The Current Issue

July 2024, Issue 531 Fitzroy Morrissey on two fabulists * Richard Carwardine on the American Civil War * Jonathan Egid on Pascal * Michael Ignatieff on dictators * Marina Warner on Monique Roffey * Lucy Moore on Mughal India * Michael Bloch on Weimar Germany * David Willetts on the demographic crisis * Orlando Reade on Milton’s afterlives * Helen Bond on King Herod * Elizabeth Goldring on Robert Cecil * Piers Brendon on Lloyd George * Alexander Lee on Leon Battista Alberti * Valentine Cunningham on Christopher Isherwood * Rana Mitter on China * Anthony Paletta on Midwestern modernism * Will Wiles on rats * Tim Hornyak on AI * Thomas Morris on the gut * Zoe Guttenplan on Paul B Preciado *  Ella Fox-Martens on Rebecca Watson * Stevie Davies on Anita Desai * Julia Jordan on Camille Bordas * Philip Womack on children’s books * and much, much more…  and much, much more…

Fitzroy Morrissey

Sufism Goes West

Shortly before his death, R C Zaehner observed that young Westerners who had turned away from Christianity were more often drawn to the religions of India and the Far East than to Islam. ‘The young’, Zaehner stated, ‘are not interested in switching from one dogmatic monotheistic faith to another: hence they are little interested in Islam except when Islam itself is turned upside down and becomes Sufism, which in its developed form is barely distinguishable from Vedanta.’ ‘Indeed,’ he went on, ‘that egregious populariser Idries Shah has gone so far as to claim Zen as a manifestation of Sufism.’ This, Zaehner declared, was historical ‘nonsense’. Zaehner was referring to Shah’s The Sufis, which, since its publication in 1964, had become the most widely read book on Sufism in English... read more

More Articles from this Issue

Richard Carwardine

American Civil Wars: A Continental History, 1850–1873

By Alan Taylor

A mountain of historical studies testifies to enduring interest in the American Civil War, a conflict still politically relevant in a nation riven over how to remember it. Those doubting that there is anything fresh to say about the bloodiest event in the republic’s history should read Pulitzer Prize winner Alan Taylor’s brilliant, panoramic account of the conflict. Applying a wide continental... read more

Jonathan Romney


By Lee Isaac Chung (dir)

In 1996, Jan de Bont’s tornado-chasing adventure Twister revived the disaster movie by using computer-generated imagery (CGI), at the time a relatively new technology. Now, in the belated follow-up – strictly neither a sequel nor a remake – the tornadoes have become more deadly and more frequent. But Twisters shows another perilous phenomenon: the trend for promising directors of independent films to be swept up in the whirlwind... read more

Jonathan Egid

A Summer with Pascal

By Antoine Compagnon (Translated from French by Catherine Porter)

I am precisely the target audience for this small book on the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal. Although I work on 17th-century philosophy (in a quite different part of the world, in my defence), I knew next to nothing about Pascal save for those things named after him – the unit of pressure, the triangle of binomial coefficients, the famous wager – before starting Compagnon’s... read more

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