Christopher Hirst

Christopher Hirst is an award-winning food writer and freelance journalist.

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Book review: Thirst, By Steven Mithen

Who would think that a study of ancient hydraulic engineering could be so revelatory, so engrossing? Mithen shows that water meant not only survival but power.

Book review: Now for Then, By Ben Hammersley

Though the cheeriness of the sub-title - "how to face the digital future without fear" - is a trifle misplaced, this guide in 64 byte-sized chunks is packed with enlightenment for the digitally baffled.

Restaurant review: The Anvil, Main Street, Sawdon, North Yorkshire

"If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon or make a better mousetrap than his neighbour," runs the ancient Yankee saw, "though he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door."

Book review: Eminent Elizabethans, By Piers Brendon

From Jagger's priapism to Charles's princely charms

Book review: Thomas Becket, By John Guy

Acclaimed for narrative verve, this life scores with vivid descriptions of character and events. Henry II's "chief weakness was his temper… like a whirlwind".

Book review: The Peculiar Case of the Electric Constable, By Carol Baxter

Reading his account of a real-life crime in 1845 is an experience close to time travel. Through impressive research and unshowy prose, Baxter whisks us back to the start of the modern age.

Book review: You Can't Read This Book, By Nick Cohen

As ardent as it is readable, this account of "censorship in an age of freedom" starts with The Satanic Verses, banned by states as varied as Sudan and apartheid South Africa, then moves on to the murder of Theo van Gogh "in Amsterdam, the city of Spinoza and Anne Frank".

Book review: Sorry! The English and their Manners, By Henry Hitchings

Though packed with interest – the first citation of "please" in the OED is from 1774 – this exploration of a topic relevant to all (except hermits) tends to stray off course.

Restaurant review: The Green Room, 138 Victoria Road, Scarborough, North Yorkshire

'I was lured into the restaurant by a pot of lemon posset'

Book review: A Social History of English Cricket, By Derek Birley

Noting that the game was "of uncertain, though bucolic parentage", Birley delineates enduring traits in this witty panorama, rightly acclaimed when first published in 1999.

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Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
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Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

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Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

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Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
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War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

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Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

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Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

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Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?