Observer

Ian Thomson first wrote for the Observer in 1999. Founded in 1791, it is the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper (and sister to the daily Guardian). Here is a selection of more recent reviews:

An article on the years 1956 and 1966. 16 November 2015 by Ian Thomson

 

Kissinger: The Idealist by Niall Ferguson. 25 October 2015 Review of near-hagiography by Ian Thomson

 

A Very Dangerous Woman by Deborah McDonald and Jeremy Dronfield 9 August 2015 The Lives, Loves and Lies of Russia’s Most Seductive Spy. Review by Ian Thomson

 

Violence: A Modern Obsession by Richard Bessel 31 May 2015: Why the West has Renounced Savagery, writes Ian Thomson

 

The Tears of the Rajas by Ferdinand Mount 25 April 2015 One family’s role in the rise of the Raj. Review by Ian Thomson

 

Forensics: The Anatomy of Crime review – the grisly evolution of swab justice 19 October 2014: Crime novelist Val McDermid charts the history of forensics and interviews crime scene investigators to get the maggots-and-all story, writes Ian Thomson

 

National Service review – a cultural history of postwar British call-up 24 Aug 2014: Richard Vinen shows how conscription emphasised the mirage of a nation’s importance on the world stage, writes Ian Thomson 

 

Future Days review – an absorbing history of Krautrock and 1970s Germany 17 Aug 2014: David Stubbs’s story of Can, Kraftwerk and Germany’s postwar generation is enthusiastic and well researched, writes Ian Thomson 

 

Blazing Star: The Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester review – the wild man of the Restoration 20 Jul 2014: The Earl of Rochester’s highly candid poetry was mirrored by his anarchic life, says Ian Thomson 

 

The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters by Adam Nicolson review – beneath the hyperbole is a good book 25 May 2014: This enjoyable, if sometimes wordy study of the Greek poet, is impassioned and wide-ranging, writes Ian Thomson 

 

Target: Italy review – Britain’s secret war against Mussolini 4 May 2014: Roderick Bailey’s pacy account of Britain’s undercover role in fomenting anti-Fascist activity in wartime Italy grips Ian Thomson

 

Lawrence in Arabia review – a great revolutionary gets his due 30 Mar 2014: Scott Anderson’s account of the Arab revolt and the life of TE Lawrence is both scholarly and highly readable, writes Ian Thomson 

 

Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives! A World Without World War I by Richard Ned Lebow – review 19 Jan 2014:  Richard Ned Lebow imagines how European history would have unfolded if Archduke Franz Ferdinand had not been assassinated in 1914, writes Ian Thomson 

 

More Dynamite: Collected Essays 1990-2012 by Craig Raine; Cristina and Her Double: Selected Essays by Herta Muller – review 29 Dec 2013:  Craig Raine’s essays straddle the divide between high and low culture, while the Romanian-born Herta Muller deftly describes the horrors of Ceausescu’s rule, writes Ian Thomson 

 

Year Zero: A History of 1945 by Ian Buruma; The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945 by Richard Overy; Warsaw 1944: The Fateful Uprising by Alexandra Richie – review 26 Oct 2013: As these vivid accounts of wartime and postwar life show, peace didn’t end the pain, writes Ian Thomson 

 

The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000BCE-1492CE by Simon Schama – review 22 Sep 2013: Simon Schama’s panoramic history of Judaism pulls you in with an engaging mix of fact and anecdote, writes Ian Thomson 

 

The Rainborowes: Pirates, Puritans and a Family’s Quest for the Promised Land by Adrian Tinniswood – review
8 Sep 2013: Ian Thomson enjoys an engrossing study of two brothers’ ferocious commitment to Cromwell and the Puritan mission to colonise the New World

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