Books

Missing chapters

8 May 2021 9:00 am

Between them, Peter van Onselen and Wayne Errington have a wealth of research and writing experience, and their biography of…

An independent observer: Whereabouts, by Jhumpa Lahiri, reviewed

8 May 2021 9:00 am

After falling in love with Italy as a young woman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri broke with English and…

Stealing the story: A Lonely Man, by Chris Power, reviewed

8 May 2021 9:00 am

Robert Prowe has writer’s block. An Englishman reaching middle age, he lives in Berlin with his Swedish wife and their…

How the third world war was narrowly averted

8 May 2021 9:00 am

Nuclear weapons carry a payload of cold logic: if both sides have them, neither will ever use them. But in…

Straight lines and grandiose schemes — Napoleon the gardener

8 May 2021 9:00 am

Not content with imposing his will on nations, Napoleon tried to subdue nature too, says David Crane

Water, water everywhere: Touring the Land of the Dead, by Maki Kashimada, reviewed

8 May 2021 9:00 am

Maki Kashimada won the 2012 Akutagawa Prize for Touring the Land of the Dead, the strange, unsettling novella that makes…

Life on Earth is too tame for eccentric American billionaires

8 May 2021 9:00 am

For many of us, Elon Musk is a hard man to like. He’s the richest man in the world (or…

It is impossible to imagine Henrician England except through the eyes of Hans Holbein

8 May 2021 9:00 am

‘Holbein redeemed a whole era for us from oblivion,’ remarks the author of a trilogy of novels set at Henry…

Even the Queen wasn’t spared Prince Philip’s bad temper

8 May 2021 9:00 am

Though the indefatigable Gyles Brandreth met and interviewed Prince Philip over a 40-year period, His Royal Highness managed to give…

The high and low life of John Craxton

8 May 2021 9:00 am

Charm is a weasel word; it can evoke the superficial and insincere, and engender suspicion and mistrust. But charm in…

From family home to mausoleum: the Musée Nissim Camondo

8 May 2021 9:00 am

The potter and author Edmund de Waal revisits familiar terrain at an angle in his third book, Letters to Camondo.…

Eliminate the positive: Come Join Our Disease, by Sam Byers, reviewed

8 May 2021 9:00 am

Sam Byers’s worryingly zeitgeisty second novel, Perfidious Albion, imagined a post-Brexit dystopia dominated by global tech companies, corrupt spin doctors,…

Why should art have ever been considered a male preserve?

1 May 2021 9:00 am

Sixty years ago, women were still excluded from the art history canon, says Laura Freeman

A meditation on everyday life: Early Morning Riser, by Katherine Heiny, reviewed

1 May 2021 9:00 am

There were many moments in Early Morning Riser that made me laugh out loud in recognition. An episode where the…

Stephen Hawking: the myth and the reality

1 May 2021 9:00 am

I could never muster much enthusiasm for the theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking. His work, on the early universe and the…

Stalin as puppet master: how Uncle Joe manipulated the West

1 May 2021 9:00 am

Of the two dictators who began the second world war as allied partners in crime but ended it in combat…

Not just a trolley dolly: the demanding life of an air hostess

1 May 2021 9:00 am

Come Fly the World is not the book I thought I was getting. The slightly (surely deliberately) pulpy cover —…

Ice and snow and sea and sky: Lean Fall Stand, by Jon McGregor, reviewed

1 May 2021 9:00 am

Jon McGregor has an extraordinary ability to articulate the unspoken through ethereal prose that observes ordinary lives from above without…

Sun, sex and acid: Thom Gunn in California

1 May 2021 9:00 am

San Francisco is a fantastic place… it’s terribly sunny… I am having a splendid hedonistic time here… I find myself…

Puzzle Pieces: Cowboy Graves, by Roberto Bolaño, reviewed

1 May 2021 9:00 am

This might seem an odd confession, but the work of Roberto Bolaño gives me very good bad dreams. When I…

Steam trains make a comeback under the guise of heritage

1 May 2021 9:00 am

So far as most of us are concerned, steam trains vanished in a puff of smoke back in the 1960s,…

Despotic laws can — even should — be ignored, says Jonathan Sumption

1 May 2021 9:00 am

Jonathan Sumption has developed ‘many strange habits over the years’, he tells us disarmingly, and one of these is to…

Pilgrimage is beginning to resemble any other kind of holiday

1 May 2021 9:00 am

Hidden away in the Old City of Jerusalem is a tattoo parlour which has been serving pilgrims for the past…

Back in the magic land of Narnia

1 May 2021 9:00 am

C. S. Lewis’s enchanting Chronicles of Narniaseries has, in recent years, come under critical fire. It’s racist, sexist, colonialist; blatant…

Haunted by the soft, sweet power of the violin

1 May 2021 9:00 am

An extraordinary omission from Neil MacGregor’s A History of the World in 100 Objects is the lyre, the instrument closest…