Books

First love: The Inseparables, by Simone de Beauvoir, reviewed

28 August 2021 9:00 am

‘Newly discovered novel’ can be a discouraging phrase. Sure, some writers leave works of extraordinary calibre lurking among their effects…

The men of blood get their comeuppance in Revolutionary France

28 August 2021 9:00 am

Colin Jones’s hour-by-hour reconstruction of the fall of Maximilien Robespierre, the French revolutionary most associated with the Terror, is inspired…

The cosmopolitan spirit of the Middle East vanished with the Ottomans

28 August 2021 9:00 am

One of the most depressing vignettes in Michael Vatikiotis’s agreeably meandering account of his cosmopolitan family’s experiences in the Near…

The great disrupter: how William of Occam overturned medieval thought

28 August 2021 9:00 am

Astonishing where an idea can lead you. You start with something that 800 years hence will sound like it’s being…

Interpreting for a dictator: Intimacies, by Katie Kitamura, reviewed

21 August 2021 9:00 am

If this is a cautious and circumspect novel, it’s because it involves a cautious and circumspect job: that of interpreter.…

Should the Duke of Windsor have been tried for treason?

21 August 2021 9:00 am

In Traitor King, Andrew Lownie shows how the Duke of Windsor — the former Edward VIII, who abdicated in 1936…

Bad sports, from the ancient Greeks to the present

21 August 2021 9:00 am

Sports history, writes Wray Vamplew, is sometimes ‘sentimental, reactionary and built on the implicit assumption that the sporting past was…

Why did the Allies dismiss the idea of a German resistance movement?

21 August 2021 9:00 am

In 1928, a modest young lecturer from Wilwaukee, Mildred Harnack, née Fish, arrived in Berlin to begin her PhD in…

Fascist, anti-Semite and dupe: the dark side of G.K. Chesterton

21 August 2021 9:00 am

The Sins of G.K. Chesterton demands our attention because, as Richard Ingrams notes in his introduction, the literature on this…

Are the English exceptionally gullible?

21 August 2021 9:00 am

The word ‘hoax’ did not catch on till the early 19th century. Before that one spoke of a hum, a…

The history of transplants had many false starts

21 August 2021 9:00 am

On watching transplant surgery, I can give prosaic but essential advice: have a good breakfast. Each operation can last 12…

Margaret Thatcher vs everyone else: the making of the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement

21 August 2021 9:00 am

Diplomatic negotiations are rarely fully described by their participants in books, for two reasons. They are usually secret until much…

Glasgow gangsters: 1979, by Val McDermid, reviewed

21 August 2021 9:00 am

Like a basking shark, Val McDermid once remarked, a crime series needs to keep moving or die. The same could…

W.G. Sebald’s borrowed truths and barefaced lies

21 August 2021 9:00 am

Why did W.G. Sebald risk his reputation by telling such strange, repeated lies, wonders Lucasta Miller

Hooray for Hollywood

14 August 2021 9:00 am

Real cities have something else, some individual bony structure under the muck. Los Angeles has Hollywood – and hates it.…

The poet with many lives

14 August 2021 9:00 am

This is an ingenious and infuriating book about an ingenious and infuriating writer. I first encountered Fernando Pessoa in the…

Keeping yourself angry, the Hare way: We Travelled, by David Hare, reviewed

14 August 2021 9:00 am

A character in David Hare’s Skylight claims she has at last found contentment by no longer opening newspapers or watching…

Oliver Cromwell: ruthless in battle – but nice to his men

14 August 2021 9:00 am

One of the first retrospective accounts of Oliver Cromwell’s early career, Andrew Marvell’s ‘An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from…

How we did the locomotion: A Brief History of Motion, by Tom Standage, reviewed

14 August 2021 9:00 am

Audi will make no more fuel engines after 2035. So that’s the end of the Age of Combustion, signalled by…

The roots of conflict: The Island of Missing Trees, by Elif Shafak, reviewed

14 August 2021 9:00 am

The Island of Missing Trees feels like a strange title until you realise how hard Elif Shafak makes trees work…

David Keenan, literary disruptor in chief

14 August 2021 9:00 am

Near to the heart of this wild and labyrinthine novel — on page 516 of 808 — a character in…

Churchill as villain – but is this a character assassination too far?

14 August 2021 9:00 am

Revisionist biographies of Churchill are nothing new but this one lays the hostility and contempt on with a trowel, says Andrew Roberts

Nazis and Nordics: the latest crime fiction reviewed

14 August 2021 9:00 am

Social historians of the future may look back at the reading habits of this era and conclude that we were…

Borges: the man and the brand

14 August 2021 9:00 am

‘The story that Jay Parini recounts in Borges and Me is untrue,’ a recent letter in the TLS claimed, ‘and…

More than one bad apple: the sorry demise of English cider

14 August 2021 9:00 am

Can you imagine if, in the 20th century, wine producers in France had switched from a product made (almost) entirely…