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A manual for our times

This book is so important that I hope the publishers have the civic spirit to send a copy to every parliamentarian, decision-maker and opinion-former in the land. For Philip Bobbitt, the legal and constitutional historian best known for The Shield of Achilles, has drawn nothing less than a philosophical route-map for the war on terror

Homage to His Holiness

The Dalai Lama is a controversial figure of late. The fury of millions of Chinese at the Tibetans’ sullying of China’s international reputation in the lead up to their beloved Olympic moment may be dismissed as nationalist hysteria, but the perception that he is, in Rupert Murdoch’s insinuating slur, ‘a very political monk in Gucci

In the blood

Anyone who has been stuffed down a foxhole at a young age to pull out a hound, and has come back out attached to a hound attached to a fox attached to a badger, deserves to be read. Is it any wonder townies do not understand country folk you ask yourself as you read this

Linking Oxford with the world

Cecil Rhodes hoped that the scholarships established through his will, would, by creating educational ties between the Empire and the Anglo-Saxon world, ‘render war impossible’. The scholars, he insisted, should not be weedy bookworms, but manly, robust types, Plato’s guardians, a society of the elect. The 20th century has not been kind to such ideals;

Real and imagined parents

There are now two full columns of entries on the ‘Also by Doris Lessing’ page — 58 separate books. Along with work of an entirely fantastical, invented variety there is a good body of her work which shades off, in calibrated degrees, from the realist and directly observed novel, towards the autobiographical fiction, and into

At the court of King Tony

The commentariat has at last realised that in practice, if not in theory, the Labour Party believes in the hereditary principle. This is a phenomenon that those of us who, for one reason or another, have innate antennae for such things have long recognised. Homo sapiens in settled societies is more likely to follow anthropology

The end of a period

This is a meretricious, puzzling and deeply unsatisfactory book and I resent every one of the 12 hours I spent plodding through it on a Sunday. Cherie’s publishers call her ‘insightful’ and ‘funny’, which she ain’t, and they bill the book as the inspiring tale of a clever, indomitable, feminist woman with a fierce sense

John Saumarez Smith at 65

‘Might it amuse you to see (and perhaps even buy) Gibbon’s spectacles?’ John Saumarez Smith made Bevis Hillier a once-in-a-lifetime offer. It was 1976 and Hillier dithered. He neither saw nor bought Gibbon’s spectacles, but he did make a Saturday column out of it for the Times — characterising Saumarez Smith as ‘perhaps the most