Books

Nan Shepherd’s lonely uphill struggle

6 January 2018 9:00 am

‘It’s a grand thing to get leave to live’, perhaps the most famous line Nan Shepherd wrote, is carved in…

Describing the indescribable: news from the Western Front

6 January 2018 9:00 am

At the close of the 1970s, I found a selection of postcards in an antique shop which had been sent…

Portrait of Ulysses Grant by Ole Peter Hansen Balling

It’s time to rehabilitate Ulysses S. Grant — scorned hero of the Civil War

16 December 2017 9:00 am

Amanda Foreman is in no doubt that Ulysses S. Grant, for all his faults, is one of the great men of history

Early 20th-century wall painting in the ‘open-air museum’ town of Mandawa, Rajasthan

The best way to see India — by train

16 December 2017 9:00 am

‘I went to a restaurant the other day called Taste of the Raj. The waiter hit me with a stick…

Spot the classical music

16 December 2017 9:00 am

To view the answers, please click here

‘Political Ravishment — or the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street in danger!’ by James Gillray (1797)

The history of the Bank of England would make a marvellous musical

16 December 2017 9:00 am

Hamilton, created by the remarkable Lin-Manuel Miranda, has brought the financial musical to the London stage: a serious biography of…

‘The Church of St Helena, Bethlehem’, by David Roberts

The hopes and fears of Bethlehem

16 December 2017 9:00 am

Before a certain baby was born there, Bethlehem was famous for its sweet water. Shepherd boys like the young David,…

What makes this Bhutanese schoolgirl happy?

What makes a semi-police state happy?

16 December 2017 9:00 am

This charming collection of individual photographic portraits of Bhutanese citizens intentionally highlights the two central features of the kingdom today:…

Anthologies to bring comfort and joy

16 December 2017 9:00 am

John Julius Norwich loves Christmas dearly. ‘I just wish it didn’t come round about every three months,’ he says. I…

Did a vodka ban precipitate the Russian Revolution?

16 December 2017 9:00 am

It’s one of the more mysterious features of human history that people of every era and in almost every place…

Sally Muir marvellously captures the particular hang of a hound’s head

True, dogged likenesses

16 December 2017 9:00 am

There are currently 151,000,000 photos on Instagram tagged #Dog which is 14,000,000 more than those tagged #Cat. The enormous number…

Royalist recipes for surviving the civil war

16 December 2017 9:00 am

Halfway through Lady Fanshawe’s Receipt Book Lucy Moore takes a moment to regret the vast tracts of the past that…

Why is America so inhibited about sex toys?

16 December 2017 9:00 am

It’s hard not to love a book that starts with its author fearing a police sting while flogging sex toys…

William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle, performing volte, with Bolsover Castle in the background. (Painting after Abraham Jansz. van Diepenbeeck). Bryant is particularly severe on the subject of racing and horse breeding

Bryant’s tyrants: Chris Bryant bashes the British aristocracy

16 December 2017 9:00 am

I rashly discarded this book’s dustjacket when I received it, and thus saw only the unlettered cover, a faded photograph…

The vibrant tradition of English folk song

16 December 2017 9:00 am

After hundreds of densely packed pages on folk song in England — a subject for which I share Steve Roud’s…

A master of Norwegian wood

16 December 2017 9:00 am

Ole Thorstensen has been a carpenter for 25 years. A master craftsman, in fact. He is busy working on a…

A blue-and-white loggia overlooks the entrance to the Residence in Tunis

Mission statement: the importance of a fine British embassy

16 December 2017 9:00 am

At first blush this looks like one of those run-of-the-mill coffee-table books published just for the Christmas market — expensively…

From Adonis to Prometheus: the beautiful men of myth

16 December 2017 9:00 am

Stephen Fry has had a go at the Greek myths, in a competitively priced hardback, just in time for Christmas.…

What on earth was The Prisoner all about?

16 December 2017 9:00 am

Now, if someone were to spray stun gas through the keyhole of my front door, and I were to collapse…

The making of a happy home: cold milk for tea. A 1930s advertisement for General Electric

How cool is your fridge?

9 December 2017 9:00 am

The fridge may have saved us from food poisoning, but is it now poisoning the planet, wonders Stephen Bayley

Christmas quiz books galore

9 December 2017 9:00 am

There can be few challenges more daunting for the assiduous reviewer than a pile of Christmas ‘gift’ books sitting on…

The short, reckless life of Andrea Dunbar

9 December 2017 9:00 am

In her debut novel, Adelle Stripe recounts the brief, defiant life of the playwright Andrea Dunbar. Dunbar was raised on…

Midwinter murders: the best Christmas thrillers

9 December 2017 9:00 am

It’s difficult to keep a crime series going after 11 books but Boris Akunin manages it well in All the…