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The History of Modern France: From the Revolution to the Present Day. By Jonathan Fenby.
FRANCE breathes its history, and engraves the past on its landscape. No French town is complete without an Avenue Charles de Gaulle….[Read More…]

Africa: Why Economists Get It Wrong. By Morten Jerven.
ECONOMISTS who study Africa use dodgy theory and inappropriate statistical techniques, and at times deliberately mislead. In an interesting and highly readable …[Read More…]

Africa: Why Economists Get It Wrong. By Morten Jerven.
ECONOMISTS who study Africa use dodgy theory and inappropriate statistical techniques, and at times deliberately mislead. In an interesting and highly readable …[Read More…]

Spain: The Centre of the World 1519-1682. By Robert Goodwin.
HABSBURG Spain in the 16th century was the world’s first global superpower, with an empire stretching east across most of…[Read More…]

Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies. By César Hidalgo.
THE question seems basic, but economists have yet to find a comprehensive answer: why and how do economies grow?….[Read More…]

Wind/Pinball: Two Novels. By Haruki Murakami. Translated by Ted Goossen.
IN 1978, over the course of six months or so, Haruki Murakami juggled running a Tokyo jazz bar with writing a novel. A year later, using the same routine, he penned a sequel….[Read More…]

Russia and the New World Disorder. By Bobo Lo.
SEEN from the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy is a series of triumphs. He has killed NATO expansion, regained Crimea and exposed the weakness and hypo-crisy of the West…[Read More…]

Worrying: A Literary and Cultural History. By Francis O’Gorman.
WHEN he is not teaching Victorian literature at the University of Leeds or writing books, Francis O’Gorman admits to doing a lot of unnecessary brooding….[Read More…]

Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic. By Sam Quinones.
AMERICA is battling a massive epidemic of heroin and its pharmacological substitutes. By 2008 drug overdoses, mostly from opioids, overtook car crashes as the leading…[Read More…]

The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: The Life and Times of Jacob Fugger. By Greg Steinmetz.
ALBRECHT DÜRER’S portrait of Jacob Fugger shows a man with thin lips and unforgiving eyes. He wears a fine fur tippet about his…[Read More…]

Deng Xiaoping: A Revolutionary Life.By Alexander Pantsov and Steven Levine.
BIOGRAPHERS of Communist-era leaders in China face enormous challenges. Since Mao Zedong took control of the country in,…[Read More…]

Zero Zero Zero. By Roberto Saviano. Translated by Virginia Jewiss.
ROBERTO SAVIANO’S first book, “Gomorrah”, put him in grave danger. An exposé of the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra,…[Read More…]

Jonas Salk: A Life. By Charlotte DeCroes Jacobs.
THE 1910s were not always kind to New York. In mid-1916 the city faced a polio epidemic that killed a baby every…[Read More…]

Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War.By P.W. Singer and August Cole.
GEORGE TOMKYNS CHESNEY’S “The Battle of Dorking”, published in Blackwoods Magazine in 1871, was …[Read More…]

The Adventures of Sir Thomas Browne in the 21st Century: The Life and Afterlife of the Seventeenth Century’s Most Inquiring Mind. By Hugh Aldersey-Williams.
THOMAS BROWNE was a 17th-century Norwich doctor who wrote mysterious-sounding books such as “Religio Medici” and “Pseudodoxia Epidemica”…[Read More…]

The Improbability of Love. By Hannah Rothschild.
HANNAH ROTHSCHILD’S romp through the art world is peopled by some horrible characters: venal art dealers,…[Read More…]

Midnight’s Furies: The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition. By Nisid Hajari.
PARTITION, the bloody division of the Indian subcontinent into two countries in 1947, was a tragedy. The merits of the outcome…[Read More…]

Between the World and Me. By Ta-Nehisi Coates.
A MASSACRE at a black church in Charleston, the choking of a black man by a New York police officer for the crime of selling untaxed cigarettes,…[Read More…]

After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate. By Mary Ziegler.
WHEN America comes to pick its next president one thing is sure: the two candidates will take opposing views of a 40-year-old lawsuit…[Read More…]

The Festival of Insignificance. By Milan Kundera. Translated by Linda Asher.
MILAN KUNDERA has a philosopher’s roving mind and a storyteller’s smooth tongue….[Read More…]

Touché: The Duel in Literature. By John Leigh.
FOR centuries the idea of two men facing each other in a duel has seemed anachronistic,…..[Read More…]

