Spectator

3 September 2011

Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars Sonia Faleiro

In 1971, at the height of the Indo-Pakistan war, my parents took me with them to Bombay. I was ten and it was my first trip abroad. My father worked…Read more

Tallinn tales

27 August 2011

The Last Ambassador: August Torma, Soldier, Diplomat, Spy Tina Tamman

During the Twenties and Thirties, the Estonian capital of Tallinn was known to be a centre for espionage, infiltrated by White Russian intriguers bent on blocking Bolshevik access to north-west… Read more

Talking about regeneration

23 July 2011

Ghost Milk Iain Sinclair

Iain Sinclair, the London novelist and poet, is always on the move. From the industrial sumplands of Woolwich to the jagged riversides of Gravesend, he rakes unfrequented zones for literary… Read more

City of miracles

25 June 2011

Rome Robert Hughes

When in Rome: 2000 Years of Roman Sightseeing Matthew Sturgis

Frances Lincoln, pp.280, 20

Whispering City: Rome and its Histories R.J.B. Bosworth

Yale, pp.358, 25

In the autumn of 1984, after an unexplained fall, I found myself in a hospital in Rome acutely head-injured and disorientated. I had been found sprawled on the floor of… Read more

Deep, dark mysteries

4 June 2011

London Under Peter Ackroyd

The Stones of London: A History of Twelve Buildings Leo Hollis

For Peter Ackroyd, the subterranean world holds a potent allure. London Under, his brief account of the capital’s catacombs and other murky zones, manages to radiate a dark mystery and… Read more

Haitian horrors

2 April 2011

Imajine Claudel Casseus, translated by Jean Rodrigue Ulcena, with a foreword by Bill Drummond

Twenty years ago, in 1991, I was shown round the National Palace in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince. A government official led me through long rococo halls crammed with oriental… Read more

Nostalgie de la boue

19 March 2011

Edgelands: Journeys into England’s Wilderness Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts

In the late 1960s I grew up in the London borough of Greenwich, which in those days had a shabby, post-industrial edge. Behind our house on Crooms Hill stood a… Read more

A war of nutrition

5 February 2011

The Taste of War Lizzie Collingham

The long summer that led up to the last days of peace in Europe in 1939 — the vigil of the Nazi assault on Poland on 1 September and the… Read more

So far from God . . .

20 November 2010

Amexica: War Along the Borderline Ed Vulliamy

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s second largest border city, is clogged with rubbish, fouled with car exhaust and, increasingly, flooded with narcotics. Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s second largest border city, is clogged with…Read more

In a Greene shade

2 October 2010

Chasing The Devil Tim Butcher

Some travel writers, in an attempt to simulate the hardship of Victorian journeys, like to impose artificial difficulties on themselves. A glut of memorably foolish yarns with titles like Hang-Gliding… Read more

Tangerine dreams

28 August 2010

Travels: Collected Writings, 1950-93 Paul Bowles, introduced by Paul Theroux

Before tourism came travel; and before travel, exploration. A sense of wonder had accompanied journeys along the lip of the unknown, as the Victorian pathfinder was often an amateur scientist,… Read more

A flammable individual

30 June 2010

Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane Andrew Graham-Dixon

On the night of 18 October 1969, thieves broke into the Oratory of San Lorenzo, Palermo, and removed Caravaggio’s Nativity. On the night of 18 October 1969, thieves broke into… Read more

Exotic Cuban underworld

17 March 2010

Our GG in Havana Pedro Juan Gutierrez, translated by John King

Before the revolucion of 1959, Havana was, effectively, a mafia fleshpot and colony of Las Vegas. Before the revolucion of 1959, Havana was, effectively, a mafia fleshpot and colony of… Read more

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