Books

The pedant of Pompeii

"If you start your account with such a humdinging narrative as the eruption of Vesuvius, then nothing is ever going to be as gripping again"

Rabelais and the likely lads

A posthumous collection of poems by Geoffrey Hill embodies a controversial but impassioned idea of what poetry is and does

Distinguished only by his errors

"Many, perhaps most, books about Israel are full of tendentious delusions. This is one of the worst examples"

Singled out by the stupid

Imperialism has been a fact of historical life, at all times and throughout the world. So why is the British variety singled out? Jeremy Black has raised his head above the parapet, not so much to defend the Empire as to ponder why it arouses such animosity

Tidying up the trivial

Jonathan Rée’s history of philosophy is way too long but worth sticking with for the connections it makes across whole networks of thought

Design for living and loving

The three lives of Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus

Irreverent reboot of well woke Will

Is Shakespeare 'accessible'? The truth is that Shakespeare’s plays combine an unusual accessibility of human situation with an unusual difficulty of language

Belly of the beast

The Booker-winning Marlon James takes on the fantasy genre with a novel sent in a phantasmagorical version of Africa

Perils of paying off the pirates

Kidnapping remains a lucrative business. Anja Shortland's new book examines how and where it thrives

In defence of globalisation

Free trade is not without costs — but those costs are outweighed by the benefits. And where costs exist, the answer to “open” is rarely “closed”

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"
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