Books

Distrust and resentment have plagued Anglo-Russian relations for centuries

22 June 2024 9:00 am

On a visit to England in 1556, Ivan the Terrible’s envoy alienated Londoners with his extreme suspicions – and lurid insults have been exchanged ever since

Citizens of nowhere: This Strange Eventful History, by Claire Messud, reviewed

22 June 2024 9:00 am

A fictionalised version of Messud’s recent family history traces the many moves of three generations forced into exile from Algeria

Paris is perhaps the greatest character in Balzac’s Human Comedy

22 June 2024 9:00 am

The drama of the street is a constant theme, though Balzac himself took most pleasure in the city’s ‘gloomy passages and silent cul-de-sacs between midnight and two in the morning’

Bebop, swing and all that jazz

15 June 2024 9:00 am

I can still remember the first time I heard big band jazz. I was in my twenties (too long ago!)…

The good old ways: nature’s best chance of recovery

15 June 2024 9:00 am

Traditional agricultural methods still operating in pockets of Europe maintain an enviable balance of ecology and economy and an extraordinary diversity of wildlife

Disgusted of academia: a university lecturer bewails his lot

15 June 2024 9:00 am

The anonymous professor rails against politicians, administrators, colleagues and students who consistently fall short of his ethical and intellectual standards

Kapows and wisecracks: Fight Me, by Austin Grossman, reviewed

15 June 2024 9:00 am

A mild-manned academic with special powers joins forces with three similarly gifted friends to defeat the Dark Adversary, Sinistro

At last we see Henry VIII’s wives as individuals

15 June 2024 9:00 am

Specialist knowledge of Tudor portraiture, book bindings, music and jewellery enables us to see each woman anew, possessed of a distinct life and afterlife

The diary of a dying man: Graham Caveney’s poignant cancer memoir

15 June 2024 9:00 am

With months to live, Caveney looks back on his childhood, muses on favourite writers, decries NHS underfunding and rejoices in his beloved partner, Emma

Jam-packed with treasures: the eccentric Sir John Soane’s Museum

15 June 2024 9:00 am

The delightfully higgledy-piggledy display of antiquities, filling walls from floor to ceiling, may have been inspired by the Piranesi prints Soane also collected

The sheer drudgery of professional tennis

15 June 2024 9:00 am

The most surprising thing about Conor Niland’s bruising account of his tennis career is that he emerges with his sanity intact

The costly legacy of Margaret Thatcher’s monetarism

15 June 2024 9:00 am

As Thatcher’s economic private secretary in the first years of her government, Tim Lankester is well qualified to analyse the controversial policy and its effects

A long goodbye to Berlin

15 June 2024 9:00 am

Christopher Isherwood’s experiences as a young man in Weimar Germany would be reworked in his autofiction for the rest of his life

Those magnificent men and their stargazing machines

8 June 2024 9:00 am

Violet Moller focuses on three 16th-century‘heroes of science’, John Dee, Nicolaus Copernicus and Tycho Brahe, and their great libraries and observatories

The English lieutenant’s Frenchwoman: the tragic story of Adèle Hugo

8 June 2024 9:00 am

Mark Bostridge’s obsession with Victor Hugo’s beautiful daughter almost rivals her own infatuation with Albert Pinson, the naval officer she pursued around the world

A Native American tragedy: Wandering Stars, by Tommy Orange, reviewed

8 June 2024 9:00 am

Shocked to find that his Cheyenne forebears had been imprisoned in Florida, Orange was inspired to write a story of displacement and abuse spanning generations

The ordeal of sitting for my father Lucian Freud

8 June 2024 9:00 am

Rose Boyt describes posing naked over many nights – supplied with purple hearts by Freud to keep her awake – and her shock on finally seeing the result

Why must we be in constant battle with the ocean?

8 June 2024 9:00 am

As we continue to fill the depths with plastic and radioactive waste, our coastlines are increasingly battered by tsunamis and erosion

‘A group of deranged idiots’ – how the Soviets saw the Avant-Gardists

8 June 2024 9:00 am

First welcomed, then vilified, by Lenin, Russian artists such as Malevich, Tatlin, Kandinsky and Chagall would find their only real supporters in the West

Second life: Playboy, by Constance Debré, reviewed

8 June 2024 9:00 am

Having abandoned her marriage and her career as a lawyer, Debré re-emerges as a lesbian, a writer, and a seducer equal to Casanova

Bayes’s Theorem: the mathematical formula that ‘explains the world’

8 June 2024 9:00 am

An obscure 18th-century Presbyterian minister’s insights into statistics are still valued today in making strategic economic decisions and forecasts

Did the Duchess of Windsor fake the theft of her own jewels?

8 June 2024 9:00 am

When Wallis’s jewellery collection disappeared from under the bed one night in Surrey in 1946, was this a misfortune, or carelessness, or planned fraud?

When Stalin was the lesser of two evils

8 June 2024 9:00 am

Churchill detested Stalin, but Britain and the US needed his help against an even worse enemy. Giles Milton reveals the true nature of the Big Three’s dysfunctional relationship

Haunted by the past: Winterberg’s Last Journey, by Jaroslav Rudis, reviewed

8 June 2024 9:00 am

A garrulous nonagenarian and his patient carer make a long train trip to Sarajevo, hoping to solve a decades-old murder mystery

China’s role in Soviet policy-making

1 June 2024 9:00 am

Stalin and his successors’ struggle with the US and China reflected conflicting Soviet ambitions to be a superpower and to lead world revolution, says Sergey Radchenko