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PD Smith

Euro Noir by Barry Forshaw review

Euro Noir offers an exhilarating, whistle-stop tour of Europe viewed through its crime fiction.

Engineers of Victory by Paul Kennedy review

A masterly analysis of grand strategy that focuses on the vital contribution of the middle personnelIn this impressive historical study of five campaigns in the second world war, including the Battle of the Atlantic and Operation Overlord, Paul Kennedy's

Philosophy Bites Back review

The second book to emerge from the podcast series Philosophy Bites is a stimulating introduction to thinkers and themes for students and general readers alike This is the second book to emerge from the immensely popular podcast series Philosophy Bites

Two Girls, One on Each Knee: The Puzzling, Playful World of the Crossword by Alan Connor review

A joyous paean to the history of puzzlement and an essential guide to decrypting cryptic clues Alan Connor 's delightful celebration of crosswords and the history of word-play is itself playfully designed like a crossword, with chapters that can be rea

Song of the Vikings by Nancy Marie Brown review a remarkable insight into a lost world

A wonderfully evocative biography of the Icelandic writer Snorri Sturluson, who created the Viking world we are familiar with today JRR Tolkien thought his students should read more Snorri Sturluson than Shakespeare . The 13th-century Icelandic write

Good-bye to All That by Robert Graves review a timely reissue

Graves's superbly sardonic memoir should be essential reading for the centenary of the first world war Robert Graves 's superbly sardonic account of his childhood, schooling, the great war and his first marriage was written in just four months in 1929,

Native Realm: A Search for Self-Definition by Czesaw Miosz review

Reissued as a Penguin Classic, this is a timely meditation on homeland and what it means to be born in the east The Lithuanian poet Czesaw Miosz (1911-2004) said this book, translated by Catherine S Leach, was inspired by a desire "to bring Europe close

The Crime Fiction Handbook by Peter Messent - review

A perceptive introduction to literature's most popular genre Popularity is one measure of the cultural importance of a literary genre, and few genres are as popular as crime fiction, as the recent library lending figures showed. What are the reasons fo

Invisible Romans by Robert Knapp - review

From prostitutes and slaves to gladiators and housewives, ordinary Romans emerge from the shadows The voices of ordinary people have been elided from the histories left to us by the Romans. But in this wonderfully vivid book, Robert Knapp uses the eviden

Deception: Spies, Lies and How Russia Dupes the West by Edward Lucas - review

A shocking picture of a tyrannical, criminal and murderous country Each year in Russia, more than $6bn is paid in bribes and as much as half of the country's $140bn public spending budget is siphoned off illegally. Welcome to the "pirate state" of modern