A multitude of dignities

Are human rights dependent on “human dignity”—and what does “human dignity” even mean?

In the eyes of a wartime God

It really does not matter what structures are in place to coordinate, direct, and execute strategic military aims; what matters is clarity of responsibility

Rethinking Metternich

More than most statesmen of his time, Metternich thought about history and his place in it. He was right to worry: most biographies have depicted him as an essentially reactionary politician—a “coachman” of Europe who was fond of the whip hand

Wafted by goodwill onto the rocks of error

Without some kind of internal border—in other words, status-checking by employers, landlords and so on—there would be a huge incentive for people, especially from poorer countries, to arrive and stay permanently but illegally

The shadow of the Sun King

'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'

Politics in a minor key

'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?'

The agony of being Sontag

'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?'

A conspiracy unmasked

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

Dechristianity by the numbers

'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'

A well-armed corporation

'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'

Underrated: Abroad

The ravenous longing for the infinite possibilities of “otherwhere”

The king of cakes

"Yuletide revels were designed to see you through the dark days — and how dark they seem today"