Sam Leith

Sam Leith

Sam Leith is literary editor of The Spectator.

Immigration and a government in a state of post-hypnotic suggestion

Hurrah! The government, it was reported yesterday, is working on getting some more migrants. To plug a million-strong post-Brexit labour shortage in the hospitality sector, Suella Braverman and Robert Jenrick have been instructed by Downing Street to start talks to open the doors to young French, German, Spanish and Swiss nationals. If it goes well, the plan

Ferdinand Mount: Big Caesars and Little Caesars

40 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast I’m joined by Ferdinand Mount who in his long career has been literary and political editor of this very magazine, as well as editor of the TLS and head of Margaret Thatcher’s Number Ten policy unit. We discuss his new book Big Caesars and Little Caesars: How They Rise and

YouTube and the final state of total Kippleization 

When I look back over my life, a decade or two from now, when I finally succumb to the strontium smog, I’ll at least be able to pinpoint the moment when I first knew human civilisation was doomed. Ah yes, I’ll think, as I hear scavengers scuttling towards my body across the trashscape, grunting and hooting for meat: that was the moment. That Friday evening,

Caitlin Moran: What about men?

52 min listen

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is Caitlin Moran. Having written one of the bestselling works of popular feminism of the last 20 years – How To Be A Woman – she has turned her attention to the other half of the population with her new book What About Men? I asked Caitlin why she felt she

Trans activists don’t help themselves

I’ve tried to stay out of the trans-rights conversation, honestly I have. There are a number of reasons for this, and not all of them are laziness and cowardice. The main thing is that – though it bears on some important points of principle – it directly affects a relatively tiny proportion of the population

Tom Whipple: The Battle of the Beams

46 min listen

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is Tom Whipple, science editor of the Times and author of the gripping new book The Battle of the Beams: The secret science of radar that turned the tide of the Second World War. He describes the ingenious technological, psychological and espionage battles that made electromagnetic warfare a decisive –

The unedifying Yilin Wang vs British Museum row 

If you visited the British Museum’s new exhibition China’s Hidden Century a fortnight ago, you’d have seen a substantial section on the revolutionary woman poet Qiu Jin, with substantial extracts from her poems in Chinese and English displayed in a giant projection. What you might not have noticed was that the translator was not credited anywhere in the physical

Laura Cumming: Thunderclap

50 min listen

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the art critic Laura Cumming. Her new book Thunderclap: A Memoir of Art and Life and Sudden Death talks about her fascination for the paintings of the Dutch 17th-century Golden Age, and in particular the entrancing work of the enigmatic Carel Fabritius. She tells me how her preoccupation

Andrew Pontzen: The Universe In A Box

53 min listen

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the cosmologist Andrew Pontzen. His The Universe In A Box: A New Cosmic History describes how we have learned to simulate first the weather, and then the universe itself – and how we discovered that those simulations don’t just mimic reality but allow us to learn new things

The idiotic campaign against Elizabeth Gilbert

At the end of the 1920s, Erich Maria Remarque’s novel Im Westen nichts Neues appeared in English as All Quiet On The Western Front. For its readership in this country a devastating, grinding war against an enemy they had been encouraged to think of as bestial and inhuman huns was in recent memory. Here was

James Comey: Central Park West

32 min listen

My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is the former FBI director James Comey, who is making his debut as a thriller writer with an engrossing police procedural, Central Park West. Jim tells me how he mined his own early career as a prosecutor in the southern district of New York to produce this world

Is Boris Johnson a great man of history?

Boris Johnson has always been an enthusiastic proponent of the long unfashionable ‘great man’ theory of history. As he argued in his short biography of Winston Churchill, Churchill was a living refutation of the notion that great men and women are just ‘meretricious bubbles on the vast tides of social history’, a ‘withering retort to

Harry’s crusade: the Prince vs the press

31 min listen

This week:  Prince Harry has taken the stand to give evidence in the Mirror Group phone hacking trial which The Spectator’s deputy editor Freddy Gray talks about in his cover piece for the magazine. He is joined by Patrick Jephson, former private secretary to Princess Diana, to discuss whether Harry’s ‘suicide mission’ against the press is ill-advised.

Peter Turchin: End Times

48 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast I talk to Peter Turchin about his new book End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites and the Path of Political Disintegration. He proposes a scientific theory of history, mapping the underlying forces that have led to the collapse of states from the ancient world to the present day, and warns of very turbulent

The Schofield story is not a matter of national concern

I’d kind of hoped, until recently, that Phillip Schofield would not trouble my consciousness in any big way again. I had vague memories of his grinning, chipmunk-like face getting up to antics with Gordon the Gopher in the 1990s. I noticed when he was in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, because that was all over the

Laura Freeman: Ways of Life

39 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast, I’m joined by the writer and critic Laura Freeman to talk about her book Ways of Life: Jim Ede and the Kettle’s Yard Artists. Laura’s book is the portrait of one of those figures who, without ever quite taking the spotlight themselves, was nevertheless hugely influential in kindling the love

In memory of Martin Amis

37 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast, we celebrate the life and weigh the literary reputation of Martin Amis, who died at the end of last week. I’m joined by the critic Alex Clark, the novelist John Niven, and our chief reviewer Philip Hensher – all of whom bring decades of close engagement with Amis’s work

The price others pay for our next-day deliveries

When I was not more than nine or ten years old, I sent off in the post for a free poster that I’d seen advertised in a comic. It depicted Superman, whom I held in high regard, scragging a distinctly second-tier villain called Nick O’Teen; the relic of some lame early-eighties anti-smoking campaign. For reasons I can’t now fathom, I burned to have this on my bedroom wall. I remember it now

Martin Amis: 1949-2023

Over the next few days, people will be reaching for certain set phrases about Martin Amis. That he was ‘era-defining’ (though he defined more than one era); that he was ‘genre-defying’ (he defied more than one genre); that he was an ‘enfant terrible’ (it will be wryly noted that he remained an enfant terrible, somehow, into