Hush-Hush Boom-Boom: Spymasters

Charles Glass, 12 August 2021

Scores of former agents have exposed CIA crimes and defeats in books, films and articles. In the wake of American humiliation in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal, Senate and House investigations documented...

Read More

White Sheep at Rest: After Culloden

Neal Ascherson, 12 August 2021

Sadistic public cruelty, military slaughter and political order maintained by the fear of death and torture still prevailed, and many of the superior minds parading the salons of Edinburgh, Paris or London...

Read More

Short Cuts: Found Objects

Tom Crewe, 12 August 2021

It is chastening to think of what has been found on the foreshore while we have been walking or riding across the bridges, looking idly down at the river or over at the needily glinting skyscrapers. Megalodon...

Read More

Kings and Kinglets: Cassiodorus

Michael Kulikowski, 12 August 2021

Ancient​ Latin literature has reached us along an improbably narrow path. Two millennia of rats, fire and floods were as nothing compared with three historical bottlenecks. Only one of these...

Read More

It was important not to give instructions, just to pass on the hard-won wisdom of street protest. Don’t be panicked into running away, even if the police bring horses. Sitting down is safe, if everyone...

Read More

Leave me my illusions: Antiquarianism

Nicholas Penny, 29 July 2021

Moonlight on broken stone tracery is a common motif; dark interiors provide a foil for stained glass and for white satin and deep blue velvet. The men must be away on the crusades. Young women are sobbing...

Read More

Later, Not Now: Histories of Emancipation

Christopher L. Brown, 15 July 2021

The British plantation lobby rarely receives credit for the skill with which it defended colonial slavery. For nearly half a century, slaveowners blocked emancipation schemes, neutered reform proposals...

Read More

In post-Soviet Russia perfume was one of the luxury goods that symbolised the repudiation of Soviet puritanism. While Polina Zhemchuzhina’s attempt to bring perfume to the masses and rebrand it as...

Read More

Thomas Becket​ was not the first archbishop of Canterbury to meet a violent end – Archbishop Alphege was killed by Vikings in 1012 – but he was unique in other ways. Unlike his...

Read More

The world they sought to understand belonged to them all, and demanded that a gifted few should work together to interpret the writings of former ages. Alchemists resembled learned theologians poring over...

Read More

Knife, Stone, Paper: Law Lords

Stephen Sedley, 1 July 2021

The modern relationship of the three principal elements of the constitution – legislature, courts and executive – doesn’t resemble the cogs of a working machine, or the delegation of...

Read More

Short Cuts: Untilled Fields

Ferdinand Mount, 1 July 2021

‘This is certain – for I have noted it several times – some parts of England are becoming almost as lonesome as the African veld.’ This was Rider Haggard’s...

Read More

Despite their obvious significance in the production of books, correctors were treated like manual labourers. One complained that he and his colleagues ‘would be off like a shot from this sweatshop’...

Read More

What most people in the US call an ‘embargo’ – meaning the sweeping trade restrictions first imposed in 1960 and ratcheted up many times since – is known in Cuba as el bloqueo,...

Read More

Global Morality Play: Selimgate

Helen Pfeifer, 1 July 2021

It is certainly true that the Ottomans have not always received due recognition for their impact on the modern world. They boasted modern Europe’s first standing army. They introduced the world not...

Read More

Back to the Border: Ulsterism

Niamh Gallagher, 17 June 2021

If the influences of religion and region really do explain Ireland’s ‘two nations’, why did similar factors not result in partition in other countries with long histories of religious...

Read More

Winged Words: On Muhammad

Tariq Ali, 17 June 2021

Muhammad never claimed to be anything other than a human being: he was a Messenger of God, not the son of Allah, and not in direct communication with him. The visions were mainly aural: the Prophet heard...

Read More

Female husbands expressed their masculinity through their choice of clothing, names, behaviours and, above all, their labour and their marriage status. As tavern keepers, soldiers, sailors, mountebanks,...

Read More