Lead book review

Was there ever a time of equality in human society?

18 November 2023 9:00 am

Living in open savannahs, men and women had no choice but to cooperate. But evolution caused men to fight and dominate, resulting in sexism and social hierarchy

Books of the year II: more choices of reading in 2023

11 November 2023 9:00 am

Recommendations from Mary Beard, Richard Ingrams, Sam Leith, Francis Wheen, Michela Wrong, William Dalrymple and many more

Why did Jon Fosse win the Nobel Prize for literature? It’s baffling.

4 November 2023 9:00 am

If Jon Fosse’s novels are experimental, they are experiments in exhausting banality, says Philip Hensher

Was the French Revolution inevitable?

28 October 2023 9:00 am

It was clear for decades in France that unrest was steadily building before public anger finally exploded in the spring of 1789, says Ruth Scurr

The mystery of Werner Herzog

21 October 2023 9:00 am

The film director treats us to a dervish dance of anecdotes but still keeps his real life secret, says Peter Bradshaw

Seamus Heaney’s letters confirm that he really was as nice as he seemed

14 October 2023 9:00 am

Seamus Heaney’s letters are full of energy and joie de vivre, but a darker note persists as the pressure of celebrity grows, says Roy Foster

Learned necromancers and lascivious witches: magic and misogyny through the ages

7 October 2023 9:00 am

We seem just as captivated by magic today as our Sumerian ancestors ever were, says Suzi Feay

The astonishing truth about 007

30 September 2023 9:00 am

The world would never be quite the same again after we first glimpsed the casino of Royale-les-Eaux at three in the morning, says Philip Hensher

The bloody prequel: a triumphant new translation of the Iliad

23 September 2023 9:00 am

Following her translation of the Odyssey, Emily Wilson has turned her hand to the Iliad – and it is a triumph, writes A.E. Stallings

‘My attachment to Giacometti grew into the bedrock of my existence’

16 September 2023 9:00 am

Michael Peppiatt has had a lifelong obsession with Alberto Giacometti – and it shows in this perfect biography, says Lynn Barber

The extraordinary life of 17th-century polymath Margaret Cavendish

9 September 2023 9:00 am

Lucy Hughes-Hallett admires the brave and wayward Duchess of Newcastle, whose idiosyncratic writings astonished 17th-century English society

The phoney mystics who fooled the West

2 September 2023 9:00 am

Many suspect mystics have exploited naive westerners in search of spiritual enlightenment over the past century, Philip Hensher discovers

The Hundred Years War ends in England’s agonising defeat – but triumph for Jonathan Sumption

26 August 2023 9:00 am

England’s final, agonising defeat in the Hundred Years War brings Jonathan Sumption’s monumental history to a close. David Crane salutes 43 years of research and writing

Complicated and slightly creepy: the Bogart-Bacall romance

19 August 2023 9:00 am

Lauren Bacall was 25 years younger than Humphrey Bogart. Unlike his previous wives, she stayed – though Roger Lewis finds something creepy about their relationship

George Orwell’s unacknowledged debt to his wife Eileen

12 August 2023 9:00 am

Eileen O’Shaughnessy’s creative influence on her husband George Orwell has been ignored for far too long, says Marina Benjamin

Albrecht Dürer’s genius for self-promotion

5 August 2023 9:00 am

Albrecht Dürer was an undoubted genius – and no one was more conscious of it than the artist himself, says Philip Hoare

A cherry orchard, three sisters and a summer romance: Tom Lake, by Ann Patchett, reviewed

29 July 2023 9:00 am

Alex Clark enjoys a poignant story centring on a cherry orchard, three sisters and their mother’s past love affair

Should vintage comedy be judged by today’s standards?

22 July 2023 9:00 am

A successful joke relies on rhythm, tempo, cadence, pause – so why does David Stubbs find comedy and music so antithetical, wonders Joel Morris

What, if anything, have dictators over the centuries had in common?

15 July 2023 9:00 am

Simon Kuper finds little to connect the strongmen of the past and present apart from their contempt for their own supporters

Ireland’s most notorious murderer still casts a disturbing spell

8 July 2023 9:00 am

After months of conversations with Ireland’s most notorious murderer, Mark O’Connell got both more and less than he bargained for, says Frances Wilson

What ‘pax’ meant in Rome’s golden age of imperialism

1 July 2023 9:00 am

The emperors of Rome’s golden age avoided civil war at all costs. But wars against other peoples were a different matter, says Peter Stothard

Lorrie Moore’s latest novel is deeply troubling, but also consoling

24 June 2023 9:00 am

A corpse comes back to life and goes on a road trip. Lorrie Moore’s powerful new novel leaves Philip Hensher shaken, troubled, but also consoled

The trial of Marshal Pétain continues to haunt France to this day

17 June 2023 9:00 am

Was one venal old man primarily responsible for France’s catastrophe of 1940-44, or was it a case of collective failure? The question remains unanswered, says Patrick Marnham

The problems of being a Bee Gee

10 June 2023 9:00 am

Calling themselves the Bee Gees spelt trouble from the start for the very disparate Gibb brothers, says Craig Brown

Shakespeare sceptics are the new literary heroes

3 June 2023 9:00 am

Determined sceptics will always find reasons to cast doubt on Shakespeare’s authorship, but who cares in the end, Emma Smith wonders