to Cambridge feels impelled…

Author Nina Stibbe (Photo: Getty)

Chaos among the commodes in Nina Stibbe’s old folks’ home

28 May 2016 9:00 am

A card in a shop window — ‘non-unionised, auxiliary nurses sought… 35p per hour. Ideal for outgoing compassionate females’ —…

Bradford protestors tie a copy of The Satanic Verses to a stake in Bradford and try to incinerate it

How The Satanic Verses failed to burn

28 May 2016 9:00 am

This is a book which, as one eyes its lavish illustrations and dips into its elegant prose, looks as if…

Nazis in the dock: Hans Frank replies to questioning during the Nuremberg Trials

Genocide is named and shamed

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Prosecution for genocide or crimes against humanity is now a given in international law. But before the Nuremberg Trials, these two groundbreaking notions didn’t exist. Daniel Hahn describes their origins and inspiration

Francesca Simon’s dark novel The Monstrous Child tells the story of Hel, Queen of the Underworld — like Proserpina, only monstrous

Sinister summer reading for children

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Martin Stewart’s Riverkeep (Penguin, £7.99) has a list of books and writers on the cover: Moby-Dick, The Wizard of Oz,…

Industrial Britain: The British Steel industry plunged into crisis after Tata Steel announced it would begin selling its plants in the UK (Photo: Getty)

How capitalism really works

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Deirdre McCloskey has been at work for many years on a huge project: to explain why the world has become…

Portrait of Dante in Giotto’s fresco in the Podestà Chapel, the Bargello, Florence

The secrets of Dante’s marriage

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Unlike Shakespeare, who kept himself out of all his works, except the Sonnets, Dante was endlessly reworking his autobiography, even…

Karma-Sutra

Taking the Kamasutra seriously

21 May 2016 9:00 am

The rough English translation of Kamasutra is pleasure (kama) treatise (sutra). In the West, since it was first (rather surreptitiously)…

Author Don DeLillo (Photo: Getty)

Don DeLillo foresees the imminent death of death

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Cults, the desert, natural disasters. Artists, bankers, terrorists. Cash machines, food packaging, secret installations. Mediaspeak and scientific jargon. Crowds and…

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Pumped up and dangerous: going to war on drugs

21 May 2016 9:00 am

‘Of all civilisation’s occupational categories, that of soldier may be the most conducive to regular drug use.’ The problem with…

Not-so-Gloriana: Queen Elizabeth I in her early sixties. (Studio of Marcus Gheerarts the Younger, c. 1596)

Power slips from Gloriana’s jewelled fingers

21 May 2016 9:00 am

If you’ve been watching Game of Thrones recently, you’ll have seen an old folkloric fantasy in which a bewitching young…

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Lizzie Bennet is catapulted to America

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Curtis Sittenfeld’s novel Eligible is a page-turning romantic comedy which is very funny and entirely ridiculous: each of the short…

Lord Rosebery at Goodwood Racecourse, 1964 (Photo: Getty)

Ferdinand Mount picks out the plums nicely

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Book reviews, John Updike once wrote, ‘perform a clear and desired social service: they excuse us from reading the books…

Teffi

Teffi: from Russia with laughs

21 May 2016 9:00 am

‘Ah! Scrubbing the deck! My childhood dream! As a child I had once seen a sailor hosing the deck with…

Wilko Johnson (Photo: Getty)

A Feelgood fairy story

21 May 2016 9:00 am

When I wrote for the NME as a schoolgirl in the 1980s, it was recognised that there were musicians who…