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?
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?
Primo Levi, 1975
Don’t look away
Photography came of age amid the wars and atrocities, as well as the humanitarian aspirations, of the modern world
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
How the neutrino went from ghost particle to vital physics tool – a tale of bombs, espionage and subtle flavours
America’s hidden philosophy
When Cold War philosophy tied rational choice theory to scientific method, it embedded the free-market mindset in US society
The anger of Achilles
Homer’s warrior is no mere tragic human figure: fuelled by anger, he is at once a man of honour and a sword of the gods
The bloodstained leveller
Throughout history, plagues and wars have left greater equality in their wake. Can we get there again without violence?
The scalp from Sand Creek
Even after museums return human remains pillaged from a massacre in 1864, can repatriation heal the wounds of history?
Resist or collaborate?
The Nazis have occupied France. It’s easy to condemn the collaborators. But be honest: what would you really do?
Democracy needs politeness
Autocrats shouted, cursed, and bullied, while American revolutionaries used politeness as a tool of radical politics
Monks with guns
Westerners think that Buddhism is about peace and non-violence. So how come Buddhist monks are in arms against Islam?
The legend of the Legion
His cap is bleached as white as the bones of a Saharan camel. Is the romance of the French Foreign Legion a cult of death?
A much-maligned Mughal
The great king Aurangzeb is among the most hated men in Indian history. A historian claims he’s been unjustly demonised
When nations apologise
National apologies are a big deal: they acknowledge the past to help move everyone forward. No wonder they’re so hard
Subterranean metaphors have been a powerful tool of political resistance. Today, is there anywhere left to hide?
Web of war
How the hair-trigger nuclear age and fears of Armageddon inspired visionary cold warriors to invent the internet
The Masada mystery
Have archaeologists proven the ancient tale of mass suicide in the Judaean desert or twisted science for political end?