Literary interviews and discussions on the latest releases in the world of publishing, from poetry through to physics. Presented by Sam Leith.
Peter Stothard: Crassus
My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is Peter Stothard, whose new book Crassus: The First Tycoon tells the story of the third man in Rome’s great triumvirate: landlord, power-broker, Spartacus’s nemesis and leader of a hubristic expedition to the east that was to see his glorious career end in bitter failure.
Image © Teri Pengilley
Lawrence Freedman: Command
In this week's Book Club podcast my guest is the doyen of war studies, Lawrence Freedman. His new book Command: The Politics of Military Operations from Korea to Ukraine takes a fascinating look at the interplay between politics and conflict in the post-war era. He tells me why dictators make bad generals, how soldiers are always playing politics, how the nuclear age has changed the calculus of conflict and gives me his latest read on the progress of the war in Ukraine.
Rediscovering Josephine Tey
On this week’s Book Club podcast we’re talking about the best crime writer you’ve (probably) never heard of. As Penguin reissues three of Josephine Tey’s classic Golden Age novels, I’m joined by Nicola Upson, whose own detective stories (most recently Dear Little Corpses) feature Tey as a central character. She tells me about the unique character of Tey’s writing, her discreet private life, and about how she made possible the psychological crime fiction that we read now.
A.M. Homes: The Unfolding
My guest on this week’s Book Club podcast is A. M. Homes. She talks about her new novel The Unfolding, which imagines a conspiracy of angry Republicans forming after John McCain’s 2008 election defeat in the hopes of taking their America back. She talks about her history of prescience, about the deep weirdness of the Washington she grew up in, and why there’s more than one 'deep state'.
Ian McEwan: Lessons
My guest in this week’s Book Club is Ian McEwan – whose latest novel Lessons draws on his own biography to imagine an 'alternative life' for himself. He tells me about what drew him, in his late career, to using autobiography; about why there’s no contradiction in combining realism with metafiction; about the importance of sex; the rise of cancel culture – and why literary fiction by 'comfortable white men of a certain age' may have had its day, but he’s not complaining.
Francis Fukuyama: Liberalism and its Discontents
This week we spotlight our most popular episode of the last year, Sam's conversation with Francis Fukuyama about his book Liberalism and its Discontents. He tells Sam how a system that has built peace and prosperity since the Enlightenment has come under attack from the neoliberal right and the identitarian left; and how Vladimir Putin may end up being the unwitting founding father of a new Ukraine.
Arguably the Best!
This is a really good book review podcast
Worthy and misses the point
I’m not sure why this is called ‘The Book Club’, it seems to mainly be talking about talking about the books people are talking about.
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.