Tim Butcher

Flight into danger: Freight Dogs, by Giles Foden, reviewed

Flying has always attracted chancers and characters to Africa. Wilbur Smith’s father so loved aviation he named his son to honour the Wright Brothers. ‘I am forever grateful he didn’t go for Orville,’ the Zambian-born author once confided. Smith father and son may well have approved of Giles Foden’s romping novel, which has African bush

The problem of the Benin Bronzes will never go away

A book about the looted African art known as the Benin Bronzes begins by clarifying that most of them are not actually bronze, and none of them comes from the country of Benin. Yet as this gripping work of live history makes clear, such name ambiguity feels entirely appropriate for art so sophisticated in creation

How shellfish is that?

Hermanus You can forget car-jacking, mugging and necklacing. In South Africa the worst crime problem centres on an oddly shaped bottom-dweller. Known locally as perlemoen but elsewhere as abalone, the seawater shellfish has sparked a poaching and smuggling racket that is outgrowing all other crime in a country widely held to be the world’s most

This is no cakewalk; this is war

Umm Qasr The shriek of artillery shells has died away from Umm Qasr, the first city in Iraq to be taken by allied troops, but another whining sound can already be heard here. It is the sound of the doubters and sceptics at home, wringing their hands on short-wave radio programmes and satellite television broadcasts