Lead book review

Jorge Luis Borges and his ‘bitch’

3 May 2014 9:00 am

Ian Thomson on a miserable mismatch that became the talk of Buenos Aires in the Sixties

No worries: John Updike in his late fifties, on the beach at Swampscott, Mass

Up close and personal

26 April 2014 9:00 am

In recycling his most intimate encounters as fiction – including amazing feats of promiscuity in small-town New England – John Updike drew unashamedly on his own experiences for inspiration, says Philip Hensher

Churchill reading in his library at Chartwell

Churchill was as mad as a badger. We should all be thankful

19 April 2014 9:00 am

The egotistical Churchill may have viewed the second world war as pure theatre, but that was exactly what was needed at the time, says Sam Leith

Our leaders have betrayed the noble worker. Oh really?

12 April 2014 9:00 am

Alan Johnson cannot accept that the best days  of the British working class are over

‘There was no better way’: Ancient Celts or Gauls go into battle against the massed ranks of Rome, and are slaughtered for the good of posterity

War is good for us

5 April 2014 9:00 am

The argument that mankind’s innate violence can only be contained by force of arms may make for a neat paradox, but it fails to convince David Crane

Was Roy Jenkins the greatest prime minister we never had?

29 March 2014 9:00 am

Roy Jenkins may have been snobbish and self-indulgent, but he was also a visionary and man of principle who would have made a good prime minister, says Philip Ziegler

Management consultancy! Sculpture park! Sports stadium! The many faces of the Delphic Oracle

22 March 2014 9:00 am

Sam Leith finds the most sacred site of Ancient Greece still a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

A dreadful warning: a fisherman paddles through a tide of toxic waste on the Yamuna river, against a backdrop of smog and high-rise construction

Lawlessness, corruption, poverty and pollution: the city where we're all headed

15 March 2014 9:00 am

India’s vast polluted capital, where brutality, corruption and ruthless self-seeking are endemic, could be the blueprint of the future, says Peter Parker

Kim Philby at the press conference he called in 1955 to deny being the ‘Third Man’

Kim Philby got away with it because he was posh

8 March 2014 9:00 am

Kim Philby’s treachery escaped detection for so long through the stupidity and snobbery of the old-boy network surrounding him, says Philip Hensher

Secrets of Candleford: the real Flora Thompson

1 March 2014 9:00 am

Melanie McDonagh on Flora Thompson, whose revealing account of rural Oxfordshire life at the turn of the 19th century became a literary classic

The Artist Formerly Known As Whistler

22 February 2014 9:00 am

Sam Leith on the exasperating, charismatic painter who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee

Faisal’s dark, liquid eyes and distinguished bearing caused a sensation at the Paris Peace Conference

The enlightened king of Iraq

15 February 2014 9:00 am

Alan Rush admires the humane, enlightened Faisal I, who fought with T.E. Lawrence and devoted his life to Arab rights, independence and unity

America Plains

Has land ownership changed our lives for better or for worse?

8 February 2014 9:00 am

The highly profitable — and intrinsically selfish — system of land ownership that replaced medieval feudal tenure had profound moral consequences that continue to this day, says John Adamson

The great Ascension Day pageant of the Doge performing the marriage of the sea — already a tourist attraction in 17th-century Venice.

What Englishmen learnt from Europe

1 February 2014 9:00 am

A tour of the Continent was a prerequisite for young Jacobean noblemen training for statesmanship — provided they resisted its corrupting influence, says Blair Worden

Reviewing reviews of reviews — where will it all end? 

25 January 2014 9:00 am

Sam Leith reviews the reviews of David Lodge — and wonders where it will all end

My family's better days

18 January 2014 9:00 am

Simon Blow recalls the wealth, recklessness and beauty of his family’s better days

'She's the most important Jewish writer since Kafka!'

11 January 2014 9:00 am

Ian Thomson on the turbulent life of Clarice Lispector

How we lost the seasons

4 January 2014 9:00 am

... for tomorrow traditional seasonal rituals may just be ghostly memories of a vanished world, says Melanie McDonagh

How honest was Bernard Berenson?

14 December 2013 9:00 am

Sam Leith suspects that even such a distinguished connoisseur as Bernard Berenson did not always play a straight bat

If only Craig Raine subjected his own work to the same critical scrutiny he applies to others' 

7 December 2013 9:00 am

Debunking reputations is now out of fashion, says Philip Hensher, and Craig Raine should give it up — especially as he always misses the point

In the steppes of a warlord

30 November 2013 9:00 am

Joanna Kavenna is impressed by one man’s 6,000-mile ride through some of the loneliest regions on earth

Spectator writers' Christmas book choices

23 November 2013 9:00 am

More recommended reading from some of our regular reviewers

Spectator writers pick their books of the year

16 November 2013 9:00 am

Recommended reading from some of our regular reviewers

Why do we pounce on Wagner's anti-Semitism, and ignore that of the Russian composers?

9 November 2013 9:00 am

Philip Hensher on how an impassioned, chaotic group of amateur 19th-century composers created the first distinctively Russian music

How we beat Napoleon

2 November 2013 9:00 am

We are accustomed to the thrill and glamour of the grands tableaux, but a nuts-and-bolts study of Napoleonic warfare makes for equally gripping reading, says David Crane