Books

Pigeons are plucky and loyal — so don’t go poisoning them in the park

22 June 2019 9:00 am

Growing up as a rootless army brat in bases home and abroad, I would listen in appalled delight to my…

Entertaining Iris Murdoch – for months on end

22 June 2019 9:00 am

If you know your Peter Conradi from your Peter J. Conradi, you’ll also know that the former is foreign editor…

Haunting and hallucinatory: hospital poems from Hugo Williams

22 June 2019 9:00 am

Hugo Williams’s wryly candid reports from the front lines of sex and family life are a perennial delight. Often timeless,…

How does today’s world compare with Orwell’s nightmare vision?

22 June 2019 9:00 am

Apart from a passionate relationship with the common toad, what do George Orwell and David Attenborough have in common? H.G.…

Heroism in a hopeless cause: why the crusades remain fascinating

15 June 2019 9:00 am

The crusaders’ motto rings hollow today, but we can’t condemn the Middle Ages for having different values from our own, says Jonathan Sumption

Mystery in the Sundarbans: Gun Island, by Amitav Ghosh, reviewed

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Meet Deen Datta, a nervous, practical and cautious man, born and brought up in Calcutta, who now lives in Brooklyn,…

Naomi Wolf is holed below the waterline

15 June 2019 9:00 am

What is it about Naomi Wolf that inspires such venom? Perhaps that she’s American, brash, media-savvy and not averse to…

Searching for Coco on the Côte d’Azur

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Anne de Courcy, an escapee from tabloid journalism, has become a polished historian of British high society in the 20th…

Gunning for Narendra Modi

15 June 2019 9:00 am

K.S. Komireddi sets out to establish his secular credentials before he sets up his primary argument: which is that India’s…

Is one of history’s most rousing speeches apocryphal?

15 June 2019 9:00 am

As rousing death-and-glory speeches go, it is one of the best. With a besieging Roman army only hours from storming…

Pliny: the Elder the better

15 June 2019 9:00 am

I couldn’t help thinking, as I read this book, of an old story, vaguely recalled from English A-level classes, about…

The retiring Brian Bilston.

The great anti-hero of our time: Diary of a Somebody, by Brian Bilston, reviewed

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Brian Bilston’s life is summed up perfectly by the incident with his neighbour’s dog. The annoying Mrs McNulty comes round…

Maud West disguised as a Salvation Army worker, c. 1920

The rollicking adventures of a real-life female sleuth

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Susannah Stapleton’s erudite but hugely entertaining debut is a true-life detective story about the quest for a true-life detective. A…

Somali pirates, photographed in 2012

As long as poverty and maritime trade exist, so will piracy

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Western attitudes to piracy have dripped with hubris. In his classic history of 1932, Philip Gosse confidently argued that European…

Moby performing in Los Angeles in March this year

Moby — from teetotal vegan to promiscuous party monster

15 June 2019 9:00 am

In 2002 I flew to New York to interview the dance music producer whose 1999 release Play remains the bestselling…

Hostility to Islam has disguised a host of other prejudices

8 June 2019 9:00 am

For centuries in the West, Islam was condemned by philosophers and pamphleteers as well as by the Church. But there was often a hidden agenda, says Tom Holland

Does a stick insect count as a pet?

8 June 2019 9:00 am

What is it that distinguishes humans from other animals? The default answer nowadays is tediously misanthropic, but a more interesting…

Joy Division was an all too short-lived joy

8 June 2019 9:00 am

Once upon a time there was the arche-typal Manchester band — half of which came from Macclesfield, in leafy Cheshire,…

Midlife crisis in Montana

8 June 2019 9:00 am

For Joanna Pocock, a midlife crisis is the moment in which ‘bored of the rhythm of our days, whatever those…

Alma Mahler — maddening, mesmerising or plain malicious?

8 June 2019 9:00 am

It must be rare for a popular song to have such a lasting influence on a posthumous reputation. However, this…

Washed-up in LA: This Storm, by James Ellroy, reviewed

8 June 2019 9:00 am

When James Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential appeared in 1990, it introduced us to a world of blatant corruption, casual racism and…

Nights at the Lyceum: Shadowplay, by Joseph O’Connor, reviewed

8 June 2019 9:00 am

‘I am very, very pleased,’ murmured Queen Victoria in 1895, when she dubbed Henry Irving, Britain’s first theatrical knight. He…

The wildest waters in the world

8 June 2019 9:00 am

‘Below the Forties there is no law, and below the Fifties there is no God.’ Most sailors know some version…

From the Odyssey to Njals Saga: a voyage round the great myths

8 June 2019 9:00 am

Six remarkable stories shape this book. Tracing the trajectories of the Odyssey to the Icelandic Njals Saga, via the Kosovo…

My agonising vigil over my twins’ fight for life

8 June 2019 9:00 am

Memoirs about giving birth, a subject once shrouded in mystery, have become so popular that another may seem otiose. We…