Books

The war that changed the world in the early seventh century

18 September 2021 9:00 am

It was not a war to end all wars, writes James Howard-Johnston at the start of this illuminating and thought-provoking…

Only Iain Sinclair could glimpse Hackney in the wilds of Peru

18 September 2021 9:00 am

It seemed like a preposterous proposition. For decades, Iain Sinclair has been an assiduous psychogeographer of London, an eldritch cartographer…

How China’s economic revolution created billionaires overnight

18 September 2021 9:00 am

In the winter of 1992, the retired octogenarian Deng Xiaoping toured China’s southern coasts. From there he gave a spirited…

No Samuel Beckett play is set in stone

18 September 2021 9:00 am

It must have been shortly after my first performance of Not I in London in 2005 when Matthew Evans, the…

The secret life of Thomas Mann: The Magician, by Colm Tóibín, reviewed

18 September 2021 9:00 am

In a letter to Stephen Spender, W.H. Auden, who had married Thomas Mann’s daughter Erika sight unseen in order to…

Is there intelligent life on other planets?: Bewilderment, by Richard Powers, reviewed

18 September 2021 9:00 am

We open with Theo, our narrator, and Robin, his son, looking at the night sky through a telescope. ‘Darkness this…

Try forest bathing – by day and night – to ward off depression

18 September 2021 9:00 am

Anyone who spends time among trees senses how good that is for their physical and mental wellbeing, says Ursula Buchan

Louis-Ferdinand Céline was lucky to escape retribution in 1945

11 September 2021 9:00 am

They rather like bad boys, the French. Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894-1961) is one, in a tradition that stretches from François Villon…

James Bond and the Beatles herald a new Britain

11 September 2021 9:00 am

The word ‘magisterial’ consistently attaches itself to the work of David Kynaston. His eye-wateringly exhaustive four-volume history of the Old…

All great fun: Mary Churchill dances through the war

11 September 2021 9:00 am

The famous photographic portrait by Karsh of Winston Churchill as wartime prime minster personifies heroic defiance and grim determination. His…

Chips Channon’s judgment was abysmal, but the diaries are a great work of literature

11 September 2021 9:00 am

It is often said that the best political diaries are written by those who dwell in the foothills of power.…

Irish quartet: Beautiful World, Where Are You?, by Sally Rooney, reviewed

11 September 2021 9:00 am

The millennial generation of Irish novelists lays great store by loving relationships. One of the encomia on the cover of…

Ahmad Shah Massoud was Afghanistan’s best hope

11 September 2021 9:00 am

Ahmed Shah Massoud was described as ‘the Afghan who won the Cold War’. While famous in France (he was educated…

America sees red: how fury prompted the slide into Trumpism

11 September 2021 9:00 am

After leaving college more than two decades ago, Evan Osnos landed a job on the Exponent Telegram, one of two…

Lost to addiction: Loved and Missed, by Susie Boyt, reviewed

11 September 2021 9:00 am

Ruth, the narrator of Susie Boyt’s seventh novel, is both the child of a single mother and a single mother…

Barça’s golden age and its ruling triumvirate

11 September 2021 9:00 am

Even against our better judgment we tend to imbue our sporting heroes with characteristics they may not possess. This can…

A mighty river with many names: adventures on the Amur

11 September 2021 9:00 am

The Amur is the eighth or tenth longest river in the world, depending on whom you believe. The veteran travel…

The view from the Paris bus — an appreciation of everyday life

11 September 2021 9:00 am

Many would say the commute was one thing they didn’t miss in lockdown. But when Lauren Elkin was ‘yanked out…

A race against time: A Calling for Charlie Barnes, by Joshua Ferris, reviewed

11 September 2021 9:00 am

What is life if not a quest to find one’s calling while massaging the narrative along the way? This question…

Most people who call themselves Caucasian know nothing about the Caucasus

11 September 2021 9:00 am

A magnificent new history of the Caucasus earns Peter Frankopan’s highest praise

A story of women and weaving – a new retelling of the Greek myths

4 September 2021 9:00 am

What are myths for? Do they lend meaning and value to this quintessence of dust? Like religion, perhaps they help…

The elusive adventures of Catherine Dior

4 September 2021 9:00 am

When Catherine Dior, one of the heroic French Resistance workers captured by the Nazis, came face to face with her…

A dutiful exercise carried out in a rush

4 September 2021 9:00 am

The final volume of Peter Ackroyd’s History of England feels like a dutiful exercise carried out in a hurry, says Philip Hensher

The year of living decisively: The Turning Point, by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, reviewed

4 September 2021 9:00 am

We tend to think of turning points as single moments of change — Saul on the road to Damascus or…

The boys who never grow up: Sad Little Men, by Richard Beard, reviewed

4 September 2021 9:00 am

I can’t recall reading an angrier book than this. Richard Beard has written what I hope for his sake is…