Adventures in Human Being. By Gavin Francis.
GAVIN FRANCIS, a Scottish doctor, has had plenty of adventures,…..[Read More…]

Baptists in America: A History. By Thomas Kidd and Barry Hankins.
IN 1995, a century and a half after it was founded by supporters of slavery, the…..[Read More…]

How the French Think: An Affectionate Portrait of an Intellectual People. By Sudhir Hazareesingh.
IN 2003, as America was gearing up for the invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, a tall Frenchman with a thick silvery….[Read More…]

Buy Me the Sky: The Remarkable Truth of China’s One-Child Generation. By Xinran.
SINCE Xinran Xue wrote “The Good Women of China” in 2002, she has sought to….[Read More…]

The Road to Character. By David Brooks.
PEOPLE are too full of themselves, says David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times. Joe Namath, a star quarterback of the 1960s,[Read More…]

Seiobo There Below. By Laszlo Krasznahorkai.
BACK in 2007 Colm Toibin, a prizewinning Irish author, told a press conference that the most interesting writer he had come across [Read More…]

Waterloo: Four Days that Changed Europe’s Destiny. By Tim Clayton.
WITH the bicentenary of the battle of Waterloo fast approaching, the publishing industry has already fired volley after volley of weighty ordnance at what is indeed one. [Read More…]

Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies and Three Battles. By Bernard Cornwell.
WITH the bicentenary of the battle of Waterloo fast approaching, the publishing industry has already fired volley after volley of weighty ordnance at what is indeed one. [Read More…]

Universal Man: The Lives of John Maynard Keynes. By Richard Davenport-Hines.
A BIOGRAPHY of John Maynard Keynes without the economics may seem like “Hamlet” without the prince. But Richard Davenport-Hines has .[Read More…]

The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789. By Joseph Ellis.
JOSEPH ELLIS begins his latest book, “The Quartet”, with the observation that Abraham Lincoln’s most famous speech was a fine bit of eloquence but a bad piece of history.[Read More…]

Leaving Before the Rains Come. By Alexandra Fuller.
IF AFRICAN fiction has enjoyed a resurgence over the past decade, non-fiction,…[Read More…]

Hell and Good Company: The Spanish Civil War and the World It Made. By Richard Rhodes.
THE Spanish civil war, which began in 1936, three years before the second world war,…[Read More…]

Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man’s Fight for Justice. By Bill Browder.
BILL BROWDER was a happy man in 2003. He had the perfect job and was making…[Read More…]

The Internet is Not the Answer. By Andrew Keen.
THE history of the internet, Andrew Keen suggests, can be reduced to two stories…[Read More…]

Schubert’s Winter Journey: An Anatomy of an Obsession. By Ian Bostridge.
The opening of “Winterreise” sets the tone. This is one of Franz Schubert’s…[Read More…]

Hall of Mirrors: The Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the Uses—and Misuses—of History. By Barry Eichengreen.
ECONOMISTS usually work with large samples of data,…[Read More…]

America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix our Broken Healthcare System. By Steven Brill.
IT WAS never going to be easy. Reforming health care in America means…[Read More…]

The Modern Mercenary: Private Armies and What They Mean for World Order. By Sean McFate.
IN THE pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia around 180 private military…[Read More…]

Japan and the Shackles of the Past. By Taggart Murphy.
MOST historical analysis of Japan tends to emphasise the country’s ruptures with the past. …[Read More…]

A Stranger in My Own Country: The 1944 Prison Diary. By Hans Fallada.
GERMAN intellectuals in the 1930s faced a painful choice between exile and danger…[Read More…]

Rush Hour: How 500 Million Commuters Survive the Daily Journey to Work.
TO THOSE who don’t do it and to many who do, commuting is joyless: dead time,….[Read More…]

The Undertaker’s Daughter. By Kate Mayfield.
“WE’VE got a body.” Raised above her family’s funeral home in a small Kentucky….[Read More…]

There Was and There Was Not. By Meline Toumani.
ANNIVERSARIES have become the party theme of our time, especially over the,….[Read More…]

Empire of Cotton: A Global History. By Sven Beckert.
GOOD economic history tells dramatic stories of ingenuity and aspiration,….[Read More…]

Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon. By Kim Zetter.
WHEN America dropped its two atom bombs, Little Boy and Fat Man,….[Read More…]

The Language of Food. By Dan Jurafsky.
DINERS can infer a great deal about a restaurant from its menu. Bound in leather….[Read More…]

The English and Their History. By Robert Tombs.
WHAT does it mean to be English? There was a time when one of the perks….[Read More…]

Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tale. By Marina Warner.
FAIRY tales have come a long way. On magic carpets and on the backs of….[Read More…]

Modern Man: The Life of Le Corbusier, Architect of Tomorrow. By Anthony Flint.
FEW doubt that Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known as Le Corbusier,..[Read More…]

Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place. By Philip Marsden.
Francis Pryor is an archaeologist of British prehistory who has excavated Neolithic…[Read More…]

Phantom Terror: The Threat of Revolution and the Repression of Liberty 1789-1848. By Adam Zamoyski.
AFTER the revolution comes always the reaction. That is the central message …[Read More…]

Common People: The History of an English Family. By Alison Light.
ONE of the inspirations for Alison Light’s book, “Mrs Woolf and the Servants”,…[Read More…]

Reluctant Meister: How Germany’s Past is Shaping its European Future. By Stephen Green.
JUDGING by the books published about Germany in recent decades…[Read More…]

Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology. By Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe McFadden.
LIFE science still hides a few mysteries. How do migratory…[Read More…]

Lila. By Marilynne Robinson.
OVER the course of three novels set in the fictional town of Gilead, Iowa, Marilynne Robinson does what…[Read More…]

Indispensable and Other Myths: Why the CEO Pay Experiment Failed and How to Fix It. By Michael Dorff.
IT IS easy to get steamed up about how much executives…[Read More…]

Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography. By Meryle Secrest.
“AS A child Schiap was definitely difficult,” Elsa Schiaparelli wrote…[Read More…]

The 13th Labour of Hercules: Inside the Greek Crisis. By Yannis Palaiologos.
Yet there is strong resistance to this inside Germany, led by “ordoliberal”…[Read More…]

The Euro Trap: On Bursting Bubbles, Budgets, and Beliefs. By Hans-Werner
THE euro crisis never seems to end. From an acute phase of worries about public…[Read More…]

Building a Better Teacher. By Elizabeth
Studies on good teachers have encouraged the weeding out of bad ones…[Read More…]

The Teacher Wars. By Dana Goldstein.
WHAT is to be done about America’s schools? Students are graduating,…[Read More…]

On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller. By Richard Norton Smith.
THE Republican Party’s nomination of Barry Goldwater for president in July 1964…[Read More…]

Zero to One: Notes on Start-Ups or How to Build the Future. By Peter Thiel with Blake Masters.
CONTRARIANISM and controversy have long been the hallmarks of Peter Thiel, the co-founder of,…[Read More…]

Zero to One: Notes on Start-Ups or How to Build the Future. By Peter Thiel with Blake Masters.
CONTRARIANISM and controversy have long been the hallmarks of Peter Thiel, the co-founder of…[Read More…]

The Struggle for Pakistan: A Muslim Homeland and Global Politics. By Ayesha Jalal.
MOST countries have armies, but in Pakistan the army has a country. Historians repeat that aphorism because…[Read More…]

Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph. By Jan Swafford.
“WHO can do anything after Beethoven?” asked Schubert. Composers who came after him struggled…[Read More…]

Napoleon the Great. By Andrew Roberts.
The most important is that this is the first single-volume general biography to make…[Read More…]

Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant. By Tracy Borman.
IN SOME ways Thomas Cromwell is a known quantity. He was King Henry VIII’s favoured minister, the London-born blacksmith’s…[Read More…]

Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph. By Jan Swafford.
“WHO can do anything after Beethoven?” asked Schubert. Composers who came after him struggled…[Read More…]

Napoleon the Great. By Andrew Roberts.
The most important is that this is the first single-volume general biography to make…[Read More…]

Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant. By Tracy Borman.
IN SOME ways Thomas Cromwell is a known quantity. He was King Henry VIII’s favoured minister, the London-born blacksmith’s…[Read More…]

Midnight at the Pera Palace: The Birth of Modern Istanbul. By Charles King.
THE “Queen of Cities”, as it was known in Byzantine times, was perfectly sited at the intersection of continents, …[Read More…]

The Last Stalinist: The Life of Santiago Carrillo. By Paul Preston.
BY THE time he died in 2012 at the age of 97, Santiago Carrillo had long since become a pillar of his country’s political…[Read More…]

Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces. By Miles Unger.
THE rocks and coral known as James Shoal are not much: just a raised stretch of seabed 22 metres…[Read More…]

Michelangelo: A Life in Six Masterpieces. By Miles Unger.
MILES UNGER’S biography of Michelangelo Buonarotti focuses on six of the great man’s greatest hits…[Read More…]

The Culinary Imagination: From Myth to Modernity. By Sandra Gilbert.
In “The Culinary Imagination” Sandra Gilbert, an American poet and writer, takes a more scholarly approach…[Read More…]

The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes but Fed Up with Fondue. By David Sax.
“TELL me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are,” declared Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin,…[Read More…]

The Bone Clocks. By David Mitchell.
DAVID MITCHELL’S novels are often made up of interconnecting novellas. His first, “Ghostwritten” (1999)…[Read More…]

Mind Change: How Digital Technologies are Leaving their Mark on our Brains. By Susan Greenfield.
A PICTURE doing the rounds on social media a few months ago showed….[Read More…]

The Social Order of the Underworld: How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System. By David Skarbek.
IN 2009 Edward John Schaefer drunkenly swerved his motorbike…[Read More…]

Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs. By Joshua Wolf Shenk.
THE cliché of the “Asian century” is usually presented as an economic,…[Read More…]

Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs. By Joshua Wolf Shenk.
SOCIETY has long romanticised the creative power of the loner,…[Read More…]

Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State.By Robert Wuthnow.
TEXANS miss few opportunities to boast of their history. The capsule…[Read More…]

Ciao, Carpaccio! An Infatuation.By Jan Morris.
TO FOODIES, carpaccio conjures up an image of thin slices of raw beef. Jan Morris is more enthralled by the painter after…[Read More…]

Italian Venice: A History.By R.J.B. Bosworth.
THE 20m tourists who visit Venice each year come to see a heritage site, possibly the best one in the world…[Read More…]

China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa. By Howard French.
“NI HAO” and “chi ku” may be the two commonest phrases in this…[Read More…]

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. By Nick Bostrom.
HUMANS like to think of themselves as special. But science has a way of puncturing their illusions…[Read More…]

Ukraine Diaries: Dispatches from Kiev. By Andrey Kurkov.
SATIRISTS and surrealists are at once fortunate and challenged in the countries of the former Soviet Union.,…[Read More…]

Wounded Tiger: A History of Cricket in Pakistan. By Peter Oborne.
“WHAT do they know of cricket who only cricket know?” The literary challenge posed by C.L.R. James,…[Read More…]

Christendom Destroyed: Europe 1517-1648. By Mark Greengrass.
THE new Penguin History of Europe, edited by Sir David Cannadine, was launched more than a decade…[Read More…]

The Too Difficult Box: The Big Issues Politicians Can’t Crack. Edited by Charles Clarke.
“The Too Difficult Box”, a collection of essays edited by Mr Clarke, sheds…[Read More…]

The Blair Supremacy: A Study in the Politics of Labour’s Party Management. By Lewis Minkin.
“A CHANGING world means changing policies and…[Read More…]

The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan. By Rick Perlstein.
ONE of Ronald Reagan’s favourite jokes, loved and polished like a pebble carried for luck, told of a small…[Read More…]

Margot Asquith’s Great War Diary, 1914-1916: The View from Downing Street. Edited by Michael Brock and Eleanor Brock.
DID a British prime minister ever have a more indiscreet wife?…[Read More…]

A History of Singing. By John Potter and Neil Sorrell.
THE first music that humans made was song. All music arrived, the early…[Read More…]

The Punisher’s Brain: The Evolution of Judge and Jury. By Morris B. Hoffman.
ON A February afternoon in 1978, Freddie Hall and an accomplice kidnapped Karol Hurst, who was 21 years old and seven months pregnant…[Read More…]

Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman. By Robert O’Connell.
THE American South will never forget William Tecumseh Sherman. One hundred and fifty years ago, in 1864,…[Read More…]

H is for Hawk. By Helen Macdonald.
THIS absorbing book opens in the Cambridgeshire fens. “It’s a land of twisted pine trees, burned-out cars, shotgun-peppered road signs…[Read More…]

Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Struggle for Democracy.
.By Dave Zirin. That Brazil’s World Cup has become entangled in …[Read More…]

The Country of Football: Soccer and the Making of Modern Brazil.
By Roger Kittleson HOLDING the World Cup in Brazil, football’s spiritual home, sparked many fantasies of…[Read More…]

Futebol Nation: The Story of Brazil through Soccer.
By David Goldblatt. That Brazil’s World Cup has become entangled in the country’s social and political…[Read More…]

The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames.
By Kai Bird. KAI BIRD has chosen a clever title for this book. Robert Ames, a CIA agent killed in the …[Read More…]

A Broken Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen’s Secret Chord.

