Featured articles


Putin’s poison

Vladimir Putin’s spies have a dizzying variety of weapons at their disposal. This week Britain learned of a new one: Novichok, a nerve agent used in an attempt on the life of a former Russian intelligence officer in Salisbury. But Putin’s real power, far more dangerous than all the rockets and poisons in his arsenals,

A very social spy

I first met Sergey Nalobin in 2012 at Soho House. He introduced himself, in accented English, as from the Russian embassy. ‘On the Ministry of Foreign Affairs orientation course before coming to London, I was told to read Guido Fawkes blog and Private Eye. I enjoy yours more,’ he said flatteringly (I publish Guido Fawkes).

Poet of the century

The first book that Tomas Venclova read in English was Nineteen Eighty-Four. Not a bad start in the language, given his future career. Venclova is less well-known in the West than his late friends Joseph Brodsky and Czesław Miłosz, but he’s something like their Baltic equivalent: a dissident poet of international standing, who spent many

The art of the sledge

‘Good morning, my name’s Cowdrey.’ England batsman Colin, later Lord Cowdrey, to the Australian fast bowler Jeff Thomson. ‘That’s not going to help you, fatso. Now piss off.’ Lord, who wrote those lines — was it Oscar Wilde? Noël Coward? Woody Allen, maybe? Or was it just a primordial example of sledging: the art and

‘Populism, fascism – who cares?’

We are in a hotel suite at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Zurich when Stephen K. Bannon tells me he adores the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. But let’s be clear. Bannon — as far as I can tell — is not a fascist. He is, however, fascinated by fascism, which is understandable, as its founder Benito

Notes on...

Byron in Venice

‘I want to see Venice, and the Alps, and Parmesan cheeses.’ So wrote Lord Byron in 1814, some two years before he settled — if that is the word — in the lagoon city. Even after his arrival in the winter of 1816, Venice retained its fantastical allure: he identified with its decay (which he