Just a decade or so ago, it was fashionable to argue that the liberal political order of open markets, globalisation, the rule of law and democracy were on an inevitable trajectory towards world dominance.
A quilt, a thing of comfort and joy, is made of layers, squares and patterns, patience, persistence and work, memories, hopes and time.
‘Astonishing, heartbreaking, gorgeous, thrilling, sumptuous, terrifying, hilarious ...’ Some of our reviewers, contributors and friends recommend the new book that most intrigued and delighted them in 2017
Did you know that there is a gene for reading The Tablet? It’s just between the gene for being intelligent, thoughtful and slightly too clever, and the one for being moral, upright and gently herbivorous. You might have it. Its book reviewers usually do.
This is the first novel from Galway-based writer, Alan McMonagle, and is written with a memorable and disturbing brilliance.
Stefan Reynolds is a Benedictine Oblate of the World Community for Christian Meditation, and an Associate of the Irish Cistercians. He has a PhD in Christian Spirituality and gives accomplished retreats at Mount Melleray Abbey on the slopes of the Knockmealdown Mountains in County Waterford, Ireland.
What does it mean to be on form? How do you train for it? How do you lose it, and what can be done to regain it?
A fictionalised account of the poet Philip Larkin's arrival in 1950s Hull
A pioneering study of the formative influences on Henry David Thoreau, one of the great American essayists
Rachel Hewitt argues that the 1790s brought about a decisive change in 'feelings about feeling' and shaped the way we think today, even on an issue such as Brexit
An anonymous writer lists 15 'guilty men', including former Prime Minister David Cameron, whose actions led to Brexit.
Edward Stourton recounts how the BBC's coverage during the Second World War transformed its reputation from fussy 'Auntie' to truth-teller-in-chief
Reading this book is like walking with a wise, humorous guide through a series of garden rooms
Williams Boyd’s fifth collection of short stories feature art dealers, bankers’ wives and egomaniacs in the movie industry. They are quite brilliant.
A former pupil remembers Michael Kidson, an Eton history master from the 1960s to the 1990s, as a larger-than-life character at a school noted for its eccentrics
A detailed and sometimes draining account of a seemingly intractable conflict in the Middle East
Though the Puritan settlement by Plymouth Rock began in peace, it ended up fighting its Indian neighbours with a brutality almost akin to the Daesh caliphate’s.
An artist speculates on Vermeer's working practices
The faith of a scientist: Newton was a genius obsessed by obscure theological disputes and early church history25 October 2017 | by John Cottingham
[Newton's] “visceral” and “rampant” anti-Catholicism was exacerbated by a series of fractious disputes with Jesuit scientists on scientific questions relating to his experiments with light and colours …
Being “on welfare” is a pejorative term. Add “state”, and in the rollback era you have the perfect slander. To the Trump and Iain Duncan Smith generation, the welfare state is practically Communism.
An affectionate biography of a writer who sharply divided opinion – even among his friends
Thomas Tallon selects three novels in translation
The blurb on the back of this book – from The Observer – describes the author as “a great English stylist in full maturity”.
The fourth novel by J. Courtney Sullivan follows in the wake of a string of books on the immigrant experience in America.
Clair Wills, who teaches at Princeton, has written an authoritative and exhaustive study of post-war immigration to Britain
Mary Blanche Ridge packs three travel books
The eminent cultural historian Jenny Uglow tracks down the wellsprings of the strangest genius of the nineteenth century.
A cultural history of the story of Adam and Eve is good – as far as it goes
How can a violent, fanatical cult prosper in a supposedly cultured, Christian country?
Written in 1954, The Dollmaker is a forgotten American epic by novelist Harriette Arnow and now reissued.
A lively account of an era of global greatness and domestic squalor.
A contemporary and utterly captivating meditation on Calcutta by a son of the city who left at 12, was educated at Princeton and then returned, unable to resist a siren call he did not fully understand.
A brave, moving, finely-wrought book: brave in its honest portrayal of an exceptional childhood; moving in its author’s relationship with her talented, wayward father; elegant in its language and handling of time.
Catherine Nixey is a lively writer and likely to go far, but unfortunately in her first book she has rather unimaginatively bought into the old “blame the Christians” model.
Julia Boyd’s fascinating new book has trawled through archives of published and unpublished accounts by foreign visitors who visited Germany between 1919 and 1939: although historical hindsight is all too easy, it nonetheless does seem remarkable how few of them seem to have felt the chill of foreboding.
