“Fire and Fury” confirms the dysfunction at the heart of the presidency

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Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. By Michael Wolff. Henry Holt; 336 pages; $14.99. Little, Brown; £20.

TO THE many ironies of Donald Trump’s presidency can be added the fact that a man who does not read books has helped cause a publishing sensation. Four days after “Fire and Fury” went on sale on January 5th, despite Mr Trump having denounced Michael Wolff’s caustic account of his administration as fiction and threatened both the author and the publisher with legal action, Henry Holt had received orders for a million copies of the book. Several hundred thousand e-books had also been sold, and readers as far away as Kenya claimed to be illegally circulating an electronic PDF version of Mr Wolff’s tale of eye-watering haplessness and bloodletting. Not since Harry Potter has a new book caught fire in this way. No wonder Mr Wolff, who based his account on more than 200 interviews, including with Mr Trump and members of his inner circle, after he took…Continue reading

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Personal pronouns are changing fast

NOT so long ago a man could be jailed in Texas for sex with another man. In 2015 a county clerk in Kentucky was jailed for refusing to certify the marriage of two men. Gay rights in America proceeded at an extraordinary rate between Lawrence v Texas (2003), in which …

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Giorgio Vasari, the man who created art history

Vasari made craftsmen into stars The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art. By Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney. Norton; 432 pages; $29.95 and £23.99. TOWARDS the end of his life Michelangelo Buonarroti, the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance, began burning his drawings. He did …

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Esther Kinsky muses on a river in England

Esther Kinsky goes with history’s flow River. By Esther Kinsky. Translated by Iain Galbraith. Fitzcarraldo; 368 pages; £12.99. To be published in America this autumn by Transit Books. IN HER post-war childhood beside the Rhine, the narrator of Esther Kinsky’s third novel learns that “every river is a border.” Flowing …