The London Review of Books

Big Man Walking

“Not many people change the world. Fewer still are thanked for it.” – Neal Ascherson reviews a biography of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, who joined that small group when he helped to bring about its end.


A sobering but essential read on the NHS. The story dives deep on the successive policies Whitehall and Westminster have implemented to effect change, interspersed with the experiences of individual patients and staff in the system.

After the Fall

John Lanchester analyses the impact of the financial crisis a decade on. A potent mix of fine writing, economic analysis, and a concern to place the narrative in a political and social context that helps the reader to make sense of what happened.

The Impermanence of Importance

A review of a new book by Obama adviser Ben Rhodes (a speechwriter and Deputy National Security Adviser who was one of the few senior officials to remain in office throughout the whole presidency). The piece reflects on Obama’s style of leadership, the nature of power and governing, and the author’s own journey. It is also replete with anecdotes from behind the scenes of elite politics such as Rhodes discussing the TV show Entourage with David Cameron over after-state-dinner drinks at Buckingham Palace.

The Problem with Winning

The historian Linda Colley proposes that the relative political stability of Britain (along with the US) over time has left its political system with more maintenance work outstanding than other countries that have experienced greater upheaval. From there, she looks to the lessons history can offer in addressing Britain’s current challenges.

The Heart and the Fist

The journalist that wrote this story covering a political scandal surrounding the right wing, ex-Navy Seal, Governor of Missouri has an unusual angle – she went to the University of Oxford with his wife, and they were friends.