Book review

The Duke of Wellington 
at the Battle of Salamanca, 
22 July 1812

How we beat Napoleon

2 November 2013 9:00 am

We are accustomed to the thrill and glamour of the grands tableaux, but a nuts-and-bolts study of Napoleonic warfare makes for equally gripping reading, says David Crane

Black Sheep 2

Village life can be gripping

2 November 2013 9:00 am

Black Sheep opens biblically, with a mining village named Mount of Zeal, which is ‘built in a bowl like an…

Communal, comforting and calming: tobacco in a war zone has always been important, says Kate Adie

Why Jeremy Paxman's Great War deserves a place on your bookshelf

2 November 2013 9:00 am

The Great War involved the civilian population like no previous conflict. ‘Men, women and children, factory, workshop and army —…

Underneath the arches: Cruikshank’s illustration of ‘one of those afflicting occurences in the life of London: 
TOM, JERRY and LOGIC are arrested in their progress home by the melancholy discovery of Corinthian KATE 
in the last stage of a Consumption, disease & inebriety’

Hogarth and the harlots of Covent Garden were many things, but they weren't 'bohemians'

2 November 2013 9:00 am

It was Hazlitt who said of Hogarth that his pictures ‘breathe a certain close, greasy, tavern air’, and the same…

Jeeves

The imitable Jeeves

2 November 2013 9:00 am

For as long as I can remember — I take neither pleasure nor pride in the admission — I have…

Cuba

Carlos Acosta, the great dancer, should be a full-time novelist

2 November 2013 9:00 am

Carlos Acosta, the greatest dancer of his generation, grew up in Havana as the youngest of 11 black children. Money…

Photograph courtesy of Tina and Terence dooley

Why did Penelope Fitzgerald start writing so late? 

2 November 2013 9:00 am

‘Experiences aren’t given us to be “got over”, otherwise they would hardly be experiences.’ The opening sentence of the first…

Wall-painting in San Isidoro of a shepherd

Christopher Howse takes the slow train in Spain — and writes a classic

2 November 2013 9:00 am

This is probably not a book for those whose interest in Spain gravitates towards such contemporary phenomena as the films…

Orwell

George Orwell's doublethink

26 October 2013 9:00 am

The inventor of ‘doublethink’ was consistently inconsistent  in his own political views, says A.N. Wilson. And no fun at all

Pictorially, railways sell: as the 19th century progressed, the station and the coach compartment provided new scope for narrative painting, as in Augustus Egg’s ‘The Travelling Companions’, 1862

A is for Artist, D is for Dealers

26 October 2013 9:00 am

‘S is for Spoof.’ There it is on page 86, a full-page reproduction of a Nat Tate drawing, sold at…

J.S. Bach: more complex and human than 
the Haussmann portrait suggests

Was Bach as boring as this picture suggests?

26 October 2013 9:00 am

What, one wonders, will John Eliot Gardiner be chiefly remembered for? Perhaps, by many who have worked with him, for…

Ernest Hemingway (Picture: Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Does the world need 17 volumes of Hemingway's letters?

26 October 2013 9:00 am

‘In the years since 1961 Hemingway’s reputation as “the outstanding author since the death of Shakespeare” shrank to the extent…

Death of Sardanapalus, Eugene Delacroix, 1827 (Picture: The Art Archive / DeA Picture Library / J. E. Bulloz)

Italo Calvino's essays, Collection of Sand, is a brainy delight

26 October 2013 9:00 am

The Japanese are sometimes said to suffer from ‘outsider person shock’ (gaijin shokku) when travelling abroad. Recently in London we…

The ruins of Hamburg after Allied bombing,  July 1943

Hitler didn't start indiscriminate bombings — Churchill did 

26 October 2013 9:00 am

‘I cannot describe to you what a curious note of brutality a bomb has,’ said one woman who lived through…

cricket

My dear old thing! Forget the nasty bits

26 October 2013 9:00 am

There can be a strong strain of self-parody in even the greatest commentators. When Henry Blofeld describes the progress of…

Morrissey_autobiography

'If I can barely speak, then I shall surely sing'

26 October 2013 9:00 am

A few weeks ago, I was wandering with a friend around West London when our conversation turned to the reliable…

Prince Albert (Photo: John Jabez Edwin Mayall/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Clash of the titans

26 October 2013 9:00 am

This is an odd book: interesting, informative, intelligent, but still decidedly odd. It is a history of the Victorian era…

Malala

Malala's voice is defiant — but how much can she change Pakistan? 

26 October 2013 9:00 am

In 2012 a Taleban gunman, infuriated by Malala Yousafzai’s frequent television appearances insisting that girls had a right to education,…

Bookends

#Onyourmarks! What is the formal name for the hashtag? 

26 October 2013 9:00 am

One day there simply won’t be any strange byways of the English language left to write quirky little books about.…

The Florentine banking aristocracy worship the Christ-child in Botticelli’s ‘Adoration of the Magi’. 
On either side the scene is stacked with Medici sons, grandsons and associates

How to avoid bankers in your nativity scene

19 October 2013 9:00 am

With an eye to the blasphemy underlying some of the loveliest Renaissance painting, Honor Clerk will be choosing her Christmas cards more carefully this year

Detail of Sodoma’s ‘Life of St Benedict’ (1505), showing an unusual example of badgers as pets

A badger eats, squats, thieves. But should we cull them?

19 October 2013 9:00 am

Lord Arran was responsible for the bill to legalise homosexuality and a bill to protect badgers from gassing and terrier-baiting.…

anno

How to get old without getting boring

19 October 2013 9:00 am

When one notices the first symptoms of senile dementia (forgetting names, trying to remember the purpose of moving from one…

Christopher Isherwood with W. H. Auden  (Photo: John F Stephenson/Getty Images)

The Rothschilds, the Spenders, the Queen...

19 October 2013 9:00 am

The novelist David Plante is French-Québécois by ancestry, grew up in a remote Francophone parish in Yankee New England and…

Cat fight: tension mounts between the Great Powers in 1905 as Edward VII, Kaiser Wilhelm II and the French foreign minister, Théophile Delcassé, squabble over Morocco

What caused the first world war?

12 October 2013 9:00 am

In pre-1914 cosmopolitan society, everyone seemed to be related — ambassadors as well as monarchs. But increased militarisation was fast obliterating old family ties, says Jane Ridley 

Lucian Freud in his bedroom in Notting Hill, May 2011

Breakfast with Lucian, by Geordie Greig - review

12 October 2013 9:00 am

According to the medical historian Professor Sonu Shamdasani, Sigmund Freud was not the best, nor actually the most interesting, psychoanalyst…