Review: A Private History of Happiness: George Myerson

I have an in-built resistance to the current glut of self-help books on the subject of “happiness”. I’ve had a few of them sent to me and find them all very much the same, and I somehow doubt that you can learn to be happy by reading a book. Happiness is a nebulous thing anyway [...]

Review: Monsieur Proust’s Library – Anka Muhlstein

Monsieur Proust’s Library by Anka Muhlstein takes us on a literary pathway through Marcel Proust’s great work, À la Recherche de Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time). This slim volume (141 pages) is a printed in blue ink on high quality paper, with attractive illustrations at the beginning of each chapter.

I can’t say [...]

Review: Cruel Crossing – Edward Stourton

Back in late 2011 I heard a BBC Radio 4 programme in which Edward Stourton joined an annual walk, Le Chemin de la Liberté, across the Pyrennees which celebrates the Second World War route used by Allied soldiers, Jews, French resistance fighters, spies and many other groups of people who were trying to escape Nazi [...]

Review: Keeping Up With The Germans – Philip Oltermann

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 [...]

Review: The Summer My Father Died – Yudit Kiss

The story of the 20th century can be told in big, sweeping brush-strokes charting the rise and fall of dictators and political movements, the vast spread of world wars and the chaotic effects of natural disasters. But so often the stories of individuals have so much more to say to us about the day-to-day impact [...]

Review: Wolfram: The Boy Who Went To War – Giles Milton

A new book from Giles Milton is always welcome – he is a fine writer of what might be called “narrative non-fiction” – often telling the story of forgotten episodes in history, such as in Nathaniels Nutmeg, about the battle between the Dutch and the English for control of the nutmeg trade, or Paradise Lost, [...]

Review: The Possessed – Elif Batuman

Elif Batuman’s book of essays, The Possessed, loosely based on the joys of reading classic Russian literature, turns out to be a bit of a hodge-podge of travel-writing, literary criticism and a personal reading history, enlivened by a butterfly mind that flutters from one subject to another without really landing for too long on any [...]

Review: Olivia Laing – To the River

To the River is an unusual book, combining local and literary history, a walking journal, meditations on the topic of rivers and water, and a hefty amount of biographical material about Virginia Woolf. The author, Olivia Laing, walked the Ouse Path during a time of great personal sadness, soon after she had broken up with [...]

Review: The Address Book – Tim Radford

Like many school children of my era, when writing my name and address in a book I would extend the address to include cosmic information such as,

. . . Great Britain Europe Earth Outer Space The Universe

In his book, The Address Book, Tim Radford has taken that concept and written a set of [...]

More about Jan Karski (part 2)

Jan Karski Statue in Tel Aviv University

On 3 May, I published a review of Jan Karski’s book, Story of a Secret State – a memoir of the authors services to the Polish resistance in World War II. I was pleased to receive a personal memoir from Dawn M who knew Jan Karski before [...]