Books

Break-out and betrayal in Occupied Europe

10 October 2020 9:00 am

Für dich, Tommy, ist der Krieg vorbei. However, many British servicemen, officers especially, didn’t want their war to be over.…

Appearances are deceptive: Trio, by William Boyd, reviewed

10 October 2020 9:00 am

Talbot Kydd, film producer; Anny Viklund, American actress; Elfrida Wing, novelist; these make the trio of the title. Private lives…

Breakdown in Berlin: Red Pill, by Hari Kunzru, reviewed

10 October 2020 9:00 am

‘I was what they call an “independent scholar”’, confides the narrator of Hari Kunzru’s Red Pill, a middle-aged writer from…

Shock and awe — what should we make of our Viking ancestors?

10 October 2020 9:00 am

In June 793, a raiding force arrived by boat at the island monastery of Lindisfarne, on the Northumbrian coast. The…

Hitler’s devastating secret weapon: V2, by Robert Harris, reviewed

10 October 2020 9:00 am

After Stalingrad, Hitler desperately needed an encouraging novelty. Wernher von Braun, Germany’s leading rocketeer in the second world war, expertly…

Opposites attract: Just Like You, by Nick Hornby, reviewed

3 October 2020 9:00 am

Babysitters are having a literary moment. Following Kiley Reid’s debut Such a Fun Age, Nick Hornby is the latest author…

Julius Caesar’s assassins were widely regarded as heroes in Rome

3 October 2020 9:00 am

It’s not as if Julius Caesar wasn’t warned about the Ides of March. Somebody thrust a written prediction of the…

What the sonnets tell us about Shakespeare

3 October 2020 9:00 am

When Romeo and Juliet first meet at a party, their words to one another fall into the form of a…

A melting pot of mercenaries: Afterlives, by Abdulrazak Gurnah, reviewed

3 October 2020 9:00 am

‘That was how that part of the world was at the time. Every bit of it belonged to Europeans, at…

Full of desperate longing: Unquiet, by Linn Ullmann, reviewed

3 October 2020 9:00 am

The scrawny little girl with ‘pipe-cleaner legs’ wants to feel at home with her parents. But father and mother live…

Surrounded by sea and sky: the irresistible draw of islands

3 October 2020 9:00 am

Holiday islands, desert islands, love islands, islands of eternal youth, siren islands, islands filled with screaming demons. Of all the…

The ‘unremarkable’ life of SS officer Robert Griesinger

3 October 2020 9:00 am

In October 2011 Daniel Lee was at a dinner party at which a Dutch woman told a disturbing story. It…

A cat’s-eye view of 18th-century social history

3 October 2020 9:00 am

Jeoffry is, by now, one of the best-known cats in literary history. And unlike the Cheshire Cat, Mr Mistoffelees, Orlando,…

We all love a poltergeist story

3 October 2020 9:00 am

There are fashions in the paranormal as in everything else. Since the famous Enfield hauntings of the late 1970s, poltergeists…

Gazing heavenwards: the medieval monks who mapped the planetary motions

3 October 2020 9:00 am

We can probably blame George and Ira Gershwin. It was that brilliant duo who, in 1937, penned the memorable lyric…

Written in blood or bound in human skin: the world’s weirdest books

3 October 2020 9:00 am

Dennis Duncan enjoys some of the world’s most bizarre books

Ladies’ man: Tom Stoppard’s love life revealed

26 September 2020 9:00 am

Tom Stoppard is a non-stop genius of jokes – but many of them make his latest biographer uneasy, says Craig Raine

Too many of our children are battling severe depression

26 September 2020 9:00 am

Christopher Hitchens once said that women just aren’t as funny as men and Caitlin Moran believed him. But that was…

Born to be wild: the plight of salmon worldwide

26 September 2020 9:00 am

In the Pacific Northwest, Native Americans paint images of salmon on to stones. They say that if you rub those…

Tenderness and sorrow: Inside Story, by Martin Amis, reviewed

26 September 2020 9:00 am

Inside Story is called, on the front cover, which boasts a very charming photograph of the author and Christopher Hitchens,…

French lessons, with tears: inside a Lyonnais kitchen

26 September 2020 9:00 am

You can’t say he didn’t warn us. In the final sentence of his previous book, Heat, a joyously gluttonous exploration…

Blonde with a bombshell: Sasha Swire’s revelations about the Cameroons

26 September 2020 9:00 am

Ten years ago, reviewing Alastair Campbell’s diaries for The Spectator, I concluded as follows: Who will be the chroniclers of…

Where will our inventions lead?

26 September 2020 9:00 am

When reviewers say that some new book reminds them of some famous old book, it often ends up as a…

It’s not all fluffed lines: the serious business of amateur dramatics

26 September 2020 9:00 am

The greatest pain of lockdown has been, for me, the absence of am-dram. In one half of my life I’m…

City of dazzling mosaics: the golden age of Ravenna

19 September 2020 9:00 am

Ian Thomson describes Ravenna’s golden age, when classical Rome, Byzantium and Christianity met