»  John Derbyshire's Reviews




I have been doing book reviews for newspapers and magazines since the early 1980s. Of book reviewing as an occupation, I have said all I have to say in a Straggler column. The pages linked to here contain all my surviving book reviews, with an occasional movie and opera review for good measure.

As a rough organizing principle for these reviews, I have grouped them into the categories shown in the navigation box, and described below. The categories overlap, so that some of the categorization is arbitrary. Should a novel about China go under "China" or "Fiction"? Answer: It's fiction. I don't do half as much fiction reviewing as I'd like to, so I have taken every opportunity to fill out the "Fiction" category. All the overlap cases are resolved like that — by whim.

Biographies are found under the appropriate subject heading. For example, Simon Winchester's 2009 biography of the sinologist Joseph Needham is under "China." Biographies of literary figures (e.g. Victoria Glendinning's 1999 biography of Jonathan Swift) are under "Considerations."


The categories:

  • China — Books about Chinese (or other Far Eastern) history, culture, politics, and literature.
  • History — Books about history, other than Far Eastern history, and including biographies of historical figures.
  • Human sciences — The definition here is wide, from genetics to "Consciousness Studies."
  • Math — Nonfiction books about mathematics and the physical or information sciences.
  • Political Science — Statecraft, government, nations, elections (where not covered under "History").
  • Philosophy and religion.
  • Fiction.
  • Considerations — These are pieces, usually long, in which I discuss a writer, or some aspect of literature, "in the round." Biographies of literary people are included here.
  • Miscellaneous — Reviews of books that don't fall clearly into any of the above categories.