SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Charlie Hegarty

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July 28, 2016
Second-Hand Time by Svetlana Alexievich, Fitzcarraldo, £12 The author, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2015, brings together in this hefty volume dozens of interviews with witnesses and survivors of the collapse of the Soviet Union. In keeping with what has been described as a novel polyphonic literary form, Alexievich seeks to provide
July 14, 2016
Black Dragon River by Dominic Ziegler Penguin, £19.99 The author, Asian editor of The Economist, relates his journey down the Amur River “at the borderlands of empires” – the Russian and the Chinese. This makes for an enthralling read: 2,826 miles of a river which marks a natural boundary between two proud and prickly countries,
July 07, 2016
Final Solution by David Cesarani Macmillan, £30 The author, who died last year before his book was published, was research professor in history at Royal Holloway College and author of many studies in Jewish history. In this, his last book – almost his testament – Cesarani brings his own thoughtful and scholarly insights to a
June 23, 2016
Spain in Our Hearts by Adam Hochschild Macmillan, £25 Opinions about the rights and wrongs of the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 are still fiercely divided. As Adam Hochschild observes, the “authorised version” of the war states that Spain had enjoyed a democratically elected government since 1931, trying to bring about far-reaching and necessary social
May 05, 2016
Beware the Rugged Russian Bear by John Ure Old Street, £20 The retired diplomat John Ure, whose first posting was to Moscow during the Cold War, has written a tale he obviously relishes: an account of the British adventurers who exposed the Bolsheviks after the Russian Revolution. These were the individuals who described what was
April 21, 2016
It’s Late! by Archbishop Mario Conti, Burns Publications, £13.95 Archbishop Mario Conti, who led the Archdiocese of Glasgow from 2002 to 2012, has subtitled his memoir “Final Pages of a Bishop’s Journal”, following on from his earlier book, Oh Help! The Making of an Archbishop. It records his final three years in office and includes
April 14, 2016
Not In Your Genes by Oliver James Vermilion, £20 Psychoanalyst and child psychologist Oliver James has subtitled his book “The Real Reasons Children Are Like Their Parents”. The nature versus nurture debate has been going on for centuries. According to James, nurture trumps nature every time. We behave the way we do because of the
March 10, 2016
Waking Up by Sam Harris Black Swan Books, £9.99 First published in 2014, this book by the philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris was reprinted in this new edition last year. Subtitled “Searching for Spirituality without Religion”, the book attempts to persuade readers that they can have all the benefits of meditation without the necessity of
February 11, 2016
The Vanishing Man by Laura Cumming Chatto and Windus, £19 Laura Cumming, art critic of The Observer, has written a book full of interest and passion. The interest comes from the art world between the 17th and 19th century: a place full of neglected old masters, lost paintings, the art trade, auctions and aristocratic wills.
January 28, 2016
Hitler at Home by Despina Stratigakos Yale, £20 The author, an architectural historian, has chosen to make a detailed investigation of an aspect of Hitler’s life not much known about: his domestic arrangements in Munich, where he lived between 1920 and 1929; in the Chancellery in Berlin; and at the Berghof, a chalet in the
January 21, 2016
60 Degrees North by Malachy Tallack Polygon, £12.99 The best travel writing is never just the outer journey to a particular place; it also always involves an inner journey, in which the writer, as Tallack puts it, travels “around the world in search of home”. Growing up on Shetland, the author decides on the original
January 14, 2016
Chasing Lost Time by Jean Findlay Chatto & Windus, £25 Sub-titled “The Life of CK Scott Moncrieff: soldier, spy and translator”, this book will be of particular interest to those who first encountered Proust’s great novel through Scott Moncrieff’s 1920s translation. Written in affectionate, familial tribute to this many-sided man, his great-niece shows that CM’s
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