Book review

Umberto Eco really tries our patience

7 November 2015 9:00 am

Colonna, the protagonist of Umberto Eco’s latest novel, is the first to admit he is a loser. A middle-aged literary…

Ferdinand Porsche, the inventor of the Doodlebug and the Panzer tank, was treated with rare deference by Hitler, bordering on idolatry

Ferninand Porsche: from the Beetle to the Panzer tank

7 November 2015 9:00 am

The aggressive character of the famous German sports car, in a sort of sympathetic magic, often transfers itself to owner-drivers.…

Superforecasting could spark a revolution in politics

3 October 2015 9:00 am

Forecasts have been fundamental to mankind’s journey from a small tribe on the African savannah to a species that can…

Marcus Tullius Cicero: our guide to ‘the most tumultuous era in human history’

How the world's first great republic slipped into empire and one-man rule

3 October 2015 9:00 am

Marcus Tullius Cicero was the ancient master of the ‘save’ key. He composed more letters, speeches and philosophy books than…

Patrick deWitt is a literary original but he needs to BE MORE FUNNY

3 October 2015 9:00 am

Patrick deWitt is a Canadian writer whose second novel, a picaresque and darkly comic western called The Sisters Brothers, was…

Griffith in 1961, at the height of his powers

A portrait of a gay boxer

3 October 2015 9:00 am

I don’t like boxing. If I ever get into a boxing ring, I’ll be in the corner with the governor…

Why on earth did Jeanette Winterson agree to retell Shakespeare's Winter’s Tale?

3 October 2015 9:00 am

It is fair to say that Jeanette Winterson is not Shakespeare, though I cannot imagine why any authors would accept…

A book that rattles like a pressure-cooker with anger, outrage, frustration and spleen

3 October 2015 9:00 am

‘You understand, Lenú, what happens to people: we have too much stuff inside and it swells us, breaks us.’ The…

Hughes in 1986: Bate simply fails to make the case his book stands on – that the poet was a sadist

An unauthorised, and unconvincing, biography of Ted Hughes

3 October 2015 8:00 am

In Testaments Betrayed, Milan Kundera says: ‘Biographers know nothing about the intimate sex lives of their own wives, but they…

The end of the world: an illustrated guide

4 July 2015 9:00 am

At the heart of the eschatological ideology of the Islamic State is the belief that when the world ends (and…

Ecclestone and Mosley at Brands Hatch in 1978 — a double-act worthy of Ealing Studios

The fast, furious life of Max Mosley

4 July 2015 9:00 am

Max Mosley’s autobiography has been much anticipated: by the motor racing world, by the writers and readers of tabloid newspapers,…

‘Exquisitely dressed and groomed, Stefan Zweig looks simply terrified’

Stefan Zweig: the tragedy of a great bad writer

22 November 2014 9:00 am

Stefan Zweig wasn’t, to be honest, a very good writer. This delicious fact was hugged to themselves by most of…

To be astonished by nature, look no further than Claxton

11 October 2014 9:00 am

Mark Cocker is the naturalist writer of the moment, with birds his special subject. His previous book, Birds and People,…

Oliver Cromwell opening the coffin of Charles I, by Paul Delaroche

Rebellion without a cause: Peter Ackroyd's curious Civil War

20 September 2014 9:00 am

How our perceptions of 17th-century England are dominated by the convulsions of the two decades at its centre! Peter Ackroyd’s…

Peter Levi – poet, priest and life-enhancer

30 August 2014 9:00 am

Hilaire Belloc was once being discussed on some television programme. One of the panellists was Peter Levi. The other critics…

A Siberian exile prepares to shoot a black fox (c.1819)

Siberia beyond the Gulag Archipelago

16 August 2014 9:00 am

Larger than Europe and the United States combined, Siberia is an enormous swathe of Russia, spanning seven time zones and…

An anti-Soviet rally in Moscow, February 1991: Gorbachev’s reforms resulted in the rise of his nemesis, Yeltsin

It's not just Putin who misses the Soviet empire. President Bush did, too

12 July 2014 9:00 am

Vladimir Putin calls it ‘the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century’, a viewpoint which explains much of his recent…

What! Has John Sutherland really not read Don Quixote from cover to cover?

Judge a critic by the quality of his mistakes

10 May 2014 9:00 am

What the title promises is not found inside. It is a tease. John Sutherland says he has ‘been paid one…

The great Ascension Day pageant of the Doge performing the marriage of the sea — already a tourist attraction in 17th-century Venice.

What Englishmen learnt from Europe

1 February 2014 9:00 am

The pattern of foreign travel by wealthy young Englishmen that became known as the Grand Tour began in the Renaissance…

When No Man's Land is home

25 January 2014 9:00 am

Countless writers and film-makers this year will be trying their hand at forcing us to wake up and smell the…

Scarlett O’Hara runs through the streets of burning Atlanta

'Where are the happy fictional spinsters?'

18 January 2014 9:00 am

This book arose from an argument. Lifelong bookworm Samantha Ellis and her best friend had gone to Brontë country and…

‘Grace Higgens in the Kitchen’ by Vanessa Bell

The Angel of Charleston, by Stewart MacKay - review

18 January 2014 9:00 am

Above the range in the kitchen at Charleston House is a painted inscription: ‘Grace Higgens worked here for 50 years…

'She's the most important Jewish writer since Kafka!'

11 January 2014 9:00 am

The Brazilian novelist Clarice Lispector was a riddlesome and strange personality. Strikingly beautiful, with catlike green eyes, she died in…

What was the secret of Queen Victoria's rebel daughter?

11 January 2014 9:00 am

Princess Louise (1848–1939), Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, was the prettiest and liveliest of the five princesses, and the only one…

How we lost the seasons

4 January 2014 9:00 am

So, what are you doing with your Christmas decorations? Still up? Did the tree get put out on 2 January?…