Literary interviews and discussions on the latest releases in the world of publishing, from poetry through to physics. Presented by Sam Leith.
Natalie Haynes: Women in the Greek Myths
In this week's Book Club podcast, my guest is the writer and broadcaster Natalie Haynes, whose new book Pandora's Jar: Women In The Greek Myths investigates how the myths portrayed women from Pandora to Medea, and how those images have been repurposed in the retellings of subsequent generations. She tells me why Theseus isn't quite the hero we imagine him, how Erasmus's mistranslation of a single word crocked Pandora's reputation for good, why Euripides was a feminist avant la lettre, and how the Gorgon got her body.
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Gyles Brandreth: Theatrical anecdotes
In this week's books podcast, I'm joined by the irrepressible Gyles Brandreth - whose latest book is the fruit of a lifelong love of the theatre. The Oxford Book of Theatrical Anecdotes is a doorstopping compendium of missed cues, bitchy put-downs and drunken mishaps involving everyone from Donald Wolfit to Donald Sinden. Gyles explains how he always wanted to be Danny Kaye but also the Home Secretary, why live theatre is magical in a way cinema never can be, and how he got round the dismaying insistence of his publishers that all these anecdotes needed to verifiably true.
Rowland White and Tim Gedge: Harrier 809
In this week’s edition of the Book Club podcast I’m joined by two guests. One is Rowland White, whose new book, Harrier 809: Britain’s Legendary Jump Jet and the Untold Story of the Falklands War, tells the story of the air war in the Falklands from the frantic logistical scrambling when 'the balloon went up', via spy shenanigans in South America, to the decisive action in theatre. The other is Tim Gedge, the commanding officer of 809 Squadron who flew in that war.
Hugh Aldersey-Williams: The Making of Science in Europe
If you know the name of Christiaan Huygens at all, it'll probably be as the man who gave his name to a space probe. But Hugh Aldersey-Williams, author of Dutch Light: Christaan Huygens and the Making of Science in Europe, joins this week's Book Club podcast to argues that this half-forgotten figure was the most important scientist between Galileo and Newton. He tells a remarkable story of advances in optics, geometry, probability, mathematics, astronomy - as well as the invention of the pendulum clock and the discovery of the rings of Saturn - against the backdrop of a turbulent post-Reformation Europe and the beginnings of an international scientific community. Plus, we identify an early-modern prototype for Dominic Cummings in the court of Louis XIV.
Roy Foster: On Seamus Heaney
My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the distinguished Irish historian Roy Foster, talking about his new book On Seamus Heaney. He tells me how 'Famous Seamus'’s darkness has been under-recognised, how he negotiated with the shade of Yeats and the explosive politics of Ireland to find an independent space to write from, and just how 'certus' the man who signed himself 'Incertus' really was.
Kate Summerscale: The Haunting of Alma Fielding
In this week's Book Club podcast, my guest is Kate Summerscale, here to talk about her latest book The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story. Kate uses the true story of an eruption of poltergeist activity in 1930s Croydon to give what turns into a thoughtful and poignant look at the mental weather of interwar Britain, and the shifting meanings of the occult in light of new ideas about physics and the psychology of trauma. She tells me about the story's enduring mysteries and ambiguities, how spookily it chimed with its historical background - and about flying Bovril and a talking mongoose called Gef.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Perfect for Thinking
Love this podcast. Sam Leith lets his guests speak. Full of ideas.
The perfect listen for looking out of the bus window. I never read the books but I love hearing the chats. So interesting.
I don’t think there is a better Arts interviewer than Leith. Though he’s clearly well read, informed, and critically astute, he always makes sure that it’s the authors voice and vision that are at the forefront of the discussion. It’s a rare gift these days, and one that has brought me a lot of listening pleasure over the last few years, plus pointed me towards several excellent books that I wouldn’t otherwise have bought.