Sam Leith

Sam Leith

Sam Leith is literary editor of The Spectator.

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

Katy Balls, Christina Lamb and Sam Leith

20 min listen

This week:  Katy Balls discusses the SNP’s annual conference and asks what will it take to hold the party together if things get much tougher over the next twelve months (01:10), Christina Lamb goes to Ukraine, only to be told that she’s ‘at the wrong war’ as events unfold rapidly in the Middle East (06:55),

New world disorder

38 min listen

On the podcast: In The Spectator’s cover piece Jonathan Spyer writes that as America’s role in international security diminishes history is moving Iran’s way, with political Islam now commanding much of the Middle East. He is joined by Ravi Agrawal, editor in chief of Foreign Policy and host of the FP Live podcast, to discuss whether America is still the world’s

Sandra Newman: Julia

38 min listen

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the novelist Sandra Newman, whose new book Julia retells George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four from Julia’s point of view. We discuss the spaces Orwell’s classic left for her own novelistic imagination, what we do and don’t know about the world of Big Brother, and whether the misogyny in Orwell’s original belongs

Celebrating Watership Down

33 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast, we’re celebrating 50 years of a unique classic – Richard Adams’s Watership Down – and its forthcoming adaptation in graphic novel form. I’m joined by Richard Adams’s two daughters Juliet and Rosamund, who tell me how a story that their dad started telling them to beguile a long car journey became

Caspar Henderson: A Book of Noises

47 min listen

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is Caspar Henderson, whose new book A Book of Noises: Notes on the Auraculous really is a journey into sound. He tells me why the music of the spheres – at least in this solar system – is a terrible racket, what we can learn from whale earwax, and

Mary Beard: Emperor of Rome

48 min listen

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the writer, broadcaster and academic Mary Beard. In her new book, Emperor of Rome, she explores what we can and can’t know about the men who ruled the Roman Empire, and what the lurid stories about so many of them tell us about the anxieties and fantasies

Sarah Ogilvie: The Dictionary People

45 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast I’m talking to Sarah Ogilvie about the extraordinary story of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary, as told in her new The Dictionary People: The Unsung Heroes Who Created the Oxford English Dictionary. She tells me why the OED was different in kind from any previous English dictionary, how

Francesca Peacock: Pure Wit

45 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast, I’m joined by Francesca Peacock to talk about the remarkable life and extraordinary work of Margaret Cavendish, the 17th-century Duchess of Newcastle. Famous in her own day for her bizarre public appearances and nicknamed ‘Mad Madge’, the author of The Blazing World has been marginalised by posterity as an eccentric dilettante.

From The Archives: Masha Gessen

24 min listen

The Book Club podcast returns next week. In the meantime, here’s another from the archives, and one which looks more timely now even than it was when we recorded it in 2017. Here’s perhaps Russia’s most prominent dissident writer, Masha Gessen, talking about their book The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia.

From The Archives: Tom Holland

45 min listen

As Sam is still away, we’ve dug out one our favourite podcasts from the archives. Back in 2019 Sam spoke to the historian Tom Holland, about his book Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind. The book, though as Tom remarks, you might not know it from the cover, is essentially a history of Christianity and

Celia Brayfield: Writing Black Beauty

45 min listen

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the journalist and author Celia Brayfield whose new book Writing Black Beauty: Anna Sewell and the story of animal rights, takes us back to the 19th century. Celia describes how Anna Sewell’s writing of the Black Beauty book ultimately led to the kinder treatment of horses, and we both recall

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen: The Wolf Hunt

37 min listen

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the novelist and psychologist Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, whose gripping new book The Wolf Hunt tells the story of an Israeli-American mother who finds herself wondering whether her teenage son Adam could have been responsible for the death of a classmate. She tells me about using the thriller form as

James Ball: The Other Pandemic

56 min listen

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the investigative and tech writer James Ball, to talk about his new book The Other Pandemic: How QAnon Contaminated the World. In it, James traces the rise and disturbing metastasis of what he calls ‘the conspiracy theory that ate all the other conspiracy theories’, and argues that what