SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
David Platzer

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September 25, 2020
Conan Doyle’s Wide World: Sherlock Holmes and Beyond By Andrew Lycett Bloomsbury, 336pp, £18 Part of the magic of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal Sherlock Holmes stories derives from the author’s sense of atmosphere and place. Now Andrew Lycett, the author of a definitive biography on Conan Doyle, has gathered together the crime writer’s travelogues.
February 14, 2020
The Letters of Cole Porter Edited by Cliff Eisen and Dominic McHugh Yale, 672pp, £25/$35 Cole Porter, who was born in 1891 and died in 1964, was the grandson of the richest man in Indiana. He was busy writing songs while still a schoolboy, and never stopped until 1958, when he had to have one
January 16, 2020
Along the Trenches: a Journey Through Eastern Europe to Isfahan By Navid Kermani Polity, 358pp, £18.99/$24.50 Navid Kermani, born and resident in Germany but of Iranian ancestry, is the best kind of scholar: one who writes with a touch as elegant as it is light. His reputation as an expert in Islamic studies and his
November 07, 2019
The Complete Outsider  by Brian Sewell Quartet, 628pp, £20/$27.50  By the end of his life, Brian Sewell (1931-2015) was one of the rare art historians and critics known to the general public. Unabashedly an “elitist” in the best sense of the word, he nevertheless achieved his fame by writing reviews for the mass-audience Evening Standard and
July 04, 2019
Waugh on Wine By Auberon Waugh Quartet, 180pp, £10/$13 Though Auberon Waugh (Bron to his friends) sometimes remarked that journalism was to be read and thrown away, his own endures 18 years after his death, aged 61, in 2001. The proof of this has been shown this year in two books, both published by Quartet.
June 13, 2019
Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps By Ursula Buchan, Bloomsbury, 492pp, £25/$28 John Buchan (1875-1940) has proved more enduring than most of his contemporaries. His books, especially The Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle, are literary heirlooms, passed down from one generation to the next. He has been lucky in his biographers, as he was in most things with
March 28, 2019
Saint Patrick Retold By Roy Flechner Princeton, 320pp, £22/$28 The Irish have a talent for promotion in a way their Celtic cousins – the Welsh, the Cornish, the Bretons or even the Scots – do not. Irish pubs and shops dot the world and St Patrick’s fame far exceeds Wales’s St David or Scotland’s St
February 21, 2019
No Longer With Us By Naim Attallah, Quartet, 823pp, £30/$33 It was Diana Mosley, as enchanting in her person as her politics were bewildering, who handed me Naim Attallah’s book of interviews, Singular Encounters, in 1991. Attallah was brilliant as an interviewer, she told me, praising particularly his “encounter” with William Rees-Mogg. Many of the