RaveThe Guardian (UK)... a brilliant, unforgettable portrait of a small, beleaguered community in New England in the 17th century. People distanced from us by four centuries, and an almost entirely alien world-view, live again as real, flawed, deeply sympathetic human beings ... reads like a sombre parable as much as a history at times, a fable of almost Conradian power ... Whether you read The Ruin of All Witches for a startling insight into another age, or see its portrait of mob hysteria and witch-hunts as darkly analogous to our own uneasy times, this is one of those rare history books that stays with you and haunts you long after you have turned the last page. Superb.
PositiveThe Sunday Times (UK)This parade of death and disease, human ingenuity mingled with so much callousness, and a succession of eminent medics motivated more by the thrill of acclaim than Hippocratic duty or the milk of human kindness, can make for queasy reading, but the author, a research associate at UCL and the Science Museum, strives to keep it compelling...Occasional gleams of spontaneous humanity certainly come as a relief.
PositiveDaily Mail (UK)... [a] smart, funny and thoroughly engaging book ... Professor Ward writes beautifully, though sometimes you might wish he wasn’t quite so vivid ... If we can draw any lessons from nature (and this is always debatable), perhaps it means that at least we should choose our leaders wisely.
RaveDaily Mail (UK)A brilliant detective story deep into the past — and across half the world ... River Kings is a rich and revelatory portrayal of this restless and extraordinary people.
RaveThe Sunday Times (UK)... rivetingly fresh and stunning ... This may all sound like a clever theologian’s undermining of faith — she is open about her own atheism — but she also insists there is nothing in her book for atheists either, who tend only to \'disprove\' an idea of God as cosmic comfort blanket.
Marc David Baer
PositiveThe Sunday Times (UK)... oversimplification or airy generalisation is never advisable. Unfortunately Baer is not always free from oversimplifications himself. The book is marred by a predictable anti-western slant, with the enlightened Ottomans often compared favourably to the backward or intolerant European Christians ... Despite these lapses, Baer’s is a winning portrait of seven centuries of empire, teeming with life and colour, human interest and oddity, cruelty and oppression mixed with pleasure, benevolence and great artistic beauty.
RaveThe Sunday Times (UK)... [a] magnificent doorstop ... A thousand years race by in a terrifically colourful and compelling narrative history, with all the confidence, bravura and swift judgments essential to an overview of such a vast time span. Jones also possesses a keen eye for how the ideas and passions of the medieval era are with us still ... Equally praiseworthy is its freedom from any queasy, muddy undercurrents of obsequious apology and guilt that dog so much contemporary western historiography. It’s always reasonable and fair ... There is plenty of fresh research here too, especially to do with historical changes in climate ... explains the movements of the period with crystal clarity, but it’s as a sequence of potted biographies that it really excels ... Jones’s history is a hugely impressive achievement, bustling and sizzling with life on every page — he even makes the invention of double-entry book-keeping (Italy, 14th century) interesting. This is now simply the best popular history of the Middle Ages there is.
RaveThe Daily Mail (UK)Entangled Life is a captivating trip into the weird and wonderful mycorrhizal world around us — and inside us. It\'s full of startling revelations, detailed science and just enough eccentric humour to make it digestible.
A. C. Grayling
PositiveThe Times (UK)... a clear update of Bertrand Russell’s magnificent, opinionated History of Western Philosophy, published in 1945, to include the latest ideas in feminism and deconstructionism, and a further 60 pages on non-western philosophy, especially Indian, Chinese and Arabic-Persian ... Grayling has always been vociferously anti-Christian, and this mars the opening of the book, where he attacks \'The Christians\' who destroyed so much classical literature in an fanatical “\'orgy\'. This is a shrill and dubious assertion ... Once you accept that Grayling has his little tics, just like the rest of us, this is a cerebrally enjoyable survey, written with great clarity and touches of wit ... Grayling gives a great summary of the three pillars of Greek philosophy, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle ... as we approach modern times, there are fewer and fewer philosophers who are enjoyable to read ... The non-western section throws up some fascinating revelations.
PositiveThe Times[Hitchens] is a grand rhetorician, and his double-barrelled shotgun of a book is high entertainment ... All this stylish unfairness and wit is tremendously good fun. As with Voltaire, his scornful laughter is a powerful weapon. But as with Voltaire, his demolition of traditional religion is finally missing something, which you find, say, in the poetry of Thomas Hardy: a sense of the deep psychic wound caused by the rupture with our immediate past and our forebears when we wave goodbye to our religion; and the subsequent pathos of our post-religious cosmic loneliness.
RaveThe TimesFollowing the ship’s travels gives us a wonderful window onto an age, the Age of Reason and Exploration. Moore shows that Cook’s voyages had nothing to do with exploitation, let alone \'white supremacy\' (a recent invention), but were thrillingly open-minded, keen for the rewards of trade and the increase of knowledge, and what one contemporary called \'the general benefit of mankind\' ... a dazzling combination of science and adventure, lyrically evocative descriptions of lush tropical landscapes and salt-stung seascapes, and a portrait of an age of \'magnificent geniality\' ... an absolute joy from start to finish, and surely my history book of the year.
RaveThe TimesOne of the most brutally vivid evocations of modern warfare that you will read ... One of the great strengths of this superb, unforgettable, simply written and painfully clear memoir is the virtual absence of politics — although he does paint an extremely ugly picture of Russia’s role in the Syrian civil war, as well as its bare-faced mendacity.
RaveThe Times UKAdrian Tinniswood’s handsomely produced Behind the Throne is full of such pleasing details, as it takes us on a fascinating snoop into the studies, kitchens and bedrooms of various monarchs from Elizabeth I to the present queen ... Behind the Throne is a wonderfully entertaining account of life through five centuries of royal households, and a succession of families that are entirely unlike and yet uncannily similar to our own. Hence, surely, the enduring fascination.
RaveThe Sunday TimesSumptuously produced, with a handsome cloth spine and printed on thick glossy paper with numerous illustrations, Uglow’s biography is richly detailed and astutely empathetic, a splendid portrait of this remarkable man — a landscape painter of only middling talent, it must be said, but a peerless creator of nonsense.