Books

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.…

Credit: Alamy

Beware the female stalker: Dream Sequence, by Adam Foulds, reviewed

26 January 2019 9:00 am

Adam Foulds’s fourth novel, Dream Sequence, is an exquisitely concocted, riveting account of artistic ambition and unrequited love verging on…

Credit: Getty Images

The ghostly Thames: Once Upon a River, by Diane Setterfield, reviewed

26 January 2019 9:00 am

While its shape is famous — prominent on maps of London and Oxford — the Thames is ‘unmappable’, according to…

The Death Railway: the line built by prisoners of war in Burma at the cost of thousands of lives

Train journeys may be losing their romance — but there are other adventures still to be had

26 January 2019 9:00 am

Monisha Rajesh wrote lovingly about the Indian railways in her previous book, Around India in 80 Trains; but her new…

Life at the Globe

26 January 2019 9:00 am

    IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE PRINCIPAL PARTNERS OF SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE’S 2019 SUMMER SEASON I quoted last week that rather…

Ernst Jünger in Paris in 1941

Ernst Jünger — reluctant captain of the Wehrmacht

19 January 2019 9:00 am

Ernst Jünger’s journals are full of insights into the the second world war, but reading this cool, calculating captain of the Wehrmacht can be dispiriting, according to Alex Colville

How Enoch Powell fancied himself Viceroy of India — and other startling revelations

19 January 2019 9:00 am

Interviews, like watercolours, are very hard to get right, and yet look how steadily their art has become degraded and…

Rorke’s Drift: a desperate brawl at a mission station up there with the great battle honours of the British army

Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat: the story of Rorke’s Drift

19 January 2019 9:00 am

On 22 January last year, the entrance whiteboard at London Underground’s Dollis Hill carried a brief factual statement: On this…

Steel Pulse perform at a concert organised by Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League at Victoria Park, Hackney in 1978.

How Eric Clapton’s racism sparked a musical revolution

19 January 2019 9:00 am

On 13 August 1977, a demonstration by the National Front was routed in the streets of Lewisham by thousands of…

Teffi’s satire was always on target, but she balanced it with compassion

The best way to defeat totalitarianism? Treat it as a joke

19 January 2019 9:00 am

Is there anything one can never laugh about? A question inevitably hanging over humour writing, it’s best answered by the…

Is the threat of capital punishment really the foundation of good behaviour?

19 January 2019 9:00 am

Richard Wrangham embraces controversy, and appears to enjoy munching apples from carts he upsets himself. While his new book seems…

Lost in allegory: The Wall, by John Lanchester, reviewed

19 January 2019 9:00 am

Dystopian fiction continues to throng the bookshelves, for all the world as though we weren’t living in a dystopia already,…

Death of a rock star: Slow Motion Ghosts, by Jeff Noon, reviewed

19 January 2019 9:00 am

Here is a novel set in the no man’s land between past and present, a fertile and constantly shifting territory…

It’s all about the owners. The unwavering belief in Leicester City of the late, much loved Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha contributed hugely to its Premier League triumph in the 2015–2016 season

Pitches in the boardroom: football’s future assured

19 January 2019 9:00 am

This is a story of resurrection. A mere three decades ago, club football in England was a professional game largely…

Investigative journalists: new crime fiction reviewed

19 January 2019 9:00 am

Despite being well-travelled as the BBC’s world affairs editor, John Simpson doesn’t roam far from home in his spy thriller,…

Life at the Globe

19 January 2019 9:00 am

    IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE PRINCIPAL PARTNERS OF SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE’S 2019 SUMMER SEASON One of the things about Shakespeare…

‘Arise Hungarians, your country calls you!’ The poet Sandor Petofi declaims the famous ‘Talpra Magyar’ on 15 March 1848. Lajos Kossuth stands to the right

Hungary is being led once again down a dangerous nationalistic path

12 January 2019 9:00 am

Hungary’s history is full of conflict and compromise. But even among its many minorities it was a country that inspired extraordinary loyalty, says Philip Mansel

Detail of ‘Penn’s Treaty with the Indians’ by Benjamin West. Though William Penn was celebrated for his humane treatment of Native Americans, his heirs swindled the Lenape out of a million acres of territory

Should William Penn be shaking in his grave?

12 January 2019 9:00 am

The ultimate driving force of William Penn’s adult life is inaccessible, as the Quaker phrase ‘Inner Light’ suggests. While a…

Yoko Ono in the Dakota building, on the first anniversary of John Lennon’s murder. Credit: Getty Images

Partying with John and Yoko: The Dakota Winters, by Tom Barbash, reviewed

12 January 2019 9:00 am

Tom Barbash’s dark and humorous second novel takes a risk by combining invented and real characters. I feared nagging doubts…