Volume 59 Issue 12 December 2009

Steven Poliakoff: A Gathering Storm

The writer and director Stephen Poliakoff talks to Charlotte Crow about how his view of the recent past has informed his new film, Glorious 39, a historical thriller.

The Afghan Quagmire

David Loyn, the only reporter with the Taliban when they took Kabul in 1996, takes issue with military historian Thomas Tulenko’s analysis of Britain’s 19th-century invasions of Afghanistan, first published in June 1980.

Gerard Hoffnung

Mark Bryant on the lesser-known caricature work of the German-born Gerard Hoffnung, one of postwar Britain’s best-loved cartoonists.

Africans in the Indian Mutiny

For centuries, Africans were shipped to the Indian subcontinent and sold as slaves to regional rulers. Rosie Llewellyn-Jones tells the story of those who went to Lucknow to serve the Nawab of Oudh and who joined the Indian Mutiny when he was deposed by the British. For this allegiance their descendants, whom she has traced, still pay a price.

The Royal Mail: A Passion for the Post

For 400 years the delivery of letters has been integral to British life. As Royal Mail confronts an uncertain future, Susan Whyman charts the Post Office’s development and discovers, through the correspondence of ordinary people, just how much letter writing meant to them.

Antarctica: Keeping Conflict on Ice

The Antarctic Treaty of 1959 kept the cold continent out ofthe Cold War and fostered collaboration on scientific research. The world now faces a different challenge as climate change affects this vast region.

Mithradates: Scourge of Rome

The legendary ruler of Pontus and creator of a formidable Black Sea empire was, until recently, one of the most celebrated figures of the Classical world, a hero of opera, drama and poetry.