Books

More juicy gossip from Kenneth ‘Climbing’ Rose

14 December 2019 9:00 am

Gossip is the lifeblood of diaries and biography, says Jane Ridley – and royal gossip was what Kenneth Rose loved best

Who will take on the behemoths of Big Tech?

14 December 2019 9:00 am

With Britain having gone through its third general election in four years, the halcyon days of Cleggmania in the 2010…

The Great Barrier Grief — and countless other marine disasters

14 December 2019 9:00 am

In the last, wrenching episode of BBC’s Blue Planet 2, there’s a distressing moment when a young Australian diver, expert…

Dave Eggers’s satire on Trump is somewhat heavy-handed: The Captain and the Glory reviewed

14 December 2019 9:00 am

A feckless moron is appointed to the captaincy of a ship, despite having no nautical experience. The Captain has a…

Tame family dramas: Christmas in Austin, by Benjamin Markovits, reviewed

14 December 2019 9:00 am

My partner’s brother once found himself accidentally locked into his flat on Christmas Day, which meant having to spend it…

Female partisans played a vital role in fighting fascism in Italy — but it was a thankless task

14 December 2019 9:00 am

‘I am a woman,’ Ada Gobetti wrote in a clandestine Piedmont newsletter in 1943: An insignificant little woman, who has…

The good sex award goes to Sarah Hall: Sudden Traveller reviewed

14 December 2019 9:00 am

Sarah Hall should probably stop publishing short stories for a while to give other writers a chance. If she’s not…

What is the relationship between truth and accuracy? The Lifespan of a Fact reviewed

14 December 2019 9:00 am

At the time, I’m sure it all seemed absolutely hilarious. It was in 2012 that W.W. Norton first published The…

Who knew that chemistry could be so entertaining?

14 December 2019 9:00 am

Here’s how the element antimony got its name. Once upon a time (according to the 17th-century apothecary Pierre Pomet), a…

As English spread over the subcontinent, India lost forever its rich Persianate literary heritage

7 December 2019 9:00 am

William Dalrymple describes how the merging of Sanskrit and Persian cultures after the first millennium heralded a new golden age for India

Britain’s obsession with boxing is as deep-rooted as its devotion to cricket

7 December 2019 9:00 am

Boxing has long been a British obsession, exported successfully to North America, but never widespread on the Continent. Mainland Europeans…

Will Self’s memoir of drug addiction is a masterpiece of black humour

7 December 2019 9:00 am

Well, it was always going to be called Will. More than once in this terrifying, terrific book, Will Self refers…

The people’s Prince: even as a teenager the musician charmed everyone he met

7 December 2019 9:00 am

Many pop stars are easy to imagine as children, as it’s a profession that doesn’t really reward growing up. Elton…

The first Puritans weren’t so much killjoys as ardent believers in honest living

7 December 2019 9:00 am

‘Puritan’ is a term of abuse, and we tend to use it to refer to such figures as the nightmarishly…

Lydia Davis, like an inspirational teacher, tempts her readers into more reading

7 December 2019 9:00 am

A good indicator of just how interesting and alluring Lydia Davis’s Essays proved might be my recent credit card statement.…

The Great War was enough to make grown men weep

7 December 2019 9:00 am

Following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo it took a mere six weeks for the diplomats of Europe’s…

James Baldwin’s radicalism was part Marxist, part Christian

7 December 2019 9:00 am

Great biographies try to answer questions about the complicated relationship between their subjects’ inner life and outer workings. How did…

When Cartier was the girls’ best friend

30 November 2019 9:00 am

For most of the last century, the family firm of Cartier was the go-to jewellers for those with deep pockets and a taste for Art Deco elegance, says Anne de Courcy

The old monster Elton John appears charmingly self-deprecating

30 November 2019 9:00 am

I don’t care for Elton John. A cross between Violet Elizabeth Bott and Princess Margaret, his temper tantrums are legendary,…

The exotic Silk Road is now a highway to hell

30 November 2019 9:00 am

This engaging book describes the Norwegian author’s travels round the five Central Asian Stans — a region where toponyms still…

Poland was no walkover for the Reich

30 November 2019 9:00 am

‘The victor will never be asked if he told the truth,’ Hitler remarked on the eve of invading Poland in…

Could Leslie Jamison please stop sitting on the fence?

30 November 2019 9:00 am

Leslie Jamison is creating quite a stir in America. Her first collection of essays, The Empathy Exams, went straight to…

It’s yellow, not green, that’s the colour of jealousy

30 November 2019 9:00 am

Making attributions to Leonardo da Vinci,  the great art historian Adolfo Venturi once remarked, is like ‘picking up a red-hot…

What do we really mean by the ‘language’ of animals?

30 November 2019 9:00 am

The reality of animal communication (or, more precisely, our belief in that reality) is a fact underwritten not by science…

Nostalgia for old Ceylon: lush foliage and tender feelings from Romesh Gunesekera

30 November 2019 9:00 am

Empires are born to die; that’s one source of their strange allure. An untenable form of society judders, in technicolor…