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Category Archives: review

Black samurai

Yasuke: The True Story of an African Samurai by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard Sphere £20 (hardback) . In late July 1579, an enormous, well-dressed and well-armed African bodyguard stepped off a boat into the southern Japanese port of Kochinotsu. Yasuke – perhaps from ‘Isaac’ in Amharic – had (probably) been abducted as a child [...]

Out and aboutpost

Outpost: a journey to the wild ends of the earth by Dan Richards Canongate £16.99 (hardback) . Imagination fired by a picture of his father outside an Arctic shed, artist and writer Dan Richards sets off in search of places that ‘allow mankind a foothold in otherwise inhospitable terrain’. Icelandic ‘houses of joy’ (not what [...]

Ivory-tower thinking

Review of Future Cities: Architecture and the Imagination, by Paul Dobraszczyk. – For Geographical

All good things must come to an end

Some Trick: thirteen stories by Helen DeWitt New Directions, £22.95, pp.197 Certain American States by Catherine Lacey Granta, £12.99, pp.190 Hostages by Oisín Fagan Head of Zeus, £8.99, pp.269 Notes from the Fog by Ben Marcus Granta, £12.99, pp.266 The Abyss and Other Stories by Leonid Andreyev Alma Books, £8.99, pp.315 . Only Helen DeWitt [...]

The tour of Babel

Review of Gaston Dorren’s Babel: Around the World in 20 Languages. – For Geographical

Great Man history

On Andrew Roberts’ Churchill: Walking with Destiny. – For The Oldie

Intelligence review

‘For centuries before the Second World War, educated British people knew far more about intelligence operations recorded in the Bible than they did about the role of intelligence at any moment in their own history.’ Nowadays, one might think, few would even know that. But that’s where Christopher Andrew – Emeritus Professor of Modern and [...]

Litterary death match

In the Autumn of 2014, feeling somewhat down about his wordsmithing career, uncertain in his role as model for his two sons, and with one eye on the health of his own father, Toby Litt decided to take on the oft-postponed biography of great-great-great-grandfather William. An undefeated prize-fighter and winner of 200 belts in the [...]

M.O.’s m.o. – or; Everybody wants to be like Mike

A review of Michael Ondaatje’s Warlight. – For The Spectator

Everyman, I will go with thee, and be thy Bluffer’s Guide

Last weekend I played host to a particularly friendly cricket match – by which I mean that both teams had no clue what they were doing. The opposition, Rain Men, were captained by my friend and usual team-mate Simon, whose excuse was that he’d only played the game 263 times previously. The other captain was, [...]