Sam Leith

Sam Leith

Sam Leith is literary editor of The Spectator.

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

From The Archives: Speeches that shape the world

28 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 Philip Collins, former speech writer to Tony Blair, about his book When They Go Low, We Go High: Speeches That Shape The

Pen Vogler: Stuffed

45 min listen

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the food historian Pen Vogler, author of the new Stuffed: A History of Good Food and Hard Times in Britain. Pen tells me how crises have affected British food culture from the age of enclosures onwards, how rows over free school meals are nothing new, and why the

Andrew Lycett: The Worlds of Sherlock Holmes

38 min listen

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is Arthur Conan Doyle’s biographer (and historical consultant to the new BBC TV programme Killing Sherlock) Andrew Lycett. Introducing his new book The Worlds of Sherlock Holmes: The Inspiration Behind the World’s Greatest Detective, Andrew tells me about the vexed relation between the great consulting detective and his creator, and

Guy Kennaway: Good Scammer

46 min listen

On this week’s Book Club podcast, my guest is Guy Kennaway, whose new novel Good Scammer sprinkles a protective dusting of fiction over the true story of the real-life king of Jamaica’s phone scammers. Guy tells me why telephone fraud might be considered ad-hoc reparations for slavery, why James Bond is a Jamaican, and why the island

Jonathan Jones: Earthly Delights

56 min listen

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the art critic Jonathan Jones. The term ‘renaissance’ is out of fashion among scholars these days, but in his new book Earthly Delights: A History of the Renaissance Jonathan argues that it points to something momentous in human history. On the podcast, Jonathan makes the case for what

Terry Hayes: The Year of the Locust

34 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast my guest is Terry Hayes, author of the squillion-selling thriller I Am Pilgrim. He tells me about invisible submarines, taking advice on crucifixion from Mel Gibson, and why it took him ten years to follow up that first novel with his new book The Year of the Locust.

Keeping the peace: the politics of policing protest

41 min listen

On the podcast: In his cover piece for The Spectator Ian Acheson discusses the potential disruption to Armistice Day proceedings in London this weekend. He says that Metropolitan Police Chief Mark Rowley is right to let the pro-Palestine protests go ahead, if his officers can assertively enforce the law. He joins the podcast alongside Baroness Claire Fox

Jonathan Lethem: Brooklyn Crime Novel

51 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast, I’m joined by the novelist Jonathan Lethem. Two decades after his breakthrough book The Fortress of Solitude crowned Lethem the literary laureate of Brooklyn, he returns to the borough’s never-quite-gentrified streets with the new Brooklyn Crime Novel. He tells me why he felt the need to go back, and talks about race,

Nicholas Shakespeare: The Complete Man

52 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast, my guest is Nicholas Shakespeare, author of Ian Fleming: The Complete Man. He tells me about the astonishing secret life of a writer whose adventures in espionage were more than the equal of his creation’s; and about the damaged childhood and serially broken heart of a man far kinder and

Peter Biskind: Pandora’s Box

40 min listen

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the film writer Peter Biskind. In his new book Pandora’s Box, he tells the story of what’s sometimes called “Peak TV” – and how a change in business model (from network to cable to streaming) unlocked an extraordinary era of artistic innovation, and uncovered an unexpected