RaveThe Guardian (UK)... magnificent, powerful and absorbing ... At times, the dehumanisation that French describes so powerfully is hard to read ... French offers a wider view of how and why Africa and its people’s histories have been ignored, showing how the exploitation of the Americas and the Caribbean brought ecological dividends that then reshaped the world ... French writes with the elegance you would expect from a distinguished foreign correspondent, and with the passion of someone deeply committed to providing a corrective. I wish he had gone beyond the middle of the 20th century to bring us up to date, not least because problems of historical legacy, of race and racism and of inequality are among today’s most important issues – while the future of the people of Africa, which will be magnified by climate change, is the defining topic of tomorrow. This is not a comfortable or comforting read, but it is beautifully done; a masterpiece even.
RaveWashington PostThubron’s elegant, elegiac and poignant book recounts his journey from the river’s source in the Mongolian mountains to Nikolaevsk ... Thubron writes beautifully ... The author draws on a rich supporting cast of characters whose voices sing from the pages ... As the Amur River winds its way slowly to its meeting with the sea, Thubron’s journey draws to a close with no fanfare, coming to an end with the image of an old man in waders, fishing for pike. It serves as a cipher for the loneliness that a mighty river carries with it — and the faint hope of something to look forward to.
PositiveAir Mail... sobering ... The author...can barely conceal his shock at the views and comments expressed in letters, interviews, and obituaries ... As Barnaby Phillips’s well-balanced and highly readable account explains, some people have taken matters into their own hands ... That others have not done so, and still claim the fruits of empire, pillage, and suffering, shows how many more lessons still need to be learned from history.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)... deeply traumatic and important ... provides a corrective that is by turns horrific and profoundly moving ... Lamb is an extraordinary writer. Her compassion for those she talks to and deep understanding of how to tell their stories makes this a book that should be required reading for all – even though (and perhaps because) it is not an enjoyable experience ... This is a powerful book that not only underlines how women have been written out of history, but how victims of rape have had their suffering enabled, ignored and perpetuated.
RaveThe Financial Times (UK)The cast of supporting characters in Catherine Belton’s study of the Russia of Vladimir Putin is extraordinary and worthy of a Netflix mini-series ... This is modern Russia in full, horrifying technicolour ... Belton does not explain how to engage with Russia or how to stop making the same mistakes when doing so. But this riveting, immaculately researched book is arguably the best single volume written about Putin, the people around him and perhaps even about contemporary Russia itself in the past three decades.
RaveThe Sunday Times (UK)...excellent, authoritative and illuminating ... [Marozzi] is an outstanding guide to the urban centres he expounds on, partly because of his deep understanding and love for the peoples and places he writes about ... It is a compelling and personal account by an author who knows, cares and has thought deeply about his subject matter. It is a new Hudud al-Alam, the famous 10th-century Persian geography book, for the 21st century — informing, revealing and delighting in some of the parts of the world that everyone should know about.
PositiveThe Times (UK)... astonishingly ambitious ... The author ranges fearlessly across time and space. His grasp of the material is not so much encyclopaedic as breathtaking, effortlessly moving from migration patterns across Polynesia to the archives of European trading companies of the early modern period...As one might expect from such a distinguished academic, extreme care is taken to note the difficulty of the evidence and to refrain from generalisations and simplified conclusions ... Despite the door-stopping size of the book, some topics are given strikingly little attention. The trans-Atlantic slave trade is barely discussed, for example, while the Royal Navy, its achievements, successes and occasional failures are only mentioned in passing ... Nevertheless, this is a tour de force. Writing history on this scale is challenging and enormously impressive; the author deserves applause for a magisterial achievement.
PositiveThe GuardianBettany Hughes’s ebullient book is an ode to three incarnations of the city: Byzantion of the ancient past; the Constantinople that was the capital of the Christian Byzantine empire; and the Constantinople of the Muslim Ottomans that today goes by the name of Istanbul. Hughes guides us round a city that is majestic, magical and mystical, leaving few stones unturned. It is a loving biography of a city that never stands still, never mind never sleeps ... Bettany Hughes has written an important book that brings the past of this glorious city to life. It is filled with charming vignettes...is snappily written... Chapters are kept short and entertaining, broadly in chronological order, but with the author sidestepping to look at such diverse topics... There is plenty here to entertain those who know something about the city, and even more to enthrall those who don’t.