An unlikely triumph
In its first century the American higher-education system was a messy, disorganised joke. How did it rise to world dominance?
The battlefield is dead
The traditional arena of war is no more. Will it give way to a perpetual continuum of military and paramilitary violence?
The last sacred kings
The veneration which surrounds the world’s last sacred kings shows how secular most of political life has become
Spoiling for a fight
Short of a battlefield, the most violent place in medieval England was Oxford. Why did Brits stop beating each other up?
Not just American or British, the Anglo-Saxon is a mirror to Frenchness: the country’s alter-ego and most feared enemy
The Irish diaspora
There are 70 million people around the world who claim Irish ancestry. What shaped and made the great Irish emigration?
Return of the city-state
Nation-states came late to history, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest they won’t make it to the end of the century
Mata Hari uncovered
Dancer, courtesan, spy: on the centenary of her execution, how much do we really know about the woman behind the legend?
Ideas were not enough
Locke, Spinoza and Voltaire were all brilliant, but religious freedom in Europe was driven by statecraft not philosophy
Agony in the agora
Democracy, by nature, is a contest between clashing political desires. That is why the public square matters so much
The sea was never blue
The Greek colour experience was made of movement and shimmer. Can we ever glimpse what they saw when gazing out to sea?
America’s hidden philosophy
When Cold War philosophy tied rational choice theory to scientific method, it embedded the free-market mindset in US society
‘Here we are all the same’
The US Constitution guaranteed freedom of religion, but the fight for religious equality was only just beginning