Historical facts are the vital framework around which non-fiction writers construct their narratives; they are, quite simply, indispensable.
The people who read the history books tend to have a natural zeal and are alarmingly well-read.
From 1801, Napoleon began an ambitious programme of civil reform to standardise law and justice, centralise education, introduce uniform weights and measures and a fully functioning internal market. That achievement alone makes him one of the giants of history.
Here, the broader issues are already familiar, and discussion has focused at a more sophisticated and detailed level. Within the philosophy of mind, the problem of consciousness is no big news.
At school, there were more Davids than any other name: more than 20 of us cousins out of 40 pupils. When my older cousins moved on, the school had to close.
Abuse is the means in which violence retards love.
I have a strange habit of walking down streets and staring up, rather than looking at shopfronts and stuff like that.
Historians turning their hands to fiction are all the rage. Since Alison Weir led the way in 2006, an ever-growing number of established non-fiction writers – Giles Milton, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Harry Sidebottom, Patrick Bishop, Ian Mortimer and myself included – have written historical novels.
Given the gruesome fate of the last Tsar, Nicholas II, and his family, and the fact that five of the previous 12 Romanov rulers were also murdered, it is easy to regard Russia’s imperial dynasty as cursed.
I had the idea that it would be wonderful to be a physicist or a mathematician maybe 500 years ago around the time of Newton when there were really fundamental things just lying around to be discovered.