The wonders of the Paris Metro

Andrew Martin is in love. Head over heels in love, quite unable to control himself in his appreciation of the object of his affection, which is, believe it or not, an underground railway network. While this may seem an irrational attachment, it becomes easier to understand as his account of the origins, history and, most importantly, design of the system unfolds. ‘What most distinguishes the Metro,’ Martin tells us, ‘is its beauty.’ Its eroticism is, too, ‘expressed in diverse ways’, notably condom machines dotted around the system, advertisements for vibrators and the revelation that Ticket de Metro is ‘the name of the most popular bikini wax among Parisian women’. In

The power behind The Few: Rolls-Royce’s Merlin engine

Eighty years ago this summer Britain was facing its greatest moment of peril as Göring’s Luftwaffe attacked airfields, cities and convoys in a prelude to invasion. Nazi plans for us included all able-bodied men being sent to slave labour camps on the Continent. Thanks to the bravery of the RAF and the brilliance of their flying machines, the Battle of Britain saw Hitler beaten back in the first aerial campaign in history. Graham Hoyland has written a stirring account of how these hand-wrought machines, geared for speed and encased in elegant airframes such as the Supermarine Spitfire’s ‘symphony of ellipses’, delivered us in 1940. He takes the story of the