Detroit: a city brought back from the dead

The moral case for gentrification

27 June 2015

In its pomp, they used to say that what was good for General Motors, Detroit’s Medici, was good for America. Detroit was imperial. Like Rome, it stood for the whole.… Read more

Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba Photo: Getty

Nicky Haslam

10 January 2015

I was once bundled into a police car in Palm Springs to explain why I didn’t have snow-tyres on my pick-up in the red-hot California desert. I don’t remember the… Read more

Edmund Burke. Scruton argues, like him, ‘that a society is ‘a partnership… between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born’. Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Passion, authority and the odd mini-rant: Scruton’s conservative vision

27 September 2014
How to Be a Conservative Roger Scruton

Bloomsbury, pp.194, £20, ISBN: 9781472903761

Roger Scruton is that rarest of things: a first-rate philosopher who actually has a philosophy. Unfortunately at times for him, that philosophy is a conservative one. But his personal loss… Read more

A demonstrator dressed in a Rupert Murdo

Owen Jones’s new book should be called The Consensus: And How I Want to Change it

6 September 2014
The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It Owen Jones

Allen Lane, pp.368, £16.99, ISBN: 9781846147197

Owen Jones’s first book, Chavs, was a political bestseller. This follow-up skips over the middle classes and goes to the other end of society, the ruling class. On the cover… Read more

Women In The World Foundation CEO Tina Brown Interview

Lessons from Tina Brown on the art of failing upwards

29 March 2014

Shortly after I started working at Vanity Fair in the mid-1990s, I suggested to my boss Graydon Carter that I write an article about the number of New York society… Read more

human beehive edit

E.O. Wilson has a new explanation for consciousness, art & religion. Is it credible?

7 September 2013
The Social Conquest of Earth Edward O. Wilson

W.W. Norton, pp.330, £18.99, ISBN: 9780871403636

His publishers describe this ‘ground-breaking book on evolution’ by ‘the most celebrated living heir to Darwin’ as ‘the summa work of Edward O. Wilson’s legendary career’. As emeritus professor of… Read more


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

They’re all in it together

5 May 2012
The New Few, Or a Very British Oligarchy Ferdinand Mount

Simon & Schuster, pp.320, 18.99

However often rehearsed, the facts remain eye-popping. Inequality has bolted out of control over the last three decades. Democracy has proved increasingly powerless to check the unaccountable runaway oligarchy that… Read more

The frontiers of freedom

28 January 2012
You Can’t Read This Book Nick Cohen

Fourth Estate, pp.224, 12.99

The problem with Nick Cohen’s very readable You Can’t Read This Book is the way that you can, glaringly, read this book. This isn’t quite as glib an observation as… Read more


A time to moan and weep

2 October 2010
State of Emergency: Britain 1970-74 Dominic Sandbrook

Allen Lane, pp.768, 30

Ferdinand Mount recalls the crisis years of the early 1970s, when Britain was pronounced ‘ungovernable’ The residents of Flitwick, Bedfordshire, were enjoying a wine-and-cheese party in the village hall when… Read more

Physical and spiritual decay

7 July 2010
The Misogynist Piers Paul Read

Bloomsbury, pp.257, 16.99

The most striking thing about Piers Paul Read’s early novels was their characters’ susceptibility to physical decay. The most striking thing about Piers Paul Read’s early novels was their characters’… Read more


An ideal banker

High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg Niall Ferguson

Allen Lane, pp.584, 30

At last, thirty years after his death, we have a proper biography of the enigmatic but inspirational banker Siegmund Warburg, extensively researched and beautifully written. Previous efforts fell short. A… Read more


Whither America?

16 June 2010
The Ask Sam Lipsyte

Old Street Publishing, pp.296, 12.99

At the beginning of The Ask, Horace sits with Burke and proclaims that America is a ‘run down and demented pimp’. At the beginning of The Ask, Horace sits with… Read more


Odd men out

16 June 2010
Peter Pan’s First XIWG’s Birthday Party Kevin Tefler

Sceptre, pp.344, 16.99

The first game played by the Allahakbarries Cricket Club at Albury in Surrey in September 1887 did not bode well for the club’s future. The first game played by the… Read more


Golden youth or electric eel?

2 June 2010
Patrick Shaw-Stewart: An Edwardian Meteor Miles Jebb

Dovecote Press, pp.248, 17.99

Patrick Shaw-Stewart was the cleverest and the most ambitious of the gilded gang of young men who swam in the wake of the not-so-young but perennially youthful Raymond Asquith. Julian… Read more


Blood relatives

12 May 2010
Songs of Blood and Sword Fatima Bhutto

Cape, pp.470, 20

The last time I saw Benazir Bhutto was at Oxford, over champagne outside the Examination Schools, when she inquired piercingly of a subfusc linguist, ‘Racine? What is Racine?’ Older and… Read more


Genetics, God and antlers

12 May 2010
The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness Oren Harman

Bodley Head, pp.451, 20

‘Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above and the moral law… Read more


Low dishonest dealings

21 April 2010
At the Chime of a City Clock D. J. Taylor

Constable & Robinson, pp.242, 12.99

The strange, unsettled decades between the wars form the backdrop of much of D. J. Taylor’s recent work, including his novel, Ask Alice, and his social history, Bright Young Things.… Read more


Anything for a quiet life

14 April 2010
All That Follows Jim Crace

Picador, pp.320, 16.99

Jim, Crace’s latest novel, All That Follows, marks a deliberate change from past form. Jim, Crace’s latest novel, All That Fol lows, marks a deliberate change from past form. Gone… Read more


The spaced-out years

10 March 2010
London Calling Barry Miles

Atlantic Books, pp.468, 25

Barry Miles came to London in the Sixties to escape the horsey torpor of the Cotswolds in which he grew up. Known at first only as ‘Miles’, he worked at… Read more


On our shoulders

17 February 2010
The Pinch — How The Baby Boomers Took Their Children’s Future — And Why They Should Give It Back David Willetts

Atlantic Books, pp.336, 18.99

Our politics is such a shallow game that any senior British politician who has read a book is apt to be considered cerebral, and if he has read two, feted… Read more


An institution to love and cherish

3 February 2010
Committed: A Sceptic Makes Peace with Marriage Elizabeth Gilbert

Bloomsbury, pp.285, 12.99

Couples: The Truth Kate Figes

Virago, pp.406, 14.99

Books about marriage, like the battered old institution itself, come in and out of fashion with writers, readers and politicians, but never quite die away. These two, from the latest… Read more


No example to follow

3 February 2010
The Cello Suites Eric Siblin

Harvill Secker, pp.336, 14.99

Chopin: Prince of the Romantics Adam Zamoyski

HarperPress, pp.356, 12.99

Ahundred years ago, a character in a novel who was keen on music would, like E.M. Forster’s Lucy Honeychurch or Leo- nard Bast, be as apt to stumble through a… Read more


Celebration of old times

13 January 2010
Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter Antonia Fraser

Weidenfeld, pp.336, 20

Towards the end of 1979, Antonia Fraser gave an interview to the Washington Post in connection with her book Charles II (renamed ‘Royal Charles’ so as not to confuse a… Read more

Chic lit

11 November 2009
Redeeming Features Nicholas Haslam

Cape, pp.348, 25

First, I must declare an interest. I have never met Nicholas Haslam. As everyone else has, this makes me uniquely qualified to review his book without partiality. But not without… Read more