Books

Eva Braun dieted obsessively, but didn’t hold back on the pilfered champagne

Culinary cold war at the White House

20 January 2018 9:00 am

‘Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are.’ The best known adage in food literature,…

Four million bats stream from the Deer Cave every evening in Gunung Mulu National Park

Leeches, bats and toxic sap in Borneo’s Eden

20 January 2018 9:00 am

Eton turns out prime ministers of various stripes and patches, but it also forges fine explorers. It seems to prepare…

An 80th birthday party causes no end of trouble in Barney Norris’s latest novel

20 January 2018 9:00 am

‘People live in the space between the realities of their lives and the hopes they have for them,’ muses the…

Ethnic cleansing and the horrors of Buczacz

20 January 2018 9:00 am

I thought I knew the history of the years 1914 to 1945: the first world war and the terrible casualties…

Mary Shelley: a major writer, with a heartbreakingly difficult life

Mary Shelley’s monstrous creation close up

20 January 2018 9:00 am

There are few more seductive figures for biographers than Mary Shelley. The daughter of the radical philosopher and novelist William…

A recruiting poster from 1917, establishing the Wrens

Getting women on board: the history of the WRNS

20 January 2018 9:00 am

This book is a thoroughly researched account of the parts played by women in the service of the Royal Navy…

Jenny Erpenbeck finds a novel way to tackle the migrant problem

20 January 2018 9:00 am

The title of Jenny Erpenbeck’s Go Went Gone, and the autumnal tone of its beginning — a classics professor retires,…

Bligh and crew are set adrift from the Bounty, in a painting by Robert Dodd

Australia was ruined the moment Europeans set foot there

13 January 2018 9:00 am

Many believed in Australia for 1,000 years before its discovery. There had to be a commensurate weight — somewhere Down…

Has Ann Quin’s time come at last?

Has Ann Quin’s time come at last?

13 January 2018 9:00 am

Like A Fiery Elephant, my biography of the experimental novelist B.S. Johnson, contains one particularly careless sentence: the one where…

The execution of mutineers by the Bengal Horse Artillery, in a painting by Orlando Norie

Did the reprisals following the Indian mutiny seal Britain’s fate in the subcontinent?

13 January 2018 9:00 am

Many and various are the things one finds in Kentish pubs (I’m told); but few could top the sepoy’s skull…

Never had it so good: British novelists in the 1980s

13 January 2018 9:00 am

In 1990, the BBC’s adaptation of David Lodge’s culture-clash novel Nice Work won an award at a glitzy soirée in…

My ex-lover’s T-shirt can join the other tragic tat in the Museum of Broken Relationships

13 January 2018 9:00 am

I loved a man. But our affair was nasty, brutish and short. Copious weeping was my un-tart retort. All that’s…

‘The Illegal Act’: Roosevelt, in a boat named National Recovery, struggles to save Uncle Sam from the Depression. The cartoon appeared in 1935, when the United States Supreme Court declared the National Recovery Administration unconstitutional

What America needs is another Franklin D. Roosevelt

13 January 2018 9:00 am

Franklin D. Roosevelt isn’t as popular as he once was. When Barack Obama won the 2008 election, he let it…

The surgeon and anatomist David Hayes Agnew, teaching at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1880s. The cautious Americans were initially resistant to Lister, who toured the US hoping to convert the sceptics

How Joseph Lister transformed surgery from butchery to a healing art

13 January 2018 9:00 am

Every operation starts the same way. Chlorhexidine scrubbed under nails, lathered over wet hands, palm-to-palm, fingers interlaced, thumbs, wrists, forearms.…

The thrill of living dangerously inspires the latest first novels

13 January 2018 9:00 am

Here come three novels marketed as debuts but written by authors with some sort of previous, be it in short…

Peter Carey’s latest novel is a merciless excavation of Australian history

13 January 2018 9:00 am

More than 25 years ago, Peter Carey co-wrote one of the most audacious road movies ever made, Wim Wenders’s Until…

Did the fabled Phoenicians ever actually exist?

13 January 2018 9:00 am

So the Phoenicians never existed. Herodotus, that unreliable old fibber, made it all up in the Histories. Is this really…

‘Glad Day’ by William Blake

What do Walt Whitman, Jackson Pollock and Jimi Hendrix have in common?

13 January 2018 9:00 am

On 3 September 1968, Allen Ginsberg appeared on William F. Buckley’s Firing Line. Buckley exposed Ginsberg’s politics as fatuous —…

Laura Ingalls Wilder, aged 20

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s little house of horrors on the prairies

6 January 2018 9:00 am

In 1932, the Daily Plainsman of Huron, South Dakota, ran a feature about a local woman convalescing in hospital. Grace…

Six of the best short story collections

6 January 2018 9:00 am

While the short story is currently under-going one of its periods of robust, if not rude, health, its two dominant…

The many faces of Charles I: the ‘man of blood’ aroused real hatred. But he had a magical quality that inspired deep devotion, too

How could anyone possibly want a Roundhead ancestor?

6 January 2018 9:00 am

The late Michael Foot used to say that the first thing he needed to know about a new acquaintance was,…

Photographing the extraordinary ordinariness of 1950s America

6 January 2018 9:00 am

The career of the photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank stands in direct antithesis to the characteristics of his native Switzerland.…

Nan Shepherd’s lonely uphill struggle

6 January 2018 9:00 am

‘It’s a grand thing to get leave to live’, perhaps the most famous line Nan Shepherd wrote, is carved in…

Describing the indescribable: news from the Western Front

6 January 2018 9:00 am

At the close of the 1970s, I found a selection of postcards in an antique shop which had been sent…

Portrait of Ulysses Grant by Ole Peter Hansen Balling

It’s time to rehabilitate Ulysses S. Grant — scorned hero of the Civil War

16 December 2017 9:00 am

Last year, more than 6,000,000 people visited the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. By contrast, barely 80,000 went to General…