Sam Leith

Sam Leith

Sam Leith is literary editor of The Spectator.

The dangers of political prosecution

31 min listen

This week: the usual targets First: Trump is on trial again – and America is bored rather than scandalised. This is his 91st criminal charge and his supporters see this as politicised prosecution. As an American, Kate Andrews has seen how the law can be used as a political weapon – so why, she asks,

Percival Everett: James

23 min listen

On this week’s Book Club podcast I’m joined by Percival Everett, who has followed up his Booker-shortlisted The Trees with James, a novel that reimagines the story of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the point of view of the fugitive slave Jim. Percival tells me what he learned from Mark Twain, how being funny doesn’t make him a comic

Dorian Lynskey: Everything Must Go

40 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast my guest is Dorian Lynskey. In his new book Everything Must Go, Dorian looks at the way humans have imagined the end of the world from the Book of Revelations to the present day. He tells me how old fears find new forms, why Dr Strangelove divides critics, and why

Annie Jacobsen: Nuclear War

45 min listen

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the investigative reporter Annie Jacobsen, whose hair-raising new book Nuclear War: A Scenario imagines – minute by minute – what would unfold if the nuclear balloon went up. But rather than a work of fantasy, this is based on meticulously sourced reporting about the effects of nuclear weapons

Viet Thanh Nguyen: A Man of Two Faces

43 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast my guest is the Pulitzer prize winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen, whose new book is the memoir A Man of Two Faces. He tells me about the value of trauma to literature, learning about his history through Hollywood, falling asleep in class… and the rotten manners of Oliver Stone.    

Joel Morris: Be Funny Or Die

50 min listen

My guest in this week’s Book Club is Joel Morris, an award-winning comedy writer whose credits run from co-creating Philomena Cunk to writing gags for Viz and punching up the script for Paddington 2. In his new book Be Funny Or Die, he sets out to analyse how and why comedy works. He tells me why there are only

Lauren Oyler: No Judgement

40 min listen

This week’s Book Club podcast sees me speaking to the critic and novelist Lauren Oyler about her first collection of essays, No Judgment: On Being Critical. Lauren and I talked about the freedoms and affordances of the essay form; about how making and criticising art has been changed – and hasn’t – by the advent of

Peter Pomerantsev: How To Win An Information War

44 min listen

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is Peter Pomerantsev. Peter’s new book How To Win An Information War: The Propagandist Who Outwitted Hitler tells the story of Sefton Delmer, the great genius of twentieth-century propaganda. Peter tells me about Delmer’s remarkable life, compromised ethics, and the lessons he still has to offer us.  

Colum McCann: American Mother

35 min listen

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the award-winning novelist Colum McCann, whose new book takes him out of the territory of fiction and into something slightly different. American Mother is written in collaboration with Diane Foley, mother of Jim Foley, the journalist killed by ISIS in Syria in 2014. He tells me how he

Tom Chatfield: Wise Animals

47 min listen

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is Tom Chatfield, whose new book is Wise Animals: How Technology Has Made Us What We Are. He tells me what we get wrong about technology, what Douglas Adams got right, and why we can’t rely on Elon Musk and people like him to save the world.  

Chris Bryant: A True Story of Prejudice and Murder

33 min listen

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is Chris Bryant, who tells me about his new book James and John: A True Story of Prejudice and Murder. In it, he seeks to tell what can be known of the lives, world and fatal luck of the last two men executed for homosexuality in Britain. 

Paula Byrne: Hardy Women

43 min listen

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is Paula Byrne. In her new book Hardy Women: Mothers, Sisters, Wives, Muses, she investigates the women in the life and work of the great poet and novelist Thomas Hardy. She talks to me about Hardy’s romantic life, the torture he inflicted on the women he fell for,

Sathnam Sanghera: Empireworld

44 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast my guest is Sathnam Sanghera, author of the new book Empireworld about the effect of British imperialism around the globe. He tells me why he’s trying to get beyond the ‘balance-sheet’ view of imperial history, why we should all read W E B Dubois, and why he’s not good at going

Adam Phillips: On Giving Up

37 min listen

On this week’s Book Club my guest is the writer and psychoanalyst Adam Phillips, whose new book is On Giving Up. He tells me how literature relates to psychoanalysis, why censorship makes life possible, and what Freud got wrong. 

Rebecca Boyle: Our Moon

35 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast, I’m joined by Rebecca Boyle to talk about her new book Our Moon: A Human History. She tells me how we know that the moon is more than just an inert lump of rock in the sky and how the whole of human life  – and civilisation – may depend

From The Archives: Hadley Freeman

34 min listen

The Book Club will return next week! In the meantime we are revisiting Sam’s conversation from 2020 with Hadley Freeman whose book House of Glass tells the story of 20th century jewry through the hidden history of her own family. The four Glahs siblings — one of them the writer’s grandmother — grew up in a Polish shtetl just

Putin’s ‘peace’ is a partitioned Ukraine

52 min listen

On the podcast: In his new year’s address this year Vladimir Putin made no mention of the war in Ukraine – despite missile strikes over the Christmas period – and now Owen Matthews reports in The Spectator this week rumours that Putin could be looking to broker a land-for-peace deal. Unfortunately – Owen says – this deal

From The Archives: Anne Applebaum

25 min listen

The Book Club is taking a brief Christmas break, so we have gone back through the archives to spotlight some of our favourite episodes. This week we are revisiting Sam’s conversation from 2017 with the Pulitzer Prize winning historian (and former Spectator deputy editor) Anne Applebaum about her devastating new book Red Famine. The early 1930s in Ukraine

From The Archives: Robert Webb

26 min listen

The Book Club is taking a brief Christmas break, so we have gone back through the archives to spotlight some of our favourite episodes. This week we are revisiting Sam’s conversation from 2017 with Robert Webb. His moving and funny book How Not To Be A Boy turns the material of a memoir into a heartfelt polemic about