The Spectator

17 March 2018

Putin’s poison

Russia’s lying leader aims to convince the gullible that there is no such thing as truth


‘She and Her’, 2017, by Eric Fischl
The Bob Baker trails the Thunder through six-metre swells

Lead book review

Today’s pirate gold is the Patagonian toothfish

Catching Thunder describes a thrilling sea chase across the Southern Ocean to prevent the illegal poaching of this endangered species

Van Morrison — in another time, another place


In 1968, even supercilious Boston was ankle-deep in LSD

The stately Jamesian city was then home to acid-addled groupies and the acoustic sound of Astral Weeks


Who is monitoring the 200 million videos available daily on YouTube?

Kevin Allocca tells us everything about the website’s upsides — but nothing about political propaganda or the extremist clips that go viral


A nightmare scenario in the city of dreaming spires

Brian Martin’s new novel revolves around the scandals lurking at the heart of a respectable Oxford college

Jigsaw discussion, from Clifford V. Johnson’s The Dialogues


Quantum physics made fun

Clifford V. Johnson adopts the graphic novel approach, while Philip Ball decides which myths need busting


Frankenstein’s monster is more frightening than ever

A vengeful ghoul, stitched together from the body parts of the dead, appears in Baghdad in Ahmed Saadawi’s prize-winning novel

A Roman mosaic showing the crushing of grapes — but we don’t know what the wine tasted like


What did the Romans ever do for us when it comes to viticulture?

We don’t know how their wine tasted, or even which grapes they planted. But Nina Caplan still muses on what their influence might have been


Lucy Mangan has enough comic energy to power the National Grid

In her delightful memoir of childhood reading she admits to a deep distrust of Babar’s obsession with smart suits


Our gallant second world war pigeons have been unjustly ridiculed

Gordon Corera unravels the workings of Operation Columba, the secret pigeon service that could turn around a drop in just 36 hours


The Maigret novels are perfect for the train. Just don’t let their cynicism blight your view of your fellow passengers

Jeff Noon enjoys crime novels from Georges Simenon, Donald E. Westlake, William Boyle and Simone Bucholz

Portrait of Ada, aged 20


Was Ada Lovelace the true founder of Silicon Valley?

She seems to be credited with inventing most things, including the CD and the microchip. Even Alan Turing named one of his basic principles after her