The Current Issue

October 2018, Issue 469 Angela Tilby on religious beliefs * Christopher Goscha on Vietnam * Ian Rankin's diary * Piers Brendon on Winston Churchill * Frederick Forsyth on KGB spies * Sally Bayley on Sylvia Plath's letters * Wendy Moore on blood * Michael Prodger on Van Gogh's Japanese prints * Tom Stern on Friedrich Nietzsche * Jack Stilgoe on automated cars * Jad Adams on Oscar Wilde * Frances Cairncross on Britain's declining industry * David Goodhart on Francis Fukuyama * Jeremy Clarke's misadventures in wine * Gavin Esler on the invention of American tradition * Edmund Gordon on British short stories * Alex Blasdel on Richard Powers * Catherine Brown on Varlam Shalamov * Anthony Cummins on Haruki Murakami *  and much, much more…

Piers Brendon

Churchill's Pride & Prejudices

The easy way to write a full-scale life of Winston Churchill is to quarry material from the official biography, eight huge tomes completed by Martin Gilbert and accompanied by documentary volumes that continue to thud from the presses. This was the procedure adopted by Roy Jenkins, who never visited the Churchill Archives Centre, where his subject’s papers are stored in 2,500 boxes, and composed a flatulent summary of Gilbert that was absurdly over-praised by the critics. The more difficult way to resurrect Churchill between hard covers is to discover new sources by delving into repositories near and far, and to pen an original portrait of an all-too-familiar figure. This is Andrew Roberts’s method and he ... read more

More Articles from this Issue

Frederick Forsyth

The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War

By Ben Macintyre

There are two puzzles that for many years have provoked speculation. Why, throughout the world, are so many people fascinated by the fiction and reality of espionage? And why of all people are the British so good at both? The first is wound up in the fact that people are perennially intrigued by the seemingly unpleasant art of deception. It has been so since Gideon carried out his night raid against... read more

Frances Cairncross

What We Have Lost: The Dismantling of Great Britain

By James Hamilton-Paterson

Two things should be said at the start about James Hamilton-Paterson. First, he has spent much of his life shunning the UK. In a rare profile in The Guardian fourteen years ago, he spoke of leaving Britain over a quarter of a century earlier and dividing his time between Tuscany and the Philippines. He described himself in those days as a ‘rat-poor literary drifter’ and a ‘professional absentee’. So this ... read more

Jeremy Clarke

Red and White: An Unquenchable Thirst for Wine

By Oz Clarke

In 1978, aged twenty-one and still drunk from the night before, I was put in a line of about thirty itinerant grape pickers. At either end of the line was an old French peasant woman. Stretching away before each of us was a long row of vines hung with bunches of fat black grapes. The foreman directed us to start snipping our way down our row. He said our line should aim to keep up with the old women. Secateurs were distributed... read more

Ian Sansom

The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World

By Sarah Weinman

With The Real Lolita, Sarah Weinman might be said to have invented a completely new genre: true-crime literary criticism, which is not to be confused with truly criminal literary criticism, which, of course, is most literary criticism. The Real Lolita is, by any measure, a unique and very peculiar book. The sad real-life story of Sally Horner, as recounted by Weinman, goes like this... read more

Catherine Brown

Kolyma Stories: Volume One

By Varlam Shalamov (Translated by Donald Rayfield)

This collection of stories forms a Gulag memoir to rival Solzhenitsyn’s, as Solzhenitsyn himself acknowledged. Between 1954 and 1973, after fifteen years spent mainly in the camps of the Kolyma region of northeast Siberia, Varlam Shalamov (1907–82) poured out stories that – once the Khrushchev thaw was halted – he knew might never be published. In 1968 Kolyma Stories was leaked to the West and in 1980... read more

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