The Current Issue

February 2016, Issue 439 Douglas Smith on the Romanovs * John Adamson on the Holy Roman Empire * Andrew Roberts on Churchill & Ireland * Caroline Moorehead on the aftermath of the Second World War * Michael Burleigh on rare earth metals * Harriet Sergeant on London, the global city * Martin Vander Weyer on philanthropy * Sarah Bradford on royalty as a brand * Wendy Moore on Paul Kalanithi's memoir * Ian Sansom on Dashiell Hammett * Dominic Green on Groucho Marx * Keith Miller on Julian Barnes * Joanna Kavenna on Howard Jacobson * Anna Reid on Ukraine * Brian Dillon on portraiture * Patrick Scrivenor on menageries  and much, much more…

Douglas Smith

The Romanovs: 1613–1918

By Simon Sebag Montefiore

What took place ninety-eight years ago in the Ipatiev House has cast its shadow over the Romanov dynasty. The brutal, bloody end to the lives of Nicholas II, Alexandra, their five children and several retainers in the early hours of 17 July 1918 has left the impression that the family was somehow cursed from the start. Yet, as Simon Sebag Montefiore shows in his captivating new book, the story of the house of the Romanovs, when viewed from the perspectives of power, prestige and longevity, is one of startling success. Few regimes could boast of adding nearly 150 square kilometres a day to their empire for over 300 years, eventually ruling over one sixth of the earth. ‘Empire-building’, Montefiore notes... read more

More Articles from this Issue

Peter Jones

Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World

By Tim Whitmarsh

By the fifth century AD, Christianity had emerged as the predominant force in the Roman Empire, forging for the first time in the Graeco-Roman world an alliance between supreme power and religious absolutism. Polytheistic religion, largely a matter of ritual, had embraced worshippers of gods of all shapes and sizes, but what counted now was correct belief in the one true God, measured against prevailing standards of orthodoxy... read more

Keith Miller

The Noise of Time

By Julian Barnes

In the years after the Second World War, during Dmitri Shostakovich’s second period of disfavour with the Soviet authorities, he wasn’t just humiliatingly wheeled out at the Cultural and Scientific Congress for World Peace in New York, a fellow travellers’ jamboree that just about snuck in under the McCarthyist wire. He was also packed off to Leipzig to judge a piano competition inaugurated to commemorate J S Bach on the bicentenary of his death... read more

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