Books, TV and Films, May 2021

Thoughts on Volume II of Isaac Deutscher’s biography of Trotsky, another Rebus novel and The Wind in the Willows; also the films Ray & Liz and Rambo: Last Blood; and the TV dramas Too Close and Innocent.

Books, TV and Films, April 2021

3 April I avoid opening Amazon’s emails telling me what their omniscient algorithms think I should be buying and I never even look at the latest fiction and non-fiction charts so, other than skimming the Guardian’s Review magazine on Saturdays, I am always rather…

Books, TV and Films, February 2021

1 February Age of Empire 1875–1914 is the final part of Eric Hobsbawm’s trilogy about what he called ‘the long nineteenth century’, beginning with the French Revolution in 1789 and ending with the outbreak of war in 1914. I bought this book at university…

Books, TV and Films, January 2021

2 January A fantastic way to kick off the new year — Bring Up the Bodies, the second volume of Hilary Mantel’s fictional account of the later life of Thomas Cromwell, the architect of much that went on in the name of Henry VIII…

Books, TV and Films, November 2020

1 November With a due sense of dread I have started to read Bohemian Rhapsody: The Definitive Biography of Freddie Mercury by Lesley-Ann Jones. I generally avoid the ‘popular’ biography genre — books about celebrities written for a mass-market audience. From the few I…

Books, TV and Films, August 2020

1 August With the football season at an end, there’s time to try out a classic film that I have never actually seen before — Ice Station Zebra — ‘classic’ in the very loose sense of a film with an all-star cast that turns…

Books, TV and Films, July 2020

1 July Some thoughts, to begin with, on Philomena and On Chesil Beach, two films I watched last week on the BBC and thoroughly enjoyed. I was already aware of Martin Sixsmith, who wrote the book on which Philomena is based, from his time…

Books, TV and Films, June 2020

6 June After seeing a tweet from the great Steven Pinker a few days ago, I decided to reread Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace by Hans J Morgenthau. It was a book that I used a lot at university. My…

Enlightenment Now: Book Review

We live in dark times. The forces of irrationalism and anti-progressivism are on the rise across the world: fascism, populism, nativism, authoritarianism, racism, religious fundamentalism. Enlightenment Now is thus a profoundly welcome book, a worldview diametrically opposed to that offered by populists, demagogues and religious fanatics.

Darkest Hour: Film Review

‘Darkest Hour’ offers us drama and tension aplenty, emotional highs and lows, and the usual cast of heroes and villains. In a welcome challenge to the ‘great leader’ myth, Churchill himself commits numerous tactical blunders, shows himself prone to wishful thinking, and is overcome…