Christopher Hirst

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

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Book review: Savage Continent, By Keith Lowe

"There is no morality… only survival." In cool, measured language, Lowe shows how the horror of World War II not only persisted long after the fighting but actually intensified. Soviet soldiers raped almost 200,000 German women.

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'

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