Podcast

The Book Club

Literary interviews and discussions on the latest releases in the world of publishing, from poetry through to physics. Presented by Sam Leith.

Literary interviews and discussions on the latest releases in the world of publishing, from poetry through to physics. Presented by Sam Leith.

The Book Club

Caitlin Moran: What about men?

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is Caitlin Moran. Having written one of the bestselling works of popular feminism of the last 20 years – How To Be A Woman – she has turned her attention to the other half of the population with her new book What About Men? I asked Caitlin why she felt she

Play 52 mins

The Book Club

Tom Whipple: The Battle of the Beams

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is Tom Whipple, science editor of the Times and author of the gripping new book The Battle of the Beams: The secret science of radar that turned the tide of the Second World War. He describes the ingenious technological, psychological and espionage battles that made electromagnetic warfare a decisive –

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The Book Club

Laura Cumming: Thunderclap

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the art critic Laura Cumming. Her new book Thunderclap: A Memoir of Art and Life and Sudden Death talks about her fascination for the paintings of the Dutch 17th-century Golden Age, and in particular the entrancing work of the enigmatic Carel Fabritius. She tells me how her preoccupation

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The Book Club

Andrew Pontzen: The Universe In A Box

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the cosmologist Andrew Pontzen. His The Universe In A Box: A New Cosmic History describes how we have learned to simulate first the weather, and then the universe itself – and how we discovered that those simulations don’t just mimic reality but allow us to learn new things

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The Book Club

James Comey: Central Park West

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the former FBI director James Comey, who is making his debut as a thriller writer with an engrossing police procedural, Central Park West. Jim tells me how he mined his own early career as a prosecutor in the southern district of New York to produce this world

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The Book Club

Peter Turchin: End Times

In this week’s Book Club podcast I talk to Peter Turchin about his new book End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites and the Path of Political Disintegration. He proposes a scientific theory of history, mapping the underlying forces that have led to the collapse of states from the ancient world to the present day, and warns of very turbulent

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The Book Club

Laura Freeman: Ways of Life

In this week’s Book Club podcast, I’m joined by the writer and critic Laura Freeman to talk about her book Ways of Life: Jim Ede and the Kettle’s Yard Artists. Laura’s book is the portrait of one of those figures who, without ever quite taking the spotlight themselves, was nevertheless hugely influential in kindling the love

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The Book Club

In memory of Martin Amis

In this week’s Book Club podcast, we celebrate the life and weigh the literary reputation of Martin Amis, who died at the end of last week. I’m joined by the critic Alex Clark, the novelist John Niven, and our chief reviewer Philip Hensher – all of whom bring decades of close engagement with Amis’s work

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The Book Club

Anthony Ossa-Richardson & Richard J Oosterhoff: The Cosmography and Geography of Africa

In this week’s Book Club podcast, we’re talking about a very new version of a very old book. Leo Africanus’s The Cosmography and Geography of Africa was the first book to introduce Africa to the people of Western Europe. Part Baedeker, part-natural history, part-memoir, part-history book, it dominated the Western understanding of that continent for hundreds of

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The Book Club

Madeleine Bunting: The Seaside

In this week’s Book Club podcast my guest is the writer Madeleine Bunting, whose new book is The Seaside: England’s Love Affair. She tells me how the great seaside resorts came into their 19th century pomp, how abrupt was their mid-century decline, and of the terrible desolation that has succeeded the idyll of donkey rides, ices and

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The Book Club

Shehan Karunatilaka: The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is Shehan Karunatilaka, author of last year’s Booker Prize winner The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. Shehan tells me about writing a novel whose protagonist is dead on page one, about putting the chaos of Sri Lanka’s long civil war on the page, and about the importance of

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The Book Club

Michio Kaku: Quantum Supremacy

In this week’s Book Club podcast my guest is the theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. In his new book Quantum Supremacy, Prof Kaku explains how – as he sees it – the advent of quantum computers is going to turn the world as we know it on its head. He explains the extraordinary possibilities and perils of the

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The Book Club

Luke Jennings: #PANIC

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is Luke Jennings, the veteran reporter and novelist whose Codename Villanelle trilogy gave rise to the hit TV series Killing Eve. As his new thriller #PANIC is published he tells me how he found its inspiration after being drawn into the online fandom for Killing Eve, where he clashed with Phoebe Waller-Bridge… and

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The Book Club

Frieda Hughes: A Magpie Memoir

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the poet and artist Frieda Hughes, whose new book George: A Magpie Memoir tells the story of what caring for a foundling baby magpie taught her about life. She tells me about chaos, head-bouncing, magpie-poop, and how she managed to write about corvids without imagining her father Ted

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The Book Club

Katja Hoyer: Beyond The Wall

In this week’s Book Club podcast, my guest is the historian Katja Hoyer, whose new book Beyond The Wall: East Germany 1949-1990 tells the story of four decades which are vital to understanding modern Germany, but which tend to be quietly relegated to a footnote in history. Born in the GDR herself, Katja tells me how much

