Lead book review

A dreadful warning: a fisherman paddles through a tide of toxic waste on the Yamuna river, against a backdrop of smog and high-rise construction

Lawlessness, corruption, poverty and pollution: the city where we're all headed

15 March 2014 9:00 am

India’s vast polluted capital, where brutality, corruption and ruthless self-seeking are endemic, could be the blueprint of the future, says Peter Parker

Kim Philby at the press conference he called in 1955 to deny being the ‘Third Man’

Kim Philby got away with it because he was posh

8 March 2014 9:00 am

Kim Philby’s treachery escaped detection for so long through the stupidity and snobbery of the old-boy network surrounding him, says Philip Hensher

Secrets of Candleford: the real Flora Thompson

1 March 2014 9:00 am

Melanie McDonagh on Flora Thompson, whose revealing account of rural Oxfordshire life at the turn of the 19th century became a literary classic

The Artist Formerly Known As Whistler

22 February 2014 9:00 am

Sam Leith on the exasperating, charismatic painter who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee

Faisal’s dark, liquid eyes and distinguished bearing caused a sensation at the Paris Peace Conference

The enlightened king of Iraq

15 February 2014 9:00 am

Alan Rush admires the humane, enlightened Faisal I, who fought with T.E. Lawrence and devoted his life to Arab rights, independence and unity

America Plains

Has land ownership changed our lives for better or for worse?

8 February 2014 9:00 am

The highly profitable — and intrinsically selfish — system of land ownership that replaced medieval feudal tenure had profound moral consequences that continue to this day, says John Adamson

The great Ascension Day pageant of the Doge performing the marriage of the sea — already a tourist attraction in 17th-century Venice.

What Englishmen learnt from Europe

1 February 2014 9:00 am

A tour of the Continent was a prerequisite for young Jacobean noblemen training for statesmanship — provided they resisted its corrupting influence, says Blair Worden

Reviewing reviews of reviews — where will it all end? 

25 January 2014 9:00 am

Sam Leith reviews the reviews of David Lodge — and wonders where it will all end

My family's better days

18 January 2014 9:00 am

Simon Blow recalls the wealth, recklessness and beauty of his family’s better days

'She's the most important Jewish writer since Kafka!'

11 January 2014 9:00 am

Ian Thomson on the turbulent life of Clarice Lispector

How we lost the seasons

4 January 2014 9:00 am

... for tomorrow traditional seasonal rituals may just be ghostly memories of a vanished world, says Melanie McDonagh

How honest was Bernard Berenson?

14 December 2013 9:00 am

Sam Leith suspects that even such a distinguished connoisseur as Bernard Berenson did not always play a straight bat

If only Craig Raine subjected his own work to the same critical scrutiny he applies to others' 

7 December 2013 9:00 am

Debunking reputations is now out of fashion, says Philip Hensher, and Craig Raine should give it up — especially as he always misses the point

In the steppes of a warlord

30 November 2013 9:00 am

Joanna Kavenna is impressed by one man’s 6,000-mile ride through some of the loneliest regions on earth

Spectator writers' Christmas book choices

23 November 2013 9:00 am

More recommended reading from some of our regular reviewers

Spectator writers pick their books of the year

16 November 2013 9:00 am

Recommended reading from some of our regular reviewers

Why do we pounce on Wagner's anti-Semitism, and ignore that of the Russian composers?

9 November 2013 9:00 am

Philip Hensher on how an impassioned, chaotic group of amateur 19th-century composers created the first distinctively Russian music

How we beat Napoleon

2 November 2013 9:00 am

We are accustomed to the thrill and glamour of the grands tableaux, but a nuts-and-bolts study of Napoleonic warfare makes for equally gripping reading, says David Crane

George Orwell's doublethink

26 October 2013 9:00 am

The inventor of ‘doublethink’ was consistently inconsistent  in his own political views, says A.N. Wilson. And no fun at all

How to avoid bankers in your nativity scene

19 October 2013 9:00 am

With an eye to the blasphemy underlying some of the loveliest Renaissance painting, Honor Clerk will be choosing her Christmas cards more carefully this year

Cat fight: tension mounts between the Great Powers in 1905 as Edward VII, Kaiser Wilhelm II and the French foreign minister, Théophile Delcassé, squabble over Morocco

What caused the first world war?

12 October 2013 9:00 am

In pre-1914 cosmopolitan society, everyone seemed to be related — ambassadors as well as monarchs. But increased militarisation was fast obliterating old family ties, says Jane Ridley 

England’s 100 best Views, by Simon Jenkins - review

5 October 2013 9:00 am

Sam Leith is transported by the finest scenery in England

Colette’s France, by Jane Gilmour - review

28 September 2013 9:00 am

Richard Davenport-Hines on the charmed, dizzy world of the multi-talented Colette

To 'Flufftail' from 'Pinkpaws': The Animals is only good for celebrity-spotting

21 September 2013 9:00 am

The correspondence between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy is good for celebrity-spotting but too cloyingly self-absorbed to be of wider interest, says D. J. Taylor

Why does Max Hastings have such a hatred for the British military?

14 September 2013 9:00 am

David Crane is taken aback by the particular contempt Max Hastings appears to reserve for the British at the outbreak of the first world war