Books

No one held Susan Sontag in higher esteem than she did: Her Life reviewed

14 September 2019 9:00 am

There was no one more convinced of her overpowering intellect than Susan Sontag herself, says Philip Hensher

A thoroughly modern medieval romance

14 September 2019 9:00 am

The novelist and essayist James Meek’s confident new medieval romance is conducted in brief passages separated out by three icons,…

There’s no place quite like Excellent Essex

14 September 2019 9:00 am

Those who think Essex is boring, or a human waste bin into which only the most meretricious people find themselves…

The Lost Girls of World War II – a tribute

14 September 2019 9:00 am

It is to Peter Quennell in his memoir The Wanton Chase that D.J. Taylor owes his concept of wartime London’s…

A New York state of mind – Doxology reviewed

14 September 2019 9:00 am

Doxology covers five decades and a spacious 400 pages, with all the subplots and digressions you would expect of a…

A page-turning work of well-researched history: The Mountbattens reviewed

14 September 2019 9:00 am

He would want to be remembered as the debonair war hero who delivered Indian independence and became the royal family’s…

Edna O’Brien’s heroic tribute to the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram: Girl reviewed

14 September 2019 9:00 am

This novel is strikingly brave in two ways: first, in the fortitude of its writer, the redoubtable Edna O’Brien, who,…

One insider’s view of the thorny subject of immigration

14 September 2019 9:00 am

Probably this happens to every generation: the moment when you can’t believe what’s going on; when events seem too preposterous…

William Dalrymple has nailed the East India Company for what it was: ‘a supreme act of corporate violence’

14 September 2019 9:00 am

A boardful of company directors are summoned to explain themselves to a Whitehall select committee. The Bank of England has…

Tobias Jones finds in Italian football hooliganism a mirror image of Italy itself

14 September 2019 9:00 am

Ultras (Italian football hooligans) initially evolved along the same lines as their more infamous English counterparts, emerging in the 1960s…

20th-century assassins – How to be a Dictator reviewed

14 September 2019 9:00 am

Frank Dikötter has written a very lively and concise analysis of the techniques and personalities of eight 20th-century dictators: Mussolini,…

What made Lucian Freud so irresistible to women?

7 September 2019 9:00 am

By his early twenties, Lucian Freud was already putting Casanova in the shade, as Craig Raine reveals

Was there some Freudian symbolism in Lucian’s botanical paintings?

7 September 2019 9:00 am

In early paintings such as ‘Man with a Thistle’ (1946), ‘Still-life with Green Lemon’ (1946) and ‘Self-portrait with Hyacinth Pot’…

How Britain conned the US into entering the war

7 September 2019 9:00 am

In June 1940, MI6’s new man, Bill Stephenson, ‘a figure of restless energy… wedged into the shell of a more…

Crazy nannies and missing children: the latest crime fiction reviewed

7 September 2019 9:00 am

Madeline Stevens’s debut thriller, Devotion (Faber, £12.99), might more appropriately have been titled ‘Desire’. It’s a riff on that old…

The elegance and humour of Neville Cardus

7 September 2019 9:00 am

As a fully paid-up, old-school cricket tragic, I astound myself that I have read almost no Neville Cardus. How can…

In praise of Thomas Graham, unsung hero of the Peninsular War

7 September 2019 9:00 am

Why does a man join the army? The answer was probably more obvious in the 18th century than now, but…

It takes a former drug dealer to explain the global narcotics scene

7 September 2019 9:00 am

In the early 2000s, Yekaterinburg was in the grip of a major heroin problem. For Yevgeny Roizman, ‘Russia’s vigilante king’,…

The Dambusters raid was great theatre — but almost entirely pointless

7 September 2019 9:00 am

The great bomber pilot Guy Gibson had a black labrador with a racist name. This shouldn’t matter, except Gibson loved…

Carry on up the Zambezi

7 September 2019 9:00 am

I loved this book so much I was appalled. Why, when bookshops are stacked full of memoirs by authors who…

Did Christianity make the western mind — or was it the other way round?

31 August 2019 9:00 am

As Christianity became more organised and hierarchical, it grew increasingly hostile to both mysticism and empirical science, says Jonathan Sumption

Released by Decca in 1966, Tom Jones’s third album was changed for the US market, as the nuclear explosion on the cover was considered too alarming

When Decca records were part of everyday life

31 August 2019 9:00 am

In 1929 in America, Dashiell Hammett published his debut hardboiled novel Red Harvest, over in Paris Buñuel and Dalí began…

Shot of a focused young man cleaning the surface of a table with cleaning equipment at home during the day

Taking pride in household chores really can ease depression

31 August 2019 9:00 am

There are many books about what it’s like to live with mental illness and the aftermath of child sexual abuse.…

Niall Griffiths. Credit: Toril Brancher

Something in the air: Broken Ghost, by Niall Griffiths, reviewed

31 August 2019 9:00 am

Broken Ghost begins in the aftermath of a rave on the shores of a mountain lake above Aberystwyth, with three…

Sympathy for literature’s least heroic characters

31 August 2019 9:00 am

Whether we see the primary cause as being postmodernism (for decades we’ve been told that our master narratives no longer…