David Crane

Is there no field in which the Jewish mindset doesn’t excel?

26 October 2019 9:00 am

More than 20 years ago, George Steiner, meditating on 2,000 years of persecution and suffering, posed the ‘taboo’ question that…

Homage to Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor

10 August 2019 9:00 am

It is not often that a book’s blurb gives any idea of what’s inside, but Helen Castor’s endorsement — ‘a…

The glory and the misery of Louis XIV’s France

6 July 2019 9:00 am

I was flicking through an old copy of The Spectator the other day, one of the issues containing contributors’ ‘Christmas…

Has Daisy Dunn chosen the wrong Pliny to write about?

15 June 2019 9:00 am

I couldn’t help thinking, as I read this book, of an old story, vaguely recalled from English A-level classes, about…

The Porte des Allemands in Metz, where France meets Germany and Luxembourg

Lotharingia: Charlemagne’s much disputed legacy

9 March 2019 9:00 am

In 1919, only months after the end of the Great War, a French airman called Jacques Trolley de Prevaux, accompanied…

In August 1819, the cavalry charged a crowd of 60,000 in Manchester who had gathered to demand parliamentary reform

‘The reality was disgusting’: Peter Ackroyd slams Victorian Britain

15 September 2018 9:00 am

‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it was the epoch of belief, it was…

Replica of The Endeavour

A date with Venus in Tahiti

1 September 2018 9:00 am

There is something about the Transit of Venus that touches the imagination in ways that are not all to do…

Sunset on the Clyde, 1984. The massive cranes used to build the Lusitania, HMS Hood, the Queen Mary and the QE2 are relics of the once great maritime industry of Port Glasgow

Historian David Edgerton says the ‘British nation’ lasted from 1945 to 1979, the miner’s strike its death knell

7 July 2018 9:00 am

It seems somehow symptomatic of David Edgerton’s style as a historian, of a certain wilful singularity, that even his book’s…

Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz by François Gérard

Napoleon’s dazzling victories invited a devastating backlash

10 March 2018 9:00 am

On 20 July 1805, just three months before the battle of Trafalgar destroyed a combined French and Spanish fleet, the…

Portrait of Queen Caroline by Joseph Highmore, c.1735

Caroline of Ansbach: the best of the Hanoverians

25 November 2017 9:00 am

It can sometimes seem — unfairly but irresistibly — as if the sole function of the myriad Lilliputian German statelets…

Benjamin Lay (American School, 18th century)

Raising Cain

16 September 2017 9:00 am

It is a pretty safe bet that for every 1,000 people who know of William Wilberforce, no more than the…

A depiction of the martyred Edmund Campion

When English Catholics were considered as dangerous as jihadis

24 October 2015 9:00 am

Martyrdom, these days, does not get a good press. Fifty years ago English Catholics could take a ghoulish pride in…

The forgotten army: abandoned by the British to the horrors of Partition

13 June 2015 9:00 am

It is often said that cricket was ‘a game invented by the English and played by Indians’, and every so…

Isaak Israelevich Brodsky’s depiction of the execution of the ‘26 Martyrs’, painted in 1925 and already the stuff of Soviet legend

Murder in the dunes: the ‘26 Martyrs’ of Baku and the making of a Soviet legend

21 February 2015 9:00 am

In the pre-dawn hours of 20 September 1918, a train, its headlamp off, heading eastwards out of Kransnovodsk on the…

William Marshal: kingmaker — or just king of the joust?

17 January 2015 9:00 am

In February 1861 a 21-year-old French medievalist called Paul Meyer walked into Sotheby’s auction house near Covent Garden. He had…

Burying the dead of Waterloo

Narrative history at its best – and bloodiest

11 October 2014 9:00 am

Anyone thinking of bringing out a book on Waterloo at the moment must be very confident, very brave or just…

What, in the end, was it all for? In a French caricature of 1814, Napoleon precariously spans Madrid and Moscow and begins to topple. Fontainebleau — scene of his abdication — is depicted centre-stage

If you want to admire Napoleon, it helps not to have met Gaddafi

4 October 2014 9:00 am

Napoleon’s exploits may have captured the world’s imagination, but the great European drama, played out over 20 years, was ultimately tawdry and pointless, says David Crane

‘The Final Advance of the Guard’ by Nicolas Toussaint Charlet

An old soldier sees through the smoke of Waterloo

21 June 2014 8:00 am

David Crane on an old soldier’s account of a 200-year-old battle that will never fade away

Patrick Leigh Fermor as a major in the parachute regiment, October 1945

Patrick Leigh Fermor and the long, daft tradition of Brits trying to save Greece

31 May 2014 9:00 am

Twenty-odd years ago, while on holiday in the deep Mani at the foot of the Peloponnese, I got into conversation…

Three of the best: Edward Thomas (left), Wilfred Owen (above right) and Edmund Blunden

Look again – the first world war poets weren't pacifists

10 May 2014 9:00 am

The patriotism of the Great War’s finest poets was neither narrow nor triumphalist but reflected an intense devotion to an endangered country and to a way of life worth dying for, says David Crane

‘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

How Denmark’s Jews escaped the Nazis

8 March 2014 9:00 am

Of all the statistics generated by the Holocaust, perhaps some of the most disturbing in the questions they give rise…

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

Why does Max Hastings have such a hatred for the British military?

14 September 2013 9:00 am

David Crane is taken aback by the particular contempt Max Hastings appears to reserve for the British at the outbreak of the first world war