2013 sees the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, “the tube”, and Penguin books have brought out twelve small books (available either singly or as a boxed set), one for each tube line, commemorating the wonderfully eccentric tube line which serves the Britain;s capital.
I found this to be a fascinating collection with a wide [...]
Anyone who has visited Germany will come away impressed by the similarities between our two countries. We Britons find much to admire in Germany but the Germans tend to admire British culture and our way of life also. When Philip Oltermann was 16, his parents told him that his father had accepted a posting to [...]
I’ve read some strange books in my time, but this one certainly pushes the boundaries. At first glance it seems to be a typical travel book in Bryson-esque style. But with its title, I Sleep in Hitler’s Room – An American Jew Visits Germany, you know from the start that this is not going [...]
This is the 200th full-length review I’ve published on A Common Reader. A sort of milestone. . .
I have been subscribing to Granta magazine for quite a few years now and enjoy its quality writing on a vast range of subjects. Its a well-produced journal, not the sort of thing you want to [...]
Gordon Burn died two weeks ago, after a writing career in which he developed a reputation for covering difficult subjects with a radical pen. Burn sliced through the myths about celebrity and fame, whether dealing with notorious criminals (Fred and Rosemary West, Myra Hindley, Peter Sutcliffe), or well known figures in the entertainment and sporting [...]
Scepticism about media, politics and finances comes naturally to most of us these days, particularly when people who should know better have brought the world to a state of economic crisis (did our rulers really not know that unfettered greed is no basis for an economic world-order?). It is refreshing to read a book like [...]
Like most British people today, I frequently read about the intrusion of public and private organisations into my private life, whether local councils putting gizmos into my dustbin or security cameras watching my every move as I walk down the street. It is only on reading a a book like Surveillance Unlimited: How We’ve Become [...]
In The Prodigal Tongue, Mark Abley has provided us with a tour of the state of the English language in Britain and around the world. His main conclusion seems to be that although “English” is the new Esperanto, a world language spoken by people on every continent, its not so much standard English that predominates [...]
In Angel of Grozny, Ãsne Seierstad provides a deeply personal insight into the life and times of the Russian Republic of Chechnya. Her book is full of personal anecdotes and descriptions of her visits to a vast range of people in Chechnya, and while this makes it very readable, it can at times be a [...]
In Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia, John Gray explains how Utopian thought recurs throughout human history and is as powerful a force today as it was in the Middle Ages.
After tracing the history of Utopianism though the ages via Sir Thomas More, John of Leyden, the Jacobins of the French [...]