Lead book review

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It’s time to stop sneering at metal detectorists

As a teenager growing up in Cheshire I had a metal detector. Although I was slightly ashamed of it, I found all sorts of intriguing things: shrapnel, a French coin, a Khartoum Racing Club key ring, an adze and a silver brooch in the shape of a lobster. All went well until I found a

Planning a New Jerusalem: The Peckham Experiment, by Guy Ware, reviewed

The Peckham Experiment was a radical, if earnest, initiative begun in 1926 in which working-class families were given access to physical activities, such as swimming, as well as workshops and a shot at cultural betterment. It’s into this rather worthy scheme that identical twins, the subjects of Guy Ware’s novel, are born: Charlie and JJ,

Dictators with the luck of the devil

‘What brings strong personalities to power?’ asks the historian Ian Kershaw. ‘And what promotes or limits their use of that power?’ Those two questions are at the centre of this book, a study of some of the 20th century’s most important leaders. The result is partly an analysis of character, but also an attempt to

The long arm of police corruption

Are all institutions basically corrupt? If company directors snaffle pencils from the stationery cupboard for their own use, are they corrupt? Is there a sliding scale of corruption, from ‘whatever’, through to ‘well I wouldn’t do it myself’, all the way to ‘summon the rozzers’? And does it matter what the organisation is? Is it

A family scandal straight out of a Hollywood film noir

In 1973, in White Plains, New York, Donna Freed was told, in a ‘shroud of shame’ and without any soothing explanations, that she was adopted. The six-year-old’s life was plunged into a dark hinterland of anxiety. Freed spent the next 38 years fearful that the discovery of her birth mother would reveal ‘a terrible or

A choice of this year’s cook books

The revolving doors of the 1990s’ restaurant scene saw a cast of great characters, sadly now on the wane. One of the so-called ‘modern British’ movement’s greatest champions, Terence Conran, has departed; we have lost Alastair Little and Andrew Edmunds, and only last month Joyce Molyneux, of Carved Angel fame. Who? What? If you never