Book review – modern history

Master of the dark art of interrogation: Alexander Scotland in 1945

The British interrogation methods that even Hitler found ‘ingenious’

2 September 2017 9:00 am

Hidden behind Kensington Palace, in one of London’s smartest streets, there is a grand old house which played a leading…

China is becoming hooked on the opium of the people

13 May 2017 9:00 am

One afternoon in August 1978, Geoffrey Howe and Leon Brittan were flying from Beijing to Shanghai. They were on the…

Mark Sykes in Vanity Fair, June 1912

The squiggle on the map that shaped the modern world

19 November 2016 9:00 am

When turbaned warriors from Daesh (or Isis) advanced on Raqqa in Syria two years ago, they whooped wildly about having…

The Treaty of Versailles — which made the second world war inevitable

The Treaty of Versailles made the second world war inevitable

15 October 2016 9:00 am

In 1919 the economist and sometime prophet John Maynard Keynes left the glittering ballroom of Versailles feeling profoundly despondent. The…

Lenin on the train to Petrograd. Drawing by Pyotr Vasilievich Vasiliev

Lenin’s long train ride into history

8 October 2016 9:00 am

Full allowance must be made for the desperate tasks to which the German war leaders were already committed… Nevertheless it…

The business of war — and espionage — is never gentlemanly

20 August 2016 9:00 am

A teenager in the second decade of the Cold War, my father was taught to play snooker by a KGB…

Nazis in the dock: Hans Frank replies to questioning during the Nuremberg Trials

Genocide is named and shamed

21 May 2016 9:00 am

Prosecution for genocide or crimes against humanity is now a given in international law. But before the Nuremberg Trials, these two groundbreaking notions didn’t exist. Daniel Hahn describes their origins and inspiration

Marlene Dietrich, George Orwell and the rebirth of a nation

20 February 2016 9:00 am

The purpose of Lara Feigel’s book is to describe the ‘political mission of reconciliation and restoration’ in the devastated cities…

A local leader of the Mara gang (photo: Getty)

The new mafias that rule the world

30 January 2016 9:00 am

You may not have heard of the Maras. Or Barrio 18. Or the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, or the Zatas,…

Gorbachev and Reagan sign the historic treaty on 8 December 1987 eliminating Soviet and Us intermediate-range and short-range nuclear missiles

The four men who averted the Apocalypse

28 November 2015 9:00 am

Robert Service’s account of the greatest turning point in modern history is unlikely to be bettered, says Sherard Cowper-Coles

Was Operation Thunderbolt the most daring mission in history?

18 July 2015 9:00 am

Operation Thunderbolt was, Saul David contends in this gripping book, ‘the most audacious special forces operation in history’. In June…

Still life in the old slogan: Maurice Saatchi’s famous 1978 poster was adapted three decades later when the unemployment figures were announced in March 2009

Even the people who make political adverts aren’t sure they work

14 February 2015 9:00 am

It is a common prejudice about modern politics that it is all focus groups and spin, all public relations and…

How Putin turned Russian politics into reality TV

14 February 2015 9:00 am

‘We all know there will be no real politics.’ A prominent Russian TV presenter is speaking off the record at…

The opéra bouffe that was the Bretton Woods conference

14 June 2014 8:00 am

There ought to be a comic opera about the Bretton Woods conference — Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face, about Margaret,…

The lone demonstrator who stood down a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square on 5 June 1989 was dubbed ‘Tank Man’ or the ‘Unknown Rebel’. Though the image achieved worldwide fame, neither the man’s name nor his fate has ever come to light

Talking to the ghosts of Tiananmen Square

31 May 2014 9:00 am

Twenty-five years ago, Rowena Xiaoqing He, then a schoolgirl, was participating in the Tiananmen-supporting demonstrations in Canton. Far from the…