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Moments of clarity

By now, Alice Munro has established a territory as her own so completely, you wonder that the Canadian Tourist Board doesn’t run bus tours there. Perhaps they do, even though it presents an appearance more characteristic than inviting. To think of her world is to think of lonely houses at the edge of bleak, small

Lessons from the past

Oh the relief of quantitative easing! Who could fail to welcome a fiscal laxative guaranteed to loosen the bankers’ constipated hold on credit? But before much more of the mixture is gulped down, it may be salutary to glance at the effect of the purgatives administered to ease economic bowels in the late 17th century.

Missed opportunity

A World According to Women: An End to Thinking, by Jane McLoughlin The Noughtie Girl’s Guide to Feminism, by Ellie Levenson Jane McLoughlin is furious with women. We have let the feminists down and turned off the rational sides of our brains in favour of the thrilling emotional life that popular culture provides. The feminists

The great Russian takeaway

That the rise of a powerful coterie of Russian billionaires overlapped with Britain’s transformation into an offshore tax-haven is unlikely to escape the notice of both countries’ future historians. Indeed it is entirely plausible that had successive British governments in the 1990s been less amenable to foreign wealth, this book would have been entitled Genevagrad

Populist preaching

Patrick Marnham visits Brazil’s annual festival of literature Many years ago a wild-eyed Englishman hacked his way into the Amazon rain forest and disappeared, never to be seen again. Since then the fate of Percy Fawcett, known as ‘the Colonel’, has remained a mystery. Fawcett, a heavily bearded pipe-smoker in a deerstalker hat, was a