Books

Fifty-one hours in Dr Johnson’s rumbustious company

12 May 2018 9:00 am

When a man is tired of Samuel Johnson, he’s tired of life. James Boswell intended his biography of Dr Johnson,…

Rao Pingru and his siblings make a lion lantern with their mother

Enduring life under Chairman Mao

5 May 2018 9:00 am

Hilary Spurling is enchanted by depictions of simple family pleasures throughout years of famine and persecution

Joan of Arc from ‘Vie des Femmes Celebres’, 1505

The songs my father’s mistress taught me ignited my love of France

5 May 2018 9:00 am

When John Julius Norwich was a boy, his father was British ambassador in Paris.School holidays were spent in the exceptionally…

The best single-volume history of the Great War yet written

5 May 2018 9:00 am

The historiography of the Great War is stupendous, the effects of the conflict being so far-reaching that even today historians…

A folding screen depicting views of Versailles

The splendour and squalor surrounding the Sun King

5 May 2018 9:00 am

The château at Versailles remained the grandest palace in the whole of Europe from the moment that Louis XIV established…

Zen tales and flights of fancy: Patient X reviewed

5 May 2018 9:00 am

The target audience for David Peace’s new novel appears almost defiantly niche. Certainly, any readers in the embarrassing position of…

Arlott and Swanton — the Disraeli and Gladstone of cricket?

5 May 2018 9:00 am

E.W. Swanton’s first published article appeared in All Sports Weekly in July 1926, soon after his 19th birthday. Thence, swiftly,…

Root and branch: Richard Powers is determined to save the world’s trees

5 May 2018 9:00 am

This is a novel about trees, written in the shape of a tree (eight introductory background chapters, called ‘Roots’; a…

The actress and singer Blanche d’Antigny with her velocipede

Knickerbocker glories: feminism, fashion and the bicycle

5 May 2018 9:00 am

One September day the 16-year-old Tessie Reynolds got on her bike. In a homemade suit, she pedalled from London to…

Portrait of Helen by John Bellany

The ordeal of being married (twice) to John Bellany

5 May 2018 9:00 am

Misery memoirs are in vogue. There is much misery in this harrowing account of married life with John Bellany (1942–2013)…

Lamont ‘U-God’ Hawkins in 1995

The futile gang wars of New York

5 May 2018 9:00 am

I’ve interviewed a lot of rappers over the years and always feel a little grimy when I find myself nudging…

The long arm of the Russian super mafia

5 May 2018 9:00 am

Mark Galeotti’s study of Russian organised crime, the product of three decades of academic research and consultancy work, is more…

Couldn’t Diana Evans’s fretful couples just shut up and deal with it?

5 May 2018 9:00 am

My husband started reading Diana Evans’s third novel, Ordinary People, the day after I’d finished it. Three days later, I…

The misery of policing the US–Mexico border

5 May 2018 9:00 am

Francisco Cantú’s mother is surprised when he announces he’s joining the Border Patrol and going to work in the Arizona…

Who needs Jordan Peterson when we have Ferdinand Mount?

5 May 2018 9:00 am

You will by now doubtless be familiar with the University of Toronto academic Jordan Peterson. He’s the unlikely YouTube star…

John Hoyland, 7.11.66, 1966

The London painters that conquered the world

5 May 2018 9:00 am

This is an important, authoritative work of art criticism that recognises schools of painters, yet displays the superior distinctions of…

The young Descartes: I fought, therefore I thought

5 May 2018 9:00 am

Descartes is most generally known these days for being the guy who was sure he existed because he was thinking.…

Above: The Spangled Cotinga of the Amazon Rainforest is one of the seven species known to fly-tiers as the Blue Chatterer. Left: The Resplendent Quetzal, found from Chipias, Mexico to Western Panama

The most bizarre museum heist ever

28 April 2018 9:00 am

Maggie Fergusson discovers a strange fraternity for whom exotic plumage is a criminal passion

Kitty Marion: too radical even for the suffragettes

28 April 2018 9:00 am

The suffragettes are largely remembered not as firestarters and bombers but as pale martyrs to patriarchy. The hunger artists refusing…

A disturbing psychological experiment involving secrecy, small boys and sharp knives

28 April 2018 9:00 am

Gina Perry is the eminent psychologist who blew apart Stanley Milgram’s shocking revelations from his 1961 research. Milgram had caused…

Britain was utterly wretched in 1975. No wonder Europe seemed a better bet

28 April 2018 9:00 am

‘I voted to stay in a common market. No one ever mentioned a political union.’ It is the complaint of…

In rebel-held territory, two boys contemplate the rubble of Daraa, September 2017

The tragedy of Syria: how protest spiralled into savagery

28 April 2018 9:00 am

The fateful day five years ago began like any other for the family. A pot of black tea with cardamon…

‘A verger’s dream: Saints Cosmas and Damian performing a miraculous cure by transplantation of a leg’. The Spanish altarpiece by the Master of Los Balbases depicts a vision described in Jacobus de Voragine’s late medieval Legenda Aurea. (From Medieval Bodies, by Jack Hartnell)

Will ‘I’m a Tudorbethan, Get Me Out of Here’ be hitting our screens soon?

28 April 2018 9:00 am

Are books becoming an adjunct to TV? Both of these are good reads, but both feel influenced by — and…

An intense conversation about life, love and writing with Deborah Levy

28 April 2018 9:00 am

Deborah Levy draws her epigraph for The Cost of Living from Marguerite Duras’s Practicalities: ‘You’re always more unreal to yourself…

The daring exploits of Romain Gary

28 April 2018 9:00 am

When Romain Gary, a courageous and much decorated pilot in the RAF’s Free French squadron, was presented to the Queen…