William Leith

An agent from the Freedman’s Bureau separates freed slaves from an angry mob at the end of the American civil war. Credit Getty Images

A Shout in the Ruins, by Kevin Powers, reviewed

23 June 2018 9:00 am

We’re in Virginia, in the 1850s. A girl called Emily is tormenting her dog, Champion, and her father’s teenage slave,…

A nightly occurrence in Tegucigalpa. Forensic officers inspect a crime scene involving the execution of six men in drug-related gang warfare

Is Tegucigalpa the crime capital of the world?

24 February 2018 9:00 am

The Spanish journalist Alberto Arce worked for Associated Press in Honduras in 2012 and 2013. After a year, he says:…

A book about sleep that will keep you up all night

4 November 2017 9:00 am

I’ve read several books​ ​about​ ​sleep recently,​ ​and​ ​their​ ​authors​ ​all​ ​tell​ ​me​ ​the same​ ​three​ ​things.​ ​The​ ​first​ ​is​…

Manning up

26 August 2017 9:00 am

Is this the best book I’ve ever read on the subject of masculinity? Maybe it is, I thought, the first…

A good man at the 1970s BBC

4 June 2016 9:00 am

When I saw this book, a biography of Huw Wheldon, who was managing director of BBC Television between 1968 and…

Hitting rock bottom in LA

19 March 2016 9:00 am

The title of this book tells you a lot. Jack Sutherland, who grew up in London and Los Angeles, worked…

Warning: this book only contains strong language

7 November 2015 9:00 am

Dan Marshall, the author of this memoir, loves to swear. ‘It’s very difficult for me to write a sentence without…

Why do footballers hug each other when a goal is scored? It’s all to do with grooming

Sense and sensibility: what your fingertips tell your brain

11 April 2015 9:00 am

I used to think we had five senses — sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. And I used to think…

Stuck at K: we know very little about vitamins except that they’re good for us (in small quantities)

21 March 2015 9:00 am

Before I read this book about vitamins, I thought I knew what it would be like. It would be vaguely…

Your immune system’s war isn’t Saving Private Ryan — it’s Homeland

6 December 2014 9:00 am

Before I read this book, I imagined the immune system as a defensive force, like the Germans on the beaches…

The hell of being Michael Palin

4 October 2014 9:00 am

In these diaries, which I found excellent in a very specific way, Michael Palin tells us about his life between…

A book about human nature that makes your head spin – in a good way

6 September 2014 9:00 am

Vincent Deary is a therapist, and this book is the first part of a trilogy. How We Are is about…

Having a moral compass just gets in the way of being smart

28 June 2014 9:00 am

Steven D. Levitt was a Harvard economist who specialised in politics and spent a lot of time watching cop shows…

The thrill of cutting into a human brain

22 March 2014 9:00 am

In the first sentence of the first chapter of this book, Henry Marsh, a consultant brain surgeon, says, ‘I often…

Jumbo

Why you shouldn't keep elephants

8 February 2014 9:00 am

On 15 September 1885, the world’s most famous elephant, Jumbo, was killed by a train. Jumbo, the star attraction at…

Why worship Prince Philip?

23 November 2013 9:00 am

In this travelogue, Matthew Baylis, the novelist and TV critic and former Eastenders screenwriter, goes to Tanna, a Melanesian island,…

Clumsy and heavy, Goliath never stood a chance

12 October 2013 9:00 am

When we think of David and Goliath, we think of a young man, not very big, who has a fight…

Sane New World, by Ruby Wax - a review

20 July 2013 9:00 am

Ruby Wax, who is best known as a comedian, dedicates this book ‘to my mind, which at one point left…