Edmund Burke. Scruton argues, like him, ‘that a society is ‘a partnership… between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born’. Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Passion, authority and the odd mini-rant: Scruton’s conservative vision

Roger Scruton is that rarest of things: a first-rate philosopher who actually has a philosophy. Unfortunately at times for him,…

A demonstrator dressed in a Rupert Murdo

Owen Jones’s new book should be called The Consensus: And How I Want to Change it

Owen Jones’s first book, Chavs, was a political bestseller. This follow-up skips over the middle classes and goes to the…

human beehive edit

E.O. Wilson has a new explanation for consciousness, art & religion. Is it credible?

His publishers describe this ‘ground-breaking book on evolution’ by ‘the most celebrated living heir to Darwin’ as ‘the summa work…

They’re all in it together

Ferdinand Mount is right to be shocked by the inequalities of modern British society; but his remedies are not brutal enough, says Polly Toynbee

The frontiers of freedom

The problem with Nick Cohen’s very readable You Can’t Read This Book is the way that you can, glaringly, read…


A time to moan and weep

Ferdinand Mount recalls the crisis years of the early 1970s, when Britain was pronounced ‘ungovernable’

Physical and spiritual decay

The most striking thing about Piers Paul Read’s early novels was their characters’ susceptibility to physical decay.


An ideal banker

At last, thirty years after his death, we have a proper biography of the enigmatic but inspirational banker Siegmund Warburg, extensively researched and beautifully written.


Whither America?

At the beginning of The Ask, Horace sits with Burke and proclaims that America is a ‘run down and demented pimp’.


Odd men out

The first game played by the Allahakbarries Cricket Club at Albury in Surrey in September 1887 did not bode well for the club’s future.


Golden youth or electric eel?

Patrick Shaw-Stewart was the cleverest and the most ambitious of the gilded gang of young men who swam in the wake of the not-so-young but perennially youthful Raymond Asquith.


Blood relatives

The last time I saw Benazir Bhutto was at Oxford, over champagne outside the Examination Schools, when she inquired piercingly of a subfusc linguist, ‘Racine? What is Racine?’ Older and richer than most undergraduates, and as a Harvard graduate presumably better educated, she was already world famous, and was obviously not at Oxford to learn about classical tragedy.


Genetics, God and antlers

‘Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and more steadily we reflect on them: the starry heavens above and the moral law within.’ Oren Harman uses this quote from Immanuel Kant to open one of the chapters of The Price of Altruism, and it’s an observation that — after the steady reflection on moral law that Harman’s book invites and encourages — only seems more true by the end.


Low dishonest dealings

The strange, unsettled decades between the wars form the backdrop of much of D. J. Taylor’s recent work, including his novel, Ask Alice, and his social history, Bright Young Things. At the Chime of a City Clock is set in 1931, with a financial crisis rumbling in the background.


Anything for a quiet life

Jim, Crace’s latest novel, All That Follows, marks a deliberate change from past form.


The spaced-out years

Barry Miles came to London in the Sixties to escape the horsey torpor of the Cotswolds in which he grew up.


On our shoulders

Our politics is such a shallow game that any senior British politician who has read a book is apt to be considered cerebral, and if he has read two, feted as an original thinker.


An institution to love and cherish

Books about marriage, like the battered old institution itself, come in and out of fashion with writers, readers and politicians, but never quite die away.


No example to follow

Ahundred years ago, a character in a novel who was keen on music would, like E.M. Forster’s Lucy Honeychurch or Leo- nard Bast, be as apt to stumble through a piece at the piano as listen to it at a concert.


Celebration of old times

Must You Go? My Life with Harold Pinter, by Antonia Fraser

Chic lit

First, I must declare an interest.

Rural flotsam

Notwithstanding’s suite of inter- linked stories draws on Louis de Bernière’s memories of the Surrey village (somewhere near Godalming, you infer) where he lived as a boy.

Voices of change

Not every writer would begin a history of the 1950s with a vignette in which the young Keith Waterhouse treads on Princess Margaret by mistake.

Liobams lying with rakunks

Set in the future, The Year of the Flood tells the story of the build-up to and aftermath of a pandemic known as the Waterless Flood, which all but eradicates the human race.