Books

Murder in the basement: The Language of Birds, by Jill Dawson, reviewed

20 April 2019 9:00 am

Jill Dawson has a taste for murder. One of her earlier novels, the Orange shortlisted Fred and Edie, fictionalised the…

Into the woods: for the Oslo exhibition, Knausgaard chose to fill a whole section with Munch’s paintings of trees. ‘Pine Forest’ (1891–92)

The Struggle and The Scream: is Karl Ove Knausgaard Munch’s doppelgänger?

20 April 2019 9:00 am

Norway doesn’t have a world-class philosopher (Kierkegaard was Danish). Karl Ove Knausgaard declared at the end of his previous book…

Was there no end to John Buchan’s talents?

20 April 2019 9:00 am

John Buchan was a novelist, historian, poet, biographer and journalist (assistant editor of The Spectator indeed); a barrister and publisher;…

Michael Tippett at home at Parkside, Corsham, Wilts with the score of his second piano sonata

Time for a Tippett revival

13 April 2019 9:00 am

Running the entire course of the 20th century, Michael Tippett’s life (1905–1998) was devoted to innovation. He was an English…

Toy boy: Machines Like Me, by Ian McEwan, reviewed

13 April 2019 9:00 am

What kind of loyalty do we owe a robot we’ve paid for — one who exhibits a convincingly human kind…

How climate change led to capitalism

13 April 2019 9:00 am

At a dinner recently I was told the story of a Canadian billionaire (now defined in banking circles as someone…

I could have stopped Harold Shipman’s killing spree and saved 175 lives

13 April 2019 9:00 am

Scientists, it turns out, are really bad at statistics. Numerous studies show that a startling proportion of academics consistently misunderstand…

A stubborn Conservative PM attempting to negotiate with Germany? Not Theresa May but Neville Chamberlain

13 April 2019 9:00 am

When lists are compiled of our best and worst prime ministers (before the present incumbent), the two main protagonists of…

Rebel girls of the 13th century

13 April 2019 9:00 am

Women who can — however tenuously — be described as ‘rebel girls’ are big in publishing now. Goodnight Stories for…

Jewish food to relish and cherish

13 April 2019 9:00 am

In matters of culture and ethnicity, I take my lead from my old friend and guide Sir Jonathan Miller. Like…

The dirty business of early printed books

13 April 2019 9:00 am

Say what you like about the efficiency of the Kindle, one day we’re going to wake up and miss the…

A tease for #MeToo

13 April 2019 9:00 am

Titania McGrath is the alter ego of the schoolteacher Andrew Doyle. A perpetually enraged ‘activist, healer and radical intersectional poet’,…

The English model Jean Shrimpton’s appearance at the Melbourne Races in 1965 hatless, gloveless and bare-legged in a mini-dress caused a press furore in Australia

It was pretty good for me: Joan Bakewell on the Sixties

6 April 2019 9:00 am

For me this book evokes a Gigi duet moment: ‘You wore a gown of gold.’ ‘I was all in blue.’…

A soldier’s widow and child in Greece c. 1950

Greece is not just for Greeks — it belongs to the world

6 April 2019 9:00 am

It often proves difficult to talk about modern Greece. Not just because of the relentless stream of news coming at…

The Bears v. the Rabbits: The Feral Detective, by Jonathan Lethem, reviewed

6 April 2019 9:00 am

Jonathan Lethem’s new book is billed as ‘his first detective novel since Motherless Brooklyn’, which won America’s national book critics…

Barefoot in the park: Tokyo Ueno Station, by Yu Miri, reviewed

6 April 2019 9:00 am

In 1923, an earthquake with a magnitude of 9 struck Tokyo and Yokohama. A huge area of Tokyo burned. But,…

Can anyone get away with murder anymore?

6 April 2019 9:00 am

When the 24-year-old Angela Gallop started working at the Home Office forensic science service, her boss lost no time in…

The vast human cost of the Panama Canal keeps unfolding

6 April 2019 9:00 am

There is nothing new about Latin America’s fractious relationship with her northern neighbour. In 1900 the Uruguayan writer José Enrique…

At the Tropicana nightclub: Dr Hasselbacher and Wormald celebrate with Milly on her 17th birthday. A scene from Carol Reed’s film of Our Man in Havana with Burl Ives, Alec Guinness and Jo Morrow

‘Where every vice was permissible’: Graham Greene’s Cuba

6 April 2019 9:00 am

Cuba meant a lot to Graham Greene. Behind his writing desk in his flat in Antibes he had a painting…

A drawing of the massacre by Eduard Thöny for the satirical German magazine Simplicissimus, January 1920

Bloodbath at Baisakhi: the centenary of the Amritsar massacre

6 April 2019 9:00 am

On 10 April 1919, the peppery governor of the Punjab, Sir Michael O’Dwyer, ordered the immediate arrest of two leaders…

The creation of Adam and Eve, depicted in a 12th-century Byzantine mosaic from Monreale, Sicily

How much of the Bible are Christians expected to believe?

30 March 2019 9:00 am

In this careful study of the sacred texts of Judaism and Christianity, John Barton, former Oriel and Laing professor of…

While Dutch schools ban birthday cakes, the British pine for the next Bake Off

30 March 2019 9:00 am

The Way We Eat Now begins with a single bunch of grapes. The bunch is nothing special to the modern…

The final fanfare for the caliphs before the coming of the Mongol hordes. A manuscript miniature from al-Hariri’s Maqamat, showing the caliph’s mounted standard bearers

The Arabs before Islam: a rich, exotic history

30 March 2019 9:00 am

In his first book, published in 1977, Tim Mackintosh-Smith described mentioning the idea of travelling to Yemen while studying Arabic…

Demonstration of right-wing ‘patriots’ in Lower Saxony, 2019. Credit: Rex Features

Where is the rise of neo-Nazism around Europe leading?

30 March 2019 9:00 am

‘Why would anyone write a historical study of it?’ asks Gavriel Rosenfeld about the Fourth Reich at the start of…

Statue of Socrates at the Academy of Athens

Socrates the romantic hero?

30 March 2019 9:00 am

If western philosophy is no more than ‘footnotes to Plato’, so, arguably, is the myth of its founding hero, Socrates.…