Books

Lenin centre stage — as the great self-promoter

How Lenin manipulated the Russian Revolution to his own ends

25 March 2017 9:00 am

With the old order rotten to the core, Russia was more than ripe for revolution in 1917.  But Lenin thought the revolution was all about him, says Roland Elliott Brown

A genial green guide to 2000 AD

25 March 2017 9:00 am

I can recall exactly where I was 40 years ago when I didn’t buy the first issue — or ‘prog’…

Boualem Sansal

By 2084, will Islam rule the world?

25 March 2017 9:00 am

Boualem Sansal’s prophetic novel very clearly derives its lineage from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. A totalitarian surveillance state, a fundamentalist…

Susan Hill

Is Susan Hill trespassing on Anita Brookner territory?

25 March 2017 9:00 am

Alone with her father’s dead body, Olive Piper says, ‘I don’t know anything, except what I feel, and how can…

George Fox, founder of the Quakers, was no fanatic, but a practical man of God. He is likened to St Francis of Assisi for his ‘charistmatic blend of literalness and freedom’

A century of holy heroes — from Thomas More to George Fox

25 March 2017 9:00 am

The Reformation is such a huge, sprawling historical subject that it makes sense, in this the 500th anniversary of Martin…

The burning of Savonarola (detail) Getty Images

The secret of survival in Machiavelli’s Florence

25 March 2017 9:00 am

The business of banking (from the Italian word banco, meaning ‘counter’) was essentially Italian in origin. The Medici bank, founded…

Sana Krasikov

Is The Patriots the 21st century’s Doctor Zhivago?

25 March 2017 9:00 am

Trailing rave US reviews, fan letters from Yann Martel and Khaled Hosseini and a reputation as ‘Doctor Zhivago for the…

The best sort of magic realism — from Michael Fishwick

25 March 2017 9:00 am

Michael Fishwick’s new novel tells the story of a young man called Robbie, who has been uprooted from his London…

Portrait of Talleyrand by Ary Scheffer

What Theresa May could learn from Talleyrand

25 March 2017 9:00 am

Talleyrand was 76 when he took up the post of French ambassador in London in 1830. Linda Kelly deals only…

A story of three bears — and what it means to be human

25 March 2017 9:00 am

In Yoko Tawada’s surreal and beguiling novel we meet three bears: mother, daughter and grandson. But there will be no…

Has Dorthe Nors’s heroine reached a dead end?

25 March 2017 9:00 am

It’s fair to say Sonja Hansen’s life has stalled. Forties, tall and ungainly, veteran of failed relationships, she’s an uncomfortable…

‘Family Scene’, by Kahlil Gibran, c. 1914

Kahlil Gibran: from penniless refugee to universal Prophet

25 March 2017 9:00 am

Kahlil Gibran was 40 years old, a short — he was just 5’3” — dapper man with doleful eyes and…

The magnificent Clifden Nonpareil — or Blue Underwing — faced extinction as a breeding species in Britain. There are now at least four colonies thriving in Sussex

Who — or what — is the African, the Stranger and the One-eyed Sphinx?

18 March 2017 9:00 am

Since childhood, Caroline Moore has been captivated by the fragile, silky, shimmering beauty of moths —  and by their enchanting names

The brisk, implacable Sir Maurice Hankey (second from right) stands between Ramsay Macdonald and Franz von Papen at the Reparations Conference in Lausanne in 1932

The cabinet office — and the Gospel according to Sir Humphrey

18 March 2017 9:00 am

The minister’s private secretary wrote to another cabinet minister about the previous day’s cabinet meeting: They cannot agree about what…

‘The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales’ by Daphne Pollen. The two foreground figures are Margaret Clitheroe and Nicholas Owen, the priest-hole maker. Behind Margaret Clitheroe, with arms crossed, is Edmund Campion. Philip Howard, 1st Earl of Arundel, is in doublet and hose beside the greyhounda

The great ‘adventure story’ of British Catholicism

18 March 2017 9:00 am

Roy Hattersley would never have been born had it not been that his mother ran away with the parish priest…

‘The Ladder of Divine Ascent’, 12th century, from St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai, Egypt. (This image and one below from Chromaphilia, by Stella Paul). akg-images/Erich Lessing

Moody blues (and pinks and greens): how colour influences our emotions

18 March 2017 9:00 am

When Australia imposed generic packaging in its war on cigarettes, there was consumer research into the most deterrent colour. Pantone…

According to Luke

18 March 2017 9:00 am

This is an odd one, not least because it claims to be a novel, which it isn’t. Emmanuel Carrère, writer…

Forbidden love and the beautiful game

18 March 2017 9:00 am

Nowadays, most of us living in the liberal West agree that there can never be anything morally wrong with love…

Watercolour sketch of Jane Carlyle by Karl Hartmann (1850)

How Jane Carlyle survived a miserable marriage

11 March 2017 9:00 am

Jane Carlyle found comfort in her miserable marriage by ‘splashing off’ whatever was on her mind in letters to friends – which became famous in her own lifetime, says Frances Wilson

A mother and child, refugees from Raqqa, wait to cross into Turkey in September 2014

The brutality and barbarism of everyday life in Raqqa

11 March 2017 9:00 am

In my work as a reviewer, a small, steady proportion of all the books publishers send me concern the Holocaust.…

Is there any such thing as nothing? In search of the cosmic void

11 March 2017 9:00 am

Nothing will come of nothing, said Lear, because he wasn’t familiar with quantum physics. According to our current best theories,…

How to survive grief — and be of comfort to others

11 March 2017 9:00 am

If a single book could help you to be kinder and more compassionate, could expand and deepen your understanding of…

Paris-born Pearl Witherington led a force of over 1,500 maquisards in the summer of 1944

Six of the best female spies in Nazi-occupied France

11 March 2017 9:00 am

‘Women,’ Captain Selwyn Jepson, SOE’s senior recruiting officer, once wrote, ‘have a far greater capacity for cool and lonely courage…

Sam Miller’s life with two fathers

11 March 2017 9:00 am

No disrespect to any of the present incumbents, but Karl Miller (1931–2014) was a literary editor in an age when…

Abraham Lincoln is plagued by ghosts of the past

11 March 2017 9:00 am

On 5 February 1862, the night Abraham Lincoln and his wife gave a lavish reception in the White House, with…