Lead book review

The best of journeys: Justin Marozzi’s monumental trek through the history of the Muslim world

21 September 2019 9:00 am

Jason Burke wonders what went wrong with Islam, as Justin Marozzi proves that its civilisations once far outstripped the West

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

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

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

George Orwell. Credit: Getty Images

Novel explosives of the Cold War

24 August 2019 9:00 am

Humour, satire, drama and poetry proved explosive weapons in the fight against Stalinism, says Nicholas Shakespeare

Migration in Europe is the ripple effect of the second world war

17 August 2019 9:00 am

Waves of migration in Europe are nothing new. The continent has been on the move since 1945, says Kapka Kassabova

Homage to Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor

10 August 2019 9:00 am

David Crane celebrates the genuinely pious emperor who united medieval Europe by fire and sword

Web of deceit: disinformation could prove the most powerful weapon of all

3 August 2019 9:00 am

Does a powerful, disembodied and totally deniable attack by one country on another constitute war? If so, will we ever have peace again, wonders Daniel Hahn

Not far fom the Dozier School, a small cemetery with 31 metal crosses is thought to contain further unmarked graves of children murdered by the staff

America’s brutal borstals: The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead, reviewed

27 July 2019 9:00 am

Based on a notorious reform school in Florida whose staff tortured and even murdered the adolescents in their care, The Nickel Boys is heartbreakingly good, says Philip Hensher

Words of war: interviews with the children who survived Hitler’s invasion of Russia

20 July 2019 9:00 am

Charlotte Hobson is much moved by the harrowing testament of Russia’s last wartime survivors in Svetlana Alexievich’s extraordinary collection of interviews

The tragic story of Witold Pilecki, whose reports from Auschwitz fell on deaf ears

13 July 2019 9:00 am

Witold Pilecki risked his life to bring news of Auschwitz to the Allies, but his detailed reports fell on deaf ears. Caroline Moorehead celebrates his extraordinary persistence and courage

The glory and the misery of Louis XIV’s France

6 July 2019 9:00 am

Louis XIV raised the prestige of France above that of any other European nation – even if he did leave the country starving and bankrupt, says David Crane

A snapshot of George holding his infant daughter on Chapel Sands provides a key to the family mystery.

Solving the mystery of my mother’s kidnapping

29 June 2019 9:00 am

Andy Miller on a haunting story of love, loss and lies in a small Lincolnshire village

Polari, the secret gay argot, is making a surprising comeback

22 June 2019 9:00 am

Polari, the facetious gay argot that flourished in Britain until the 1970s, is making a surprising comeback, says Philip Hensher

Heroism in a hopeless cause: why the crusades remain fascinating

15 June 2019 9:00 am

The crusaders’ motto rings hollow today, but we can’t condemn the Middle Ages for having different values from our own, says Jonathan Sumption

Hostility to Islam has disguised a host of other prejudices

8 June 2019 9:00 am

For centuries in the West, Islam was condemned by philosophers and pamphleteers as well as by the Church. But there was often a hidden agenda, says Tom Holland

Toy theatres on the stage: the set designs of Maurice Sendak

1 June 2019 9:00 am

Maurice Sendak’s move from children’s books to set designs was full of psychoanalytical significance, says Philip Hensher

The flood-prone megacity of Wuhan on the Yangtze now has permeable pavements and artificial wetlands to soak up the water like a sponge

Towards a technological utopia

25 May 2019 9:00 am

Ingenious innovations in science and engineering could make for a healthier future for us all, says Simon Winchester

Letitia at the height of her fame in 1825. H.W. Pickersgill’s original portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy

The celebrated poet who’s been erased from English literature

18 May 2019 9:00 am

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst describes how Letitia Elizabeth Landon went from bestselling poet to the invisible woman of English literature

Richard Holbrooke as US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan in New Delhi, April 2009, a year before his death

How to lose friends and alienate people: Richard Holbrooke was a past master

11 May 2019 9:00 am

Jonathan Powell describes the bullying tactics of a remarkable, if deeply flawed, American diplomat, whose career spanned half a century

Not all British memsahibs were racist snobs

4 May 2019 9:00 am

Though often cruelly caricatured, the British memsahib became a significant face of imperial rule, says Philip Hensher

Brutus’s betrayal is a tragic inevitability. The soothsayer warns Julius Caesar to ‘Beware the Ides of March’, in a 19th-century wood engraving by Sir John Gilbert

Has Shakespeare become the mascot of Brexit Britain?

27 April 2019 9:00 am

Shakespeare often seems uncannily relevant to the times – and Brexit Britain is no exception, says Daniel Swift

A 15th-century manuscript depicting Saladin as King of Egypt

A new version of Saladin — as silver-tongued diplomat

20 April 2019 9:00 am

Saladin is often portrayed as either an evil man of blood or a noble jihadist. In fact his greatest gift was not for war but diplomacy, says Jason Burke

Michael Tippett at home at Parkside, Corsham, Wilts with the score of his second piano sonata

Time for a Tippett revival

13 April 2019 9:00 am

Michael Tippett’s music has been too rarely performed since his death. It’s time for a revival, says Philip Hensher

The English model Jean Shrimpton’s appearance at the Melbourne Races in 1965 hatless, gloveless and bare-legged in a mini-dress caused a press furore in Australia

It was pretty good for me: Joan Bakewell on the Sixties

6 April 2019 9:00 am

Joan Bakewell remembers how it was for her in the Swinging Sixties