Books

‘In the US, levels of religiosity are traditionally high. But Americans aren’t somehow hard-wired to preserve their faith in a high-tech world. They are just behind the curve’

‘William Dalrymple dismantles the inadequacies of prep school history: Britain was a relatively poor, agricultural nation in 1599, while much of India was populous and rich’

‘Houllebecq’s novel Serotonin is yet another specimen of the thriving industry of déclinisme — disenchantment with neoliberal woes and political correctness’

‘When the whole nation is taking a huge punt on whether (or how) to leave the EU, a gambler’s memoirs are timely’

‘It has been said that Louis XIV invented France and Napoleon made it. Like Napoleon 150 years later, Louis found a country in turmoil and determined to turn it into a functional, modern state’

‘If Jacob Rees-Mogg is indeed a principled arch-eurosceptic, why did he vote both for and against Theresa May’s EU withdrawal deal? If he is so politically acute, why did his attempt to assassinate the previous party leader fail so miserably?’

‘If Susan Sontag had been a man, if she hadn’t had such a pungent, fascinating character, if she hadn’t had a nonstandard sexuality, would her works get her a biography as big as this one? Does she merit it?’

‘Margaret Thatcher was a leader they had never wholly accepted; a radical, an outsider, a loner’

Questioning the status of history’s ‘most dangerous’ spy

Thomas Grant’s “Court Number One” reveals the changing values of the society which the criminal justice system ultimately exists to enforce