Books

Luther's children Premium

22 June 2017 | by Anne Dillon
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”.

A map of our souls Premium

22 June 2017 | by Jon M. Sweeney

Rural magical realism Premium

22 June 2017 | by Julian Margaret Gibbs
In mourning for his mother who has died of cancer, 14-year-old Robbie falls in love with fire. He sets light to bins, to children’s playgrounds, telling his social worker the flames are his anger.

Taking on Trump Premium

22 June 2017 | by Christopher Bray
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.

Nothing like a Dame Premium

14 June 2017 | by Hilary Davies
Iris Origo speaks to us out of a lost world, or so it seems when we first open the pages of this, her deeply affecting autobiography, which first appeared in 1970. The famous cave metaphor from Plato’s The Republic is her foreword and it gives us the title of the book.

The price of faith Premium

14 June 2017 | by Jonathan Wright
Smithfield, just beyond London’s western city walls, had long been a favoured spot for public executions but the pace quickened during the sixteenth century.

Oedipus revisited Premium

14 June 2017 | by Lynn Roberts
This is an extremely successful retelling of an ancient story, one which lies in our bones: the tale of Oedipus. But it is not exactly the tale as we know it from the Greek tragedians and Homer.

Sympathy for the devil Premium

14 June 2017 | by Anthony Gardner
For those who believe that God is dead, child protection is perhaps the nearest thing to a religion that the twenty-first century offers. In a world of moral half-tones, it offers a blessedly black-and-white scenario.

The China dream Premium

07 June 2017 | by Simon Scott Plummer
In 1949, Mao Zedong declared that China had “stood up” after more than a century of humiliation at the hands of foreign powers.

At the gates of Europe Premium

07 June 2017 | by Laurent Mignon
A “bloody difficult” man rules in Ankara. Angered by the narrow result in April’s constitutional referendum – marred by irregularities – that had been designed to legitimise his autocratic regime, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan must now be worried about the future of his political project, in a nation more divided than ever.

Violent wilderness Premium

07 June 2017 | by Markie Robson-Scott
The mountain in Emily Ruskovich’s ­wonderful debut novel is as significant as the people that live on it. The fictional Mount Iris, near Ponderosa in Idaho, almost defeats Wade and Jenny – prairie people who didn’t realise that snow ploughs wouldn’t be able to get through in winter.

Power and fanaticism Premium

01 June 2017 | by Giles Tremlett
The restless, formidable queen who drove the Spanish Inquisition.

Born Again Premium

01 June 2017 | by Frances Fitzgerald
For Gary Wills, the American Catholic writer, “Evangelical religion is revival religion, that of emotional contagion. It can best be characterised, for taxonomic purposes, by three things: crowds, drama and cycles.

If the devil has all the best tunes, the Right has all the best stories. The great crash of 2008 had its roots in the American sub-prime mortgage market. That had burgeoned from the financial deregulation of the 1980s which was the brainchild of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Yet Thatcher’s party, which was lucky enough to be out of power at the time, sought to blame this global crisis on the then Labour Government’s spending (spending the Tories had until the eve of the crash been promising to maintain should they win any future election).

Blackboard jungle Premium

25 May 2017 | by Nicholas Tucker
For ex-Etonian William Gladstone, “The public school system is the greatest thing in England.” Many others in Victorian Britain agreed, with attendance seen as an essential preamble to joining the Upper Ten Thousand, as the late nineteenth-century elite liked to term themselves.

A tale of savage Greeks Premium

25 May 2017 | by David Chater
Colm Tóibín’s House of Names is a magnificent novel. The Dublin-based writer, three times shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, retells Aeschylus’ tale of sacrifice, murder and revenge from the Oresteia with a naked and shocking immediacy.

Looting of the treasure house Premium

18 May 2017 | by Peter Marshall
Looting of the treasure house An exhilarating ride through the switchback world of the Reformation Heretics and Believers: A History of the English Reformation

Personal history Premium

18 May 2017 | by Martin Hammond
The Jewish War It is June of the year 67, the second year of the Jewish war against Rome, and the Galilean campaign is going badly for the Jews. The Romans under Vespasian have taken Jotapata. Josephus, commander of the Judaean forces in Galilee, is hiding nearby in a cave with 40 others.

British scholar Simon Yarrow's book is an academically informed popular historical study of the phenomenon of saints. Yarrow guides the reader on a walk through the world of saints from the crucifixion of Jesus down to the present...

How life evolves Premium

11 May 2017 | by Anthony Kenny
In the middle of the last century there was a broad consensus that the sciences formed a hierarchy in which each level was to be explained in terms of the one below it. Psychology was to be explained by physi­ology, physiology by chemistry and chemistry by physics.

Crash and burn Premium

11 May 2017 | by Marcus Tanner
The market is competitive in books about misery right now, or “hot”, as they say in the art world. In today’s confessional culture, personal disasters appeal for our attention. “I’ve got cancer!” “My baby was abducted!” “My father molested me!” Amid the wails, Ariel Levy’s memoir stands out.

A dark chasm Premium

11 May 2017 | by Catherine Pepinster
By the time the events of Helen Dunmore’s novel take place, in the late eighteenth century, plans were already afoot for a bridge between Clifton, on the outskirts of Bristol, and the Leigh Woods of North Somerset.

A little More Premium

04 May 2017 | by Diarmaid MacCulloch
A miniature jewel on Thomas More, from the snakepit of the Tudor Court to his canonisation and latest role as enigmatic protagonist of blockbuster historical fiction

Darkness within Premium

04 May 2017 | by Christopher Bray
A man of parts, Arthur Koestler. Journalist, Zionist, anti-fascist, Communist, anti-Communist, ­novelist, historian of science – the list could fill this review. Little wonder David Cesarani and Michael Scammell took more than 600 pages apiece to accommodate him in bio­graphical form.

The shortest history of Germany I recall from my schooldays went to the tune of “Colonel Bogey”. Though it may not exactly have been history, it came close to being the sum total of knowledge about Germany in post-war Britain.

Jesuits everywhere Premium

27 April 2017 | by Michael Walsh
Though it may not look like it, the first of these two volumes is, like the second, a collection of essays.

Migrants through time Premium

27 April 2017 | by Caroline Jackson
Mohsin Hamid’s first three novels laid claim to fresh fictive territory that remains, to a sobering degree, anything but imaginary.

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