Lead book review

The US tech companies behind China’s mass surveillance

In January, the United States declared that China’s brutal treatment of the Uighur people in Xinjiang amounted to genocide. ‘I believe this genocide is ongoing, and we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy the Uighurs by the Chinese party-state,’ said Mike Pompeo, the former US secretary of state. British MPs made a similar declaration

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Germany’s post-war recovery was no economic miracle

Lord Macaulay wrote that ‘during the century and a half which followed the Conquest there is, to speak strictly, no English history’, because everything in England was decided by an elite who spoke French. This, of course, makes it one of the most fascinating and overlooked parts of our national story.By a similar token, the

Richard Dawkins delights in his own invective

The late Derek Ratcliffe, arguably Britain’s greatest naturalist since Charles Darwin, once explained how he cultivated a technique for finding golden plovers’ nests. As he walked across the featureless moor, ‘the gaze’, he wrote, had to be ‘concentrated as far ahead as possible, not in one place, but scanning continuously over a wide arc from

The life cycle of the limpet teaches universal truths

Adam Nicolson is one of our finest writers of non-fiction. He has range — from place and history to literature and ecology, from the friendship of Wordsworth and Coleridge to the poetics of Homer, from the archaeo-ethnography of his own Hebridean island to the hardy and threatened lives of seabirds. To each he brings a

The power of the translator to break nations

No one ever raised a statue to a translator, disgruntled adepts of that art sometimes complain. I beg to differ, since I’ve seen one: the handsome monument to the 12th-century scholar-physician Judah ibn Tibbon, ‘patriarch of translators’, beneath the Alhambra in Granada. But if the brokers between languages and cultures still lack many bronze or