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The art of the essay

Despite moments of self-indulgence, four new collections demonstrate that the essay still deserves a place in the modern literary landscape, says Philip Hensher
Philip Hensher  

A progressive manifesto

Through misreadings and mistranslations, the ten commandments have come to be seen as the rantings of a vain and vengeful God. In fact, they are an early blueprint for self-government forged by refugees escaping tyranny
David Bodanis  

Christopher Hitchens

From '68 agitator to staunch supporter of George W Bush's Iraq war—what explains Hitchens's political journey? I spent three days with him in Washington trying to find out
Alexander Linklater  

Charles Taylor

Taylor may be the most important philosopher writing in English today. He is drawn to big issues like the evolution of the modern self, and his latest book defends religion from its critics
Ben Rogers  

The sacred and the human

Today's atheist polemics ignore the main insight of the anthropology of religion—that religion is not primarily about God, but about the human need for the sacred. As René Girard argues, religion is not the cause of violence, but the solution…
Roger Scruton