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The deadly war game of the Battle of the Atlantic

My father served in the Royal Navy during the second world war. He drank over-proof rum and smoked unfiltered cigarettes, both free of charge, while wearing a uniform that enhanced his natural attractions. What more could any teenager want? Of course, there were hazards in store when he set out from Liverpool. Worst of all

David Bowie: the boy who never gave up

A few years ago Will Brooker spent 12 months pretending to be David Bowie. For several weeks he dressed up as Ziggy Stardust (gold bindi, maroon mullet, jumpsuit run up from old curtains), then as Aladdin Sane (blue and red lightning slash daubed across face), then as the Thin White Duke (black waistcoat, black eyeliner,

From frontispiece to endpapers: the last word on the book

Book Parts — hardback, 352 pages, with colour plate section and in-text black and white illustrations, 234x156mm, ISBN 9780198812463, published 2019 by Oxford University Press, ‘a department of the University of Oxford’ which ‘furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship and education by publishing worldwide’, according to the copyright page — has at

Robert the Bruce — master of guerrilla warfare

The story of Robert the Bruce runs from the death of Alexander III of Scotland in 1286 to Robert’s own death in 1329, aged 54. His extraordinary achievement was to fend off both rivals at home and formidable English enemies to firmly establish his country’s independence. In 1292, John Balliol had been proclaimed King of

You’d never believe what goes on in the Sainsbury’s car park

Psychogeography takes many forms: Sebaldian gravitas, Will Self’s provocative flash and dazzle and Iain Sinclair’s jeremiads for lost innocence. Gareth Rees explored east London’s edgelands in his hallucinatory Marshlands. Now, with Car Park Life, he reveals an urban wilderness hiding in plain sight: ‘It is Morrisons in Hastings that lights the fire of my obsession.

Why we’re all in love with Fleabag

Why would you need the scripts for Fleabag? It’s hardly a lost classic. It’s always popping up on BBC iPlayer. So it was with a touch of scepticism that I picked up this volume, subtitled not ‘The Scripts’ but ‘The Scriptures’, in reference to Fleabag’s long, pitiless pursuit of a hot priest in Series 2,

Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming is a long, hard slog

The Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai, who sounds like a sneeze and reads like a fever, is on a mission to build our collective stamina. His novels have always resisted easy interpretation, with their page-long sentences and catastrophic air, and in his ‘most popular’ book, Satantango, the clanging language and doomy setting worked to great effect.

Reasons for remembering things: the refugee’s last resort

A family memoir is a dangerous thing to write: one has to balance between keeping one’s subjects happy and the reader engaged. The Bosnian–American author Aleksandar Hemon, now in his mid-fifties,  takes the risk the better to recollect his past. While no two generations can completely avoid the proverbial gap, he ‘never (until fairly recently)