Lead book review

Bligh and crew are set adrift from the Bounty, in a painting by Robert Dodd

Australia was ruined the moment Europeans set foot there

13 January 2018 9:00 am

William Bligh’s was not the only astonishing open-boat voyage in the Pacific in the late 18th century. There were others just as desperate, says Nicholas Shakespeare

Laura Ingalls Wilder, aged 20

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s little house of horrors on the prairies

6 January 2018 9:00 am

Laura Ingalls Wilder helped mythologise the life of the heroic American pioneer. But there was nothing remotely romantic about her upbringing, says Sarah Churchwell

Portrait of Ulysses Grant by Ole Peter Hansen Balling

It’s time to rehabilitate Ulysses S. Grant — scorned hero of the Civil War

16 December 2017 9:00 am

Amanda Foreman is in no doubt that Ulysses S. Grant, for all his faults, is one of the great men of history

The making of a happy home: cold milk for tea. A 1930s advertisement for General Electric

How cool is your fridge?

9 December 2017 9:00 am

The fridge may have saved us from food poisoning, but is it now poisoning the planet, wonders Stephen Bayley

Reinventing Baku: one of the three Flame Towers, comprising apartments, offices and a hotel, which dominate the old town. The project, costing an estimated US$350 million, was completed in 2012

Reading Norman Davies’s global history is like wading through porridge

2 December 2017 9:00 am

Following Norman Davies’s explorations is like travelling, mildly jet-lagged, from one air-conditioned lounge to another, says Philip Hensher

The Marx Brothers owed their vaudeville success to sharp wits, slapstick and a willingness to trade on the pervasive humour of ethnic stereotypes

Is Jewish humour the greatest defence mechanism ever created?

25 November 2017 9:00 am

Jewish humour has always been a defence mechanism against pain and persecution, says Keiron Pim

More books of the year

18 November 2017 9:00 am

A further selection of the best and most overrated books of 2017, chosen by some of our regular reviewers

Books of the year

11 November 2017 9:00 am

A selection of the best and most overrated books of 2017, chosen by some of our regular reviewers

Reza Aslan: personable, charismatic and a keen self-publicist. He could be wearing togas and flying around in a private jet in five years’ time

Reza Aslan doesn’t fear God. But should he fear his fellow Muslims?

4 November 2017 9:00 am

Do not fear God, Reza Aslan tells us. You are God. But preaching this form of pantheism can be dangerous, warns Alexander Waugh

George Eliot, photographed in 1858

Which writers really deserve to be called ‘outsiders’?

28 October 2017 9:00 am

The women writers Lyndall Gordon presents as brave ‘outsiders’ had easy lives compared with many other struggling authors one can name, says Philip Hensher

Cross-dressing in the Met. Policemen don women’s clothes to catch the Whitechapel murderer. Charles West (far right) leads the search in Jack the Ripper, 1974

What do Robin Hood, Jack the Ripper and Winston Churchill have in common?

21 October 2017 9:00 am

Houdini, Antarctica, a maternity ward, the electric chair – they’re all subjects of failed musicals. But it’s impossible to predict what will work, says Roger Lewis

Blue and Yellow Macaw, c.1834

Edward Lear: where art and nonsense collide

14 October 2017 9:00 am

Peter Parker on the modest, melancholy and astonishingly gifted painter and author

A wall painting in an 18th-century rural synagogue in Germany depicts the Lion of Judah and the temple of Jerusalem.The itinerant folk artist was Eliezer ben Solomon Sussman

Simon Schama’s latest history is a Technicolor blockbuster

7 October 2017 9:00 am

Simon Schama’s great, boisterous history has the Technicolor drama – and crude simplicity – of a Hollywood blockbuster, says Bernard Wasserstein

Anthony Powell, by Henry Lamb (1934)

Anthony Powell gets the superb new biography he deserves

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Hilary Spurling impressively captures the essence and the spirit of Anthony Powell, his writing and his era, says Philip Hensher

Bristol ablaze: anger at the Lords’ rejection of the Second Reform Bill sparked riots in Queen’s Square, Bristol, October 1831 (William James Muller)

Britain über alles: Victorious Century reviewed

23 September 2017 9:00 am

The 19th-century belonged to us, according to David Cannadine’s ambitious new history. Jane Ridley is mesmerised by it

‘Adam and Eve in Paradise’, by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1531)

The ‘biography’ of the creation myth: The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Steven Greenblatt’s cultural road trip is a compelling story of myth, theology and belief

The Korean war was the single greatest calamity of the period. Residents of Inchon surrender to American troops in 1950

Compared to today’s political climate, the Cold War seems almost cosy

9 September 2017 9:00 am

Compared to today’s political climate, the Cold War seems almost cosy, says Alan Judd. At least you knew where you were then

The cornucopia of food advertised by the Empire Marketing Board, 1927‑1933

The glories of empire — and Britain’s taste for the exotic

2 September 2017 9:00 am

Katrina Gulliver salutes the traders and innovators of the British empire who first gave us our taste for the exotic

A pile of mud-covered satchels is all that remains of 74 children’s lives

How the 2011 killer tsunami sent shock waves through Japan

26 August 2017 9:00 am

The loss of so many children’s lives at Okawa primary school in 2011 was entirely avoidable, says Nicholas Shakespeare

They shared a love of books, beekeeping, print-collecting, alchemy, geometry, music, astronomy and the English language: John Evelyn (left) and Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn: a meeting of like minds

19 August 2017 9:00 am

For Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, two great recorders of Restoration England, life was a cabinet of curiosities, says Frances Wilson

Self-portrait, with his wife Margaret

The dazzling vision of Thomas Gainsborough

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Working in semi-darkness, Thomas Gainsborough produced some of the airiest, most poetic paintings imaginable, says Philip Hensher

The maestro could hear if a single player was doing something wrong, even in the most noisy tutti

Toscanini and the morality of conducting

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Toscanini’s simple set of values made him certain of the rights and wrongs of everything, says Michael Tanner – except regarding women

Stretcher-parties wading through the morass sometimes took six hours to bring in casualties. Left: near Boesinghe, 1 August 1917 (from Chris McNabb’s Passchendaele 1917)

Did the hideous carnage of Passchendaele gain the Allies anything?

29 July 2017 9:00 am

Peter Parker on the carnage of Passchendaele

Timothy Leary — apostle of acid and, according to Richard Nixon, ‘the most dangerous man in America’

Whatever became of the summer of love?

22 July 2017 9:00 am

The original hippy message was innocent and pure – before the summer of love turned to the winter of exploitation, says Mick Brown

Nadar ascending aloft in his basket — in this case in his studio, recording the event for mass consumption

The first modern celebrity – Nadar’s life fêted

15 July 2017 9:00 am

Sam Leith considers the breathtaking career of Nadar – the heroic self-publicist who took 19th-century Paris by storm