Nigel Jones rss

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 14.29.32

The poet who welcomed war

23 April 2014 14:52

Today, 23 April, the world celebrates the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s presumed birth (and marks with less joy the date of the Bard’s death in 1616). That double date… Continue reading


Is Wilfred Owen’s poetry any good?

18 March 2014 14:04

Wilfred Owen, the poet whose work epitomises the horror of the First World War for most people in modern Britain, was born in Oswestry in the Shropshire Marches, close to… Continue reading

Image: Getty

It’s not just the Tories who ought to fear Ukip – Labour and the Lib Dems should too

29 September 2013 12:51

Listen! The sound you hear in the damp Tory grassroots as they gather in Manchester for the party conference this weekend is not the noise of a questing vole, but… Continue reading

Amy Winehouse performing at Glastonbury in 2007. (CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Amy Winehouse and the 27 Club, by Howard Sounes – review

12 June 2013 9:30

As an early dedicated fan of the Doors, who ran away from boarding school just so that I could catch my idols playing the massive Isle of Wight festival (a gathering… Continue reading

1 Comment
Oscar Wilde and Carlos Blacker grace the front cover of J. Robert Maguire's 'Ceremonies of Bravery', published by the OUP.

Ceremonies of Bravery: Oscar Wilde, Carlos Blacker, and the Dreyfus Affair by J. Robert Maguire – review

24 April 2013 9:36

The life of Oscar Wilde is so wearily familiar that we assume that there is nothing new to think or say about him. This book proves us wrong. Carlos Blacker… Continue reading

Rod Steiger playing Napoleon on the set of 'Waterloo', the 1970 film by Dino de Laurentis. The battle, Napoleon's final and greatest defeat, is one of the few glaring ommissions from Jeremy Harwood's very good 'Atlas of History's Greatest Military Victories', published by Icon Books. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Atlas of History’s Greatest Military Victories, by Jeremy Harwood – review

27 March 2013 9:39

Final proof – if any were needed – that Englishmen are not made of the same mettle as their rough, tough ancestors is provided on the website of the Towton… Continue reading

A statue of General Charles de Gaulle on the Champs Elysees. (JACQUES DEMARTHON/AFP/Getty Images)

A tale of two colonels

15 March 2013 9:05

This week, March 11th, marks the 50th anniversary of the shooting by firing squad near Paris of the last person (so far) to be executed by the state for political… Continue reading

Richard III's deformed skeleton proves that one supposed Tudor libel about the king was no more than the truth. Image: Getty

Richard III should be reburied under Leicester council’s car park

5 February 2013 14:00

Anyone who watched last night’s Channel 4 Documentary Richard III: The King Under the Car Park will need no reminding that members of the Richard III Society tend to be… Continue reading

Hitler and Goering trying to locate the German sense of humour. Rudolf Herzog's book argues that humour was often the only weapon Germans could use against the Nazis. Image: Getty.

The Fuhrer was not amused

6 November 2012 11:00

‘The German sense of humour,’ Mark Twain famously observed, ‘Is no laughing matter.’ Although many Greeks, stretched on the Euro’s rack at Berlin’s behest, may be inclined to agree, Rudolph… Continue reading

Christopher Clark's monumental and brilliant study of the breakout of the Great War restates the case that all countries were to blame. Image: Getty.

Let’s not be beastly to the Germans

27 September 2012 15:11

The question of how Europe stumbled into the horrific abyss of  the First World War, the catastrophe which The Economist once called ‘the greatest tragedy in human history’ is obviously… Continue reading


Darkness visible

10 April 2012 10:13

We all know the names Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belsen, and Dachau. But what about Pechora, Vorkuta, Kolyma and Norilsk?  Why are the camps to which Nazism’s victims were deported household words,… Continue reading

1 Comment

Uneasy allies: de Gaulle and Churchill 1940-44

7 March 2012 8:53

Anyone wishing to understand the tortuous, love-hate relationship between David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy today will find all they need to know in Peter Mangold’s gripping study of the wartime… Continue reading


Missing the point

1 February 2012 9:21

The reviewer of Alain de Botton’s books runs a grave risk. For behold what happened to the New York Times critic Caleb Crain in 2009 when he suggested that AdB’s… Continue reading


At the going down of the sun

11 November 2011 11:00

Vernon Scannell, a poet who fought in North Africa in the Second World War, observed in his poem ‘The Great War’: ‘Whenever the November sky Quivers with a bugle’s hoarse,… Continue reading


Bonfire boys

5 November 2011 14:33

We so enjoyed Nigel Jones’s last contribution to Coffee House that we thought we’d invite him back to describe the rather eccentric Bonfire Night celebrations in Lewes… Here in Lewes… Continue reading


The building of our history

31 October 2011 16:24

Athens, for all its current woes, still has the Parthenon. Rome has the Colosseum, Paris the Louvre, Berlin the Reichstag, Beijing the forbidden city, Moscow the Kremlin and Washington the… Continue reading