Lead book review

Reza Aslan: personable, charismatic and a keen self-publicist. He could be wearing togas and flying around in a private jet in five years’ time

Reza Aslan doesn’t fear God. But should he fear his fellow Muslims?

4 November 2017 9:00 am

Eating human brains, burying one’s face in dead people’s ashes and publicly deriding the president of the United States as…

Romance and rejection

28 October 2017 9:00 am

‘Outsider’ ought to be an important word. To attach it to someone, particularly a writer, is to suggest that their…

How pleasant to know Mr Lear

14 October 2017 9:00 am

Edward Lear liked to tell the story of how he was once sitting in a railway carriage with two women…

Self-portrait, with his wife Margaret

A dazzling vision

12 August 2017 9:00 am

There are a number of reports by his contemporaries of Thomas Gainsborough at work. They make you realise what a…

The maestro could hear if a single player was doing something wrong, even in the most noisy tutti

The morality of conducting

5 August 2017 9:00 am

Now he is the greatest figure for me, in the world. [Toscanini is] the last proud, noble, unbending representative (with…

Timothy Leary — apostle of acid and, according to Richard Nixon, ‘the most dangerous man in America’

A strange vibration

22 July 2017 9:00 am

Among the many curiosities revealed in this book, few are more startling than the fact that at the height of…

Thoreau: the poet-naturalist and political radical

Taking the rough with the smooth

8 July 2017 9:00 am

In The Ambassadors, Henry James sends Lewis Lambert Strether from Boston to Paris to retrieve Chad Newsome, the wayward heir…

Hanna Reitsch — a committed Nazi and idol of German aviation.

High flyers

1 July 2017 9:00 am

It is conventional wisdom in the publishing industry that, despite the old adage, readers do indeed judge books by their…

Damage limitation

24 June 2017 9:00 am

One of the most pitiful sights in conflict areas is the local prosthetics store, with its rows of artificial limbs,…

Study of horses by Théodore Géricault

In praise of neigh-sayers

17 June 2017 9:00 am

Wallace Stevens gave us ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’. The German scholar Ulrich Raulff, in this meaty book…

In chains of gold: Minnie Stevens, the daughter of a Massachussetts chambermaid, married Arthur Paget in 1878. Portrait by Fernand Paillet

Gilded prostitution

10 June 2017 9:00 am

‘An English peer of very old title is desirous of marrying at once a very wealthy lady, her age and…

The city of ugly love

20 May 2017 9:00 am

Cuba’s gorgeous, crumbling capital has always been a testing ground for writers. That heady combination of revolution, cocktails, sex and…

In a notorious case of 1822, the Bishop of Clogher was discovered soliciting the soldier John Moverley in the White Lion public house, off the Haymarket. The bishop was deprived of his see, skipped bail, fled to France and ended up living incognito in Edinburgh until his death in 1843

Love under wraps

13 May 2017 9:00 am

It’s an important subject: the existence of a permanent and significant minority within London’s life. Gay men and lesbians have…

An early modern battle scene depicted in a Mughal miniature looks like a graceful pageant compared to today’s nuclear and cyber warfare

When will we ever learn?

6 May 2017 9:00 am

In 2012, sugar became more dangerous than gunpowder. According to the historian Yuval Noah Harari, of the 56 million people…

Saint Helena and the Emperor Heraclius restore the Holy Cross to Jerusalem after its recapture from the Persians. Altarpiece by Miguel Jimenez and Martin Bernat, c.1485

The wondrous cross

29 April 2017 9:00 am

How did the cross, from being such a loathsome taboo that it could scarcely be mentioned, change into an image…

‘An inconceivable operation of the gigantic forces of nature’: a total solar eclipse sweeps across Indonesia in March 2016

Unearthly darkness

22 April 2017 9:00 am

Mask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipsesby Norton, £20, pp. 336 On 28 May 1900…

A true original

14 April 2017 11:00 pm

Leonora Carrington was strikingly beautiful with ‘the personality of a headstrong and hypersensitive horse’ (according to her friend and patron…

The descent of man

10 December 2016 9:00 am

Why do humans want to build robots? It seems, on the face of it, to be a suicidal endeavour, destroying…

Review: Dinner with Armand de Brignac

30 November 2016 10:08 pm

A fine time was had by all at the Dickie Fitz Restaurant and Dining Room in London W1 the other…

Restaurateur Gavin Rankin enjoys a gastronomic trip to Belgium

30 November 2016 4:35 am

Restaurateur Gavin Rankin enjoys a gastronomic trip to Belgium but wishes travelling companion, chef Rowley Leigh, had kept his mouth…

Skin in the game

24 November 2016 3:00 pm

Terry Smith is in the news again. Not for being a Brexiteer — though he’s been committed to that cause…

Mount Gay Rum

22 November 2016 10:38 pm

Jonathan Ray visits the oldest rum distillery in the world and gets his hands dirty blending My travels round the…

The Joy of Chocolate

22 November 2016 10:29 pm

In Grenada, Jonathan Ray attempts to extend his life by eating plenty of dark chocolate. I’m in the House of…

Letter from the Caribbean #2

18 November 2016 3:08 am

Jonathan Ray gets his head around how to create the perfect rum cocktail. I’ve lost count of the number of…

Letter from the Caribbean #1

18 November 2016 2:59 am

Jonathan Ray gets a taste for rum but knows when it’s time to stop. Excitement in the Caribbean concerning Prince…