Every age and every place has its protean illness, a malady whose symptoms are so varied that it seems to incorporate those of all other illnesses and is known to doctors as ‘the great mimic’. When I was a student, it was diabetes; when I practised in the Central Pacific, it was tuberculosis; nowadays, it […]
This absorbing biography gallantly sets out to right a wrong and to solve a mystery, triumphantly succeeding in both objectives. It also, despite its brevity, gives a full and fascinating portrait of a complex, strong and puzzling personality – an attractive woman whose selfless nature and bountiful generosity were shadowed and sometimes soured by a […]
The Nazi movement was quintessentially male. It was founded on the backs of disaffected servicemen in the years after the First World War. It was consolidated in the carefully choreographed parades led with flags drenched in the blood of fallen heroes. Women were supposed to confine themselves to the three Ks: Kirche, Küche, Kinder, a […]
Often books about the Third Reich have a last chapter called ‘Götterdämmerung’ or ‘Twilight of the Gods’. The Wagnerian link seems apt; wasn’t the anti-Semitic German nationalist Hitler’s favourite composer? Yet although there are parallels with Richard Wagner (like self-pity and no sense of the ridiculous), Wagner turned men into god and moral heroes, whereas […]
For historians this is the best and worst of times. Our numbers have boomed over the last forty years and the subjects we tackle have multiplied to match. The output of rubbish, of course, has grown proportionately; but the good scholarship – convincingly imagined, richly researched, vividly evoked, fascinating and new – has exploded.
This is an informal history of poetry in English from Piers Plowman to the major figures of the mid-twentieth century, namely Peter Redgrove, Francis Berry, Galway Kinnell and Patrick Kavanagh. Its argument is that the central tradition of English poetry is earthy, alliterative, colloquial, with a strong regard for structure and the claims of plot. […]
One of the great secrets of success in England is longevity. Only live to be eighty, as Evelyn Waugh once observed, and you will be ‘assumed into that odd circle of ancient savants and charlatans whom the Sovereign delights to honour and the popular press treats with some semblance of reverence’. Little can Eric Hobsbawm […]
I’m an avid reader of Donleavy’s novels of the sexual picaresque, though I suppose that, as a femininist, I should be ashamed of myself. A new one, Schultz, and the re-issue of The Onion Eaters (1971) and A Fairy Tale of New York (1973) provide a feast. Schultz has all the best-selling Donleavy ingredients: snobbery, […]
This is dark, riveting book. Quite the most chilling story about the world’s Number One gangster is the recollection of a Kurd go-between, who was rushed in to see Saddam at the time of one particular crisis. He was blindfolded, strip-searched, hurried this way and that, and finally ended up in the real presence. Through […]
What was the war over Kosovo really about? Was it a war at all? And was it a watershed in international history or merely an episode? These two new books offer radically different perspectives. Tim Judah has followed the break-up of Yugoslavia on the ground for much of the time since 1990, and offers the […]
In his commendation on the cover of this book, Lord Butler (the former Cabinet Secretary) salutes the passion with which it is written. Perhaps five months in Brussels have raised my passion threshold, but, whatever its other virtues, this modestly useful book does not quicken the pulse.
In the USA, the Holocaust has become an inescapable feature of public life. There is a Holocaust Memorial Museum in downtown Washington, a Holocaust Day, commemorative parks in many cities, and high-school instruction in the subject mandated by numerous state legislatures. University chairs in Holocaust studies cater to a student population whose knowledge of European […]