Why good books could not deter bad leaders

Some of the world’s worst dictators, including Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler, loved great literature. But it did nothing to improve their minds

Amritsar: beginning of the end of Empire

The true casualty figures are still hotly disputed 100 years after the Punjab massacre, but its real legacy was the slow death of the Raj

Veni, Vidi, Vinum

The Romans had a tendency towards alarming additives in their drinks

Royal Ely

A visit to Ely Cathedral perfectly encapsulates the history of England and her architecture.

The First City To Be Coventried

The Coventry raid has stuck in the collective memory for a variety of reasons

Magdalen’s Bad Old Days

RW "Bill" Johnson's memoir of the college is a rattling good read

How Mervyn King Got Northern Rock Wrong

The Governor of the Bank of England ignored the lessons of history and the UK’s reputation for financial competence may never recover

Why Palmyra Should Matter To The West

The genocidal ghouls of Isis are tearing down a precious piece of our civilisation. This is the price we pay for not standing up to barbarism

British Witnesses To Lenin’s Revolution

Five British writers were in Russia in 1917. Each one had his own story, but all were overwhelmed by the powerful tide of history

Stalin’s Man In London

The newly-published diaries of Ivan Maisky are an extraordinarily important 21st-century contribution to our understanding of the Second World War

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"