Books

Wall painting of waterfowl flying out of the reeds, with papyrus on the left. From the tomb of Akhenaten, c. 1375 BC

Treasures from Ancient Egypt’s wastepaper baskets

9 February 2019 9:00 am

In 2016, after some unseemly back-and-forth between the Commons and Lords, it was decided that Acts of Parliament should no…

When kissing in public carried a death sentence

9 February 2019 9:00 am

I once threw Tony Parker’s Lighthouse across the fo’c’sle of a ship at sea when I read that his characters…

Vivien Leigh as Anna Karenina in the 1948 film. Credit: Getty Images

Travelling by train – with Anna Karenina

9 February 2019 9:00 am

Any memoir is a form of double-entry book-keeping, in which what has been lost is reckoned against what has been…

How I tried – and spectacularly failed – to assist my mother’s suicide

9 February 2019 9:00 am

‘If your time ain’t come, not even a doctor can kill you’ — so goes the proverb that best echoes…

Twilight in the bayou: The New Iberia Blues, by James Lee Burke, reviewed

9 February 2019 9:00 am

The king of crime fiction doesn’t need a crown and sceptre. Every page proclaims his majesty. James Lee Burke has…

Tracey Thorn performing at the Palace, Los Angeles in 1985

The day I woke up... to hear that only Tracey Thorn loved me

9 February 2019 9:00 am

It’s unusual for musicians to become writers. The trajectory of yearning is meant to be the other way around. When…

Isaiah Berlin: an extreme liberal, who was reluctant to think that people act purely maliciously

Do we really need to read Isaiah Berlin’s every last word?

9 February 2019 9:00 am

This is a fascinating example of a small genre, in which the author decides at an early stage in his…

Life at the Globe

9 February 2019 9:00 am

    IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE PRINCIPAL PARTNERS OF SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE’S 2019 SUMMER SEASON Though the new production of Richard…

Eric Hobsbawm, photographed in 1996. He admitted late in life that he had developed in youth ‘a facility for deleting unpleasant or unacceptable data’

How Eric Hobsbawm remained a lifelong communist — despite the ‘unpleasant data’

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Left orphaned and impoverished at 14, Eric Hobsbawm was ripe for conversion to communism, says Richard Davenport-Hines

Dr Erasmus Darwin playing chess with his son, c.1780

An intellectual dynasty: the Darwins, Wedgwoods and their notable intermarriages

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Readers of Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage will remember that its author set out to write a life of…

Credit: Getty Images

Demography has become the biggest story on the planet

2 February 2019 9:00 am

One of my vanities is that all my novels are different. Yet one astute journalist identified a universal thread: ‘Too…

Credit: Getty Images

The end of the world is nigh: the latest short stories reviewed

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Only Helen DeWitt would start a book with an epigraph of her own pop-culture mash-up poetry and end with an…

The Khazret Sultan Mosque in the sparkling new city of Astana, built at a breathtaking pace to replace Kazakhstan’s former capital Almaty

Kazakhstan is about the size of Europe — but we know almost nothing about it

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Kazakhstan, say signs by the side of the road in this vast Central Asian country, is ‘a land of unity…

Faux-Gothic spires and the sound of leather on willow: a cricket match in 2007 at Charterhouse, one of the original ‘great nine’ English public schools

Our public schools now resemble five-star hotels — with a Russian and Asian clientele

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Deplore it or revere it, you cannot but respect the private school industry’s wart-like survival in modern Britain. Has any…

Credit: Ian Hill

The Australian James Joyce: the novels of Gerald Murnane reviewed

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Gerald Murnane is the kind of writer literary critics adore. His novels have little in the way of plot or…

Credit: Getty Images

Where would we be without crime’s heavies? Muscle, by Alan Trotter, reviewed

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Let’s hear it for the heavies, the unsung heroes of noir crime fiction on page and screen. The genre would…

Detail of Miao embroidery from south-west China. Motifs, inspired by ancient Miao songs and legends, are handed down from generation to generation

Spinning yarns: uplifting stories told through needlework

2 February 2019 9:00 am

In this unusual book, part memoir, part history, Clare Hunter offers a personal meditation on the textile arts. Sewing and…

The frightened teenager Herschel Grynszpan, photographed in a Paris police cell. After his transportation to Berlin, he realised that he was being kept alive — ‘the safest Jew in Germany’ — to appear as star defendant at a grotesque Nazi show trial

The hot-headed youth who played straight into Hitler’s hands

2 February 2019 9:00 am

On 7 November 1938, the 17-year-old Herschel Grynszpan walked into the German embassy in Paris. Claiming to have secret papers,…

Maggie Gee. Credit: Nick Rankin

Cycle of violence: Blood, by Maggie Gee, reviewed

2 February 2019 9:00 am

Maggie Gee has written 14 novels including The White Family, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize (now the Women’s…

Map of West Africa, c.1547, depicting the trading fortress of São Jorge da Mina on the African Gold Coast.

The scramble for Africa goes back many centuries

26 January 2019 9:00 am

Anthony Sattin is fascinated by the rich history of West Africa – the kind not taught in schools

A 17th-century Kabbalah amulet. The seven-branched candlestick is made up of words

Will we ever unravel the mysteries of Kabbalah?

26 January 2019 9:00 am

In an age where ‘authenticity’ is prized above all things (even if what this actually means is that — like,…

Auberon Waugh when standing for the Dog Lovers’ Party against Jeremy Thorpe in the 1979 general election. Credit: Getty Images

Auberon Waugh — a demon on the page, an angel off it

26 January 2019 9:00 am

Auberon Waugh was happy to admit that most journalism is merely tomorrow’s chip paper but, of all the journalists of…

The internet was never intended to spy on us

26 January 2019 9:00 am

There is a trend in non-fiction — in fact my editor has been on to me about this lately —…

Hemingway with Martha Gellhorn on a shooting expedition, c.1940

The unimportance of Ernest Hemingway: why should we bother reading him anymore?

26 January 2019 9:00 am

What is the most repulsive sentence in English/American literature? Even as a 12-year-old American boy, I cringed when reading, in…

Warehouses were converted in 1918 to keep patients suffering from the flu pandemic in quarantine. Credit: Getty Images

One hundred years on, could we cope with a new flu pandemic?

26 January 2019 9:00 am

Do you remember the swine flu panic a decade ago? Jeremy Brown, the author of this book, describes it here.…