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Britain

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin  l

Putin is making the West's Cold Warriors look like fools

22 March 2014

William Hague was on rather shaky ground when he argued this week that Moscow has chosen ‘the route to isolation’ by recognising Crimea’s referendum. On the contrary, it is the… Read more

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Why Britain’s economy will overtake Germany’s

5 October 2013

What’s the most surprising thing that could come out of the current economic upturn? A rapid revival in northern manufacturing? The City really getting behind small British businesses? Ed Balls… Read more

The People’s Songs, by Stuart Maconie - a review

20 July 2013
The People’s Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records Stuart Maconie

Ebury, pp.420, £20, ISBN: 9780091933791

For Stuart Maconie fans, this book might sound as if it’ll be his masterpiece. In his earlier memoirs and travelogues, he’s proved himself a fine writer: sharp, funny, tender and… Read more

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The unfair sex - how feminism created a new class divide

27 April 2013

James is 15 years old, coming up to his GCSEs; and the researcher he is talking to is clueless about girls. Yes, he tells her, girls at his school, underage… Read more

‘The Badminton Game’ 1972–3, by David Inshaw

David Inshaw: the great romantic

2 March 2013

David Inshaw will celebrate his 70th birthday on 21 March, around the time of the spring equinox. On the eve of this grand climacteric, which will be marked by an… Read more

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Who are the losers now?

24 March 2012
Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II Keith Lowe

Viking, pp.460, 25

Keith Lowe’s horrifying book is a survey of the physical and moral breakdown of Europe in the closing months of the second world war and its immediate aftermath. It is… Read more

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Gunboat diplomacy

28 January 2012
Blue-Water Empire: The British in the Mediterranean since 1800 Robert Holland

Allen Lane, pp.397, 25

Britain’s links with the Continent were once  deeper and more extensive than those of any other European country. Paris, Rome and German universities played as vital a role in British… Read more

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Mutiny, mayhem and murder

30 July 2011
A Merciless Place: The Lost Story of Britain’s Convict Disaster in Africa Emma Christopher

OUP, pp.432, 16.99

Nothing more gladdens this reader’s heart than a book that opens up an interesting and underexplored historical byway. Well, perhaps one thing: a book that opens up a historical byway… Read more

Heroic long-suffering

25 June 2011
To End All Wars: How the First World War Divided Britain Adam Hochschild

Macmillan, pp.448, 20

English patriotism was still a force in 1914. On the first day of the war, my mother’s three brothers, and my father and his two brothers, all joined up together,… Read more

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The empire strikes back

19 February 2011
Liberty’s Exiles: The Loss of America and the Remaking of the British Empire Maya Jasanoff

Harper Press, pp.460, 30

Something strange happened in New York on a cold November afternoon in 1783: the city effectively turned itself inside out. Mounted on a grey horse, George Washington marched down Manhattan… Read more

Bruising times

12 February 2011
The Champion Tim Binding

Picador, pp.434, 12.99

In a market town in Kent at the time of Thatcher’s Britain, Charles Pemberton attends the town’s minor public school where his businessman father is a governor. In a market… Read more

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That turbulent decade

23 October 2010
No Such Thing as Society: A History of Britain in the 1980s Andy McSmith

Constable, pp.342, 14.99

On 2 January, 1980, a new decade was ushered in with a strike by steelworkers. It was their first national stoppage for half a century, and after three tense months… Read more

Not good enough

23 October 2010
The Verdict: Did Labour Change Britain? Polly Toynbee and David Walker

Granta, pp.314, 18.99

Tony Blair gave his record in government ten out of ten, though an ungrateful electorate scored rather less well and his Cabinet colleagues performed even worse. Sadly, they were ill-equipped… Read more

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. . . and they did to us

9 October 2010
The Blitz: The British Under Attack Juliet Gardiner

Harper Press, pp.431, 25

The craters are all filled in, the ruins replaced, and the last memories retold only in the whispery voices of the old. Apart from celebrating the resilience of our parents… Read more

Hunting and working

7 July 2010
Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography Adam Sisman

Weindenfeld and Nicholson, pp.598, 25

Why are scholars so prone to melancholy? According to the expert, Robert Burton of Christ Church, it is because ‘they live a sedentary, solitary life… Why are scholars so prone… Read more

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Aces high

23 June 2010
The Battle of Britain James Holland

Bantam, pp.592, 25

Gun Button to Fire Tom Neill

Amberley, pp.320, 20

Last of the Few Dilip Sarkar

Amberley, pp.240, 20

Seventy years after the RAF repelled the Luftwaffe, the Battle of Britain continues to have a powerful resonance. The conflict not only decided Britain’s very survival as an independent nation,… Read more

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Triumph of the will

7 April 2010
The Forgotten Highlander: My Incredible Story of Survival During the War in the Far East Alistair Urquhart

Little, Brown, pp.312, 18.99

Alistair Urquhart describes himself as ‘a lucky man as well as an angry man’. Alistair Urquhart describes himself as ‘a lucky man as well as an angry man’. No one… Read more

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Survival of the fittest

7 April 2010
Back from the Brink: The Inside Story of the Tory Resurrection Peter Snowdon

HarperPress, pp.419, 14.99

When I was at Eton, many years before David Cameron, much of the school was run by a self-elected society known as ‘Pop’. When I was at Eton, many years… Read more

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In the shadow of Mau Mau

24 March 2010
Dreams in a Time of War Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

Harvill Secker, pp.256, 12.99

When the Kenyan human rights campaigner, Maina Kiai, recently addressed the House of Commons, his list of policy recommendations probably surprised many MPs. Be tough on Kenya’s fractious government, he… Read more

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Annals of war

24 March 2010
The Iraq Papers John Ehrenberg, J. Patrice McSherry, José Ram

OUP, pp.528, 15.99

‘I was not an enthusiast about getting US forces and going into Iraq,’ Dick Cheney said in 1997, looking back on the First Gulf War. ‘I was not an enthusiast… Read more

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Not as bad as the French

10 March 2010
Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England Anthony Julius

OUP, pp.811, 25

This is a long book, but its argument can be shortly stated. Anthony Julius believes that anti-Semitism is a persistent and influential theme in English history, which is all the… Read more

Always a murky business

24 February 2010
Where Power Lies Lance Price

Simon & Schuster, pp.455, 20

Inside Out Peter Watt

Biteback, pp.203, 16.99

Lance Price is better placed than most to write about ‘spin’ in politics, having worked as a BBC political reporter and as Alastair Campbell’s deputy in Downing Street. Lance Price… Read more

Shady characters

24 February 2010
A Life Apart Neel Mukherjee

Constable, pp.12.99, 342

Children of the Sun Max Schaefer

Granta, pp.387, 12.99

A great deal of time in Neel Mukherjee’s A Life Apart and Max Schaefer’s Children of the Sun is spent in gents’ public toilets — cottaging being a key feature… Read more

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Fleeing fog and filth

24 February 2010
Kipling Abroad Andrew Lycett

I.B. Tauris, pp.254, 19.50

In a sense, as this interesting collection of his writings makes clear, Rudyard Kipling was always abroad. His first vivid memories were of an early childhood in Bombay, ‘light and… Read more

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Spoilt for choice

24 February 2010
Living Dolls Natasha Walter

Virago, pp.273, 12.99

It is more than ten years since Natasha Walter published The New Feminism, a can-do look at the ‘uniquely happy story’ of the women’s movement. It is more than ten… Read more