The Current Issue

September 2020, Issue 489 Martin Vander Weyer on philanthropy * Thomas Kielinger on why Germany gets it right * Candia McWilliam on Scottish art * Bijan Omrani on the Himalayas * Timothy W Ryback on book-burning * Sarah Moss on the lure of Ireland * David Willetts on somewheres & anywheres * Dominic Sandbrook on Castro in Harlem * Piers Brendon on JFK * Philip Parker on Ravenna * Edith Hall on the invention of medicine * Wendy Holden on women in Fleet Street * Caroline Finkel on Sultan Selim I * Levi Roach on the White Ship disaster * Noonie Minogue on Marilynne Robinson * Keith Miller on Martin Amis * Catriona Ward on Tess Little *  and much, much more…

Timothy W Ryback

Bonfires of Reason

Three infamous conflagrations illuminate the pages of Richard Ovenden’s fascinating new history, Burning the Books. The first is the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria, which, according to Ovenden, did not go up in a single blaze but was gradually destroyed by repeated acts of arson and plunder, until there was nothing left but a metaphor. The second is the burning of the US Library of Congress by the British in 1814, when soldiers’ faces were ‘illumined’ by the flames. ‘I do not recollect to have witnessed, at any period in my life,’ a British soldier said, ‘a scene more striking or sublime.’ The third burning is certainly the best known: the Nazi Bücherverbrennungen that followed Hitler’s rise to power. ‘The 10 May 1933 book-burning was merely the forerunner of arguably the most concerted and well-resourced eradication of books... read more

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