This book has been well received. That should not be surprising. Its author has written nearly 20 books, on subjects as diverse as Volcano: Nature and Culture and William Heath Robinson.
A thoroughly clever entertainment and a fitting homage Agatha Christie, but it has a chilling melancholy all its own.
A prolific contrarian has the great scientist in his crosshairs, but his barrel is bent
Mulley casts new light upon one of the darkest periods of modern European history …
Fidel Castro, the last true dictator-nationalist of the Caribbean, died in 2016 at the age of 90
Fathers and sons are in vogue at the moment. You see them everywhere: in films, in fiction, on the stage, but rarely do you see parent and child together and never for very long.
The fourteenth century, which took in a fair chunk of the Hundred Years’ War, is currently a favoured period among medieval historians.
Richard Harries was for many years Bishop of Oxford and is now enjoying a second innings in the House of Lords in his own right. As readers of The Tablet will know, he is a gifted writer, who can be light-hearted without frivolity and serious without solemnity.
Clang, clang, clang goes the trolley. But look! There are five people tethered to the track! The train is headed straight for them … what to do? How about pulling that lever next to you? That will divert the train on to a side line. True, if you do so, the one person who is tied up on that line will die. But hey, better one dead than five, right?
The Great Stink of Rosemary Ashton’s title refers to the open sewer that was the Thames, repository of the capital’s untreated effluent … The stench in summer drove MPs out of the Commons, Dickens and Carlyle out of London, and threatened to bring cholera
I have rarely come across as many whips, trips and saucy quips as are packed into Eureka.
A timely exploration of the values that underpin good government
Kim Jong-un, the bumptious supreme ruler of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, had a surprise present for the United States on Independence Day a month ago: he presided over the successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Luckily it was not gift-wrapped with a nuclear warhead, nor was it hand-delivered to the US.
An extraordinarily complex oeuvre written in clear, readable script is certainly something unusual to encounter. Steven Weitzman has achieved this feat …
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness is a deeply political book, more a polemic than a novel. Roy has a message to deliver and she proclaims it without pause, in prose that is at times poignant and unexpected, and at others verges on declamation.
With the holidays upon us, here are some of our contributors’ recommended reads
James Martin, the hugely popular American Jesuit writer on contemporary spirituality, envisages a two-way conversation forming a bridge between “the institutional Church” and the Catholic LGBT community.
Bogotá, the 1920s. Emma Reyes is four and lives in a windowless room with her sister Helena, a little boy and an unknown woman with long black hair. Her first task of the day is to carry a heavy chamber pot, overflowing and foul-smelling, to a garbage heap. After this she plays nearby in the mud with other street children. On Sundays, the long-haired woman locks her in the dark room, with only a sliver of light coming from the keyhole.
Ricks’ mission is to convince us that his two “vastly dissimilar” subjects were in fact cut from the same cloth. The high-born Tory romantic and the socialist scholarship boy were united in their belief that the twentieth century’s big- shot ideologues wanted to sound the death knell on individual freedom.
An unusually candid account of a precocious political career
A short but closely-argued text, it is the culmination of decades of thinking about what drives modern jihadists. Roy’s answer is counterintuitive. “Terrorism”, he writes, “does not arise from the radicalisation of Islam, but from the Islamisation of radicalism.”
In the early 1930s, Mussolini was at the height of his prestige. In Britain, no less an authority than The Tablet called the Duce “an intellectual giant”.
On 2 January 1492, the siege of Granada ended. The Emir Boabdil, last of the Nasrid rulers, gave the keys of the city to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, and then left for exile in North Africa. After nearly 800 years, the brilliance of Muslim Spain was gone for ever.
An intriguing enquiry that unfortunately omits the most interesting parts of the story
Who was Mona Lisa, she of the neatly folded hands, sensuous curves and enigmatic smile?
“There’s a thing called liquid light, which is silver and salt together.” This sentence explains the curious title of the novel, and to any photographers who develop their own film it will need no elucidation.
Alec Ryrie’s remarkable book is a work of meticulous scholarship shot through with wit, perception and affectionate compassion. It is a history, not of theology or doctrine but of people, Protestants – those Christians, in Ryrie’s definition, whose religion is derived ultimately from Martin Luther’s rebellion against the Catholic Church and “who see themselves as God’s chosen people”.
Naomi Klein’s last book was called This Changes Everything. Her new book, No Is Not Enough, could as well be called “You Change Everything”. Like Karl Marx before her, Klein has decided that it is all very well to interpret the world, but the point is to make it better.
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