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Non-fiction

The skull of King Richard III. Image: Getty

Reading Richard III

4 February 2013 13:32

The confirmation that bones found beneath a Leicester car park are ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ those of Richard III has launched a deluge of familiar puns. ‘A hearse! A hearse! My… Continue reading

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Tony Blair meets with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi on May 29, 2007. Contrary to what Ethan Chorin argues in a new book, western engagement hastened Gaddafi's downfall. Image: Getty

Engagement in Libya was and remains the right answer

31 January 2013 9:00

In 2008, I packed my bags to head off to Tripoli, where I began my current vocation of advocating for Western diplomatic, economic, cultural, and humanitarian engagement in Libya. Ethan Chorin was… Continue reading

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We look at Lincoln through glass that is dark in places and rose-tinted in others. ‘Truth’ is elusive in such light. Image: Getty

Abraham Lincoln ‘somehow’ became the great redeemer

29 January 2013 14:00

Abraham Lincoln, in Walt Whitman’s celebrated phrase, contained multitudes. M.E. Synon showed yesterday quite how many there might have been. There is evidence of prejudice, callousness and corruption. Yet there… Continue reading

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'Big Brother' watches over Winston Smith (Edmond O'Brien) and Julia (Jan Sterling), during the filming of the 1955 adaptation of '1984'. Image: Getty

Do we need George Orwell Day?

21 January 2013 14:28

I doubt that George Orwell needs ‘George Orwell Day’. Aldous Huxley, Henry Green, J.G. Ballard, each of those dead writers might benefit from a bit of sponsorship, and so might we.… Continue reading

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Robert Hughes' 'Culture of Complaint' is a brilliant guide to the various culture wars that have raged around us in recent days. Image: Getty

Do political correctness and the culture wars make us less tolerant?

16 January 2013 19:58

I have a confession. I saw a report on the Suzanne Moore row, and fled immediately for the safety of the sports pages. A lot of self-important people making a… Continue reading

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Israeli militiamen operate outside Jerusalem during the 1948 war. Image: Getty

Yoram Kaniuk, reluctant soldier in 1948

11 January 2013 10:00

Yoram Kaniuk was born in Tel Aviv in 1930. After his experience in Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, Kaniuk moved to New York where he became a painter in Greenwich… Continue reading

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(Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)

Crime and Guilt, by Ferdinand Von Schirach

9 January 2013 10:00

Tis the season for shopping mall scuffles. A man with a red face prized the last Magimix (steel, 600 rotations per minute) from my hands yesterday, citing ‘the stress of… Continue reading

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Shane Warne bowling at the height of his powers and in his own back yard in Melbourne, 2004. Image: Getty

The more Shane Warne practised, the more magical he got

5 January 2013 16:15

It was a placid start. A tubby kid with peroxide blond hair approached the crease in 6 easy steps. He skipped into the air and pulled his arms backwards to… Continue reading

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Christopher Martin-Jenkins receives the MBE from the Prince of Wales for services to cricket journalism. Image: Getty.

Thank you, Christopher Martin-Jenkins

2 January 2013 13:01

The children who grew up when Christopher Martin-Jenkins began to commentate on cricket (both in print and on the air) have got old. CMJ’s 40-odd year career has been brought… Continue reading

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John Lloyd, one of the QI 'Elves', who believes that there is a future for publishing trivia in the internet age. Image: Getty

The future of the trivia book

13 December 2012 10:19

It is, if Noddy Holder is to be believed, Christmas. And so those of us who pen trivia books listen for the ring of tills or, as is increasingly the… Continue reading

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Dr Cosmo Lang, Archbishop of Canterbury, leaves Number 10 Downing Street on 6th December 1936 after meeting with Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and other ministers to discuss the abdication crisis. Image: Getty.

Cosmo Lang, his part in Edward VIII’s downfall

10 December 2012 9:30

In December 1936, following the Abdication of Edward VIII, a rhyme circulated about the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cosmo Lang: ‘My Lord Archbishop, what a scold you are! And when your… Continue reading

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Image: Getty

Barack Obama’s best voice: Michael Grunwald

7 December 2012 9:30

No Obama policy – not even ‘Obamacare’ – has been derided quite as much as his stimulus package and the $787 billion Recovery Act passed in February 2009. It became… Continue reading

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Graydon Carter and Anna Scott at this year's Vanity Fair Oscars party. Image: Getty

Shelf Life: Graydon Carter

5 December 2012 9:23

Editor of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter, is this week’s Shelf Lifer. He reveals a predilection for Herman Wouk, an in depth knowledge of certain sections of the Eaton’s catalogue and… Continue reading

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Night falls on Seattle, and Tom Hanks' vigil at the telephone begins. One of the known 'disectia' that Nicholson Baker devotes himself to is 'Sleepless in Seatlle'. Image: Getty.

The Way the World Works by Nicholson Baker – an ideal Christmas present

28 November 2012 9:51

Nicholson Baker is intensely interested. He looks at the world like he has never seen it before, fixating on the mundane and capitalizing upon the strange lacunae which exist between… Continue reading

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John K. Thornton believes that the creation of a militaristic ‘Atlantic World’ was driven by the hunger of European states for hard cash. Image: Getty.

The Atlantic, the ocean that made the modern world

26 November 2012 11:31

Just as the classical world was built around the Mediterranean, the modern world was built around the Atlantic. The Romans called the Med ‘Mare Nostrum’ – Our Sea. The Atlantic,… Continue reading

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Time Magazine's spiel prompts the question, how useful is the Freedom of Information Act against the machinery of the secret State? Image: Getty

Secrecy and the State in Modern Britain

23 November 2012 17:41

In his new book Classified: Secrecy and The State In Modern Britain, Dr Christopher Moran gives an account of the British state’s long obsession with secrecy, and the various methods… Continue reading

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A wrecked Pontiac, one of the items displayed in J.G. Ballard's 'The Atrocity Exhibition'. Image: Getty.

Meeting J.G. Ballard

20 November 2012 19:00

In the programme Frost on Interviews that was recently rebroadcasted by BBC Four, the distinguished journalist, David Frost, attempted to understand what makes a compelling interview. Frost’s programme concentrated primarily… Continue reading

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Wole Soyinka has told the Spectator that Boko Haram, the Islamist group in Nigeria, must be 'destroyed'. Image: Getty

Wole Soyinka: Boko Haram must be destroyed

18 November 2012 17:16

Born in 1934 in Nigeria, Wole Soyinka is the author of more than twenty plays, ten volumes of poetry, two novels, seven collections of essays and five autobiographical works. He… Continue reading

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SYRIA-CONFLICT

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

9 Comments
A man stands in the graveyard in Rome in which Keats is buried. Image: Getty

John Keats by Nicholas Roe – review

13 November 2012 17:22

The joke has been made by Jack Stillinger, an American editor of Keats, that there have been so many treatments of the poet’s life that we know him better than… Continue reading

4 Comments
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

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Bloody Sunday. (Photo by Frederick Hoare/Central Press/Getty Images)

The importance of truth

9 November 2012 14:23

The words ‘Saville’ and ‘Inquiry’ have taken on a somewhat different meaning in recent weeks. But this is just to tell interested readers that my book on the original Saville… Continue reading

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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

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Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' manuscript - the days of writing in long hand have passed, but what of correcting in long hand? Image: Getty.

Paper talk

1 November 2012 10:35

The rainforests must be jumping for joy these days. Which is ironic, as they’ve largely got Amazon to thank for it. As the e-book continues its rise, there’ll be less… Continue reading

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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

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