Beyond the Comfort Zone

By Francesca Segal, November 9, 2012

Not many novels that begin with a series of brutal murders can be described as redemptive, but A M Homes — author of 'This Book Will Save Your Life' — has never taken the predictable line.


Star who raised the bar

By Jonathan Goldberg, November 2, 2012

This biography of an extraordinary woman — sub-titled: The Story of England’s First Woman Queen’s Counsel and Judge — is written by her daughter Hilary, herself now a distinguished commercial Silk.


Something of the right about them

By Daniel Trilling, November 2, 2012

It is rare to recommend a book that makes one’s flesh creep but this is what I find myself doing in the case of Daniel Trilling’s forensic account of the political slugs who have crawled from under their stones in — as his sub-title puts it — The Rise of Britain’s Far Right.


The sword and the word

By Ahron Bregman, October 26, 2012

Patrick Tyler’s "Fortress Israel" falls into what we, in war studies, call “civil-military relations”: it is the same subject in which I completed my PhD in 1994. My overall conclusion was very similar to Tyler’s, namely that the military in Israel is overwhelmingly influential and belligerent, often pushing for action.


Shin Bet story that evokes John le Carré

By Alan Montague, October 21, 2012

The cover of this novel proclaims it is Israeli espionage in the tradition of John le Carré. This is more than publisher’s hype. Sarid does, like the great British spy writer, portray secret-service work as grubby and mundane interspersed with moments of violence, a world where the prevailing morality is grey. Most of all, it shares le Carré’s great theme of betrayal.


Tale of twist and shout

By Jennifer Lipman, October 19, 2012

The inner workings of Israeli intelligence, mischief from Wikileaks, the Iranian nuclear threat, a shady drug underworld and a glamorous femme fatale — it’s a recipe for a riveting spy thriller. And, to a point, that’s what Jake Simons’s Pure (Polygon, £12.99) is. It’s entertaining, well-written and delivers an array of plot twists.


Ordinary people in hell

By David Cesarani, October 18, 2012

British military historians are in the vanguard of a genre that has been given new life. Today, it is as much about the routine experience of servicemen and women as it is about strategy and tactics. Nazi ideology and the fate of the Jews is integrated into the narrative and informs analysis of decisions made at the highest to the lowest levels.


Brotherly hatred

By Jenni Frazer, October 12, 2012

Joachim Fest was a renowned German historian and publisher of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, who wrote award-winning biographies of Hitler and Albert Speer. Born in Berlin in 1926, he died in 2006 and had the perfect ringside seat to chronicle the rise of Nazism.


1967: Disillusion and missed opportunity

By David Goldberg, October 12, 2012

I was a volunteer during the Six-Day War. Although the kibbutz where I worked was in the north, the spell of reunified Jerusalem frequently drew me back. In those days, I smoked a pipe. While walking through the Old City, Palestinian merchants outside their stalls would call me over to try my pipe in exchange for their hookahs.


Edwina Currie uncovered

By Julia Neuberger, October 12, 2012

As ever, with Edwina Currie’s writing, this is an easy read. She’s funny, and she doesn’t change what she wrote in her diary at the time except to edit for length.