History

Sir James Goldsmith

Zac Goldsmith: How my dad saved Britain

28 February 2015

In recent weeks Ed Balls has been offering a new reason to vote Labour: it was his party, he says, that saved Britain from joining the euro. Now, the shadow… Read more

US-POLITICS-OBAMA

America’s greatest tradition: inventing spurious traditions

28 February 2015

  Fredericksburg, Virginia Americans crave traditions. The older they are the more we cherish them. Thanksgiving, which beats out Christmas, was invented by Abe Lincoln in 1863 but it is… Read more

Portrait of Lord Dufferin, 1893

The first Lord Dufferin: the eclipse of a most eminent Victorian

28 February 2015
The Lost Imperialist: Lord Dufferin, Memory and Mythmaking in an Age of Celebrity Andrew Gailey

John Murray, pp.464, £30, ISBN: 9781444792430

The first Marquess of Dufferin and Ava is largely forgotten today — rotten luck for the great diplomat of the Victorian age. In the second half of the 19th century,… Read more

WRACS Celebrate

VE day anniversary: why politics will take second place the day after the election

21 February 2015

Breakfast is under way on 8 May 2015, and the party leaders have already started haggling. The possibility of a loveless Labour/SNP ‘anti-austerity’ pact has sent the markets tumbling. With… Read more

rowleys-9492

Rowleys is Did Mummy Love Me Really? food – and it’s perfect

21 February 2015

I think Rowley’s is the perfect restaurant; but I am really a gay man. Rowley’s is at 113 Jermyn Street (the Tesco end). It was made in homage to the… Read more

A sniff of the ancient world: Fez’s tanneries

A walk through Fez is the closest thing to visiting ancient Rome

14 February 2015

Fez is one of the seven medieval wonders of the world. An intact Islamic city defined by its circuit of battlemented walls, it is riven by alleyways. You pass doorways… Read more

That annoying ‘likely’ is more old-fashioned than American

14 February 2015

What, asks Christian Major of Bromley, Kent, do I think of ‘this new, I assume American, fad for using the word likely as an adverb’, as in the great Taki’s… Read more

7 February 2015

In defence of Oxfam Sir: Mary Wakefield rightly praises Médecins sans Frontières but makes many misinformed claims about Oxfam and aid in general (31 January). Contrary to her suggestion, money… Read more

A Palestinian boy during a rally in Beit Hanun in the northern Gaza Strip, 2015

Tony Judt: a man of paradox who made perfect sense

7 February 2015
When the Facts Change: Essays, 1995–2010 Tony Judt

Heinemann, pp.386, £25, ISBN: 9780434023080

Tony Judt was not only a great historian, he was also a great essayist and commentator on international politics. Few in this country will be familiar with his journalism, however,… Read more

Ep6

History is the art of making things up. Why pretend otherwise?

31 January 2015

In a recent interview, the celebrity historian and Tudor expert David Starkey described Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall as a ‘deliberate perversion of fact’. The novel, he said, is ‘a magnificent,… Read more

Muriel Lester looks on as John Galsworthy lays a brick at the foundation ceremony for the Kingsley Hall Photo: Getty

Soup, socialism and suffragettes: radical Christianity at Kingsley Hall

31 January 2015
The Match Girl and the Heiress Seth Koven

Princeton, pp.464, £24.95, ISBN: 9780691158501

This is the tale of Muriel Lester, once famous pacifist and social reformer, and Nellie Dowell, her invisible friend. Nellie Dowell is invisible in the sense that Claire Tomalin described… Read more

IRAN-FRANCE-ATTACKS-CHARLIE-HEBDO-RELIGION-DEMO

Tom Holland

24 January 2015

As weather bombs brew in the north Atlantic, I’m roughing it by heading off to Rajasthan, and the literary festival where you are most likely to be greeted by an… Read more

Soldier, poet and author Siegfried Sassoon (1886 - 1967 Photo: Getty

Standing firm is the price of civilisation. Are we still ready to pay it?

17 January 2015

Reading Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, as I have recently, you cannot help but be struck by what a perfectly idyllic place rural England must have been (at least for… Read more

UK Braced For Further Storms As Rain And Snow Bring More Flood Misery

How long will it be before the climate forces us to change?

17 January 2015

This time last year, homeowners in Oxfordshire and Berkshire were recovering after storms had brought down power lines and blocked roads. Soon, power cuts were the least of their problems.… Read more

10 January 2015

Teen queens The Duke of York denied allegations in court papers that he had had sexual relations with a girl in Florida aged 17, below the age of consent there.… Read more

Sir-Ivan

The Tory barrister who defended the Krays and Dennis Nilsen on why Chris Grayling has gone too far

10 January 2015

I’m standing with Sir Ivan Lawrence QC in a narrow room at his Pump Court chambers, examining an oil painting sent to him from Broadmoor by his former client the… Read more

Composer Franz Schubert Photo: Getty

This Winter Journey goes far beyond expectation

10 January 2015
Schubert’s Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession Ian Bostridge

Faber, pp.500, £20, ISBN: 9780571282807

You can tell a lot about a book from its bibliography. It’s the non-fiction equivalent of skipping to the final page of a novel. Turn to the end of Ian… Read more

elizabeth

Elizabeth is about to become Britain’s longest-reigning queen. Here’s how she’s changed monarchy

3 January 2015

On 24 September 1896 Queen Victoria was given a present of a paper knife, and expressed herself ‘much delighted’. The handle was set with overlapping gold coins each bearing the… Read more

Bob Dylan Performing In England

Bob Dylan and the illusion of modern times

3 January 2015

I was talking the other day to a young woman who knows a lot about the history of rock. We shared an enthusiasm for Bob Dylan’s later work — especially… Read more

6 December 2014

A fatal shot The sad death of Australian batsman Philip Hughes was a reminder that a cricket ball can kill. A blow on the cricket field may even have cost… Read more

Anne Frank Photo: Getty

What makes mankind behave so atrociously? Ian Buruma and Joanna Bourke investigate

6 December 2014
Theater of Cruelty: Art, Film and the Shadows of War Ian Buruma

NYRB, pp.425, £19.99, ISBN: 9781590177778

Wounding the World: How Military Violence and War-Play Invade Our Lives Joanna Bourke

Virago, pp.320, £20, ISBN: 9780349004327

The first interaction between two men recorded in the Bible involves a murder. In the earliest classic of English literature, one of the murderer’s descendants has his arm ripped from… Read more

8 November 2014

Mind games Sir: I hope that people are not unduly put off by Melanie McDonagh’s misrepresentation of mindfulness as a cop-out for navel-gazers who lack the moral fibre to engage… Read more

Sidney Bechet in 1939

Blue Note's 75 years of hot jazz

8 November 2014
Blue Note: Uncompromising Expression Richard Havers

Thames & Hudson, pp.400, £48, ISBN: 9780500517444

This is a big book, a monumental text with 800 illustrations, 400 of them in colour, to be contemplated more easily on a lectern than in bed, celebrating the 75-year… Read more

Former Czech President Vaclav Have Photo: Getty

What went so wrong for Vaclav Havel?

8 November 2014
Havel: A Life Michael Zantovsky

Atlantic, pp.543, £25, ISBN: 9780857898494

The unforgettable moment a quarter of a century ago when the Berlin Wall came down was the most vivid drama in that dizzying year of revolutions in 1989 when the… Read more

pig

Should ‘suicide’ mean pig-killing?

8 November 2014

There was a marvellous man in Shakespeare’s day known as John Smyth the Sebaptist. ‘In an act so deeply shocking as to be denied by Baptist historians for two and… Read more