Total Lack of Recall

Posted on by Tom Fleming

In February 2009, a pair of neuroscientists carried an icebox through gate security at Logan Airport in Boston, under the gaze of a PBS film crew sent to document the event. Bypassing the security scanner so as not to expose the contents of the cooler to radiation, one of the researchers carried the box onto […]

Fight for Feminism

Posted on by Tom Fleming

The premise of this polemic is that despite the unprecedented freedoms that women enjoy in the developed world – voting in elections, choosing if and when to have children, adultery without stoning, and divorce without stigma – our culture is still marinated in misogyny. ‘There’s never been a better moment in Western history to be […]

Babes in the Woods

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Albert Camus wrote that ‘the world needs real dialogue, that falsehood is just as much the opposite of dialogue as is silence, and that the only possible dialogue is the kind between people who remain what they are and speak their minds’. This seems completely sensible and yet many books have a veiled quality to […]

In the Chains of Command

Posted on by Tom Fleming

More books on Guantanamo Bay? Surely the subject has been completely covered by now, with Obama in the White House, Afghanistan with the Afghans and austerity posing a threat to our wellbeing in a way that Osama bin Laden (for all the noise of his al-Qaeda gang) never truly did? In his marvellously readable and […]

Blood on Their Hands

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Reporting how members of the Nazi Reserve Police Battalion 101 reacted after committing their first massacre, the historian Christopher Browning has written: They ate little but drank heavily. Generous quantities of alcohol were provided, and many of the policemen got quite drunk. Major Trapp made the rounds, trying to console and reassure them, and again […]

Lifting the Veil

Posted on by Tom Fleming

On a Turkish Airlines flight from London to Istanbul my five-year-old son demands to go to the toilet – ‘Now!’ Recognising the urgency in his tone, I spring to my feet and grab him, not realising in my haste that I have left the book I have been reading on an empty seat, face up. […]

Up, Up and Away

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Balloonophiles must nurse a particular affection for Wolverhampton, for it was from there that, on 5 September 1862, one of the most celebrated ascents began. The pilots were James Glaisher, secretary to the Royal Meteorological Society, and Henry Coxwell, whose claim to scientific knowledge derived from his former career as a dentist, but who was […]

Chewing Things Over

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Woody Allen, in Love and Death, speculated that Napoleon, fearful of the threat of Beef Wellington, was striving to perfect some piece of imperial patisserie – ‘more cream!’ – that would carry the day. After reading E C Spary’s Eating the Enlightenment, I reckon that Waterloo boiled down to coffee drinkers versus tea drinkers. And […]

Rise & Dine

Posted on by Tom Fleming

There is a once lovely square at the back of Paddington Station now comprised entirely of budget hotels. I missed the last train home last week and after drawing a few blanks secured a single room in one of these for £60. I didn’t expect much at that price, not in London. Nor was it. […]

Lodging with Old Possum

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Who was John Hayward, and does he deserve a full-length biography, readers may ask? The first answer is that Hayward, who died in 1965 at the age of sixty, was a disabled bookman who created a South Kensington salon centred on T S Eliot in the 1930s, and shared a Chelsea flat with Eliot from […]

Still No Truce with the Furies

Posted on by Tom Fleming

At 192 pages this book contains more or less enough poems to be these days accounted the lifetime’s work of a poet. Those here, retrieved after R S Thomas’s death from the airless columns of long-dead magazines, are not quite the harvest of the wastepaper basket, but not one of them has been published in […]

Stranger in His Own Land

Posted on by Tom Fleming

For a long time, the accepted wisdom on Albert Camus’s response to the Algerian War of Independence (1954–62) has been that he was a coward. This was the view first promulgated by his former friend and rival Jean-Paul Sartre, who accused Camus of having the ‘morality of a boy scout’ for refusing to praise the […]

The Reluctant Autobiographer

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Over the last decade or so, Italo Calvino has faded somewhat from the very front rank of the contemporary literary pantheon, his reputation no longer as glittering as it once was, when Salman Rushdie and Gore Vidal sang his praises and he seemed almost to rival Borges as a literary fantasist and inventor. In the […]

Bee-Listers

Posted on by Tom Fleming

In 1884, 282 hibernating bumblebees travelled on a ship from London to New Zealand. Only 48 survived the journey. Those were the first bumblebees to take flight in the country. They had been shipped over at the request of British settlers, who needed British insects to pollinate the red clover imported from their homeland. Nearly […]

…But Not as We Know It

Posted on by Tom Fleming

In 1832, while HMS Beagle was anchored off San Salvador, Brazil, Charles Darwin went ashore to explore. There he saw rocks that glittered, as if burnished, in the sun. Darwin hypothesised that the shining was caused by a thin coating of metallic oxides but could not account for how it had been made. The strange […]

Rise & Fall of the Numbers Guys

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Nobody could have seen it coming. That was the get-out-of-jail-free card played by bankers and banking watchdogs alike in the wake of the credit crisis that brought the global financial system to its knees. Yet that protestation actually convicts the financial community rather than excuses it. Nobody could have seen it coming because nobody had […]

Taking Gold

Posted on by Tom Fleming

This book has the shape of a mountain: you tramp up one side, looking at the preparation and run-up to the ‘battle’ for nearly two hundred pages, spend fewer than sixty on the Bretton Woods conference itself and then tramp down for another hundred, as Benn Steil considers the aftermath to the present. It could […]

Tithes that Bind

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Winston Churchill, as chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1920s, asserted the right of the citizen ‘so to arrange his affairs as not to attract taxes enforced by the Crown so far as he can legitimately do so within the law’. Most people who are in a position to do any tax planning today would […]

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter