Shadows of giants: the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale, where Deresiewicz taught for ten years
Poison Ivy League: The dangers of a world-class education
By Mark Damazer - 09 October 10:00

The American Ivy League universities are accused of churning out automatons, whose principal task is securing a lucrative career. But is Oxbridge just as bad?

His atheism is its own kind of narrow religion.
The closed mind of Richard Dawkins
By John Gray - 04 October 16:01

His atheism is its own kind of narrow religion.

The Irish nationalist Rover Casement kept diaries of his sexual exploits. Photo: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Romancing rebellion: the culture that spawned the Irish rebels of Easter 1916
By Colm Tóibín - 02 October 9:30

Despite the wealth of sources on this subject, a puzzle remains: not only about the effect of the rebellion but about what caused it to take place.

After Mark Cocker’s glorious book, you will never look at a blackberry bush the same way again
By Philip Hoare - 02 October 9:15

Great nature writing makes us look anew at what we take for granted.

Chuck Barry jams with fellow starts in an illustration by Robert Crumb.
Red, white and blues: The History of Rock’n’Roll in Ten Songs
By Mark Ellen - 02 October 9:12

This ambitiously-titled new work eschews the blunt logic of most rock scholarship, and instead charges down a particular path and then meanders off-road through the dense pop-cultural undergrowth.

David Mitchell, the master builder
By Erica Wagner - 02 October 9:10

When he was a child, David Mitchell drew maps. Now he creates worlds.

Alan Johnson leaving No 10 Downing St in 2009, when he was health secretary. Photo: Getty
Alan Johnson’s Please, Mister Postman: the best political testament I have ever read
By Peter Wilby - 02 October 9:07

This second volume of Alan Johnson’s memoirs brings to life a world in which postal workers fed cats while their owners were away and fetched coal for old folk.

Edge of desire: Tennessee Williams in Key West in 1981. Photo: Nathan Benn/Ottochrome/Corbis
The beautiful and damned: the vertiginous life and art of Tenessee Williams
By Douglas Kennedy - 02 October 9:03

One of the underlying truisms of literary biography is that the messier the personal narrative, the more interesting the read, which is why this one is such a page-turner.

“The Inquisition in New Spain” by Samuel de Champlain (1574-1635). Image: Brown University Library, Rhode Island/Bridgeman Images
John Gray: is religion to blame for history’s bloodiest wars?
By John Gray - 01 October 16:32

From the Inquisition to Isis, religion is blamed for brutality. But violence is a secular creed too.

The shortlist for the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize has been announced
By Critic - 01 October 6:00

The award for “fiction at its most novel” returns for its second year.

Job seekers.
“Innocent, gullible, and blinded by illusions”: Honoré de Balzac on the misery of interns in 1841
By Philip Maughan - 29 September 11:20

“There are two types of interns: poor ones and rich ones. The poor intern has pockets full of hope and needs a permanent position; the rich intern is unmotivated and wants for nothing.”

Karl Miller, former literary editor of the NS, who has died aged 83
Great Scot: Karl Miller’s pilgrimage through the London literary world
By Leo Robson - 26 September 11:43

The editor, critic and writer, who was literary editor of the New Statesman in the 1960s, head of English at UCL and founded the London Review of Books, has died, aged 83.

Unity, Diana and Nancy Mitford in 1932. Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Why the Mitford sisters were the Kardashians of their day
By Hope Whitmore - 25 September 14:12

These beautiful, wayward young women, who caused such scandal in their time, were the reality stars of their day, providing plentiful fodder for the papers, society magazines and gossip rags.

Detail from Head and Heart: a painting by the German-Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon, who died in Auschwitz
Glow in the dark: how history’s boldest women embraced vulnerability
By Melissa Benn - 25 September 11:33

Melissa Benn reviews two new books about remarkable 20th-century women – from Emmeline Pankhurst to Marilyn Monroe.

Image taken from "Dad's National Service Album, 1951", a collection uploaded to Flickr by an ex-conscript's son. Photo: Steve Bowbrick/Flickr
The way we war: a history of British national service
By Richard Overy - 25 September 10:00

Reading this detailed account of the national service experience – peppered with moments of humour among the long years of pointless routine – invites the question whether it made any sense.

Committed socialist: Newens (left) with Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, and Lord Brockway, in 1970. Photo: Getty
Independent spirit: Stan Newens’s fight for a fairer Britain
By Stephen Brasher - 25 September 10:00

A new autobiography by the former Labour MP and left-wing campaigner. 

