RaveThe Sunday Times (UK)... ambitious and original ... This is history, but not as we know it. It is non-fiction posing as a novel, rich in incident and cinematic detail, not so much fly on the wall as prowling vizier in the hall — almost exclusively in the present tense. It’s tremendous ... From this vivid, elaborately illustrated set piece, de Bellaigue whisks his readers masterfully across the continents, from the Doge’s Palace in Venice to the Sublime Porte in Istanbul, via bloody battlefields in the Balkans and north Africa, piratical manoeuvres in the Mediterranean, courtly intrigues and life-and-death struggles in the royal harem ... Readers used to de Bellaigue’s elegant prose will find much to admire in these pages. His command of his main characters and his grip of the wider history in which they wage their wars and plot their rivals’ demise is never less than sure-footed. A new departure is a conversational style that revels in the vernacular ... It’s a sign of how thoroughly gripping this book is that I found myself wanting a second volume as soon as possible.
RaveThe Sunday Times (UK)Engrossing ... Although the business-heavy narrative can be demanding...the reader is well rewarded with some pitch-perfect cameos ... Vivid and richly researched.
PositiveSunday Times (UK)[Llewellyn-Jones] throws himself into this quest with enthusiasm and impressive, lightly worn erudition. He hunts down Achaemenid inscriptions on tombs and statues, surveys the artistic and latest archaeological evidence, and investigates the literary record to tell a gripping and more Persian-centric story ... Consistently entertaining ... At his best Llewellyn-Jones is very good at righting the record ... The chapters on the Achaemenid cultural contribution to world civilisation are excellent ... If there is a problem here, it is that in his understandable desire to put the Persians front and centre with their own stories, Llewellyn-Jones ends up doing a reverse Herodotus and indulging in some gratuitous Greek-bashing ... Sometimes the robust defence of all things Persian tips over into unnecessary apology ... Llewellyn-Jones starts to bring his story to an elegiac close, only to then spoil it in a final flourish by railing against the \'international threats to Iran’s liberty\'.
RaveThe Times (UK)\"Black Wave is a cri de coeur, an action-packed modern history written with the pace of a detective thriller. It is also a post-Arab-Spring follow-up to the question posed by Bernard Lewis, the British-American historian of Islam, in his landmark 2002 book What Went Wrong? The answers, then as now, offer little encouragement ... It is true that both regimes will one day go the way of all flesh, but after 400 pages of pitiless reporting, in which desolation is piled upon despair, most readers will feel only a profound sense of gloom.\
PositiveThe Times (UK)Callaghan pieces together the three-year occupation of Mosul remarkably well through the interlinked stories of the irrepressible Abu Laith ... At times the writing can be a little pat ... some of her best, most revealing passages are nothing to do with rescuing animals. An award-winning Middle East correspondent for The Sunday Times, Callaghan knows her way around a war. Her portrayal of a city under siege is many-layered and brilliantly told. The gallows humour and defiance of Mosulis in the most desperate circumstances will appeal to British readers ... Part feelgood yarn, part portrait of terror and resistance ... [a] heart-warming romp, though, than landmark work of investigative reportage.
PositiveThe Evening StandardPomerantsev describes this book as part reportage, part intellectual adventure and part memoir, which is exactly what it is. It’s an engrossing combination and the reason it works is because he writes so engagingly, with conviction and creative oomph ... makes a powerful argument that the flooding of social media with manipulated messages helps create a new \'ersatz normality\' ... The most useful thing Pomerantsev has done is highlight the dangers in the age of disinformation and information abundance, which is a step towards recognising and then countering them. The problem is, if all around you is liquid, it’s often very hard to stay afloat.
RaveThe Sunday TimesUndoubtedly brilliant, his book might have benefited from a sharper editorial knife. But it is rare to encounter the combination of commanding erudition and swashbuckling prose on such a grand scale...his book deserves a far wider audience than its academic publisher might reach. Buy Arabs, and make him more pecunious.
PositiveThe TimesEd Husain doesn\'t pull his punches ... Although The House of Islam is aimed at the general reader, non-Muslims may struggle at times with the intricacies of the Islamic faith. Persistence pays off, however, because the accumulation of detail provides the evidence required to advocate a kind of Islam very different from that propagated so energetically in recent decades ... To a non-Muslim reader this feels a lot more like Islamic theology, written by a believer, than history ... Husain directs his withering gaze across the Muslim world... Within this bleak analysis, he finds a ray of hope.
RaveThe GuardianFortunately for today’s readers, the historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes has a rather broader outlook, sufficiently wide to encompass everything from the earliest spear-carrying bronze age inhabitants to marauding ancient Greeks, Christian-slaughtering Roman emperors, pious Byzantine ascetics, world-conquering Ottomans and hatchet-faced 20th-century nationalists. She populates her three cities of Byzantium, Constantinople and Istanbul with a rich and dizzying cast of ordinary and extraordinary men and women ... This is historical narrative brimming with brio and incident. Hughes’s portraits are written with a zesty flourish ... Istanbul is a visceral, pulsating city. In Bettany Hughes’s life-filled and life-affirming history, steeped in romance and written with verve, it has found a sympathetic and engaging champion.