Books

Adam Smith circa 1775; medallion by Tassie

Adam Smith analysed human behaviour, not economics, says Simon Heffer

21 July 2018 9:00 am

Jesse Norman unpicks the many myths of Adam Smith – a ‘behavioural scientist’ even more than an economist, says Simon Heffer

Kyoto’s Yasaka Pagoda and Sannenzaka Street with cherry blossom in the morning

Kyoto is all that is left of Japan - more’s the pity

21 July 2018 9:00 am

‘Much of what I say may turn out not to be true.’ Hardly the ideal beginning to a guided tour.…

Who needs a plot? asks Anne Tyler

21 July 2018 9:00 am

Willa Drake’s second husband calls her ‘little one’, even though she is over 60 and the mother of two grown…

‘T’ is for Trotskyite

21 July 2018 9:00 am

Varlam Shalamov’s short stories of life in the Soviet Gulag leave an impression of ice-sharp precision, vividness and lucidity, as…

A man of many handles: Flann O’Brien in Dublin

A melancholy talent with a genius for send-up - Flann O’Brien was his own worst enemy

21 July 2018 9:00 am

It is tempting to compare two highly intelligent, learned and gifted young Dublin writers, suffering under the burdensome, Oedipal influence…

Turn off and tune out

21 July 2018 9:00 am

All good non-fiction writing shares certain characteristics: consistent economy, upbeat pace and digestible ideas that logically flow. Tech writers have…

Can a paedophilic relationship ever be excused?

21 July 2018 9:00 am

Sofka Zinovieff’s new novel, Putney, is an involving, beautifully written, and subtle account of an affair in the 1970s between…

‘Old Glory’ flowing through Natchez, Mississippi

Travel literature

21 July 2018 9:00 am

Jonathan Raban was largely responsible for changing the nature of travel writing. Back in the 1970s when he began, the…

‘Departure from Lisbon for Brazil, the East Indies and America’, by Theodore de Bry, 16th century

Portugal’s entrancing capital has always looked to the sea

14 July 2018 9:00 am

Lisbon has always ventured out to sea, bringing new worlds back to ours, and therein lies its charm, says Nicholas Shakespeare

Is Anuradha Roy India’s greatest living novelist?

14 July 2018 9:00 am

‘Myshkin’ wants ‘a tiding ending’ to his life and has settled down to write his will. An ageing Indian horticulturalist,…

George Sand listening to Chopin play the piano (Adolf Karpellus, private collection)

Chopin’s Piano is an eclectic trip through 19th-century romanticism

14 July 2018 9:00 am

It is easier to say what this book is not than to describe what it is. It is not a…

Cease to strive! Now!

14 July 2018 9:00 am

There is a long and noble history of books about doing nothing. In the 5th century bc the sage Lao…

First Novels

14 July 2018 9:00 am

Katharine Kilalea is a South African poet who has written a startlingly good first novel. OK, Mr Field (Faber, £12.99)…

Caryl Phillips’s new novel manages to make Jean Rhys boring!

14 July 2018 9:00 am

The problem with writing about writers — and a particular blight on the current vogue for autofiction — is that…

Sophia, Electress of Hanover (William Alexander, 1825)

A Stuart Stewpot

14 July 2018 9:00 am

Few twists of political fortune are as discombobulating as the youngest child making off with the family inheritance. Richard III,…

Sunset on the Clyde, 1984. The massive cranes used to build the Lusitania, HMS Hood, the Queen Mary and the QE2 are relics of the once great maritime industry of Port Glasgow

Historian David Edgerton says the ‘British nation’ lasted from 1945 to 1979, the miners’ strike its death knell

7 July 2018 9:00 am

David Crane follows the deterioration of postwar Britain in the face of fast-growing foreign competition

Two new books by barristers chronicle the perilous state of our justice system

7 July 2018 9:00 am

‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,’ says Dick the Butcher in Henry VI, Part II. Mostly,…

New York times

7 July 2018 9:00 am

Seven years ago Stella Tillyard, a successful historian of the 18th century, broke into historical fiction with Tides of War.…

Portrait of Stendhal by Giuseppe Amisani

100 Best Novels in Translation is a surprisingly sumptuous read

7 July 2018 9:00 am

Boyd Tonkin is superbly qualified to compile this volume. As literary editor of the Independent, he revived that newspaper’s foreign…

The Tsar and his daughters (from left, Maria, Anastasia and Olga) under guard in Siberia a few days before their murder

Why the Romanovs were doomed

7 July 2018 9:00 am

The true tragedy of the last Romanovs was a failure of imagination. Both during his last disastrous months in office…

Coach, politician and agony aunt

7 July 2018 9:00 am

When I picked this book up, I already loved it — or at least I loved the idea of it:…

Telling tall tales

7 July 2018 9:00 am

‘I think you’re an adult when you can no longer tell your life story over the course of a first…

Eat your heart out, Holden Caulfield

7 July 2018 9:00 am

Tim Winton’s novel about a journey of teenage male self-discovery is raw, brutal and merciless. You need to be familiar…

Oscar Slater in 1908. Though the police knew he was innocent, they insisted on bringing him to trial (The Bridgeman Art Library)

Conan Doyle for the Defence tells the fascinating story of Britain’s ‘Dreyfus’

7 July 2018 9:00 am

One day in December 1908, a wealthy 81-year-old spinster named Marion Gilchrist was bludgeoned to death in her Glasgow flat.…

Now you see him, now you don’t: Nikolai Yezhov, nicknamed ‘the poison dwarf’, who as head of the NKVD presided over mass arrests and executions at the height of the Great Purge, was airbrushed from Soviet history after his own execution in 1940

The spying game: when has espionage changed the course of history?

30 June 2018 9:00 am

That’s the object of espionage, says Rodric Braithwaite. But amassing facts is not enough. You must understand his fears, ambitions and intentions