What does an artist look like? One of Grayson Perry's witty illustrations in Playing to the Gallery
Do I make myself Claire? Grayson Perry dissects the art world
By Thomas Calvocoressi - 25 September 10:00

In this illustrated handbook to contemporary art, Perry compares his once unfashionable pottery to the woman ordering a Babycham in a style bar and everyone suddenly wanting one.

Plumb role: actors dressed as Nintendo characters Super Mario and Luigi in Chiba, Tokyo, August 2014. Photo: Getty
The most influential tech company you’ve never heard of
By Philip Maughan - 25 September 10:00

The scientists and engineers at “Alca-Loo”– as it is known among financiers – think of themselves as “the plumbers of the internet world”.

Fuzzy logic: Ludwig Wittgenstein
Perish the thought: trying to impress the philosophy tutor
By Juliet Jacques - 25 September 10:00

Besides the sad realisation that after grad­uating these people will never realise the potential their teacher sees in them, there is deep melancholy beneath their fantasies about “Wittgenstein Jr” praising them.

Henrik Ibsen. Photo: Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images
Mind out of time: what Ibsen can tell us about today
By Erica Wagner - 25 September 10:00

On the eve of a major season of adaptations at the Barbican, Erica Wagner goes to Norway to discover how the playwright captured the beginning of the modern world.

Lena Dunham, whose memoir has just been published. Photo: Getty
Lena Dunham is not real
By Helen Lewis - 24 September 10:56

Lena Dunhams Not That Kind of Girl is a confessional book where you cannot be sure if the confessions are true: it’s either a brilliantly ironic subversion of the form, or a deeply wearying put-on by someone who has no sense of who they are when no one is watching.

Hilary Mantel. Portrait by Leonie Hampton for the New Statesman
Hilary Mantel’s Thatcher story: this author is no innocent in need of defence from right-wing critics
By Sarah Ditum - 23 September 11:00

Of course Hilary Mantel knew what she was doing in writing her short story “The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher” – the precise application of words is her speciality.

It's all very well to be a bit bicurious but not to cynically treat us like guinea pigs. Photo: Getty
No, going lesbian for a year is not an acceptable hobby
By Eleanor Margolis - 19 September 12:44

No matter how much depth and nuance there may well be between the covers of Lesbian For a Year, the book’s premise is damaging and dreary.

A polluted beach in Alabama during the BP oil spill disaster of 2010. Photo: Kari Goodnough/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Steven Poole on Naomi Klein: Could climate change action rejuvenate worldwide democracy?
By Steven Poole - 18 September 13:27

In her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism v the Climate, Naomi Klein provides a vividly reported and densely researched argument for how our future should look.

The Beyond the Fringe team, 1960: (l-r) Peter Cook, Alan Bennett, Jonathan Miller, Dudley Moore. Photo: John Hedgecoe/TopFoto
From the the culturally conservative Fifties to the Swinging Harold Wilson Sixties
By Andrew Marr - 18 September 9:48

Writing the history of the recent past is not easy, but David Kynaston’s artful collage technique manages to draw us into a time that can feel like it belonged to another world.

Medieval philosopher-savant Roger Bacon. Engraving by R Cooper, print by Agidius Sadelam. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
John the Pupil by David Flusfeder: a novel of quiet suggestion and unobtrusive cleverness
By Tim Martin - 18 September 9:41

David Flusfeder’s novel John the Pupil follows three students of the medieval philosopher-savant Roger Bacon who make a secretive journey from England to the seat of the papacy at Viterbo.

Blood never lies: our fascination with forensics is fuelling the boom in cold case crime fiction
Digging up the dead: investigating the cold case crime narrative
By Leo Robson - 18 September 9:38

While the cold case thriller owes its life to new techniques such as DNA profiling and new disciplines such as forensic anthropology, the genre’s practitioners vary in their degree of commitment to these origins.

Reviews round-up | 17 September
By New Statesman - 17 September 17:00

The critics’ verdicts on Ian McEwan’s The Children Act, A N Wilson’s Victoria: A Life and Elena Ferrante’s Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay.

No longer just the Blade Runner: since the death of Reeva Steenkamp, Oscar Pistorius’s story has become “a classic tragic hero’s fall”. Photo: Getty
We are drowning in stories that privilege the perspectives of white males
By Glosswitch - 16 September 12:42

Women’s bodies – naked, airbrushed and objectified – are everywhere but our names, passions and histories remain invisible. Too often, women are reduced to a footnote in the tragic story of someone male who still gets to take centre stage.

Warner's new book is set in 1980s student London. Photo: Gwydion M Williams/Flickr
A literary Withnail and I: Alan Warner’s Their Lips Talk of Mischief
By Yo Zushi - 15 September 12:41

The latest novel by the author of Morvern Callar is set in a boozy, 1980s student London.