Of the twenty or so nonfiction books I have reviewed in the last year, only one or two stick in the memory for the right reasons. They had, for a start, a properly constructed argument or narrative. They were well researched and had something original to say. They complemented this with a lucid writing style. They included enough variation in tone to avoid monotony. They were what we used to call ‘well written’: words chosen correctly for the full weight of their meaning, and presented within a properly grammatical framework. They were the work of that rare author who knows a subjunctive or a gerund when he sees one; or who can write allusively without appearing pretentious or patronising. They are books for what we used to call ‘educated people’.