Books

The interior of Hagia Sophia by Gaspare Fossati, 1852

There is no one Istanbul, but a series of competing, clashing, coexisting cities

11 February 2017 9:00 am

I was a young, aspiring writer when I decided to leave everything behind and move to Istanbul more than two…

The obelisk in the Place de la Concorde. Its transport from Luxor to Paris took seven years and involved the destruction of an entire village

Are Egypt’s obelisks more stunning even than the pyramids?

23 April 2016 9:00 am

On the banks of the River Thames in central London, an ancient Egyptian obelisk, known as Cleopatra’s Needle, reaches towards…

Further dispatches from Syria’s maelstrom

16 April 2016 9:00 am

The mechanic, blinded in one eye by shrapnel, spent three days searching for his family in the destroyed buildings and…

Left: The main gate to the mighty citadel has withstood centuries of invasion. Now much scarred, it presides over a bombed-out city, including the wrecked medieval souq (above), until recently the world’s largest and most vibrant covered historic market and Unesco world heritage site

Syria's Stalingrad: how Aleppo slipped from tolerance to terrorism

5 March 2016 9:00 am

Justin Marozzi on the bitter irony of Aleppo’s ancient motto

A crushing case for brutalism — with the people left out

10 October 2015 9:00 am

Elain Harwood’s flawed but impressive study of modernist architecture manages perfectly to reflect its subject, says David Kynaston

The surreal beauty of Soviet bus stops

12 September 2015 9:00 am

The Soviet Union was a nation of bus stops. Cars were hard to come by, so a vast public transport…

From ‘The Temptation of Eve’: detail of glass from Ely Cathedral designed by Pugin, 1858

Cambridge, showcase for modernism (and how costly it is to fix)

13 December 2014 9:00 am

The Pevsner architectural guides are around halfway through their revisions — though it is like the Forth Bridge, and soon…

Martha Graham and Bertram Ross in Graham’s most famous work ‘Appalachian Spring’ (1944), with a prize-winning score by Aaron Copeland

To call this offering a book is an abuse of language

8 November 2014 9:00 am

I picked up this book with real enthusiasm. Who cannot be entranced by those 20 years after the second world…

Grade II-listed Phoenix prefabs in Moseley, Birmingham

Why prefabs really were fab

18 October 2014 9:00 am

Sir Winston Churchill did not invent the prefab, but on 26 March 1944 he made an important broadcast promising to…

It’s not easy for a middle-aged woman to get inside the head of a 12-year-old innkeeper’s son in 1914

13 September 2014 9:00 am

Esther Freud wrote dazzlingly in the first person through the eyes of a five-year-old child in her first novel, Hideous…

St Enodoc Church overlooking St Enodoc golf course and the sea beyond, Rock, Cornwall. John Betjeman lies buried in the graveyard

The ultimate guide to Cornwall

19 July 2014 9:00 am

Before writing this review I spent an hour looking for my original Pevsner paperback on Cornwall, published in 1951 (the…

English tea-chests are thrown into Boston harbour, 16 December 1773

A Labour MP defends the Empire – and only quotes Lenin twice

14 June 2014 8:00 am

In a grand history of the British empire — because that is what this book really is —  you might…

Hotel Chelsea

Where artists went to drink and die

8 February 2014 9:00 am

Once below a time (to quote the man himself) the bloated poet Dylan Thomas slouched back to New York’s Chelsea…

Secrets of the Kremlin

14 December 2013 9:00 am

A building bearing testimony to the power of eternal Russia; a timeless symbol of the Russian state; a monument to…

A book on Art Deco that's a work of art in itself — but where's the Savoy, Claridge's and the Oxo Tower? 

30 November 2013 9:00 am

Over the past 45 years, there have been two distinct and divergent approaches to Art Deco. One of them —…

The men who demolished Victorian Britain

23 November 2013 9:00 am

Anyone with a passing interest in old British buildings must get angry at the horrors inflicted on our town centres…

Is Northamptonshire not scenic enough to visit?

9 November 2013 9:00 am

I don’t know whether Bruce Bailey, a proud Northamptonshire man, agrees with the late Sir Nikolaus Pevsner that no one…

Adhocism, by Charles Jencks - review

6 July 2013 9:00 am

Here, for time travellers, is the whack-job spirit of ’68 in distillate form, paperbound and reissued in facsimile (with some…

Russia: A World Apart, by Simon Marsden - review

1 June 2013 9:00 am

Here are acres of desolate countryside, pockmarked by once great estates, ravaged by rot. Could it be much bleaker? Many…

The Hermit in the Garden, by Gordon Campbell - review

11 May 2013 9:00 am

In his 1780 essay On Modern Gardening Horace Walpole declared that of the many ornamental features then fashionable, the one…

The symbolism of the cemetery: the draped urn, popular among the Victorians, is usually taken to mean that the soul has departed the shrouded body for its journey to heaven

How to Read a Graveyard, by Peter Stanford - review

4 May 2013 9:00 am

Peter Stanford likes cemeteries. Daily walks with his dog around a London graveyard acclimatised him, while the deaths of his…

William Burges and the High Victorian Dream', by J. Mordaunt Crook - review

9 March 2013 9:00 am

It is 32 years since the first edition of this hefty book appeared in 1981. The original was based on…

‘On Glasgow and Edinburgh', by Robert Crawford - review

9 March 2013 9:00 am

Glasgow and Edinburgh are so nearby that even in the 18th-century Adam Smith could breakfast in one city and be…

The shape of things to come

31 December 2011 10:00 am

I opened Futurescapes with anticipation, knowing Tim Richardson to be a forceful commentator, and landscape architects to be in dire…

Amazing grace

3 December 2011 10:00 am

It was in 1814 that the Benedictine monks arrived in Stratton-on-the-Fosse in Somerset from Douai in Flanders where, in 1606,…