Books

The original Essex man

11 December 2004 12:00 am

The boil and hiss of mediaeval Hell, as conceived by Dante, is hard for us to imagine. Yet the 1935…

Awkward member of the squad

11 December 2004 12:00 am

Peter Hall and Richard Eyre both published diaries about their time running the National Theatre, edited in Hall’s case by…

Happy days in Wyoming

11 December 2004 12:00 am

In the wake of a presidential election where both candidates’ fervid speech- ifying took them back and forth across the…

Down but not out on one’s uppers

11 December 2004 12:00 am

One of the more amusing characteristics of the English upper classes is their habit of going around disclaiming their upper-classness.…

The daily round, the common task

11 December 2004 12:00 am

Opinion polls, it could be said, are the descendants of Mass Observation. This was a non-academic social survey started in…

Wolves in sheep’s clothing

11 December 2004 12:00 am

The word ‘Wahhabi’ entered popular consciousness at the same time as ‘9/11’ and is now about as loaded as the…

A choice of recent first novels

11 December 2004 12:00 am

All writing has some literary precedent; where better then for a first novelist to find inspiration than the Bible, the…

Recent gardening books

4 December 2004 12:00 am

The late Paul Getty has left gardeners a surprising legacy. Gardens of the Roman World by Patrick Bowe was published…

Changing history with a tenpenny knife

4 December 2004 12:00 am

This is a strange and wonderful novel that deserves the most serious attention. Whenever Ron- ald Blythe’s name comes up…

Renaissance man in all his richness

4 December 2004 12:00 am

The major challenge faced by biographers of artists is the almost impossible one of dealing with equal authority with their…

Bamboozling the opposition

4 December 2004 12:00 am

This book, like so much of the modern western population, is obese. It weighs three pounds one and a half…

Disguise that hides a hard punch

4 December 2004 12:00 am

It is 50 years since Peter Porter arrived in ‘rain-veiled Tilbury’ from his native Australia. ‘I came, I saw, I…

Cleansing the stables of language

4 December 2004 12:00 am

During the mid-17th century the idea gained ground in various parts of Europe that the world was about to come…

Shot from an idealist’s angle

4 December 2004 12:00 am

A question posed early on in Mark Cousins’s book is bound to spur a reviewer’s pride: ‘Who are Griffith, Dovzhenko,…

The very model of a modern duke

4 December 2004 12:00 am

Miles Fitzalan-Howard was one of eight children of a fairly distant cousin of the previous two Dukes of Norfolk, and…

Belonging and not belonging

4 December 2004 12:00 am

Nicola Lacey wanted to write an ‘intellectual biography’ of Herbert Hart, on the model of Hermione Lee’s Virginia Woolf. It’s…

Fighting the ‘good’ fight

4 December 2004 12:00 am

Millions, perhaps even billions of words have been written about al-Qaida over the past three years. We know of the…

A puzzle without a solution

4 December 2004 12:00 am

Jeremy Bernstein is extraordinarily, perhaps uniquely, well qualified to write a biography of Robert Oppenheimer that is both authoritative and…

Seeing off six monarchs

4 December 2004 12:00 am

This beguiling little book, nostalgically illustrated with faded family snapshots, describes the long and arduous life of a tortoise who…

Goui and phooey

4 December 2004 12:00 am

The Wolof call it a goui, the Tswana a moana, the French the calabash tree and all Australia the boab.…

The nature of the beast

4 December 2004 12:00 am

Robert Service has set himself a formidable task. He has to explain how the son of a wife- beating, dirt-poor…

Books of the Year II

27 November 2004 12:00 am

A further selection of the best and worst books of the year, chosen by some of our regular contributors

Recent audio books

27 November 2004 12:00 am

Aclogged up motorway can provide the ideal conditions to play the balloon game; re-routed angst and venom will guarantee the…

A true poet of war

27 November 2004 12:00 am

‘On a hazy day Jerry comes droning over, three miles up.’ May sound Biggles-ish now, but it was OK for…

Finding faces for Boz

27 November 2004 12:00 am

Hablot Knight Browne worked as Dickens’s principal illustrator for more than 20 years, from the publication of The Pickwick Papers…