Noel Malcolm is a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls ­College, Oxford. His latest book is Agents of Empire: Knights, Corsairs, Jesuits and Spies in the Sixteenth-Century Mediterranean World. (December 2016)


Passions for the Past: The Aubrey Story

John Aubrey; portrait by William Faithorne, seventeenth century

John Aubrey, My Own Life

by Ruth Scurr
In 1931 the English novelist (and future Hollywood screenwriter) John Collier published a book with the arresting title The Scandal and Credulities of John Aubrey. The idea behind it was a simple one. John Aubrey, the seventeenth-century antiquary, natural philosopher, and biographer, was the author of a fragmentary but extraordinarily …

The New Montenegro: The State That Was Not a State

Realm of the Black Mountain: A History of Montenegro

by Elizabeth Roberts
When is a state not a state? More than once in modern history, a possible answer to this question has been: when it is Montenegro. The academic industry that studies “state formation” has examined all kinds of examples, from Anglo-Saxon England to postcolonial Africa. But it has paid curiously little …

In the Palace of Nightmares

The Three-Arched Bridge

by Ismail Kadare, translated by John Hodgson
The Albanian novelist Ismail Kadare once observed that every writer has two ages, two chronologies. First there is the author’s biological age; then there is his or her reputation, which is born at a different date and lives on another timescale. Kadare himself was born in 1936. His international reputation …