Books

Did George Formby and Gracie Fields really help Britain out of the Depression?

16 May 2020 9:00 am

Cinema history is a strange thing. A couple of months ago the Guardian began a series in which film critics…

The delicate balance between God and Caesar in modern Britain

16 May 2020 9:00 am

At a well-reported political meeting at London’s Queen’s Hall during the first world war the preacher and suffragette Maude Royden…

From the wrestling ring to Plato’s Cave in one easy throw

16 May 2020 9:00 am

One of the delights of going to stay with my grandparents in the 1970s was that my grandmother was a…

Homage to Lyra McKee — the journalist I miss most

16 May 2020 9:00 am

In the two generations since Watergate, the image of the journalist has gone from that of plucky truth-seeker to sensationalist…

From blue to pink: Looking for Eliza, by Leaf Arbuthnot, reviewed

16 May 2020 9:00 am

On the way back from my daily dawn march in the park, I often pass my neighbour, a distinguished gentleman…

Where are the Henry Kissingers when we need them?

16 May 2020 9:00 am

It was not until I went to Harvard in 1988 to take a year out from the Foreign Office that…

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…