Diego Velázquez’s 1656 painting, ‘Las Meninas’
©The Gallery Collection/Corbis

Michael Jacobs’ pursuit of genius

Simon Schama on the writer’s unfinished voyage around Velázquez’s masterpiece ‘Las Meninas’

England’s Simon Jones celebrates a wicket in the 2005 Ashes series
©Action Images

Britain’s finest sporting moments

Matthew Engel on cricket, and the nation’s sometimes troubled relationship with its sporting heroes

From ‘Staging Service’, a photographic project by Sienna Perro on American funeral parlours
©Sienna Perro

Confronting death

How should we deal with our own mortality, asks Stephen Cave

Cross-sections of some of the fruit and vegetables that make for a healthy microbiome, as captured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
©Alexandr Khrapichev/University of Oxford/Well

Gut instincts

Scientists have grasped the importance of the microbiome just as modern lifestyles are ravaging it. Review by Clive Cookson

©DPA Picture Alliance/Alamy

The end of the music industry

Digital piracy was low down in the priorities for music executives in the CD boom in the 90s. The misjudgment would cost them billions, writes John Gapper

©AK Images

Whose Waterloo?

Two hundred years on, the decisive battle of the Napoleonic wars can still divide Europeans. Tony Barber unpicks the myths

The power of negotiation

Diplomatic successes have convinced George Mitchell and Jonathan Powell that seemingly irreconcilable differences can be bridged

The pivot to America

Edward Luce considers Barack Obama’s foreign policy record and the task facing his successor as US president

Books essay: How to be good

Biologists and philosophers offer different answers on how altruism can flourish

A world of difference

How should governments respond to inequality? By Martin Wolf