Leaving Afghanistan — with a pack of potential troubles

The way we treat our heroes is a disgrace

19 September 2015 8:00 am

Matthew Green, former Financial Times and Reuters correspondent, remains unimpressed by officialdom’s response to casualties who aren’t actually bleeding: Ever…


Matt Ridley manages to Pangloss over the nastier aspects of evolution

19 September 2015 8:00 am

Before I read this book, I wasn’t aware that I was a creationist. But Matt Ridley tells me I am,…


The history of modern Germany — within four walls

19 September 2015 8:00 am

This is a book about boundaries — and relationships. At its heart is the eponymous house by the lake, which…

Photograph by Charles Sturge

Remembering P.J. Kavanagh

19 September 2015 8:00 am


Hans Asperger at the Children’s Clinic of the University of Vienna Hospital c.1940

Did Hans Asperger save children from the Nazis — or sell them out?

12 September 2015 9:00 am

Simon Baron-Cohen wonders whether the humane Hans Asperger may finally have betrayed the vulnerable children in his care in Nazi-occupied Vienna


The caravanserai of the motor age

12 September 2015 9:00 am

The Soviet Union was a nation of bus stops. Cars were hard to come by, so a vast public transport…

Out of focus lights

When flower power turned sour

12 September 2015 9:00 am

Aldous Huxley reported his first psychedelic experience in The Doors of Perception (1954), a bewitching little volume that soon became…

Author Sebastian Faulks (Photo: Getty)

Sebastian Faulks returns to the psychiatrist’s chair in Where My Heart Used to Beat

12 September 2015 9:00 am

There can hardly be two novelists less alike than Sebastian Faulks and Will Self, in style and in content. Faulks…

Author John Banville (Photo: Getty)

John Banville ransacks the past for critical thought and fustian prose in The Blue Guitar

12 September 2015 9:00 am

The Blue Guitar is John Banville’s 16th novel. Our narrator-protagonist is a painter called Oliver Orme. We are in Ireland,…

Back To The Dead

The Making of Zombie Wars is Aleksandar Hemon at his hilarious best

12 September 2015 9:00 am

In the afterword to this sixth book, Aleksandar Hemon dedicates a word of thanks to his agent for keeping a…

Nero and Agrippina by Antonio Rizzi

Rid of their enemies, the Caesars set about murdering family and friends

12 September 2015 9:00 am

According to Francis Bacon, the House of York was ‘a race often dipped in its own blood’. That being so,…

With rain threatening, Jane Bennet departs for Netherfield — with her mother’s approval. Illustration by Hugh Thomson for Pride and Prejudice (1894)

Rain, shine and the human imagination — from Adam and Eve to David Hockney

12 September 2015 9:00 am

‘Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr Worthing,’ pleads Gwendolen in The Importance of Being Earnest. ‘Whenever people…

Russian Ambassador to London, Ivan Maisky (Photo: Getty)

The second world war — according to Stalin’s ambassador to London

12 September 2015 9:00 am

Ivan Maisky was the Russian ambassador in London from 1932 to 1943, and his knowledge of London, and affection for…

Illustration by Sean Murray from The Trollhunters

Where the wild things are: in the woods and (worse) in the plumbing, according to the latest best children’s books

12 September 2015 9:00 am

In the Californian town of San Bernadino, children are going missing; smiling faces grace a gallery of milk cartons. One…

The Einsatzgruppen's main purpose was the extermination of Jews (Photo: Getty)

How anarchy was responsible for Auschwitz

12 September 2015 9:00 am

In September 1939 Britain went to war against Germany, ostensibly in defence of Poland. One big secret that the British…

British troops go over the top on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme

The British army’s greatest catastrophe — and its most valuable lesson

5 September 2015 9:00 am

Peter Parker spends 24 hours on the bloodsoaked battlefield of the Somme, scene of the British army’s greatest catastrophe

Gore Vidal at his italian residence in Ravello on the Amalfi coast (Photo: Getty)

Gore Vidal, wannabe aristocrat and proud degenerate

5 September 2015 9:00 am

History for Gore Vidal was a vehicle to be ridden in triumph, perhaps as in an out-take from Ben-Hur, which…

Author Iain Pears (Photo: Getty)

This way to a parallel universe, via north Oxford

5 September 2015 9:00 am

As a novelist, Iain Pears doesn’t repeat himself, and he gives with a generous hand. In Arcadia, he provides a…

Statue of Augustus in Orange, southern France

Augustus: here was a Caesar! Or at least his great-nephew

5 September 2015 9:00 am

It’s strange that tourists rarely visit the most famous site in Roman history. The spot in Pompey’s assembly hall where…

Author Andrew Miller (Photo: Getty)

Introducing the silent narrator

5 September 2015 9:00 am

Andrew Miller’s seventh novel, and the first since Pure, which won the Costa Book of the Year award, is an…

Francis Bacon in Paris in 1984

Bacon on the side: the great painter’s drinking partner tells all

5 September 2015 9:00 am

When Michael Peppiatt met Francis Bacon in 1963 to interview him for a student magazine, the artist was already well-established,…

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…

Members of the Maquis study the mechanism and maintenance of weapons dropped by parachute in the Haute-Loire

The facts behind France’s most potent modern myth

29 August 2015 9:00 am

Patrick Marnham unravels some of the powerful, often conflicting myths surrounding the French Resistance

The devastation left behind after the Blitz (Photo: Getty)

Ghosts of the past haunt Pat Barker’s bomb-strewn London

29 August 2015 9:00 am

If the early Martin Amis is instantly recognisable by way of its idiosyncratic slang (‘rug-rethink’, ‘going tonto’ etc) then the…

‘La Ghirlandata’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The dangerous red-headed league

29 August 2015 9:00 am

‘Gentlemen prefer blondes,’ Anita Loos pronounced, ‘but gentlemen marry brunettes.’ Quite what they do with redheads she never revealed (and…