Four months adrift in the Pacific: a couple’s extraordinary feat of endurance

It is every writer’s dream to glimpse, peeping out from behind a news story or feature, the contours of a book. Brian Masters was eating his breakfast on 12 February 1983 when he read in the morning papers reports of the arrest of a mildly spoken Jobcentre employee accused of strangling a number of men with whose flesh he had blocked the drains in his flat in Muswell Hill. Masters wrote to Dennis Nilsen. Nilsen wrote back: ‘Dear Mr Masters, I pass the burden of my life on to your shoulders.’ After Nilsen had filled 50 prison notebooks, Masters embarked on Killing for Company, surely the grisliest yet most poignant

The last battle: The Future, by Naomi Alderman, reviewed

The sirens sound in the street. The lockdown order comes. The images on the television are of chaos and illness, total societal collapse. The apocalypse is here, and where are the rich? Already holed up in their survival compounds, ready to ride out the end of the world before emerging to take control of what’s left of it for themselves. Billionaire preppers and their plans for Bond-villain bunkers have now pervaded the public imagination to the extent that this year we have two novels dealing with the phenomenon. First there was Eleanor Catton’s Birnam Wood, which took inspiration from Peter Thiel’s efforts to build a bunker in New Zealand. Now,

My polar journey puts coronavirus isolation into perspective

I arrived on Novolazarevskaya base on the northern coast of Antarctica in a Russian plane, flown by an ex-USSR air force pilot and his crew. I was here to begin the longest non-mechanised polar journey ever done by man — 5,306 km to the summit of Dome Argus, the highest and coldest point of the Antarctic plateau. The next morning, I headed south towards the Somo Veken glacier with my drop-off team. Over 14 hours we climbed to 9,000 feet and passed between majestic mountains jagged and untouched. Eventually we stopped between two peaks. This was Thor’s Hammer, my start point. After we unloaded the sleds, the cars turned, headed