Books

Whatever America is searching for, Trump isn’t providing it

20 October 2018 9:00 am

Donald J. Trump has sparked some soul- searching among US historians: has this happened before? Does it mean America has…

Little Women, Chapter IX: ‘Meg Goes to Vanity Fair’. Her sisters help her pack

150 years on, what makes Little Women such an enduring classic?

20 October 2018 9:00 am

The great thing about Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women is that it has something for everyone: stay-at-home types have…

Sergio De La Pava. Credit Brian Hawkin

Manic creations: Lost Empress: A Protest, by Sergio De La Pava, reviewed

20 October 2018 9:00 am

American mass-incarceration is the most overt object of the ‘protest’ of this novel’s subtitle. The author, Sergio De La Pava,…

Haruki Murakami. Credit Elena Seibert

Gatsby in Japan: Killing Commendatore, by Haruki Murakami, reviewed

20 October 2018 9:00 am

Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatore was published in Japan in February last year. Early press releases for this English version hailed…

Kett refuses the King’s pardon on Mousehold Heath. Credit: Getty Images

Kidnapped by Kett: Tombland, by C.J. Sansom, reviewed

20 October 2018 9:00 am

Tombland is not to be treated lightly. Its length hints at its ambitions. Here is a Tudor epic disguised as…

How on earth did North Vietnam prevail against the world’s greatest power?

20 October 2018 9:00 am

The 50th anniversary of the Vietnam war has produced an outpouring of books, along with Ken Burns’s 18-hour television spectacular,…

Left: ‘Self-portrait,’ 1916. Right: Homage to the Square: Renewed Hope’, 1951 by Josef Albers

Josef Albers: the Bauhaus artist whose pupil designed Auschwitz

20 October 2018 9:00 am

The German-born artist, Josef Albers, was a contrary so-and-so. Late in life, he was asked why — in the early…

Ceannabeinne, the now ruined village near Durness in the Scottish Highland, was a thriving community before the Clearances. Credit: Getty Images

Were the Highland Clearances really a byword for infamy?

20 October 2018 9:00 am

There is a degree of irony in the opening chapter of T.M. Devine’s history, lambasting popular previous depictions of the…

Pamela Hansford Johnson (right) and Elizabeth Taylor at a Book Society party in Knightsbridge in 1954

Lonely hearts and guilty minds: the world of Pamela Hansford Johnson

13 October 2018 9:00 am

The revival of interest in mid-20th century novelists is one of the most positive and valuable developments of our time.…

Advertisement for circus acts at the Da Shi Jie entertainment complex, Shanghai

The circus visits every corner of the globe — even Antarctica

13 October 2018 9:00 am

We’re celebrating 250 years of circus this year. In 1768, the retired cavalryman and entrepreneur Philip Astley, together with his…

Pithy and profound: the beauty of aphorisms

13 October 2018 9:00 am

It’s not surprising, perhaps, that Emil Cioran isn’t much read in England. Born in Romania, but winning a scholarship to…

Secrets and lies: Berta Isla, by Javier Marías, reviewed

13 October 2018 9:00 am

A novel by Javier Marías, as his millions of readers know, is never what it purports to be. Spain’s most…

Gandhi strides forth on the Salt March in 1930, protesting against the government’s monopoly of salt production

Gandhi on Hitler: ‘I do not believe him to be as bad as he is portrayed’

13 October 2018 9:00 am

‘It’s a beautiful world if it wasn’t for Gandhi who is really a perfect nuisance,’ Lord Willingdon, Viceroy of India,…

The passions of Paulo: Enigma Variations, by André Aciman, reviewed

13 October 2018 9:00 am

André Aciman’s 2007 debut novel, Call Me By Your Name, was a sensuous, captivating account of the passionate love a…

Silk-weaving in China. An illustration from a book on the silk industry. Chinese school, 19th century

Stitches in time: The history of the world through the eye of a needle

13 October 2018 9:00 am

I recently read a book in which the author, describing rural life in the early 19th century, casually mentioned clothing…

How indiscretions over Suez ruined Rab Butler

13 October 2018 9:00 am

I bet that you are at best dimly aware of the Progress Trust, and that is what the members of…

Giving the famous V-sign at the opening of RAAF headquarters, Croydon, 1948 [Getty]

Andrew Roberts’s generous new biography of the man who saved us in our darkest hour, Churchill reviewed

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Churchill must be the most written-about figure in public life since Napoleon Bonaparte (a subject, incidentally, to which Andrew Roberts…

Love is blind, but lust is not; William Boyd’s 15th novel reviewed

6 October 2018 9:00 am

William Boyd’s 15th novel begins well enough. In 1894 Edinburgh, a 24-year-old piano tuner is promoted to the Paris branch…

Behind the Throne is a cracking read about a neglected subject – the royal household

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Never judge a book by its cover. To look at, this is a coffee-table book with shiny pages which make…

‘The Conversation’, by Henri Matisse, 1908–1912, the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

It is not the masterpieces that were lost, but the collectors, Natalya Semenova rights a wrong

6 October 2018 9:00 am

It is not as surprising at it sounds that two of the greatest collectors of modern art should have been…

Kim Phuc Phan Thi – Napalm Girl – stands in front of the iconic 1972 photograph that changed public opinion worldwide

The disaster of Vietnam and the men who can’t get over it

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Many wars have outsized and enduring effects on the societies that fight them, but for Americans the Vietnam war has…

To reflect on the brilliance of your writing, you had better be sure of its brilliance

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Nominative determinism is the term for that pleasing accord you occasionally find between name and profession: the immigration minister named…

A sinister feeling hangs over Sarah Moss’s claustrophobic sixth novel

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Sarah Moss’s concise, claustrophobic sixth novel concerns the perils of family life. The narrator Silvie is a frustrated 17-year-old on…

Cable and Deadpool recreate the image from the Sistine chapel (Deadpool 2) [Rex Shutterstock]

Which comes first, the events or the zeitgeist? Peter Biskind examines pop culture

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Those who study culture — or think about public policy in relation to it — often wrestle with the classic…

Shashi Tharoor’s book is a polemic, says Kapil Komireddi – beware of Hindu nationalism

6 October 2018 9:00 am

Most religions bind their adherents into a community of believers. Hinduism segregates them into castes. And people excluded from the…