The execution of Charles I, an event that underpins the radicalism of Douglas Carswell's book, The End of Politics. Image: Getty

Where does power lie? Or where should power lie?

19 November 2012 17:05

Iain Martin has written a cracking piece for the Telegraph entitled: ‘The coming battle with the EU is about sovereignty.’ Iain recommends a new play, 55 Days, which tells the… Continue reading

Dusk falls and life ends in Thomas Gray's 'Elegy written in a Country Churchyard.' Image: Getty

Do you wish you were far from the madding crowd?

19 November 2012 14:20

From ‘Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard’ ‘The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea, The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,… Continue reading

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Picking sides in Syria, the Algerian experience

14 November 2012 16:24

Some thirty-five years ago, in 1977 to be exact, I first published A Savage War of Peace, a definitive history of France’s war in Algeria. The war dragged on from… Continue reading

The Famine Memorial Structure in Dublin. Image: Getty

The Great Irish Famine revisited

12 November 2012 11:54

The bare statistics of the Great Irish Famine are chilling enough: in 1845-55 more than a million people died of starvation and disease and a further two million emigrated. Ireland’s… Continue reading

Samuel Richardson's Pamela - 'virtuous herione' or 'pert little minx'? Image: Getty

Puffing Pamela: Book hype, 18th-century style

7 November 2012 17:11

There are quite a few candidates competing for the title of the first novel in English literature. You can make a strong case for Robinson Crusoe, published in 1719, or… 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

Prince Henry's death prompted an outpouring of public grief, similar to that of Winston Churchill. Image: Getty.

William Rowley and the death of Prince Henry – poetry

5 November 2012 10:26

‘To the Grave’ Unclasp thy womb, thou mortuary shrine, And take the worst part of the best we had. Thou hast no harbourage for things divine, That thou had’st any… Continue reading

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65th Anniversary Of D-Day Celebrated At National D-Day Memorial In Virginia

The Continental Divide: Why are Red States So Red and Blue States So Blue? - Spectator Blogs

31 October 2012 18:37

So, for the third time in the last four American elections it looks as though this contest is gonna be a close one. As in 2004, however, the narrow-but-significant advantage… Continue reading

Does the violence on the streets of Athens presage wider conflict? Image: Getty.

Route to conflict? David Priestland’s Merchant, Soldier, Sage

19 October 2012 14:12

David Priestland is worried. Towards the end of his recently published book Merchant, Soldier, Sage, he warns: ‘[The crash of] 2008 has set the world on a course towards potential… Continue reading

Charlie Croker has a new book out. Image: Getty.

To take or not to take a pseudonym

18 October 2012 14:04

Literary pseudonyms have been on my mind lately, for a couple of reasons. The first is Salman Rushdie’s revelation that he chose ‘Joseph Anton’ as his cover name when in… Continue reading

Michael Newton argues that assassination is an event for public consumption. Image: Getty.

Killing as entertainment

18 October 2012 9:36

‘The history of our love affair with violence’ is how Michael Newton describes his new book, Age of Assassins. In fact, its scope is much narrower: assassination in Europe and… Continue reading


What makes a man

16 October 2012 16:28

The Roman orator Quintilian offered some practical advice to the budding politician: don’t move too languidly, flick your fingers, or tilt your neck in a feminine way if you want… Continue reading

The Earl of Rochester's poetry remains valuable because it is still transgressive. Image: Getty.

The shock value of John Wilmot, earl of Rochester

15 October 2012 17:26

‘The Maidenhead’ Have you not in a chimney seen A sullen faggot wet and green, How coyly it receives the heat, And at both ends does fume and sweat? So… Continue reading

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The award of the Nobel prize has not hidden the EU's existential strain; if anything, it has exposed it further.

The Nobel Prize’s EU joke prompts questions about the nation state

12 October 2012 16:38

The award of the Nobel Prize to the European Union is a tremendous joke; and like all great jokes it has brought people together. Commentators of left and right are… Continue reading

Professor Mark Mazower believes that the era of international government is passing. What would such an event mean for the nation state? Image: Getty.

Governing the world – an interview with Mark Mazower

12 October 2012 13:36

‘People begin to feel that… there are bonds of international duty binding all the nations of the earth together.’ This quotation, which resonates so clearly as yet more blood is shed in… Continue reading

Image: Getty

How should we mark the Great War’s centenary?

11 October 2012 11:34

It seems strange now to recall that, it was not so many years ago, around the time of the millennium, that some in Whitehall were talking about how to scale… Continue reading

The Gospels have been translated into patois, the creole spoken as the primary language of most Jamaicans. Image: Getty.

Spreading the Word through patois

10 October 2012 12:35

The Jamaican High Commission in London held a party last night to launch a patois translation of the Gospels. The translation, published by the Bible Society, is the culmination of… Continue reading


Outliving Ozymandias

9 October 2012 10:02

In 1842, a wealthy heiress called Sarah Losh built a church in Wreay (rhymes with ‘near’, apparently), close to Carlisle. Coupling carvings of caterpillars with turtle gargoyles and a spattering… Continue reading

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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

'John Saturnall's Feast' would have been the ideal setting for Lawrence Norfolk's full descriptive talents. Image: Getty.

Review – John Saturnall’s Feast, by Lawrence Norfolk

25 September 2012 15:16

Lawrence Norfolk has always liked to centre his novels around a mixture of existing and constructed myth, and then let the action which happens centuries later be informed by or… Continue reading

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This week's Discovering Poetry column examines Thomas Jordan's anti-Republican polemics, written soon after the Restoration. Image: Getty.

The poetic lies against Old Ironsides

17 September 2012 15:19

‘How the War Began’ by Thomas Jordan, 1663. ‘I’ll tell you how the war began: The holy ones assembled (For so they called their party then Whose consciences so trembled).… Continue reading

A Possible Life is a rewarding and subtly engrossing novel. Image: Getty.

Review – Sebastian Faulks’s A Possible Life

14 September 2012 17:38

In a promotional video clip, Sebastian Faulks describes his new novel, A Possible Life, as like ‘a symphony in five movements… or an album in which the tracks are separate… Continue reading

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Richard III

Richard III should be buried in the north

13 September 2012 10:43

History is written by the victors. So Richard III might have anticipated that his death at Bosworth Field in 1485, the last English monarch to be killed on the battlefield,… Continue reading


Channel 4 cancels Tom Holland’s history of Islam, but the extremists will not win

11 September 2012 18:30

In what may prove to be the most depressingly predictable story of the year, we learn that Channel 4 has chosen to cancel a screening of Tom Holland’s programme ‘Islam:… Continue reading

Patrick Hennessey has answered this week's Shelf Life. Image: Getty

Shelf Life: Patrick Hennessey

5 September 2012 12:25

Patrick Hennessey was a founder member of the Junior Officers’ Reading Club, formed when the Grenadier Guards toured Iraq in 2006. He is the author of

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