The world’s greatest illuminated manuscripts are now so fragile they are permanently locked away.Christopher de Hamel provides the next best thing to seeing them for ourselves, says Jonathan Sumption
For most of history, religion and war have been the most powerful social instincts of mankind and its chief collective…
Jonathan Sumption admires the sweep and bravura of Max Hastings’s account without agreeing with every word
Jonathan Sumption on the obduracy, distrust and inertia that characterised the end of the Third Reich
Two centuries ago, Edmund Burke famously mocked the intellectuals of revolutionary France for trying to devise a perfectly rational constitution for their country.
Jonathan Sumption finds that the philosophes of the French Enlightenment shared little with one another and even less with the revolutionaries who followed them
The first thing to be said about this remarkable book is that it has nothing to do with animal rights.
The Spanish empire was the first of Europe’s great overseas empires, and for many years the richest and most powerful.
John Leland, who died in 1552, lived less than 50 years and was mad for the last five of them.
This book is an engaging rant against the folly, claptrap, self-indulgence and hypocrisy of mankind, written in the brisk and trenchant style which readers of the author’s Spectator articles will recognise.
Both of these books aim, in their different ways, to cater for Britain’s long-standing obsession with espionage and other forms of political and military intelligence.
‘Was all this the realisation of our war aims?’, Malcolm Muggeridge asked as he surveyed the desolation of Berlin in May 1945.
Taming the Gods is an extended essay about the secular state, something which would until recently have been regarded as a non-issue by English-speaking readers.
This is a long book, but its argument can be shortly stated.
We sanctify some expressions, and in the process empty them of meaning.
The New Old World, by Perry Anderson
‘The Axis powers and France,’ declared Marshall Pétain and Hitler at Montoire in October 1940, ‘have a common interest in the defeat of England as soon as possible.’ Why this should have been so is one of the many interesting questions to which this book offers no satisfactory answer.
The first world war was the last major conflict to be brought to an end in the traditional fashion, with a formal treaty of peace.
It is becoming difficult to say anything new about Churchill as a war leader.
The Idea of Justice, by Amartya Sen
The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis, by Matthew Cobb
Khomeini’s Ghost, by Con Coughlin
The Life and Death of the Shah, by Gholam Reza Afkhami
The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000, by Chris Wickham
Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom, by Tom Holland
‘The Half’ is how actors refer to the half hour before their play begins, when they ready themselves, steady themselves, for their performance.