Books

Robinson Crusoe — with more company than Alexander Selkirk enjoyed

The story behind the story of Robinson Crusoe

10 September 2016 9:00 am

Some years ago, when I stepped from an unstable boat onto Juan Fernández island, a friendly man took my bag…

The Teotihuacan pyramids, near Mexico City

From Buenos Aires to Miami — at breakneck speed

10 September 2016 9:00 am

Bogotá airport, immigration form in hand. Tourist, migrant, businessman? Andrés Neuman ponders the descriptors, unsure which to tick. He opts…

Author Jonathan Safran Foer (photo: Getty)

Is Jonathan Safran Foer having a midlife crisis?

10 September 2016 9:00 am

For Jonathan Safran Foer fans and sceptics alike, Here I Am comes as a wonderful gift, a truly painful, honest…

A demonstration in Petrograd is broken up in July 1917

Champagne and revolution in Petrograd, 1917

10 September 2016 9:00 am

Helen Rappaport’s new book makes no claim to be a complete account of the Russian revolution. Instead it presents a…

Crossrail: A total of 26 miles of train tunnels are being built beneath the streets of the capital (Photo: Getty)

Time-travel along the Elizabeth line

10 September 2016 9:00 am

The year is 1963. A girl is walking around Stepney with a pack of index cards, visiting old residents in…

Sir Malcolm Rifkind (Photo: Getty)

What does Malcolm Rifkind really believe in?

10 September 2016 9:00 am

Never speak on the same platform as Sir Malcolm Rifkind. I tried it once, at a Spectator debate held during…

Nancy Astor, photographed by Emil Otto Hoppé

How to suck up in society — with the Cunards, the Corrigans and the Colefaxes

10 September 2016 9:00 am

A more appropriate subtitle to this homage to the queen bees of the interwar years might have been ‘How to…

French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau

The best way to start on Enlightenment philosophy

10 September 2016 9:00 am

The flour is what matters, and not the mill, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg wrote in his notebook in 1799. ‘When we…

Trail to the ruins of Machu Pichu, Peru

Secrets of the snail trail

10 September 2016 9:00 am

You could say that this book contradicts itself. Robert Moor’s chosen topic is trails — not just walking, where you…

Author Sophie Hannah (Photo: Getty)

A new country-house mystery for Hercule Poirot

10 September 2016 9:00 am

‘Clonakilty, God help us,’ my Irish mother would say automatically when we drove into the town, in pious remembrance of…

Operations inside GCHQ (Photo: Getty)

From hot war to Cold War: GCHQ comes of age

10 September 2016 9:00 am

There are now enough books about Bletchley Park for it to become part of national mythology, along with the Tudors,…

Lazare Hoche, who rose to be a general in the revolutionary army, was also the lover of the future Empress Josephine

Why the French revolution foundered

10 September 2016 9:00 am

Assignats are the bane of every student of the French revolution without an economics background. They were the bonds issued…

New-bionic-arm

Will there be free will in a brave new bioengineered world?

3 September 2016 9:00 am

The idea that death may prove a mere ‘technical problem’ in the future just makes me want to hole up in front of Netflix and eat crisps, says Steven Poole

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Sex among the spreadsheets

3 September 2016 9:00 am

This exhilaratingly lowbrow first novel concentrates on money and lust or, to put it more bluntly, sex and the City.…

George Orwell (Photo: Getty)

George Orwell and the whiff of genius

3 September 2016 9:00 am

The Orwellian past is a foreign country; smells are different there. Pipe smoke and carbolic, side notes of horse dung…

Peter Wright rehearses Giselle with the Canadian ballet dancer Karen Kain in 1974

Peter Wright and the bitchy world of ballet

3 September 2016 9:00 am

Memoirs of old men, baldly, tend to be tricky. Sir Peter Wright, one of the founding pillars of the British…

Actor Richard Harris (Photo:  Getty)

John McEntee’s gossip puts even the Street of Shame to shame

3 September 2016 9:00 am

John McEntee — ‘the Chancer from Cavan’, as he bills himself — has enjoyed a long career as a gossip…

medical illustration

Hamlet, as retold from inside the womb

3 September 2016 9:00 am

Ian McEwan’s novels are drawn to enclosed spaces. There is the squash court upon which the surgeon plays a meticulously…

Published in France during the Siege of Paris, a caricature shows Wilhelm I carving up Europe with a knife inscribed ‘Bismarck’

A century of violence — from Waterloo to the Great War

3 September 2016 9:00 am

The Penguin History of Europe reaches its seventh volume (out of nine) with Richard J. Evans’s thorough and wide-ranging work…

Daisy Johnson's Fen explores the dark side of dating

The short story is enjoying a powerful renaissance

3 September 2016 9:00 am

A short-story renaissance has been promised since 2013. That year Alice Munro won the Nobel, Lydia Davis won the Booker…

Delphine Seyrig in Last Year in Marienbad, Alain Renais’s great enigmatic masterpiece

Homage to Alain Resnais’s mesmerising masterpiece, Last Year in Marienbad

3 September 2016 9:00 am

In the beginning was Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, pleached and Proustian, released in February 1960. This was followed soon after,…

(Photo: Getty)

A very Mexican shaggy dog story — from Juan Pablo Villalobos

3 September 2016 9:00 am

The Mexican author Juan Pablo Villa-lobos’s first short novel, Down the Rabbit Hole (Fiesta en la madriguera), was published in…

View looking towards the west façade of old St Paul’s Cathedral. On the right are the ruins of St Anne’s, Blackfriars. On the left, flames engulf Ludgate, one of the gates of the City of London

The Great Fire of London’s silver lining

3 September 2016 9:00 am

It was the brightest of futures; it was the End of Days. Three hundred and fifty years before Brexit, England…

Mother and Daughter Spinning

Alison Gopnik deplores ambitious middle-class ‘parenting’

3 September 2016 9:00 am

In the American way, the child psychologist Alison Gopnik’s new book has an attractive sound-bitey title dragging a flat-footed subtitle…

Conceptual image of Lactobacillus acidolphus that occurs naturally in the gastrointestinal tract and mouth

Want to feel better? Be kind to your bugs

27 August 2016 9:00 am

There are more bacteria in your gut than there are stars in our galaxy. Ed Yong’s book explaining their possibilities is as wondrous as a sacred text, says Kate Womersley