Jonathan Sumption

A French illuminated manuscript shows supplies being loaded onto boats before departing for the Crusades

What it took to wage holy war, Medieval style

5 September 2015 9:00 am

For most of history, religion and war have been the most powerful social instincts of mankind and its chief collective…

The good war?

1 October 2011 12:00 am

Jonathan Sumption admires the sweep and bravura  of Max Hastings’s account without agreeing with every word


Nothing left to lose

20 August 2011 12:00 am

Jonathan Sumption on the obduracy, distrust and inertia that characterised the end of the Third Reich

The problems of PR

11 June 2011 12:00 am

Two centuries ago, Edmund Burke famously mocked the intellectuals of revolutionary France for trying to devise a perfectly rational constitution for their country.


Setting the world to rights

7 May 2011 12:00 am

Jonathan Sumption finds that the philosophes of the French Enlightenment shared little with one another and even less with the revolutionaries who followed them

Design for living

19 March 2011 12:00 am

The first thing to be said about this remarkable book is that it has nothing to do with animal rights.


On the silver trail

15 January 2011 12:00 am

The Spanish empire was the first of Europe’s great overseas empires, and for many years the richest and most powerful.


Thynges very memorable

6 November 2010 12:00 am

John Leland, who died in 1552, lived less than 50 years and was mad for the last five of them.


Mawkish charades

28 August 2010 12:00 am

This book is an engaging rant against the folly, claptrap, self-indulgence and hypocrisy of mankind, written in the brisk and trenchant style which readers of the author’s Spectator articles will recognise.


All eyes and ears

14 August 2010 12:00 am

Both of these books aim, in their different ways, to cater for Britain’s long-standing obsession with espionage and other forms of political and military intelligence.


Might and wrong

30 June 2010 12:00 am

‘Was all this the realisation of our war aims?’, Malcolm Muggeridge asked as he surveyed the desolation of Berlin in May 1945.


Unholy warriors

14 April 2010 12:00 am

Taming the Gods is an extended essay about the secular state, something which would until recently have been regarded as a non-issue by English-speaking readers.


Not as bad as the French

10 March 2010 12:00 am

This is a long book, but its argument can be shortly stated.


Weighed in the balance

10 February 2010 12:00 am

We sanctify some expressions, and in the process empty them of meaning.


Tensions in the European Union

13 January 2010 12:00 am

The New Old World, by Perry Anderson

Poisonous relations

30 December 2009 12:00 am

‘The Axis powers and France,’ declared Marshall Pétain and Hitler at Montoire in October 1940, ‘have a common interest in the defeat of England as soon as possible.’ Why this should have been so is one of the many interesting questions to which this book offers no satisfactory answer.

The peace to end all peace

18 November 2009 1:00 pm

The first world war was the last major conflict to be brought to an end in the traditional fashion, with a formal treaty of peace.

Concentrating on sideshows

16 September 2009 12:00 am

It is becoming difficult to say anything new about Churchill as a war leader.

The human element

29 July 2009 12:00 am

The Idea of Justice, by Amartya Sen

Pointless but necessary

17 June 2009 12:00 am

The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis, by Matthew Cobb

Doomed to despotism

7 April 2009 12:00 am

Khomeini’s Ghost, by Con Coughlin
The Life and Death of the Shah, by Gholam Reza Afkhami

A slow decline

11 February 2009 12:00 am

The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000, by Chris Wickham

New light on a dark age

19 November 2008 12:00 am

Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom, by Tom Holland


The pragmatic approach

1 October 2008 12:00 am

‘The Half’ is how actors refer to the half hour before their play begins, when they ready themselves, steady themselves, for their performance.

Dearly beloved Meg

13 August 2008 12:00 am

Sir Thomas More was the most dedicated of Henry VIII’s Chancellors before becoming the most famous of his victims.