Lead book review

Self-portrait

David Jones – the 20th century’s great neglected genius

1 April 2017 9:00 am

When Stravinsky visited David Jones in his cold Harrow bedsit, he came away saying, ‘I have been in the presence…

Lenin centre stage — as the great self-promoter

How Lenin manipulated the Russian Revolution to his own ends

25 March 2017 9:00 am

With the old order rotten to the core, Russia was more than ripe for revolution in 1917.  But Lenin thought the revolution was all about him, says Roland Elliott Brown

The magnificent Clifden Nonpareil — or Blue Underwing — faced extinction as a breeding species in Britain. There are now at least four colonies thriving in Sussex

Who — or what — is the African, the Stranger and the One-eyed Sphinx?

18 March 2017 9:00 am

Since childhood, Caroline Moore has been captivated by the fragile, silky, shimmering beauty of moths —  and by their enchanting names

Watercolour sketch of Jane Carlyle by Karl Hartmann (1850)

How Jane Carlyle survived a miserable marriage

11 March 2017 9:00 am

Jane Carlyle found comfort in her miserable marriage by ‘splashing off’ whatever was on her mind in letters to friends – which became famous in her own lifetime, says Frances Wilson

Fantastic interpretations of the inkblots might imply either madness or high intelligence and creativity. Rorschach was convinced the tests could distinguish between the two

Could the Rorschach tests spot a Nazi?

4 March 2017 9:00 am

There may be something in the Rorschach tests, says Philip Hensher, but can it really be measured?

Pomak Muslims still live in Greek and Bulgarian villages. Left: a bride embarks on her two-day winter wedding in Ribnovo, 210 km from Sofia

The long tragedy of Europe's borderland

25 February 2017 9:00 am

The border between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey has long been a flashpoint. Now, more than ever, says Simon Kuper, it’s a hazardous transit realm for the homeless

Magic lantern slides from the mid-19th century

The importance of being frivolous

18 February 2017 9:00 am

Sam Leith is delighted by the idea that having fun is the key to human progress

Rod Taylor works his invention in a film version of HG. Wells’s The Time Machine

Cheating death by time travel

11 February 2017 9:00 am

The concept of time travel is surprisingly recent, says Jenny Colgan. Before H.G. Wells, it barely existed

Maipure Indians, inhabitants of the Upper Orinoco, grill the limbs of a dead enemy (Italian engraving, 1781)

Eating people is rare (and very unhealthy)

4 February 2017 9:00 am

The subject has been popularised from Homer to the Brothers Grimm, but, mercifully, human cannibalism has always been rare, says Philip Hensher

An inmate of Auschwitz in the early 1940s

A singular horror

28 January 2017 9:00 am

How did the Holocaust happen? What lessons can be learned from it? Philippe Sands wonders whether anything similar could happen again

Why is the world crumbling in anger and terror?

21 January 2017 9:00 am

America’s global hegemony from 1944 onwards has led to a world now riven by hatred and terror, says Jonathan Steinberg

A chain of Harvard Observatory employees, photographed in 1918

The Harvard housewives who measured the heavens

14 January 2017 9:00 am

Marek Kukula tells how, in the late 19th century, Harvard Observatory began to rely on a number of women – ranging from graduates to housemaids – to analyse an explosion of scientific data

Dinah Craik, author of John Halifax, Gentleman, and a genuinely enjoyable writer

Women writers who deserve to be forgotten

7 January 2017 9:00 am

When resurrecting forgotten writers of the past, make sure they’re not neglected for good reason, says Philip Hensher

Günter Grass, who died last year, photographed in 1981

Günter Grass: from enfant terrible to Grand Old Man

31 December 2016 9:00 am

Günter Grass was a mischief-maker, who set out to eclipse his equally brilliant fellow writers, says Rachel Seiffert. But his early novels – The Tin Drum, especially – fully deserved the limelight

There is life out there, insists the astrobiologist Jon Willis — though it won’t be turning up in flying saucers. There’ll be a meeting of microbes rather than a meeting of minds

Why are astronomers so desperate to believe in aliens?

10 December 2016 9:00 am

Why are astronomers so keen to believe in extraterrestrial life? Is it just a story they want to hear, wonders Tom Holland

Happy days: Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in the late 1970s, photographed in the garden of Tversky’s house in Stanford, California

The great intellectual bromance of the last century — between Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky

3 December 2016 9:00 am

Two brilliant psychologists in the 1970s changed our understanding about the way we think and the choices we make – with momentous consequences, says Steven Poole

‘The Griffin’ by Martin Schongauer (15th-century engraving)

The map-maker’s task may never be done

26 November 2016 9:00 am

The map-maker’s task may never be done, says Alex Burghart. Seven new islands have appeared in the past decade alone

A further selection of the best and most overrated books of 2016, chosen by some of our regular reviewers

19 November 2016 9:00 am

A further selection of the best and most overrated books of 2016,  chosen by some of our regular contributors

The best and worst books of 2016, chosen by some of our regular contributors

12 November 2016 9:00 am

A selection of the best and most overrated books of 2016, chosen by some of our regular contributors

Zadie Smith’s latest dance to the music of time

5 November 2016 9:00 am

Zadie Smith explores themes of identity, freedom, rhythm and time with much skill and grace, says Ruth Scurr

Portrait of Jonathan Swift by Charles Jervas

Fierce indignation

29 October 2016 9:00 am

Dean Swift’s biting satire is as necessary today as it was 300 years ago, according to Daniel Swift (no relation)

Flaubert — the writer’s writer par excellence — is a real challenge to write about

22 October 2016 9:00 am

If only Flaubert had spent less time writing — and sitting in his summerhouse fuming at man’s stupidity — his life wouldn’t seem such a trudge, says Graham Robb

Being adored by Middle England as cosy and harmless drives Alan Bennett mad

Alan Bennett: one of the sharpest, funniest writers in the English language

15 October 2016 9:00 am

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst reveals that, far from being a cuddly, mild-mannered teddy bear, our national treasure has sharp claws — and a gimlet eye

Angela Carter: a seminal novelist who changed writing and the world

8 October 2016 9:00 am

Philip Hensher celebrates the breathtaking imagination — and dottiness — of the seminal writer Angela Carter and deeply mourns her early death

Portrait of a youthful Patrick Leigh Fermor in Cretan costume, by Adrian Daintrey (oil on canvas), Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

Dashing for the book: A lifetime of letters from Paddy Leigh Fermor

1 October 2016 9:00 am

Justin Marozzi says the letters of Patrick Leigh Fermor are a 20th-century treasure-trove and a feast for admirers of the great man