By Leil Leibovitz. AT THE age of 29 Leonard Cohen wrote a letter accompanying a collection of poems he was submitting for a young writers’ contest: “I was born in Montreal, September 21, 1934. My passport number is 5-017560. My eyes are hazel.” That Mr Cohen did not mention that he had already won a prize for his earlier writing defines him, Leil Leibovitz argues. All that matters to the singer is his work; and on that alone should he be judged.[Read More…]


The Paper Trail: An Unexpected History of the World’s Greatest Invention.

By Alexander Monro. PAPER is said to have been invented in 105AD by a eunuch named Cai Lun, a civil servant in Luoyang, China. Cai used bark from mulberry trees and plant fibre, pounded into pulp, then dried and matted into sheets. It was cheap, portable and printable; light, absorbent and strong. Within a couple of hundred years, paper had taken over from bamboo and silk in China to carry the written word.[Read More…]


Ageing rebels, bitter victims

ON THE night of June 3rd-4th 1989 the Chinese army unleashed its tanks in the centre of Beijing to crush a protest that had begun seven weeks earlier against the Communist Party’s autocratic rule. Ever since, Chinese officials grow nervous in the run-up to the anniversary of the crackdown. This year they are especially jittery, fearful that the symbolic passage of a quarter of a century might encourage some dissidents to be more daring than usual in their public remembrance of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, who were killed. Security forces around the country are on heightened alert, particularly in Tiananmen Square, the plaza that has become synonymous with the unrest.[Read More…]


THE EUROPE DILEMMA.

By Roger Liddle. THE British question is a hardy perennial in Brussels. In recent years it has been a sideshow to the more important concern of whether Europe’s single currency and even the European Union can survive. But as the euro crisis calms and the British election in 2015 draws near (with a rising chance of a Conservative victory), the issue of Britain’s membership is returning with a vengeance. David Cameron has promised to renegotiate the terms and call a referendum by 2017.[Read More…]


The Trouble with Europe.

By Roger Bootle. Yet, The biggest error was to misunderstand the underlying causes of the crisis. Because the first victim was Greece, it became accepted wisdom in Brussels (and Berlin) that the problem was profligate spending and borrowing. The Germans liked this explanation because it confirmed the suspicions they had before the creation of the euro that they might be lumbered with other countries’ debts. It also looked susceptible to a gratifyingly simple cure: ever more fiscal austerity. And it avoided any suggestion that Germany might have contributed to the crisis by running a large current-account surplus that its banks recycled in cheap loans to Mediterranean property developers.[Read More…]


European Spring: Why our Economies and Politics are in a Mess—and How to Put Them Right.

By Philippe Legrain. Yet, as these books all argue, the crisis was always about more than whether financial markets would buy government debt. It raised broad worries over how countries with widely differing levels of prosperity, competitiveness, public spending and taxes, and regulation of labour and product markets, could share a currency without economic shocks blowing them apart. And it was about whether euro-zone voters would accept low growth, high unemployment and a permanent loss of sovereignty to the centre. None of these concerns has been fully dealt with.[Read More…]


The Euro Crisis and its Aftermath.

By Jean Pisani-Ferry. IS THE euro crisis over? To judge from how often the words appear in global media (down by three-quarters between early 2012 and early 2014), the answer is yes. Markets have calmed since July 2012, when the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi, promised to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro. Ireland and now Portugal are climbing out of their bail-out programmes. Even Greece, where the crisis began, has just sold debt.[Read More…]


The Embrace of Unreason: France 1914-1940.

By Frederick Brown. In a time of national soul-searching, a generation of writers including Edouard Drumont, Maurice Barrès and Charles Maurras presented a resurgent clericalism and a heightened xenophobia as the solution to France’s malaise. Drumont’s virulently anti-Semitic “La France Juive” (“Jewish France”), published in 1886, became an immediate bestseller; Barrès’s acclaimed 1897 novel, “Les Déracinés” (“The Uprooted”), insisted that the main task in hand should be to restore France’s “natural order” by replacing republican

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