Books

Political biographies to enjoy in lockdown

9 May 2020 9:00 am

Here are ten political biographies, with a leavening of the classics, for those with time to kill in the present…

Another alien in our midst: Pew, by Catherine Lacey, reviewed

9 May 2020 9:00 am

It needs authorial guts to write a novel in which details are shrouded, meaning is concealed and little is certain.…

William Sitwell’s history of eating out reminds us painfully of what we’re missing

9 May 2020 9:00 am

In the concluding chapter of this book the Daily Telegraph’s restaurant critic and recovering vegan-baiter William Sitwell muses on the…

We don’t talk of a ‘working father’ — so why do we still refer to a ‘working mother’?

9 May 2020 9:00 am

The phrase ‘working mother’ ought to be as redundant sounding as ‘working father’ would be if anyone ever said that:…

The art of negotiation: Peace Talks, by Tim Finch, reviewed

9 May 2020 9:00 am

Early on in Tim Finch’s hypnotic novel Peace Talks, the narrator — the diplomat Edvard Behrends, who facilitates international peace…

Without Joseph Banks, Cook’s first voyage might have been a failure

9 May 2020 9:00 am

When the wealthy young Joseph Banks announced that he intended joining Captain Cook’s expedition to Tahiti to observe the Transit…

The symbolism of Orion, the hunter of the heavens

9 May 2020 9:00 am

What happened in the rites of Eleusis is a mystery. So are all the unwritten parts of human history. Our…

The deserted village green: is this the end of cricket as we know it?

9 May 2020 9:00 am

Imagine an archetypal English scene and it’s likely you’re picturing somewhere rural. Despite losing fields and fields each year to…

Much-hyped technological innovation isn’t necessarily progress

9 May 2020 9:00 am

Modern advances in communication technology, computer power and medical science can sometimes be so startling as to seem almost like…

Walt Whitman’s poetry can change your life

9 May 2020 9:00 am

To describe a new book as ‘eagerly awaited’ is almost unpardonable. Yet Mark Doty’s What is the Grass: Walt Whitman…

Roger Scruton’s swan song: salvation through Parsifal

9 May 2020 9:00 am

This is Roger Scruton’s final book. Parsifal was Wagner’s final opera. Both works are intended to be taken as Last…

A ‘loneliness pandemic’ could prove as dangerous as coronavirus

9 May 2020 9:00 am

Adrian Woolfson explains the essence of pandemics – and how we can expect many more of them

Would you kill for a cup of coffee?

2 May 2020 9:00 am

In the winter of 1939, at the San Francisco Golden Gate trade fair, an advertorial film called Behind the Cup…

From ‘divine Caesar’ to Hitler’s lapdog – the rise and fall of Benito Mussolini

2 May 2020 9:00 am

Mussolini dreamed of a new Roman empire and dominion over the Mediterranean. Two decades later he was hanging by his feet in a public square, as Ian Thomson relates

Sadness and scandal: Hinton, by Mark Blacklock, reviewed

2 May 2020 9:00 am

In 1886 the British mathematician and schoolmaster Charles Howard Hinton presented himself to the police at Bow Street, London to…

Flower power: symbols of romance and revolution

2 May 2020 9:00 am

Critics have argued over the meaning of the great golden flower head to which Van Dyck points in his ‘Self-Portrait…

How not to get away from it all in the Hebrides

2 May 2020 9:00 am

Some accounts of moving to the countryside are aspirational and inspiring, but this book is more of a ‘how not…

René Dreyfus: the racing driver detested by the Nazis

2 May 2020 9:00 am

I have driven a racing car. On television, it looks like a smooth and scientific matter. It is not. A…

Is this the last round in the great celebrity Punch and Judy show?

2 May 2020 9:00 am

It’s been tough recently being Woody Allen, something that didn’t look too easy to begin with. Last year Amazon breached…

Why are musicologists so indifferent to their subjects’ love lives?

2 May 2020 9:00 am

People often say that the battle for male gay rights has been won, at least in the West, and that…

When Idi Amin threatened to shoot the cook

2 May 2020 9:00 am

Private chefs keep many secrets and are expected to go to their graves without sharing a morsel of gossip about…

A Wiltshire mystery: A Saint in Swindon, by Alice Jolly, reviewed

2 May 2020 9:00 am

This novella is suited to our fevered times. Scheduled to coincide with the Swindon spring festival of literature, now cancelled,…

Short stories to enjoy in lockdown

2 May 2020 9:00 am

In these circumstances there’s a temptation to reach for the longest novel imaginable. If you’re not going to read Proust…

Pity the poor stepmother — the most reviled character in folk literature

25 April 2020 9:00 am

Fairy stories were not originally aimed at children, and we do not know what the first audience responses were; but…

Moscow rules in London: how Putin’s agents corrupted the British elite

25 April 2020 9:00 am

Putin’s corrupt cronies may change, but the paranoid world view they all share remains the same, says Owen Matthews