Books

First Novels

14 July 2018 9:00 am

Katharine Kilalea is a South African poet who has written a startlingly good first novel. OK, Mr Field (Faber, £12.99)…

Caryl Phillips’s new novel manages to make Jean Rhys boring!

14 July 2018 9:00 am

The problem with writing about writers — and a particular blight on the current vogue for autofiction — is that…

Sophia, Electress of Hanover (William Alexander, 1825)

A Stuart Stewpot

14 July 2018 9:00 am

Few twists of political fortune are as discombobulating as the youngest child making off with the family inheritance. Richard III,…

Sunset on the Clyde, 1984. The massive cranes used to build the Lusitania, HMS Hood, the Queen Mary and the QE2 are relics of the once great maritime industry of Port Glasgow

Historian David Edgerton says the ‘British nation’ lasted from 1945 to 1979, the miners’ strike its death knell

7 July 2018 9:00 am

David Crane follows the deterioration of postwar Britain in the face of fast-growing foreign competition

Two new books by barristers chronicle the perilous state of our justice system

7 July 2018 9:00 am

‘The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,’ says Dick the Butcher in Henry VI, Part II. Mostly,…

New York times

7 July 2018 9:00 am

Seven years ago Stella Tillyard, a successful historian of the 18th century, broke into historical fiction with Tides of War.…

Portrait of Stendhal by Giuseppe Amisani

100 Best Novels in Translation is a surprisingly sumptuous read

7 July 2018 9:00 am

Boyd Tonkin is superbly qualified to compile this volume. As literary editor of the Independent, he revived that newspaper’s foreign…

The Tsar and his daughters (from left, Maria, Anastasia and Olga) under guard in Siberia a few days before their murder

Why the Romanovs were doomed

7 July 2018 9:00 am

The true tragedy of the last Romanovs was a failure of imagination. Both during his last disastrous months in office…

Coach, politician and agony aunt

7 July 2018 9:00 am

When I picked this book up, I already loved it — or at least I loved the idea of it:…

Telling tall tales

7 July 2018 9:00 am

‘I think you’re an adult when you can no longer tell your life story over the course of a first…

Eat your heart out, Holden Caulfield

7 July 2018 9:00 am

Tim Winton’s novel about a journey of teenage male self-discovery is raw, brutal and merciless. You need to be familiar…

Oscar Slater in 1908. Though the police knew he was innocent, they insisted on bringing him to trial (The Bridgeman Art Library)

Conan Doyle for the Defence tells the fascinating story of Britain’s ‘Dreyfus’

7 July 2018 9:00 am

One day in December 1908, a wealthy 81-year-old spinster named Marion Gilchrist was bludgeoned to death in her Glasgow flat.…

Now you see him, now you don’t: Nikolai Yezhov, nicknamed ‘the poison dwarf’, who as head of the NKVD presided over mass arrests and executions at the height of the Great Purge, was airbrushed from Soviet history after his own execution in 1940

The spying game: when has espionage changed the course of history?

30 June 2018 9:00 am

That’s the object of espionage, says Rodric Braithwaite. But amassing facts is not enough. You must understand his fears, ambitions and intentions

Foreign bodies galore: the best new crime fiction

30 June 2018 9:00 am

Ghosts of the Past by Marco Vichi (Hodder, £18.99) is unashamedly nostalgic in tone. The title could not be more…

Crudo, by Olivia Laing, reviewed

30 June 2018 9:00 am

Olivia Laing has been deservedly lauded for her thoughtful works of non-fiction To the River, The Trip to Echo Spring…

Sickness strikes in the clifftop monasteries of Meteora, and Stagg leaves the pilgrimage route

Staggering to Jerusalem — a journey from darkness into light

30 June 2018 9:00 am

Guy Stagg walked 5,500 km from Canterbury to Jerusalem, following medieval pilgrim paths, and he records the expedition in The…

Has Tibet finally lost out to China?

30 June 2018 9:00 am

Blessings from Beijing will inform readers who know little about Tibet, and those who know a great deal will discover…

The modern celebrity silk: Geoffrey Robertson ticks all the boxes

30 June 2018 9:00 am

What makes a barrister famous? At one time, many of the best advocates were also prominent politicians, whose day job…

The great outdoors is a short walk from your front door

30 June 2018 9:00 am

When I read about the author on the flyleaf of this book, I must admit my heart sank: ‘Tristan has…

Wilhelm Furtwängler in the 1920s. His conduct, rather than his conducting, is what obsesses Roger Allen

The new biography of Wilhelm Furtwängler is a real labour of loathing

30 June 2018 9:00 am

The titans of the podium, a late 19th- and 20th-century phenomenon, a species now extinct, have on the whole been…

Can democracy survive the tidal wave of technological progress?

30 June 2018 9:00 am

For a brief moment in 2011, standing among thousands of people occupying Syntagma, the central square in Athens, it looked…

A Weekend in New York, by Benjamin Markovits, reviewed

30 June 2018 9:00 am

I wrote foul-mouthed marginalia throughout Benjamin Markovits’s A Weekend in New York. Not because Markovits is a bad writer —…

Nikola Tesla — a man of pyrotechnic intelligence, comparable to Einstein, Marconi and Edison

The electrifying genius of Nikola Tesla

30 June 2018 9:00 am

Nikola Tesla, the man who made alternating current work, wrote to J. Pierpont Morgan, the industrialist and banker. It was…

Less, by Andrew Sean Greer, reviewed

30 June 2018 9:00 am

For someone who is only 47 and has won a Pulitzer Prize, Andrew Sean Greer certainly knows how to get…

A love letter to the short story

30 June 2018 9:00 am

On a recent Guardian podcast, Chris Power — who has written a short story column in the Guardian for a…