More from Books

The origin of the theory

Darwin’s Sacred Cause, by Adrian Desmond and James Moore Darwin: A Life in Poems, by Ruth Padel In 1858, on the brink of publishing his theory of evolution, which I discussed here three weeks ago, Charles Darwin took a hydropathic rest cure at Moor Park, near Farnham in Surrey. While walking on the sandy heath,

Mind over matter

Why Us?, by James Le Fanu The past half-century has seen the most astonishing concentration of scientific discoveries in history. In physical terms, from the Big Bang to the Double Helix, our understanding of the universe, of life and ourselves has been extended with an intensity and on a scale that may never be repeated.

Behind the fighting lines

M. R. D. Foot confesses that he has always endeavoured to follow Whistler’s counsel, ‘Not a day without a line’. His written output is impressive and his judgments severe on those who do not come up to his standards. Heinz Koeppler, his boss at a Foreign Office study centre, with his fawning on his superiors

The Natures of Maps

Is this map of birds’ migratory routes informative or deceptive? Does it create the impression that nature is flourishing when it is really in decay? In today’s golden age of cartography, when technology has lifted mapmaking to an unprecedented level of sophistication, The Natures of Maps wants to be a party-pooper. Maps, it declares, pretend

One-man triumph

The Companion to British History (Third Edition), by Charles Arnold Baker Readers familiar with the first edition of The Companion to British History (Loncross, 1997) will already know that its value as a reference work proceeds from an inclusive attitude towards its subject. Besides providing the rudiments — monarchs, battles etc — the CBH was

Perfectly unreliable

Memoirs? No one writes them any more. If you wish to distinguish yourself from the sweaty masses, you are far better off publishing a diary, or notebook, call it what you will (Frederic Raphael naturally calls it a cahier). To publish one, of course, you need to have written one, ideally some years ago, full

Challenging Zeus

Senior civil servants are generally expected to be shadowy figures, influential rather than powerful, discreet rather than flamboyant, probably — in Gladwyn’s generation at any rate — educated at Winchester. To describe such a being as a Titan might seem an oxymoron. The Titans, it will be remembered, were a family of giants who had