In America’s Blood

Deborah Friedell

Financially, Trump’s victory was a disaster for the NRA: members became complacent with an ally in the White House, and dues dropped by $35 million. In the midterm elections, for the first time, the NRA was outspent by gun control advocacy groups, and they’ve had layoffs. All this has made them increasingly dependent on large donations from gun manufacturers, sometimes estimated to be at least 60 per cent of their income. It’s not just American money: a quarter of the guns in the US were made in Europe, and Austrians (Glock), Germans (SIG Sauer) and Italians (Beretta) have donated millions of dollars to the NRA in order to protect their biggest market. The interests of gun sellers and gun buyers often overlap, but not always. I used to wonder why the NRA seemed to value the right to carry a concealed gun over an openly carried one, until it was pointed out to me that gun manufacturers often make more money from accessories – waistband holsters, ankle holsters, jackets with special pockets, vegan leather handbags with gun compartments – than from the guns themselves.

 

The Women’s Liberation Movement

Jenny Turner

Iwaswashing up or something ten years ago when an episode of The Reunion with Sue MacGregor came on the radio, the one about the Women’s Liberation protesters who stormed the Miss World competition at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970. I must have known about it already, but it was like I’d never got the point. Listening to that programme, for some reason, took me right back into...

 

Flour Fixated

Bee Wilson

Notmany people have heard of Norman Borlaug, but his invention – the high-yield, short-straw wheat that fuelled the Green Revolution – is consumed every day by the majority of humans on the planet. Without Borlaug’s wheat, there would be no modern food as we know it. Everything from sandwiches to pizza to soy sauce to animal feed is manufactured from wheats adapted from...

 

Bye Bye Britain

Neal Ascherson

In​ 2019, Boris Johnson became prime minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In 2020, he shrank into being prime minister of England. For the second time in less than seven years, the union is in trouble. But this time the problem needs a new question. Forget: ‘Should Scotland be independent?’ The Scots will take care of that. Ask instead:...

Diary

On Quitting Academia

Malcolm Gaskill

InMay, I gave up my academic career after 27 years. A voluntary severance scheme had been announced in December, and I dithered about it until the pandemic enforced focus on a fuzzy dilemma. Already far from the sunlit uplands, universities would now, it seemed, descend into a dark tunnel. I swallowed hard, expressed an interest, hesitated, and then declared my intention to leave. A...

 

Letters from Tove

Emma Hogan

Towards​ the end of her life, Tove Jansson wrote a novel about two women in love. In Fair Play, Mari and Jonna, two artists, live together but apart. They have separate studios, connected by a corridor. They eat dinner in silence, their books propped up next to their plates. Each night they watch a film, often by a well-known director – Truffaut, Bergman, Visconti, Renoir, Wilder...

 

The Gospel of St Karen

James Lasdun

The​ Tenth International Congress of Coptic Studies was held in September 2012 at the headquarters of the Order of St Augustine in Rome. Among the speakers was Karen King, the first woman to hold the Hollis Professorship of Divinity, Harvard’s oldest endowed chair. King had made her name as an interpreter and champion of early Christian texts that asserted the spiritual authority of...

 

Sheets of Fire and Leaping Flames

Thomas Jones

Itmust have seemed like the end of the world, and for thousands of people it was. The Younger Pliny was 17 when he witnessed the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. He described it many years later in two letters to Tacitus, who had asked him for an account of his uncle’s death. The Elder Pliny, now best known for his encyclopedic Naturalis Historia and for dying under the volcano, was...

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