Book review – History

Study of horses by Théodore Géricault

Man and horse - the end of a special relationship?

17 June 2017 9:00 am

Sam Leith canters through a fascinating, if eccentric, history of man’s long  partnership with the horse

Tom Brown’s School Days, illustrated by Solomon van Abbe

The brutish education system that’s quintessentially British

17 June 2017 9:00 am

I used to worry that I would never be a good writer because my childhood wasn’t interesting enough. I now…

The 80-year-old queen is caricatured in the French satirical magazine Le Rire, greeting her nephew the Kaiser (December 1899)

Queen Victoria — burdened by grief and six-course dinners

27 May 2017 9:00 am

In 2015 a pair of linen drawers belonging to Queen Victoria sold at auction for over £12,000. In old age…

An early modern battle scene depicted in a Mughal miniature looks like a graceful pageant compared to today’s nuclear and cyber warfare

Racing to Armageddon

6 May 2017 9:00 am

An enduring solution to war becomes ever more pressing. But will it always be wishful thinking, as Milos Stankovic suspects?

Saint Helena and the Emperor Heraclius restore the Holy Cross to Jerusalem after its recapture from the Persians. Altarpiece by Miguel Jimenez and Martin Bernat, c.1485

From Tree of Death to Tree of Life: the history of the cross

29 April 2017 9:00 am

Among Christians, the cross is seen as an instrument of execution and an emblem of victory. Christopher Howse explores the paradox

Liberal lefties should relish hating the Daily Mail while they can

15 April 2017 9:00 am

According to Private Eye, executives at the Daily Mail were alarmed by the impending publication of Adrian Addison’s new history…

Making amends to Native Americans may be endangering their history

15 April 2017 9:00 am

A few years ago, a group of Native American leaders drove 12 hours from Oklahoma to Denver Museum of Nature…

As early as 1895, Octave Uzanne foresaw ‘the end of books’ with the invention of the portable audiobook. Illustration from ‘Contes pour les bibliophiles’

Why The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie could not be read aloud

8 April 2017 9:00 am

pkkkfffffffrrrffff-ffff! pkkkfffffffrrrffff-fff! Hobble leg, hobble leg, Hobble leg owhmmm! Into the bottle of fluff, rubbed the stuff under! pkkkfffffffrrrffff-ffff! pkkkfffffffrrrffff-fff!…

Portrait of Talleyrand by Ary Scheffer

What Theresa May could learn from Talleyrand

25 March 2017 9:00 am

Talleyrand was 76 when he took up the post of French ambassador in London in 1830. Linda Kelly deals only…

Paris-born Pearl Witherington led a force of over 1,500 maquisards in the summer of 1944

Six of the best female spies in Nazi-occupied France

11 March 2017 9:00 am

‘Women,’ Captain Selwyn Jepson, SOE’s senior recruiting officer, once wrote, ‘have a far greater capacity for cool and lonely courage…

Portrait of Persia’s Prince Abbas Mirza, c.1820. From his bailiwick near the Russian border he dispatched educational missions to Europe, sponsored translations of key European works and imported metal casting techniques and the printing press. (Getty images)

When Islam was synonymous with knowledge and erudition

11 March 2017 9:00 am

Christopher de Bellaigue, a journalist who has spent much of his working life in the Middle East, has grown tired…

Pomak Muslims still live in Greek and Bulgarian villages. Left: a bride embarks on her two-day winter wedding in Ribnovo, 210 km from Sofia

The long tragedy of Europe's borderland

25 February 2017 9:00 am

The border between Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey has long been a flashpoint. Now, more than ever, says Simon Kuper, it’s a hazardous transit realm for the homeless

Paul Durand-Ruel, who created the market for impressionism, commissioned Renoir’s ‘Dance in the Country’, painted in 1883

Connoisseurs and con artists

25 February 2017 9:00 am

Rogues’ Gallery describes itself as a history of art and its dealers, and Philip Hook, who has worked at the…

Portrait of Persia’s Prince Abbas Mirza c. 1820. From his bailiwick near the Russian border he dispatched educational missions to Europe, sponsored translations of key European works and imported metal casting techniques and the printing press

When Islam was a byword for benign Enlightenment

25 February 2017 9:00 am

Christopher de Bellaigue, a journalist who has spent much of his working life in the Middle East, has grown tired…

Magic lantern slides from the mid-19th century

The importance of being frivolous

18 February 2017 9:00 am

Sam Leith is delighted by the idea that having fun is the key to human progress

The game butcher, with dead rabbits and live, caged ones beneath. (Scene from the 1840s)

How many slaves existed in George V’s Britain?

18 February 2017 9:00 am

Oddly enough, one of the most historically influential pieces of British writing has turned out to be an essay that…

Cosette, by Emile-Antoine Bayard. Illustration for Les Misérables

Victor Hugo speaks volumes for the outcast and the destitute

18 February 2017 9:00 am

Somewhere between his first and second drafts, Victor Hugo decided to change the title of his great novel from Les…

Rod Taylor works his invention in a film version of HG. Wells’s The Time Machine

Cheating death by time travel

11 February 2017 9:00 am

The concept of time travel is surprisingly recent, says Jenny Colgan. Before H.G. Wells, it barely existed

The interior of Hagia Sophia by Gaspare Fossati, 1852

There is no one Istanbul, but a series of competing, clashing, coexisting cities

11 February 2017 9:00 am

I was a young, aspiring writer when I decided to leave everything behind and move to Istanbul more than two…

Why is the world crumbling in anger and terror?

21 January 2017 9:00 am

America’s global hegemony from 1944 onwards has led to a world now riven by hatred and terror, says Jonathan Steinberg

‘The Continuation of the Road from London to Aberystwyth’, from John Ogilby’s Britannia

The first British road atlas — a luxury fit for a king

14 January 2017 9:00 am

Given that he wrote and published some of the most stunningly handsome books of the 17th century, John Ogilby has…

Britain’s black history has been shamefully whitewashed

14 January 2017 9:00 am

I have been researching and writing about black British history for over 30 years but never before have I been…

The cradle of Henri IV, made from a turtle shell edged with silver, is displayed under the royal flags of France and Navarre

Falling standards and flagging spirits

31 December 2016 9:00 am

Did you know that 190 out of 200 nations in the world have either red or blue on their flags?…

Regent’s Park Zoological Gardens in 1835

Depressed monkeys, constipated llamas and suicidal kangaroos: the dark age of London Zoo

10 December 2016 9:00 am

If you’ve ever read a history of the early days of the Foundling Hospital, you’ll remember the shock: expecting to…

‘The Cheesemonger’ by Eric Ravilious.

Round and ripe: the role of cheese in global history

3 December 2016 9:00 am

‘Blessed are the cheesemakers.’ The line from Life of Brian is followed by: ‘It’s not meant to be taken literally.…