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The Book Club

Henry Dimbleby & Jemima Lewis: Ravenous

On this week’s Book Club podcast my guests are the former government food tsar Henry Dimbleby and his wife and co-author Jemima Lewis, to talk about their new book Ravenous: How To Get Ourselves and Our Planet Into Shape. They tell me about the perils and pleasures of working with your spouse, why exercise doesn’t make

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The Book Club

Victoria Smith: Hags

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the writer Victoria Smith, whose new book Hags: The Demonisation of Middle-Aged Women explains why one of the oldest forms of misogyny is seeing a vicious resurgence in our own age. She says some of the worst of it now comes from young women. She tells me why

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The Book Club

Ian Buruma: Collaborators

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the writer and editor Ian Buruma, to talk about his new book Collaborators: Three Stories of Deception and Survival in World War Two. A Chinese princess who climbed into bed with Japanese nationalist gangsters; an observant Jew who sold his co-religionists to the Nazis; and Himmler’s

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The Book Club

Sara Wheeler: Glowing Still

On this week’s Book Club podcast, my guest is Sara Wheeler, who looks back on her travelling life in Glowing Still: A Woman’s Life on the Road. She tells me why it’s ‘a book about tits and toilets’, as well as a meditation on the past and future of travel writing and a lament for the books

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The Book Club

Carlo Rovelli: Anaximander

On this week’s Book Club, I’m joined by the theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli to talk about his new book Anaximander and the Nature of Science, in which he explains how a radical thinker two and a half centuries ago was the first human to intuit that the earth is floating in space. He tells me how

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The Book Club

Robert Douglas-Fairhurst: Metamorphosis

My guest on this week’s Book Club is Robert Douglas-Fairhurst. In his new book Metamorphosis: A Life in Pieces, Robert describes how being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis plunged him from his comfortable life as an English literature professor at Oxford into a frightening and disorienting new world; and how literature itself helped him learn to navigate

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The Book Club

Richard Bradford: Tough Guy

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the scholar and biographer Richard Bradford, whose new book Tough Guy: The Life of Norman Mailer looks at the rackety life and uneven oeuvre of one of the big beasts of 20th-century American letters. Mailer, as Richard argues, thought his self-identified genius as a writer licensed any amount

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The Book Club

Robert Kaplan: The Tragic Mind

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the American writer, reporter and foreign policy expert Robert Kaplan, whose new book The Tragic Mind: Fear, Fate and the Burden of Power argues that it’s in Greek tragedy that we can find the most important lessons in how to navigate the 21st century. He tells me how

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The Book Club

Tania Branigan: Red Memory

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the reporter Tania Branigan, whose experience as a correspondent in China led her to believe that the trauma of the Cultural Revolution was the story behind the story that made sense of modern China. In her new book Red Memory: Remembering and Forgetting China’s Cultural Revolution, she

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The Book Club

Thomas Halliday: Otherlands

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the palaeobiologist Thomas Halliday, whose book Otherlands: A World In The Making takes us on an extraordinary journey through the whole history of life on earth. Thomas tells me why tyrannosaurus rex didn’t eat diplodocus, why if you had to live in a swamp the carboniferous might be

Play 54 mins

The Book Club

Ashley Ward: Sensational

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is Ashley Ward, author of Sensational: A New Story of our Senses, which takes us on a cultural, historical and neurobiological tour of the sensorium. Along the way he tells me why Aristotle’s notion of five senses is a convenient but cockeyed idea, why men are best letting

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The Book Club

A. E. Stallings: This Afterlife

In this week’s Book Club podcast, my guest is the distinguished poet A. E. Stallings, whose new selected poems This Afterlife marks her first UK publication in book form. She tells me why the idea that formal verse is stuffy is wrong, how she thinks Greek myth is a living tradition, and why women poets have to

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The Book Club

Paul Pettitt: Homo Sapiens Rediscovered

In this week’s Book Club podcast my guest is the palaeoarchaeologist Paul Pettitt – whose new book Homo Sapiens Rediscovered explains how new scientific techniques have transformed the way we understand the deep past. He described to me the long and hazardous journey of H. Sap out of Africa – and along the way explains what’s so

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The Book Club

Matthew Hollis: The Waste Land

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is Matthew Hollis, author of The Waste Land: A Biography of a Poem. In the tail end of this centenary year of the great monument of modernist poetry, Matthew tells me about the private agonies that went into the making of the poem. We discuss how not just

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The Book Club

Rupert Shortt: The Hardest Problem

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is Rupert Shortt, whose stimulating new book The Hardest Problem addresses one of the oldest difficulties in theology: “the problem of evil”. Is this something the religious and the secular can even talk meaningfully about? What’s the great challenge Dostoevsky throws up? And what did Augustine get right that

Play 52 mins