Books

After the Fire commands respect rather than provides enjoyment

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Few people turn to Henning Mankell’s work in search of a good laugh. He’s best known as the author of…

Wemyss Bay train and ferry station on the Firth of Clyde

Britain’s 100 Best Railway Stations reviewed

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Stations, according to Simon Jenkins, are the forgotten part of the railway experience. People love the trains, the journey, the…

Anticipating the next war is a mug’s game: The Future of War reviewed

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Planning for the ‘war of the future’ is something generals and politicians have been doing for the past 150 years.…

Sir Isaac Newton, by Godfrey Kneller (1646–1723): Newton was a secret, though fierce critic of the ‘Holy’ Trinity

One of the most sensational scoops of recent times: Priest of Nature reviewed

30 September 2017 9:00 am

John Calvin believed that human nature was a ‘permanent factory of idols’; the mind conceived them, and the hand gave…

Isambard Wilkinson’s intimate memoirs: Travels in a Dervish Cloak, reviewed

30 September 2017 9:00 am

By his own admission, Isambard Wilkinson’s memoir of his experiences in Pakistan a decade ago as a foreign correspondent has…

Jimmy Webb’s memoir – what happens to talented people when fame gets the better of them

30 September 2017 9:00 am

For those in the know, Jimmy Webb is one of the great pop songwriters of the 1960s and 70s, up…

Slaves dealing in slavery, Sugar Money reviewed

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Jane Harris’s novels often focus on the disenfranchised: a maid in The Observations, a woman reduced by spinsterhood in the…

Alice Waters shows the Prince of Wales around her ‘Edible Schoolyard’ garden in California

America’s celebrity chef par excellence, Coming to My Senses reviewed

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Though Alice Waters is not a household name here, that is precisely what she is in America — the best-known…

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

All in the family – a bitter struggle for control of a global fortune; Dunbar reviewed

23 September 2017 9:00 am

When millionaires become billionaires they become even greedier and more ruthless. At the highest level, Trumpian economics can be lethal.…

Mykola Bokan’s photograph of his family, including a memorial to ‘Kostya, who died of hunger’, July 1933. Bokan and his son were arrested for documenting the famine — both died in the gulag

Stalin was fully committed to using hunger as a weapon of mass destruction; Red Famine reviewed

23 September 2017 9:00 am

In 1933 my aunt Lenina Bibikova was eight years old. She lived in Kharkov, Ukraine. Every morning a polished black…

Bob Marley and the Wailers at the Crystal Palace Bowl, 7 June 1980

An oral history of Holy Bob: So Much Things to Say reviewed

23 September 2017 9:00 am

The Harder They Come, Jamaica’s first (and still finest) home-grown film, was released in 1972 with the local singer Jimmy…

J.M. Coetzee’s essays are filtered through boundless reserves of knowledge, wisdom and reading

23 September 2017 9:00 am

Given the brilliance of his career as a fiction-writer, it is easy to forget that J.M. Coetzee has a commensurate…

Bill Goldstein says the ‘World Broke in Two’ in 1922 – but it didn’t

23 September 2017 9:00 am

‘Publitical’ is a neologism worth avoiding. Bill Goldstein uses it to describe T.S. Eliot’s activities when launching and promoting his…

Our hero, homo erectus

Daniel Everett offers a populist interpretation of modern linguistics

23 September 2017 9:00 am

One of the great achievements of science is that so many of its branches, from astronomy to zoology, have been…

Alfred the Great’s victory over the Vikings is our foundation myth; Viking Britain reviewed

23 September 2017 9:00 am

Some oleaginous interviewer once suggested to Winston Churchill that he was the greatest Briton who ever lived. The grand old…

‘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

Claire Tomalin in 2007

On the front line of feminism: Claire Tomalin’s memoir reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

As literary editor of the Sunday Times in the early 1980s, when the rest of the editorial staff routinely papered…

Rural life as social realism, with a touch of the suspense thriller: Elmet reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Daniel and his big sister, Cathy, do not go to school. They live with their father, a gargantuan former prizefighter,…

‘The Pacification of the Maroons in Jamaica’, by Agostino Brunias (18th century)

A lively and valuable history of Dominica’s Maroons: In the Forests of Freedom reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Much romantic nonsense has been written about the runaway slaves or Maroons of the West Indies. In 1970s Jamaica, during…

An account of postwar empire and colonies: Madam, Where Are Your Mangoes reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

Desmond de Silva was born in the colony of Ceylon in the early months of the second world war, the…

Benjamin Lay (American School, 18th century)

The first revolutionary abolitionist: a biography of the Quaker dwarf Benjamin Lay

16 September 2017 9:00 am

It is a pretty safe bet that for every 1,000 people who know of William Wilberforce, no more than the…

An ambitious but selective account of all things Victorian and Edwardian

16 September 2017 9:00 am

This is a monumental but inevitably selective survey of all that occurred in Britain, for better or worse, in the…

Ryan Gattis’s new novel, Safe, can’t quite capture the vividness of his debut

16 September 2017 9:00 am

All Involved, Ryan Gattis’s breakout novel about the LA riots of 1992, was an absolute blast. Ballsy, vivid and immersive,…

The Emperor Constantine renames Byzantium

Islamic State are not the first to attack classical Palmyra: The Darkening Age reviewed

16 September 2017 9:00 am

In the late years of Empire, and early days of Christianity, there were monks who didn’t wash for fear of…