Books

The keys to Chinese

7 October 2017 9:00 am

The history of industry is the story of the reduction of complexity to easily manageable, replicable components or actions. But…

‘A new Raft of the Medusa’.Two survivors, Maurice Anderson and Goodman Thomasen, of the Norwegian ship Drot turned on their German companion in an act of cannibalism — after which Anderson savagely attacked Thomasen (From Le Petit Journal, 1899.)

The worst things happen at sea

7 October 2017 9:00 am

This horrifying and engrossing book could scarcely be improved upon. In this age of HRHs Harry, William and Kate-led openness…

Portrait of Gabrielle Renard and Jean Renoir. Gabrielle was an important part of the Renoir household, both as nanny and artist’s model

August Auguste

7 October 2017 9:00 am

In 1959 the formidable interviewer John Freeman took the Face to Face crew to the 81-year-old Augustus John’s studio. The…

A poet in prose

7 October 2017 9:00 am

Literary reputation can be a fickle old business. Those garlanded during their lifetimes are often quickly forgotten once dead. Yet…

Who is Sylvia – what is she?

7 October 2017 9:00 am

In May 1956, three months after meeting Ted Hughes, one before they will marry, Sylvia Plath writes to her mother…

The uninhabited island of Fuday in the Sound of Barra, Outer Hebrides

Our islands’ story

7 October 2017 9:00 am

Britain has 6,000 islands. Not as many as Sweden’s 30,000 but quite enough to be going on with. Only 132…

Tales out of school

7 October 2017 9:00 am

In 1952, the five-year-old Michael Rosen and his brother were taken on holiday along the Thames by their communist parents.…

A wall painting in an 18th-century rural synagogue in Germany depicts the Lion of Judah and the temple of Jerusalem.The itinerant folk artist was Eliezer ben Solomon Sussman

Wandering Jews

7 October 2017 9:00 am

Simon Schama is an international treasure. Whether on screen or in print, he is all energy, enthusiasm, dramatic gestures, emotional…

Having your cake

30 September 2017 9:00 am

For those in the know, Jimmy Webb is one of the great pop songwriters of the 1960s and 70s, up…

Sir Isaac Newton, by Godfrey Kneller (1646–1723): Newton was a secret, though fierce critic of the ‘Holy’ Trinity

Trials and Trinitarians

30 September 2017 9:00 am

John Calvin believed that human nature was a ‘permanent factory of idols’; the mind conceived them, and the hand gave…

Apostle of gloom

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Few people turn to Henning Mankell’s work in search of a good laugh. He’s best known as the author of…

Ratings war

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Planning for the ‘war of the future’ is something generals and politicians have been doing for the past 150 years.…

Wemyss Bay train and ferry station on the Firth of Clyde

Going places

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Stations, according to Simon Jenkins, are the forgotten part of the railway experience. People love the trains, the journey, the…

Portraits of Pakistan

30 September 2017 9:00 am

By his own admission, Isambard Wilkinson’s memoir of his experiences in Pakistan a decade ago as a foreign correspondent has…

Brotherly love

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Jane Harris’s novels often focus on the disenfranchised: a maid in The Observations, a woman reduced by spinsterhood in the…

Alice Waters shows the Prince of Wales around her ‘Edible Schoolyard’ garden in California

Alice’s restaurant

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Though Alice Waters is not a household name here, that is precisely what she is in America — the best-known…

Anthony Powell, by Henry Lamb (1934)

Of his time

30 September 2017 9:00 am

Great novelists come in all shapes and sizes, but one thing they all share is a status of half-belonging. If…

Our hero, homo erectus

Learning to talk

23 September 2017 9:00 am

One of the great achievements of science is that so many of its branches, from astronomy to zoology, have been…

Deep learning

23 September 2017 9:00 am

Given the brilliance of his career as a fiction-writer, it is easy to forget that J.M. Coetzee has a commensurate…

Harsh, but entertaining

23 September 2017 9:00 am

When millionaires become billionaires they become even greedier and more ruthless. At the highest level, Trumpian economics can be lethal.…

Bob Marley and the Wailers at the Crystal Palace Bowl, 7 June 1980

The cult of Holy Bob

23 September 2017 9:00 am

The Harder They Come, Jamaica’s first (and still finest) home-grown film, was released in 1972 with the local singer Jimmy…

Mykola Bokan’s photograph of his family, including a memorial to ‘Kostya, who died of hunger’, July 1933. Bokan and his son were arrested for documenting the famine — both died in the gulag

The hunger

23 September 2017 9:00 am

In 1933 my aunt Lenina Bibikova was eight years old. She lived in Kharkov, Ukraine. Every morning a polished black…

Muddled in minutiae

23 September 2017 9:00 am

‘Publitical’ is a neologism worth avoiding. Bill Goldstein uses it to describe T.S. Eliot’s activities when launching and promoting his…

Demonised by history

23 September 2017 9:00 am

Some oleaginous interviewer once suggested to Winston Churchill that he was the greatest Briton who ever lived. The grand old…

Bristol ablaze: anger at the Lords’ rejection of the Second Reform Bill sparked riots in Queen’s Square, Bristol, October 1831 (William James Muller)

Britain über alles

23 September 2017 9:00 am

  David Cannadine was a schoolboy in 1950s Birmingham, which was still recognisable as the city that Joseph Chamberlain had…