LRB Cover
Volume 36 Number 24
18 December 2014

LRB blog 18 December 2014

Inigo Thomas
Turing and Tolstoy

18 December 2014

Jingan Young
Diversity Funding

16 December 2014

Alex Abramovich


4 March 2004

Hilary Mantel
Spectacular saintliness

24 October 2013

Stefan Collini
The Costs of University Privatisation

8 January 1987

Ric Burns
At the Beverly Wilshire

In the next issue, which will be dated 8 January, Alan Bennett’s diary for 2014, Andrew O’Hagan on the second life of Ronald Pinn and Michael Wood on the singular life of Paul de Man.


Thursday 18 December at 6.00 P.M.

Christmas Customer Evening: Noche Buena

Wednesday 7 January at 6.00 P.M.

Late Night Shopping

Monday 12 January at 7.00 P.M.

The White Review presents An Evening with Chris Kraus

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James Meek

Shamed in Afghanistan

The British army is back in Warminster and its other bases around the country. Its eight-year venture in southern Afghanistan is over. The extent of the military and political catastrophe it represents is hard to overstate. It was doomed to fail before it began, and fail it did, at a terrible cost in lives and money. How bad was it? In a way it was worse than a defeat, because to be defeated, an army and its masters must understand the nature of the conflict they are fighting. Britain never did understand, and now we would rather not think about it. More

Michael Hofmann

Richard Flanagan’s Sticky Collage

It’s May or June, the Cam is stuffed with expensive punts, which in turn are stuffed with moneyed tourists. A bunch of under-employed post-examinal students are dementedly heaving and levering away at one of the massive ornamental granite balls crowning the parapet of one of the college bridges. They’ve prised it loose, the entire river – the strollers and dawdlers and smoochers along the Backs, the rest of the shipping – seems to be watching in horror as it’s directly threatening a punt-load of Japanese tourists. More

Edward Luttwak

Britain v. Napoleon

I can recall few heated arguments with my father, but I remember very well our Napoleon quarrel. After two years at a British boarding school, I had learned a fair amount of English and just about enough history to mention Wellington and Waterloo as we were approaching Brussels on a drive from Milan. To my great surprise, my father burst out with a vehement attack on ‘the English’ for having selfishly destroyed Napoleon’s empire. Wherever it had advanced in Europe, modernity had advanced with it. More

Tom McCarthy

On Realism and the Real

In the introduction to the 1995 reissue of his 1973 masterpiece Crash, J.G. Ballard discusses ‘the balance between fiction and reality’. ‘We live,’ he writes, ‘in a world ruled by fictions of every kind – mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the pre-empting of any original response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. More

Short Cuts
Joanna Biggs

At Tate Britain
John Barrell