Books

It was Bevin, not Bevan, who was the real national treasure

4 July 2020 9:00 am

Alan Johnson pays tribute to Ernest Bevin, a towering political figure too often forgotten

Monuments to the second world war are looking increasingly dodgy

4 July 2020 9:00 am

Most monuments are literally set in stone — or cast in bronze to better survive the weather. Being enduring, they…

Let’s swap murders: Amanda Craig’s The Golden Rule reviewed

4 July 2020 9:00 am

It has been three years since Amanda Craig’s previous novel, The Lie of the Land, the story of a foundering…

Imperialism is far from over, but gathering force in disguise

4 July 2020 9:00 am

From ancient times, empires have risen and fallen, driven by war, territorial acquisition, trade, plunder, religion, ideology, technology, culture and…

Foreign fields: Boyd Tonkin chooses his favourite shorter classics in translation

4 July 2020 9:00 am

If I had a rouble or a euro for every reader who fulfilled their lockdown promise to devour Dostoevsky, Tolstoy…

The attraction of repulsion: The Disaster Tourist, by Yun-Ko Eun, reviewed

4 July 2020 9:00 am

Disaster tourism allows people to explore places in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters. Sites of massacres and concentration…

Lives of luxury for Sparta’s women

4 July 2020 9:00 am

History is full of ‘ifs’ and the Spartan story fuller than most. If the 300 had not made their famous…

Finder and keeper: two family memoirs reviewed

4 July 2020 9:00 am

What can we ever know about our family’s past? How do we love those closest to us when doing so…

How time vanishes: the more we study it, the more protean it seems

27 June 2020 9:00 am

Some books elucidate their subject, mapping and sharpening its boundaries. The Clock Mirage, by the mathematician Joseph Mazur, is not…

A scandalous cover-up: the El Bordo mining tragedy of 1920

27 June 2020 9:00 am

On the morning of 10 March 1920, on the edge of the city of Pachuca in central Mexico, 87 miners…

How do we greet one another today?

27 June 2020 9:00 am

Conversation is a fascinating subject, says Philip Hensher – but very few people get it right

Piracy pays: how history’s greatest buccaneer got off scot-free

27 June 2020 9:00 am

In 1694 London’s streets echoed with a call to the piratical life: Come all you brave boys, whose courage is…

The greatest ‘if only’ of modern history... that the Weimar Republic had succeeded

27 June 2020 9:00 am

Has it ever occurred to you that the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 might have won us the war? Until…

Good biographers make the best companions

27 June 2020 9:00 am

Strange, when your own life flatlines, the way in which other lives become suddenly more interesting. I have been retreating…

Keeping poker-faced is no use – it’s the hands that give the game away

27 June 2020 9:00 am

This is not a rip-roaring, gonzo gambling adventure. By page 66 this cautious, thoughtful author has still never played a…

A panoramic novel of modern Britain: The Blind Light, by Stuart Evers, reviewed

27 June 2020 9:00 am

A decade ago — eheu fugaces labuntur anni — Stuart Evers’s debut story collection, Ten Stories About Smoking, was one…

From bashful teenager to supermodel: Susanna Moore’s fairytale memoir

27 June 2020 9:00 am

There’s a kind of writing about LA that I am a sucker for. Gossipy, lyrical, with a surface of affectless…

Chilli con carnage: the red hot pepper and communism

20 June 2020 9:00 am

These days it is as hard to imagine Sichuanese food without chillies as it is to imagine Italian food without…

Splashing the cash at VIP nightclubs is now the favourite recreation of the rich

20 June 2020 9:00 am

The spectacular extravagance of the VIP nightclub ‘experience’ could be the last bonfire of the vanities, says Lynn Barber

Why Niki Lauda was considered the bravest man in sport

20 June 2020 9:00 am

Formula One motor racing is the perennial, worldwide contest that most reliably gratifies hero-worshipping, power-worshipping, money-worshipping, technology-worshipping ghouls, and some…

Young female Irish writers are setting a new trend in fiction

20 June 2020 9:00 am

Publishers everywhere are looking for the new Sally Rooney, which is odd since as far as I know the old…

A Chaucerian tale: Pilgrims, by Matthew Kneale, reviewed

20 June 2020 9:00 am

Matthew Kneale is much drawn to people of the past. In his award-winning English Passengers, he captured the sensibilities of…

Children should get out more — even if it’s for hide and seek in the park

20 June 2020 9:00 am

We live in an urban world. It’s a statistical fact. The great outdoors for most of us is a thing…

A choice of classic crime fiction

20 June 2020 9:00 am

A guide to reading in lockdown. My involvement with crime and mystery fiction started when I was four. The first…

The hazards of attending a queen

20 June 2020 9:00 am

When Queen Alexandra chose her ladies in waiting she prudently surrounded herself with elderly and plainish ones, who did not…