The genius of bad books

From James Bond to Jack Reacher, we’re suckers for an uncomplicated hero. But there is an art to the action novel, writes Nick Cohen

On refugee road

Fergal Keane witnessed one of the world’s worst ever humanitarian crises play out on the shores of the Mediterranean 

A history of blasphemy: the revolutionary tradition of shouting in church

For radicals who see themselves as the scourge of hypocrites, heckling in churches is the ultimate act of rebellion

Inside the tourment of shadows

Travelling across Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, Elle Hardy discovered a fascinating mix of ancient cultures, simmering divisions and seeming contradictions

Return to Hangover Square

Revisiting Patrick Hamilton's 20th century classic

Little Atoms 432 - Alex Cox's Introduction to Film

The maverick director discusses everything he knows about film 

Film & Music
Podcast

I'm 40, and I've given up on ever owning a house

The housing crisis is about more than millennials versus boomers, says the Guyliner

Russia Today is not alternative news: it is propaganda

Ignoring the motivation of Kremlin propaganda is stupid and disingenuous

Society

How AT&T shaped modern art

From John Cage to Andy Warhol, the corporate behemoth financed some of the avant garde's biggest names

The Manson family's radical misogyny

Emma Cline's new book The Girls explores the infamous cult through the prism of his followers

Autocracy 2.0

Brutal dictatorships present themselves as modern and open for business. And lobbying firms from democratic western countries help create that illusion, says Mike Harris

This is not the end of secular Turkey

It's too easy to cast the post-coup crackdown as an attack on the last vestiges of secularism

World

Poem: Corbyn Refuses To Go

The writer Sophie Hannah has composed a poem expressing her frustration with the current state of the Labour party

Society
Words

Little Atoms 428 - Marcus Du Sautoy's What We Cannot Know

Neil chats to the mathematician about the limits of human knowledge

Podcast
Words

What are public inquiries for?

The UK inquiry system is valuable, but is the process too open to government interference?

Society

We love Coca-Cola and they love death

Islamic State's absolutism has antecedents in 20th Century communism and fascism

Rebuilding democracy for the 21st century

Trust in politics is at an all-time low. Here's how we change that

Society

On the highland trail with Trump

If you can build a golf course, you can build a country

World

Little Atoms 426 - Francis Spufford's Golden Hill

Neil Denny meets the author of the year's most hotly-anticipated novel

Words

Can Britain avoid a post-Brexit brain drain?

An isolated, myopic island is not an attractive idea for thousands of young Brits used to travelling the world

World

As an American, Brexit makes me fear for my country

Populism is unravelling Europe; don’t let it claim the United States too

World

Little Atoms 425 - Kate Moore's Radium Girls

The extraordinary story of working women's fight for justice in 1920s America

Homophobia and terrorism: it’s not an either/or question

Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to Islamic State because jihadism elevated his hatred to a cause

World

Is marriage the enemy of women's creativity?

Three recent novels ask if the "pram in the hall" stifles a woman's individuality and art

Words

How humanity postponed the next ice age

Global warming has made an astonishing change to the planet's climate cycle

Science

Christopher Hitchens died a blaspheming infidel

Stories of deathbed conversions are as old as Christianity