Books

Student March

Louise Doughty’s Black Water will delight fans of Graham Greene and John le Carré

11 June 2016 9:00 am

In Indonesia in 1965–6 half a million communists and supposed communist sympathisers were murdered by a range of civilian and…

Victims of ‘decontamination’: three of the eight homeless children executed by Rio’s police outside the Candelaria church in 1993

The two faces of Brazil

11 June 2016 9:00 am

In October 1964, Charles de Gaulle visited Brazil. The country was six months into its military dictatorship. In April of…

The limestone formations in The Pinnacles in Australia

Tim Winton is captivated by Western Australia’s terrible beauty

11 June 2016 9:00 am

It was only when I left Western Australia for university in England that I understood how vast and dangerous my…

Chilean Prostitutes

Don’t preach to prostitutes, says Charlotte Shane

11 June 2016 9:00 am

The premise of Kat Banyard’s Pimp State is a familiar one: sex work — a phrase the author rejects as…

The clock is ticking: women paint luminous dials in 1932

The Radium Girls — still glowing in their coffins

11 June 2016 9:00 am

On the morning of 15 October 1927, a dim, autumn day, a group of men foregathered at the Rosedale cemetery…

Fox

Ruthless Reynard or Fantastic Mr Fox?

11 June 2016 9:00 am

Have you ever considered tying a fox’s penis to your head? Well no, nor have I, but if you suffer…

Barbra Streisand: Queen of the United States

Barbra Streisand: towering talent, impossible person

11 June 2016 9:00 am

This book is the latest in Yale’s series of Jewish Lives — though in this case Jewish Loves might be…

Richard Chopping’s design for The Fly (1965)

A guide to 20th-century British painting and promiscuity

11 June 2016 9:00 am

Somewhere I have a couple of neat letters from the artist Richard Chopping, politely declining my requests to interview him…

Flanders Soldiers

My strategy for the first world war — by Allan Mallinson

11 June 2016 9:00 am

In this centenary year of the Somme, it is refreshing to read a book about the Great War that is…

Striking camp in Canada, March 1820

Annie Proulx is lost in the woods

4 June 2016 9:00 am

You can’t see the wood for the trees in Annie Proulx’s epic novel of logging and deforestation in North America, says Philip Hensher

Her story bubbles with the funny and the famous: Lyndall Hobbs with Al Pacino in 1990

Nicky Haslam: my two absolutely fabulous girlfriends

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Many years ago, working on a project in Tel Aviv, I had a meeting-free weekend. I know, I thought, I’ll…

The only way to travel (Photo: Getty)

For fashionable Victorian travellers, the only way was Norway

4 June 2016 9:00 am

‘The only use of a gentleman in travelling,’ Emmeline Lowe wrote in 1857, ‘is to take care of the luggage.’…

Kathleen Kennedy arrives in London

Kathleen Kennedy kicks over the traces

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Kathleen Kennedy and her elder brother JFK were the grandchildren of upwardly mobile Irish Catholic immigrants. John F. Fitzgerald, ‘Honey…

Huw Wheldon (Photo: Getty)

A good man at the 1970s BBC

4 June 2016 9:00 am

When I saw this book, a biography of Huw Wheldon, who was managing director of BBC Television between 1968 and…

Above and below: From Robin Dalton’s My Relations: ‘My second cousin, Penelope Wood, is an artist, or at least hopes to be one. She is only 16, but she has done some beautiful little paintings. I have one hanging in my room now. It is a landscape and is one she did when only 12 years old’

When mother killed the plumber — and Nellie Melba came round to sing

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Here’s a pair of little books — one even littler than the other — by Robin Dalton (née Eakin), a…

Illustration by Arthur Rackham for Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle

Do myths and folklore damage children’s brains?

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Children’s fantasy literature has never been just one thing. Animal fables, folk and fairy tales were not originally intended for…

'Comrade! Your efforts will help us raise the flag of victory over Berlin!', 1944 (Photo: Getty)

The hopeless wasteland of modern Russia

4 June 2016 9:00 am

‘Gilded doorknobs,’ spits a Party diehard as she contemplates the blessings of the Soviet Union’s collapse. ‘Is this freedom?’ Dozens…

Monmouth’s charm and dark, mesmerising beauty made him an object of international fascination

James Duke of Monmouth: perhaps the best king we never had

4 June 2016 9:00 am

In Pepys’s famous words, James, Duke of Monmouth was ‘the most skittish, leaping gallant that ever I saw, always in…

Novelist Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio (Photo: Getty)

Le Clézio’s The Prospector: from tropical beaches to the trenches of the Somme

4 June 2016 9:00 am

It is not easy to avoid clichés when writing about J.M.G. Le Clézio. Born in Nice in 1940, the recipient…

A poster from the 1930s advertising Shanghai

'Wicked old Paris of the Orient': a portrait of 1930s Shanghai

4 June 2016 9:00 am

Here’s the Mandarin for ooh-la-la! As Taras Grescoe, a respected Canadian writer of nonfiction, shows in this marvellous, microscopically descriptive…

Computer illustration of double-stranded DNA molecules

How Siddhartha Mukherjee gets it wrong on IQ, sexuality and epigenetics

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

The dying days of the English country house

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

Why Juan Villoro is the best football writer you've never heard of

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…