Books

Mount Longdon, Falkland Islands, where members of the 3rd Parachute Regiment died in fighting on 11–12 June 1982

Helen Parr’s intimate portrait of the Parachute Regiment – Our Boys – captures the essence of modern Britain

22 September 2018 9:00 am

An intimate portrait of the Parachute Regiment manages to capture the history of modern Britain – Rachel Seiffert loved it

The assassination attempt on Napoleon, in the Rue Saint-Nicaise, Christmas Eve 1800

The history of Britain’s secret war on Napoleon is astonishing, inspiring and disturbing

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Laws and sausages, we know, are better not seen in the making; and neither are ‘black ops’. Waterloo may have…

Wampanoag chief Metacomet (c.1639 - 1676) who, after years of tolerating the colonists in Massachusetts, finally rebelled against their continued encroachment upon his lands, in what became known as King Philip's War (he was called King Philip by the settlers)

Good first novels without ends leave one wanting more

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Novels today do not want to be done. Thank Anthony Burgess and John Fowles for this, most immediately, but alternate…

Lord Dyson, on right: there is a book to be written about the contribution that the offspring of Jewish refugees have made to English law

Two legal big hitters consider the appropriate distribution of governmental power in Britain

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Sir Stephen Sedley read English at Cambridge and Lord Dyson Classics at Oxford. Both switched to law and achieved high…

Julie Burchill is bored by Robin Green’s account of her time at Rolling Stone – and says hippies still stink

22 September 2018 9:00 am

The last time I saw a copy of the New Musical Express — the ferociously influential 1970s pop paper which…

Sons and haters: Henry II was much aggrieved by his acquisitive sons

Two new books explore the triumphs and tribulations of an underrated king – Henry II

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Poor old Henry II: once fêted as one of England’s greatest kings, he has long been neglected. Accessible books on…

The majority of sexual encounters in giraffes involve two males necking

Humans are animals, and our extinction is inevitable – but we’re still pretty amazing

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Ever since enlivenment of the primordial blob, before thoughts were first verbalised, all nature has always been motivated by a…

‘Achilles has a dispute with Agamemnon [following Briseis being taken away, and Achilles refusing to fight until she is returned]’, J.H. Tischbein, 1776, oil on canvas. (Bridgeman Images)

Pat Barker travels to Troy, but finds herself diverted somewhere outside Ypres

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Sing muse, begins The Iliad, of the wrath of Achilles. We are dropped straight into the tenth year of the…

Author Kate Atkinson attending the Costa Book Awards for her novel Life After Life

Kate Atkinson’s new novel Transcription asks us how carefully we are paying attention

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Transcription, Kate Atkinson’s 11th novel, sees her returning to the detective fiction she honed in her series about Jackson Brodie,…

A game of cricket on Tilford Green, Surrey, outside The Barley Mow

My grandmother’s perfect pub – a memoir by Laura Thompson

22 September 2018 9:00 am

As an emigrant from Scotland, I was taken aback by the weird foreignness of the south of England. Some of…

From Don Quixote to Alan Partridge, delusion lies at the heart of many lasting comic creations

Paul Ewen’s Francis Plug is the saviour of comic fiction

22 September 2018 9:00 am

Such was the perceived low standard of the 62 books recently submitted for the 2018 Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction,…

Handel is rowed in a gondola on the Thames, in an illustration for ‘The Water Music’

Handel’s greatest hits — the glorious London decades

15 September 2018 9:00 am

Paul Kildea describes the glorious decades when Handel bcharmed London society with one masterpiece after another

Obama reads a letter from a citizen pleading for Health Care Reform in March 2010. Credit: Getty Images.

Dear Mr President: the ‘little people’ write to Obama

15 September 2018 9:00 am

President George Washington received about five letters a day and answered them all himself. By the end of the 19th…

Patrick Gale. Credit Markus Bidaux

Playing for time

15 September 2018 9:00 am

In a pleasing nod to Marcel Proust, Eustace, the middle-aged protagonist of Patrick Gale’s new novel, is propelled into memories…

Blinded by love: Sylvia Plath with her son Nick in Devon in 1962

‘Ted is liar. Ted beats me up. Ted wishes me dead’: Sylvia Plath descends into madness and misery

15 September 2018 9:00 am

In 1923, a Frenchman, Emile Coué, persuaded millions of Americans to finger a piece of string with exactly 20 knots.…

Lord Carrington. Credit: Getty Images

Peter Carrington: loyal, funny and driven by a sense of duty

15 September 2018 9:00 am

‘I’m sorry to bother you, Peter, but you were a famously successful Leader of Their Lordships and I wondered whether…

Mohammed Kabir, aged 105, in a garden he created in the courtyard of the ruined Darulaman Palace in Kabul for the soldiers stationed there

Bombs and begonias: gardening in a war zone

15 September 2018 9:00 am

During the civil war in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, Mr and Mrs Roami, a science professor and a nurse,…

Harvey Milk. Credit Getty Images

The ‘other’ life of Harvey Milk

15 September 2018 9:00 am

This is the story of the ‘other’ Harvey Milk. We all know about Harvey the San Francisco politician who was…

Jan Morris. Credit: Colin McPherson/Getty Images

Jan Morris talks to herself — about music, irony and cats

15 September 2018 9:00 am

To Jan Morris, I am anathema. That goes, too, for David Attenborough. It is a word that this unarguably great…

Philip Marlowe’s last case? Only to Sleep, by Lawrence Osborne, reviewed

15 September 2018 9:00 am

Only to Sleep is the third Philip Marlowe novel written by someone other than Raymond Chandler and while the authors…

Sally Rooney. Credit: Jonny L. Davies

A friendship in flux: Normal People, by Sally Rooney, reviewed

15 September 2018 9:00 am

‘Marianne had the sense that her real life was happening somewhere very far away, happening without her, and she didn’t…

Jeffrey Bernard and Christopher Howse among drinkers at the Coach and Horses. Norman Balon presides. Credit: Rex Features

‘You don’t want to end up like us’: How I got out of Soho just in time

15 September 2018 9:00 am

On the one hand, I am supremely qualified to review this book. In 1984, bored beyond endurance after graduating with…

In August 1819, the cavalry charged a crowd of 60,000 in Manchester who had gathered to demand parliamentary reform

‘The reality was disgusting’: Peter Ackroyd slams Victorian Britain

15 September 2018 9:00 am

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it was the epoch of belief, it was…

Getty Images

Deep in the forest’s mysteries: The Cloven, by Brian Catling, reviewed

15 September 2018 9:00 am

Brian Catling’s great trilogy takes its title from The Vorrh, his first volume. This final book fulfills all the promises…

Alan Johnson. Credit Getty Images

Alan Johnson: the rock and roll years

15 September 2018 9:00 am

We’ve had Alan Johnson the lad from the slums of north Kensington, Alan Johnson the postman and Alan Johnson Member…