Books

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Lands of legend: from the Auroras to Atlantis

12 November 2016 9:00 am

The Un-Discovered Islands could not be more different in substance — though it is similar in style — to Malachy…

The Siege of San Sebastian (Photo: Getty)

Why has the Peninsular War been so readily forgotten?

12 November 2016 9:00 am

You learn startling things about the long entanglement of the British with Spain on every page of Simon Courtauld’s absorbing…

‘Man eating Jalebee’, by Bhupen Khakhar (1976)

Modern figurative art — abstraction’s poor relation —gets a timely advocate

12 November 2016 9:00 am

Timothy Hyman’s remarkable new book makes the case for the relevance of figurative painting in the 20th century, a period…

US writer James Ellroy (Photo: Getty)

Worse than Big Brother — trapped in a glass bubble in the Arizona desert

12 November 2016 9:00 am

The California novelist T.C. Boyle has often taken true stories and created alternative histories, from John Harvey Kellog and the…

UK soldiers board puma helicopter

The face of warfare is changing fast — but it’s still boots on the ground that really matter

12 November 2016 9:00 am

It’s not immediately obvious, but the silhouette on the dust jacket — soldiers advancing in single file, on foot (‘boots…

Milk delivery on skis in London during one of the bitterest winters on record, December 1962

Mourning the milkman’s daily round

12 November 2016 9:00 am

One of David Cameron’s choices on Desert Island Discs, this book reminds us, was ‘Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the…

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Diane Williams’s surreal parables are an acquired taste — and one well worth acquiring

12 November 2016 9:00 am

There is a common assumption that experimental writing — for want of a better term — is obscure, joyless and…

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Zadie Smith’s latest dance to the music of time

5 November 2016 9:00 am

Zadie Smith explores themes of identity, freedom, rhythm and time with much skill and grace, says Ruth Scurr

(Photo: Getty)

London’s Big Bang: when greed became good

5 November 2016 9:00 am

We financial hacks have been encouraged, indoctrinated perhaps, to think that London’s Big Bang was a Very Good Thing. That…

Nature concept

The worst of all possible worlds — one run by women

5 November 2016 9:00 am

Teenage girls all over the world have suddenly developed electro-magnetic powers that can be unleashed on anybody who bugs them.…

Before she was 40, Anne Barnard had had at least 20 serious suitors and 11 marriage proposals

Anne Barnard: a portrait of a very unusual lady

5 November 2016 9:00 am

Lady Anne Barnard is a name that means almost nothing today, but her story is a remarkable one. She defied…

Holding court: Rasputin takes centre stage, with Captain von Lohman of the Ismailovsky Regiment (left) and Colonel Prince Putyatin, Chamberlain of the Imperial Palaces

Rasputin still refuses to die

5 November 2016 9:00 am

When he first came to public notice, Rasputin was described in a Russian newspaper as ‘a symbol. He is not…

Author Margaret Drabble (Photo: Getty)

Margaret Drabble squares up to old age

5 November 2016 9:00 am

A preoccupation with death is felt from the start of Margaret Drabble’s new novel, which opens with Francesca Stubbs, in…

‘Too much caviar, Rita, too much caviar.’ The Aga Khan is seated beside his fourth wife and opposite Rita Hayworth at the reception following her wedding to his son Prince Aly Khan

The French Riviera — a sunny playground for nitwits

5 November 2016 9:00 am

‘Oh the Mediterranean addiction, how we fall for it!’ So sighed Sybille Bedford, who spent the 1920s and 1930s in…

The Duckingstool by Charles Stanley Reinhart : An accused witch on trial (Photo: Getty)

The trials and tribulations of Salem's Judge Samuel Sewall

5 November 2016 9:00 am

Richard Francis’s new novel covers ostensibly familiar ground. Set in and around Boston in the 1690s, it tells the story…

Portrait of Jonathan Swift by Charles Jervas

Fierce indignation

29 October 2016 9:00 am

Dean Swift’s biting satire is as necessary today as it was 300 years ago, according to Daniel Swift (no relation)

Anna Shilova and Aleksandr Masliakov on ‘Song of the Year’, 1977

The comic relief of Soviet Central Television

29 October 2016 9:00 am

In the opening chapter of her history of Soviet Central Television, Christine E. Evans observes two Russian televisual displays of…

Ken Clarke arrives in Downing Street (Photo: Getty)

Ken Clarke: the best prime minister we never had

29 October 2016 9:00 am

It always used to be said that, if it had been up to Guardian readers, Ken Clarke would certainly have…

‘Little Dorrit and the Turnkey’, by Arthur A. Dixon

The best of times and the worst of times — in debtors' prison

29 October 2016 9:00 am

The Marshalsea was the best and worst place for a debtor to be imprisoned. From 1438 until its closure in…

Writer and historian Jan Morris (Photo: Getty)

Jan Morris — ‘the greatest descriptive writer of her time’

29 October 2016 9:00 am

Married as I am to an antiquarian book dealer, and living in a house infested with books and manuscripts, I’m…

Fallen idol: Mercia dela Querra, the caretaker of Orania’s Verwoerd museum, sits beside the bronze head of the founder of apartheid

Orania: the desert of Afrikaner dreams

29 October 2016 9:00 am

South African democracy has not, on the whole, been kind to the Afrikaner. During Nelson Mandela’s benign oversight of the…

Patients in the tuberculosis convalescent home at Paddington, London, 1942 (Photo: Getty)

Cries and whispers in the TB sanitorium

29 October 2016 9:00 am

If you are 70-plus, the shadow of TB will have hung over your childhood and youth, as it did mine,…

Sea Ice

Button up your overcoat before settling down with Ed O’Loughlin

29 October 2016 9:00 am

Brrrrr, this is a chilly book. Each time a character put on his sealskin kamiks, muskrat hat, wolfskin mittens and…

Beef hanging

Why is it OK to eat insects but not little furry animals?

29 October 2016 9:00 am

I’m writing this in the Highlands. Through the window I can see Loch Maree, being ruffled into white-tipped skirls by…

A drone hovers between two tower blocks

A new look at cities — from the top down

29 October 2016 9:00 am

Most of us just live in cities, or travel to see them and take them pretty much as they come,…