Christopher de Bellaigue

Christopher de Bellaigue is writing a series of books about Suleyman the Magnificent.

Country Life: How to Farm

Christopher de Bellaigue, 21 April 2022

Farmer’sGlory, the classic agrarian memoir by A.G. Street, was published in 1932. The traditional mixed farm where Arthur Street spent his boyhood in the first decade of the 20th century was the centre of a self-sufficient community, stout in defence of the four-course rotation and despising anything shop-bought. There was a ‘spaciousness and an aura of solid wellbeing’...

Diary: ‘Mummy est morte’

Christopher de Bellaigue, 19 March 2020

De Bellaigue?’ The voice belonged to one of the senior boys in the house, someone who had never spoken to me before. I looked up from my desk, where I was surveying my untouched homework. It was the afternoon of Sunday, 10 February 1985. ‘Jaques wants to see you.’ He turned and walked away.

I had first seen Jaques’s private quarters on the day I entered Eton a few...

Money as Weapon

Christopher de Bellaigue, 14 April 2011

The suicide bomber who blew himself up in the Finest supermarket in Kabul on 28 January had to get through a city-wide security cordon to reach his target. The Finest was chosen because it was frequented by foreigners who wouldn’t be in Kabul were it not for the occupation, and because, exceptionally for such a place, it was not protected by security guards or reinforced doors. It was...

Diary: In Afghanistan

Christopher de Bellaigue, 7 October 2010

Akram Osman’s immense novel Kuche-ye ma, which might be translated as ‘Our Street’, spans four decades of Kabul’s recent history, but stops before the worst bits.* I started it when I was in Afghanistan in July, and soon found that reading a few pages became vital to my after-work equilibrium, enabling me to feel optimistic again.

Each morning, out of my hotel room,...

A Bride for a Jackass: Vita in Persia

Christopher de Bellaigue, 25 March 2010

Nineteen twenty-seven was a fine year to be Vita Sackville-West. She was 35, attaining what her son would call her ‘tumultuous maturity’, besieged by lovers. Her elegy to Kentish life, The Land, had won the Hawthornden Prize, and she was hesitantly revising her earlier, somewhat churlish opinions of her own talent. She was a muse to perhaps the greatest novelist of the age,...

Misrepresentations: The Islamic Enlightenment

Dmitri Levitin, 22 November 2018

‘Oriental history​,’ the German philologist Johann Jakob Reiske wrote in 1747, ‘is very worthy of the study of an honest mind, and does not deserve any less than European...

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Why weren’t they grateful? Mossadegh

Pankaj Mishra, 21 June 2012

Mossadegh, whose family belonged to the nobility, was an unlikely leader of Iran’s transition from dynastic monarchy to mass politics.

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