Lead book review

A long goodbye to Berlin

15 June 2024 9:00 am

Christopher Isherwood’s experiences as a young man in Weimar Germany would be reworked in his autofiction for the rest of his life

Those magnificent men and their stargazing machines

8 June 2024 9:00 am

Violet Moller focuses on three 16th-century‘heroes of science’, John Dee, Nicolaus Copernicus and Tycho Brahe, and their great libraries and observatories

The wry humour of Franz Kafka

1 June 2024 9:00 am

A masterly new translation of his Diaries reminds us that Kafka wasn’t solely the prophet of a century of dehumanisation

What’s really behind the Tories’ present woes?

25 May 2024 9:00 am

Geoffrey Wheatcroft identifies two root causes: the disastrous revision of the leadership election procedure, and David Cameron’s turn to the referendum as a device to govern

The joy of hanging out with artists

18 May 2024 9:00 am

Lynn Barber finds painters and sculptors easily the most congenial people to interview - despite having received a death threat from the Chapman brothers

‘There are an awful lot of my paintings I don’t like,’ admitted Francis Bacon

11 May 2024 9:00 am

While waspishly dismissive of many of the 20th century’s greatest artists, Bacon was also critical of his own work, in conversation with David Sylvester

The Berkeley scandal of 1681 transfixed London society – and Aphra Behn soon capitalised on it

4 May 2024 9:00 am

In The Love Letters Between a Nobleman and his Sister, often called the ‘first English novel’, Behn successfully milked the affair for all it was worth

The identical twins who captivated literary London

27 April 2024 9:00 am

Intelligent and beautiful, Celia and Mamaine Paget were loved by some of the greatest writers of the interwar years, but remained uniquely devoted to each other

To Salman Rushdie, a dream before his attempted murder ‘felt like a premonition’

20 April 2024 9:00 am

Though premonitions are not things he believes in, Rushdie notes the many spooky coincidences surrounding the attack – which he describes in gripping, terrifying detail

We must never lose the treasured Orkneys

13 April 2024 9:00 am

Fertile fields and spectacular sea stacks are matched by an extraordinarily rich, dramatic history. No wonder the islands have been so celebrated for centuries

In the grip of apocalypse angst

6 April 2024 9:00 am

Dorian Lynskey lays out the many ways in which we have imagined the world ending – through pandemic, nuclear holocaust, climate change, asteroid impact or, most unnervingly, AI

How country living changed the lives of three remarkable women writers

30 March 2024 9:00 am

Harriet Baker describes how Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Townsend Warner and Rosamond Lehmann found new forms of peace and creativity away from the stifling capital

‘Enough to kill any man’: the trials of serving Queen Victoria

23 March 2024 9:00 am

Of all the Queen’s prime ministers, Gladstone suffered the most from her wilfulness, but while he opposed her policies he did much to popularise her monarchy

The tyranny of 1970s self-help gurus

16 March 2024 9:00 am

Clients pursuing ’true self’ were expected to wear identical clothes, shave their heads, self-flagellate and be ‘given hell’, while paying through the nose for it

Before the Blitz: the dynamism of British architecture

9 March 2024 9:00 am

Many competing styles flourished in the interwar years, including functionalism, art deco, neoclassicism, seaside moderne, mock-Mayan and Egyptian revivalism

Four months adrift in the Pacific: a couple’s extraordinary feat of endurance

2 March 2024 9:00 am

When a freak occurrence wrecked the Baileys’ sloop 300 miles from the Galapagos, their chances of rescue were minimal – and one of them couldn’t even swim

Lord Byron had many faults, but writing dull letters wasn’t one of them

17 February 2024 9:00 am

Andrew Stauffer traces the poet’s tumultuous life through some of the most remarkable missives in the English language

The greed and hypocrisy of the opium trade continue to shock

10 February 2024 9:00 am

Amitav Ghosh admits he found writing his history difficult because of the obscene profiteering and suffering he had to cover

A wealth of knowledge salvaged from shipwrecks

3 February 2024 9:00 am

Goods found on board can illuminate trade routes and global connections, often going back thousands of years, in ways no other archaeological sites can

The problem with westerners seeking oriental enlightenment

27 January 2024 9:00 am

Those chasing after blissful satori never seem interested in the people who actually live in Asia. They want to float in higher spheres

Have we all become more paranoid since the pandemic?

20 January 2024 9:00 am

Covid-19 proved devastating to our self-confidence and faith in others, says Daniel Freeman, who describes the ‘corrosive’ effects of mistrust on individuals and society

The travails of Britain’s first Labour government

13 January 2024 9:00 am

Attacked in the press, by the right and even by its own supporters, Ramsay MacDonald’s short-lived government still managed to achieve a surprising amount

The freedom fighters who dared to take on a communist superpower

6 January 2024 9:00 am

Shibani Mahtani and Timothy McLaughlin describe the courage of the youthful protest leaders in Hong Kong who sacrificed so much for the cause of democracy

Will the Caucasus ever be tamed?

16 December 2023 9:00 am

Its ruined fortresses, broken monasteries and deserted villages attest to centuries of conflict, and any idea of a united Caucasus remains a dream, says Christoph Baumer