Books

Bristol ablaze: anger at the Lords’ rejection of the Second Reform Bill sparked riots in Queen’s Square, Bristol, October 1831 (William James Muller)

The 19th century belonged to us; Victorious Century reviewed

23 September 2017 9:00 am

The 19th-century belonged to us, according to David Cannadine’s ambitious new history. Jane Ridley is mesmerised by it

All in the family – a bitter struggle for control of a global fortune; Dunbar reviewed

23 September 2017 9:00 am

When millionaires become billionaires they become even greedier and more ruthless. At the highest level, Trumpian economics can be lethal.…

Mykola Bokan’s photograph of his family, including a memorial to ‘Kostya, who died of hunger’, July 1933. Bokan and his son were arrested for documenting the famine — both died in the gulag

Stalin was fully committed to using hunger as a weapon of mass destruction; Red Famine reviewed

23 September 2017 9:00 am

In 1933 my aunt Lenina Bibikova was eight years old. She lived in Kharkov, Ukraine. Every morning a polished black…

Bob Marley and the Wailers at the Crystal Palace Bowl, 7 June 1980

An oral history of Holy Bob; So Much Things to Say reviewed

23 September 2017 9:00 am

The Harder They Come, Jamaica’s first (and still finest) home-grown film, was released in 1972 with the local singer Jimmy…

J.M. Coetzee’s essays are filtered through boundless reserves of knowledge, wisdom and reading

23 September 2017 9:00 am

Given the brilliance of his career as a fiction-writer, it is easy to forget that J.M. Coetzee has a commensurate…

Bill Goldstein says the ‘World Broke in Two’ in 1922 – but it didn’t

23 September 2017 9:00 am

‘Publitical’ is a neologism worth avoiding. Bill Goldstein uses it to describe T.S. Eliot’s activities when launching and promoting his…

Our hero, homo erectus

Daniel Everett offers a populist interpretation of modern linguistics

23 September 2017 9:00 am

One of the great achievements of science is that so many of its branches, from astronomy to zoology, have been…

Alfred the Great’s victory over the Vikings is our foundation myth; Viking Britain reviewed

23 September 2017 9:00 am

Some oleaginous interviewer once suggested to Winston Churchill that he was the greatest Briton who ever lived. The grand old…

‘Adam and Eve in Paradise’, by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1531)

The ‘biography’ of the creation myth: The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Steven Greenblatt’s cultural road trip is a compelling story of myth, theology and belief

Claire Tomalin in 2007

On the front line of feminism: Claire Tomalin’s memoir reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

As literary editor of the Sunday Times in the early 1980s, when the rest of the editorial staff routinely papered…

Rural life as social realism, with a touch of the suspense thriller: Elmet reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Daniel and his big sister, Cathy, do not go to school. They live with their father, a gargantuan former prizefighter,…

‘The Pacification of the Maroons in Jamaica’, by Agostino Brunias (18th century)

A lively and valuable history of Dominica’s Maroons: In the Forests of Freedom reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Much romantic nonsense has been written about the runaway slaves or Maroons of the West Indies. In 1970s Jamaica, during…

An account of postwar empire and colonies: Madam, Where Are Your Mangoes reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Desmond de Silva was born in the colony of Ceylon in the early months of the second world war, the…

Benjamin Lay (American School, 18th century)

The first revolutionary abolitionist: a biography of the Quaker dwarf Benjamin Lay

16 September 2017 9:00 am

It is a pretty safe bet that for every 1,000 people who know of William Wilberforce, no more than the…

An ambitious but selective account of all things Victorian and Edwardian

16 September 2017 9:00 am

This is a monumental but inevitably selective survey of all that occurred in Britain, for better or worse, in the…

Ryan Gattis’s new novel, Safe, can’t quite capture the vividness of his debut

16 September 2017 9:00 am

All Involved, Ryan Gattis’s breakout novel about the LA riots of 1992, was an absolute blast. Ballsy, vivid and immersive,…

The Emperor Constantine renames Byzantium

Islamic State are not the first to attack classical Palmyra: The Darkening Age reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

In the late years of Empire, and early days of Christianity, there were monks who didn’t wash for fear of…

Salman Rushdie’s dystopic – and frighteningly real – vision of America

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Life has far more imagination than we do, says the epigraph from Truffaut that opens Salman Rushdie’s 12th novel —…

Midlife anxiety: Roddy Doyle’s Smile reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

As Roddy Doyle’s 12th novel begins, Victor Forde, a washed-up writer, has returned to the part of Dublin where he…

Megan Marshall explores Elizabeth Bishop's lifelong lesbian escapades in a new biography

16 September 2017 9:00 am

We are gripped by gossip. Curiosity is a tenacious emotion. In her essay on Push Comes to Shove, the autobiography…

The Korean war was the single greatest calamity of the period. Residents of Inchon surrender to American troops in 1950

Compared to today’s political climate, the Cold War seems almost cosy

9 September 2017 9:00 am

Compared to today’s political climate, the Cold War seems almost cosy, says Alan Judd. At least you knew where you were then

The Templars’ final disaster: Guillaume de Clermont on the ramparts of Acre in 1291. Painting by Dominique Papety

Whether heroes or villains, the Knights Templar were inept crusaders

9 September 2017 9:00 am

In W.B. Yeats’s ‘Meditations in Time of Civil War’, a testing allusion emerges amid a scene of nightmare: Monstrous familiar…

If I reread the entire Smiley sequence, will I understand it this time?

9 September 2017 9:00 am

If you had to choose one book that both typified spy fiction and celebrated what the genre was capable of…

Nature’s cure for an unhappy childhood

9 September 2017 9:00 am

As naturalist, educator and writer, John Lister-Kaye was for many years a voice in the wilderness. In 1976, when nature…

The miserly widow Mary Emsley, clutching a roll of her precious wallpaper, as portrayed in the popular press

The miserly widow of Mile End made a perfect murder victim

9 September 2017 9:00 am

What is it about Victorian murders that so grips us? The enduring fascination of Jack the Ripper caught the imagination…