Reviews

Professor Khilnani is an academic historian, but this book is a more populist take on 2,500 years of India’s history. As a collection of miniature biographies, ranging from the Buddha in the fifth century BC to business tycoon Dhirubha Ambani in...

High in the Himalayas there is a parasitic fungus that grows out of the body of small caterpillars and is worth more than its weight in gold. Today, harvesting these mushrooms is bringing much needed cash into Nepal and is part of the country’s...

When Mao Zedong died, he was not buried, but displayed in a glass sarcophagus. Next, people across the country, from party leaders to villagers, ‘buried Maoism’. With this, Frank Dikötter ends the introduction and opens the third volume of his...

In his 2014 radio series, Germany: Memories of a Nation, Neil MacGregor used coinage to introduce his listeners to the complexity of the...

From the vantage point of today, the patronage of Alfonso X ‘El Sabio’ (‘the Learned’) of Castile (r. 1252-84) seems extraordinary for its time. Alfonso initiated what appears...

The movement and plight of people compelled to leave their own countries and to seek asylum overseas is ever present in our television broadcasts and newspaper headlines. Casualties of the wars and conflicts that beset our troubled world, refug-...

The forehead is the plainest part of the face. Compared with the eyes or the cheeks, there is little one can do to alter it, which is why, of all the fashion accessories of the ancient world, the diadem is most...

Do the dead matter? This is the central question in this meticulously researched, all-encompassing exploration of our mortal remains. At its heart is Diogenes’ suggestion that his body should be thrown to the beasts after his death. Since his...

Tim Blanning offers a telling comparison at the beginning of this magisterial and insightful new biography. In 16th-century Brandenburg, the Reformation brought a windfall of land to its ruler and, in contrast to England, the new landholding was...

It is one of the most startling pictures of the end of the Second World War, taken in May 1945, soon after Hitler’s death. Lee Miller, the American photojournalist, sits in the bathtub of Hitler’s apartment in Munich. His portrait stares at her...

Professor Samons is no stranger to what he (but not all of us) call the ‘age of Pericles’, having edited a Cambridge Companion to that supposed entity and devoted a careful monograph to the finances of ‘imperial’ Athens, through much of which...

Medieval hospitals used to be represented as hell holes: overcrowded reservoirs of infection lacking medical facilities; places in which to die, not recover. Scholarship of recent decades has done much to modify this depressing picture. We now...

Ash and cod have long dominated foreigners’ notions of Iceland. While other countries’ ships fished the well-stocked seas, naturalists found the island’s glacial ice and volcanic fire fascinating. First-hand information was scarce; some even...

The concentration camp was an enduring and defining feature of the Third Reich. Internment camps have existed before and since, but only in Nazi Germany were they seen as such an important means of controlling and operating undesirables. The...

The fate of Jewish books is a common theme in accounts of European antisemitism. Beginning in the second century bc, assaults on Jews have gone hand in hand with assaults on their literature, usually in the form of censorship or book-burning. It...

Writing a comprehensive history of Ancient Egypt is no easy task, especially when the author, as here, aims to create a more balanced story than that traditionally told, by ‘pushing back boundaries beyond limited time frames, beyond current...