Lead book review

Unspeakably prolix and petty: will anyone want to read John Bercow’s autobiography?

15 February 2020 9:00 am

In his autobiography, John Bercow takes his peerage as a given. But that might be scuppered by accusations of bullying, says Lynn Barber

The real Calamity Jane was distressingly unlike her legend

7 February 2020 10:00 pm

Calamity Jane’s legend as brave frontierswoman, crack shot and compassionate nurse to the wounded was nurtured largely by herself. The truth, says Sam Leith, was dismayingly different

Was Dresden a war crime?

1 February 2020 9:00 am

Dresden defined the horror of war: revenge and cold-blooded murder. It still does, says Christopher Priest

How David Rosenhan’s fraudulent Thud experiment set back psychiatry for decades

24 January 2020 10:00 pm

In 1973, a social psychologist from Stanford perpetrated one of the greatest scientific frauds of recent history. Its consequences still resonate today, says Andrew Scull

Carrying on loving: Elizabeth Hardwick’s and Robert Lowell’s remarkable correspondence throughout the 1970s

18 January 2020 9:00 am

Since Robert Lowell’s sudden death in 1977 his critical reputation has suffered from the usual post-mortem slump. Interest in Lowell’s…

The Tudor dynasty owed everything to Margaret Beaufort’s machinations

11 January 2020 9:00 am

Of the clutch of female powerbrokers who emerged during the civil wars of the English 15th century, the diminutive figure…

Who are today’s fictional heroes?

21 December 2019 9:00 am

What’s a hero? There are probably at least two answers to that. One is that heroism is a moral quality:…

More juicy gossip from Kenneth ‘Climbing’ Rose

14 December 2019 9:00 am

When this second volume of diaries begins in 1979, Kenneth Rose is 54 and well established as the author of…

As English spread over the subcontinent, India lost forever its rich Persianate literary heritage

7 December 2019 9:00 am

In the seventh century, the Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang made an epic journey through the Gobi desert and over the…

When Cartier was the girls’ best friend

30 November 2019 9:00 am

The word ‘jewel’ makes the heart beat a little faster. Great jewels have always epitomised beauty, love — illicit or…

The carnage inside Charlie Hebdo: an eyewitness’s account of the attack

23 November 2019 9:00 am

It is almost five years since two trained jihadists went into the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris and killed…

Books of the year – part two

16 November 2019 9:00 am

Richard Ingrams A book that gave me great enjoyment (for all the wrong reasons) was Harvest Bells: New and Uncollected…

Books of the year – part one

9 November 2019 9:00 am

Philip Hensher The best novels of the year were Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys (Fleet, £16.99) and James Meek’s To…

Three dashing Frenchmen captivate Victorian London

2 November 2019 9:00 am

Do not google Samuel Jean Pozzi. If you want to enjoy Julian Barnes’s The Man in the Red Coat —…

Is there no field in which the Jewish mindset doesn’t excel?

26 October 2019 9:00 am

More than 20 years ago, George Steiner, meditating on 2,000 years of persecution and suffering, posed the ‘taboo’ question that…

An unconventional biography of the visionary architect Frank Lloyd Wright

19 October 2019 9:00 am

Paul Hendrickson’s previous (and very fine) book was Hemingway’s Boat, published in Britain in 2012. It was a nice conceit…

Three remarkable sisters at the heart of 20th-century Chinese politics

12 October 2019 9:00 am

In their lifetime, and afterwards, the Soong sisters from Shanghai seemed like figures from a Chinese fairy tale. There were…

Man’s first instinct has always been to return to the sea

5 October 2019 9:00 am

Travelling the Indus valley late in the third millennium BC you would have been awed by two Bronze Age megacities,…

For millennials, pre-Thatcher Britain must seem another — quite mystifying — country

28 September 2019 9:00 am

Lymeswold; Hi-de-Hi!; nuclear-free zones; Walkmans; the Metro; Red Robbo; the SDP; Michael Foot’s Cenotaph donkey-jacket; Protest and Survive; Steve Davis…

The best of journeys: Justin Marozzi’s monumental trek through the history of the Muslim world

21 September 2019 9:00 am

This impressively clever, careful, and often beautiful book is the best sort of journey. It takes us through 15 cities…

No one held Susan Sontag in higher esteem than she did: Her Life reviewed

14 September 2019 9:00 am

Towards the end of this tale of imperial intellectual expansion, Susan Sontag’s publicist goes to visit his shrink and, dealing…

What made Lucian Freud so irresistible to women?

7 September 2019 9:00 am

Amedeo Modigliani thought Nina Hamnett, muse, painter, memoirist, had ‘the best tits in Europe’. She fell 40 feet from a…

Did Christianity make the western mind — or was it the other way round?

31 August 2019 9:00 am

Nobody can accuse Tom Holland of shying away from big subjects. Dominion is nothing less than a history of Christianity…

George Orwell. Credit: Getty Images

Novel explosives of the Cold War

24 August 2019 9:00 am

One autumn night in 1991, I stood on the rooftop terrace of a tacky villa in Saranda once owned by…

Migration in Europe is the ripple effect of the second world war

17 August 2019 9:00 am

Two words may pique the reader’s interest on the cover of this timely, panoramic history of Europe by the distinguished…