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, 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…

Dennis Wheatley & The Devil Rides Out

Dennis Wheatley and The Devil Rides Out

Books, TV and Films, April 2020

6 April John Barton’s A History of the Bible: The Book and Its faith is proving an absolute treat. My interest in religion and belief systems has developed over the last decade or so, triggered — does this count as irony? — by reading…

Books, TV and Films, March 2020

3 March Back to one of my favourite novelists — Sebastian Faulks. Birdsong is probably his best-known book, but my favourite is Human Traces, a brilliant mix of invention, imaginative reconstruction and exposition of developments in psychiatry and psychoanalysis. I have reached for On…

Books, TV and Films, February 2020

3 February I finished A Divided Spy by Charles Cumming the other day. That means I managed to read four books in January, putting me comfortably ahead of my target. A nice balance, too, of fiction and non-fiction, academic and non-academic, challenging and ‘lighter’…

Hercule Poirot’s First Case

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (1920) After revisiting the very final David Suchet TV adaptations on ITV3 fairly recently, I chanced upon a four-novel Poirot omnibus — actually two omnibuses, eight novels in total — in a local charity shop. Serendipity….

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.

‘Fake History’ and Film

Elizabeth I meets Mary, Queen of Scots! Churchill rediscovers his mojo on the Underground! Homosexual genius Alan Turing is blackmailed by Soviet spy John Cairncross at Bletchley Park! Hmmm. Memo to self: ‘Films based on historical events are not documentaries. Stop judging them as…