Books

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.

The truth of the Torah Premium

03 August 2017 | by Emma Klein
An extraordinarily complex ­oeuvre written in clear, readable script is certainly something unusual to encounter. Steven Weitzman has achieved this feat …

Messy world Premium

03 August 2017 | by Emily Holman
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.

Summer Reading Premium

26 July 2017
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.

From sewer to salon Premium

19 July 2017 | by Patricia Duffaud
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.

An Iraqi tragedy Premium

19 July 2017 | by Kathy Watson
We begin in what sounds like the setting of a fairy tale: “In a land without bananas …” Yet this is no theatre, nor fable. We are in Iraq, in the territory of real-life fiction, during the years Saddam invaded first Iran and then Kuwait.

On the same page Premium

19 July 2017 | by Christopher Bray
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.

Right at the centre Premium

13 July 2017 | by Ben Gummer
An unusually candid account of a precocious political career

The art of time travel Premium

13 July 2017 | by Julian Margaret Gibbs
London, 1967. Odelle Bastien is given a week’s trial as a typist … [and] is taken under the wing of the mysterious, elegant Marjorie Quick, whose combination of sangfroid, curiosity and reservation seems unshakeable.

For the love of trees Premium

13 July 2017 | by Jonathan Tulloch
A pocket-sized guide to London street trees and a species-by-species account of Britain's most common trees

Lure of violence Premium

13 July 2017 | by William Eichler
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”.

Spain's farewell to Islam Premium

06 July 2017 | by Andrew Breeze
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.

God is back Premium

29 June 2017 | by Simon Scott Plummer
An intriguing enquiry that unfortunately omits the most interesting parts of the story

That smile Premium

29 June 2017 | by Richard Owen
Who was Mona Lisa, she of the neatly folded hands, sensuous curves and enigmatic smile?

Greek tragedy Premium

29 June 2017 | by Clarissa Burden
“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.

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.

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