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Sergeant Jones’s Sleeping-Bag

Michael Ignatieff, 17 July 1997

Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture 
by Elaine Showalter.
Picador, 244 pp., £16.99, June 1997, 0 330 34670 9
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... It adds greatly to the glamour of this book that its author was threatened for having written it. Her offence was to argue that many of the passing media events of our culture – chronic fatigue syndrome, Gulf War syndrome, satanic ritual abuse allegations, alien abduction fantasies – are forms of mass hysteria. This so enraged American sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome that they threatened to kill her ...

A future which works

Michael Ignatieff, 30 December 1982

Trade Unions in British Politics 
edited by Ben Pimlott.
Longman, 302 pp., £6.50, September 1982, 0 582 49184 3
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Trade Unions: The Logic of Collective Action 
by Colin Crouch.
Fontana, 251 pp., £2.50, August 1982, 9780006358732
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Work and Politics: The Division of Labour in Industry 
by Charles Sabel.
Cambridge, 304 pp., £17.50, September 1982, 0 521 23002 0
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Strikes and the Government, 1893-1981 
by Eric Wigham.
Macmillan, 248 pp., £20, February 1982, 0 333 32302 5
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Governments and Trade Unions: The British Experience, 1964-1979 
by Dennis Barnes.
Heinemann Educational, 242 pp., £6.50, February 1982, 0 435 83046 5
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The Assembly Line 
by Robert Linhart, translated by Margaret Crosland.
Calder, 160 pp., £3.95, September 1981, 9780714537429
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... It is not easy to make sense of the trade unions. ‘Suicidal’, ‘mindless’ and ‘atavistic’ are, to be sure, epithets of wilful incomprehension, but even those disposed to understand sometimes find it hard to comprehend union behaviour, workers’ interests and the uncertain fit between the two. The first obvious case which baffles even sympathetic onlookers arises when unions strike in apparent disregard of the apocalyptic economic facts in their industry ...

Living like a moth

Michael Ignatieff, 19 April 1990

The Other Russia: The Experience of Exile 
by Michael Glenny and Norman Stone.
Faber, 475 pp., £14.99, March 1990, 0 571 13574 9
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Inferences on a Sabre 
by Claudio Magris, translated by Mark Thompson.
Polygon, 87 pp., £9.95, May 1990, 0 7486 6036 4
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... Atlantis of the European mind, as vivid beneath the waves as it was above them. Norman Stone and Michael Glenny’s book is a scrapbook of Atlantis, an oral history of survivors from the sinking. Many of them were in their eighties when Glenny’s tape-recorder finally reached them in their close, cluttered rooms and for this alone – preserving these ...

The Charm before the Storm

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 9 July 1987

Speak, Memory 
by Vladimir Nabokov.
Penguin, 242 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 14 008623 4
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The Russian Album 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 191 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3109 8
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The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff 
prepared in association with by Sonja Sinclair.
Toronto, 265 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 8020 2556 0
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A Little of All These: An Estonian Childhood 
by Tania Alexander.
Cape, 165 pp., £12.50, March 1987, 0 224 02400 0
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... way, I inherited an exquisite simulacrum – the beauty of intangible property, unreal estate.’ Michael Ignatieff was born in Canada in the 1940s. ‘My friends,’ he remarks a little sheepishly at the start of his book, ‘had suburban pasts or pasts they would rather not talk about. I had a past of Tsarist adventurers, survivors of ...

The Interregnum

Martin Jacques: The Nation-state isn’t dead, 5 February 2004

Empire of Capital 
by Ellen Meiksins Wood.
Verso, 182 pp., £15, July 2003, 1 85984 502 9
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Empire Lite: Nation-Building in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Vintage, 134 pp., £6.99, May 2003, 0 09 945543 9
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Global Civil Society? 
by John Keane.
Cambridge, 220 pp., £40, April 2003, 0 521 81543 6
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Global Civil Society: An Answer to War 
by Mary Kaldor.
Polity, 189 pp., £45, April 2003, 0 7456 2757 9
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... but between American military strength and that of all other major powers. She argues, as does Michael Ignatieff, that, in contrast to a war against a nation-state, a war against terrorism is, by definition, unwinnable. But, far from being a military absurdity, for Meiksins Wood this is precisely its point. The new American doctrine is based on war ...

Longing for Croydon

Luke Jennings, 7 February 1991

Them: Voices from the Immigrant Community in Contemporary Britain 
by Jonathon Green.
Secker, 421 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 436 20005 8
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The Golden Thread: Asian Experiences of Post-Raj Britain 
by Zerbanoo Gifford.
Pandora, 236 pp., £17.99, October 1990, 0 04 440605 3
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... for life’s shortness. The voices can be divided. The experiences of, for example, Kathy Acker or Michael Ignatieff are very different from those of the men and women who arrived in Britain from Africa and Asia. Of these, some had a start in their new lives, some had none. By and large, the blacker and poorer they were, the worse time they had. And many ...

Short Cuts

James Meek: Anglospheroids, 21 March 2013

... and liberty tradition’ of the heirs of Runnymede. Defending the book against criticism from Michael Ignatieff, and thinking, perhaps, of a continuation of the line connecting two European revolutions that so preoccupied him, the French and the Russian, Conquest described the European Union as an ‘(immensely corrupt) bureaucratic and regulationist ...

Short Cuts

Chase Madar: Human Rights Window Dressing, 2 July 2015

... on human rights in the reworked US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. Or Michael Posner, the founder of Human Rights First, now a business professor at NYU, who, as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour in Obama’s first term, helped bury the Goldstone Report, commissioned by the United Nations to ...

Among the quilters

Peter Campbell, 21 March 1991

Asya 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 313 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 7011 3509 3
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Health and Happiness 
by Diane Johnson.
Chatto, 260 pp., £13.99, January 1991, 0 7011 3597 2
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Happenstance 
by Carol Shields.
Fourth Estate, 388 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 1 872180 08 6
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... Asya, the heroine of Michael Ignatieff’s novel of revolution and exile, is born into an aristocratic Russian family in 1900. As a child, she nearly drowns walking out over the thawing ice beneath which the River Vasousa roars. She has a vision there of a great skater. Her brush with death changes her and leaves her with a belief ‘even when fear had her in its clasp ...

Dangers of Discretion

Alex de Waal: International law, 21 January 1999

Dunant’s Dream: War, Switzerland and the History of the Red Cross 
by Caroline Moorehead.
HarperCollins, 780 pp., £24.99, May 1998, 0 00 255141 1
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The Warrior’s Honour: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 207 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 0 7011 6324 0
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... civilian property, but not to overdo it. Rather than enforceability, the law appeals to what Michael Ignatieff aptly calls ‘the warrior’s honour’. The British Government’s accession to the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions illustrates the negotiated pragmatism of the laws of war. The Protocols were finalised in 1977, but it was ...

On and off the page

Thomas Nagel, 25 July 1991

Isaiah Berlin: A Celebration 
by Edna Margalit and Avishai Margalit.
Hogarth, 224 pp., £25, June 1991, 0 7012 0925 9
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... difficult questions, discussed by Leon Wieseltier in ‘Two Concepts of Secularism’ and by Michael Ignatieff in ‘Understanding Fascism’. On the subject of positive and negative liberty, the essays by Ronald Dworkin and Yael Tamir form a complementary pair. Dworkin shows how the conflation of positive with negative liberty, which Berlin ...

Designing criminal policy

David Garland, 10 October 1991

Reconstructing the Criminal: Culture, Law and Policy in England, 1830-1914 
by Martin Wiener.
Cambridge, 391 pp., £30, February 1991, 9780521350457
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... much more sceptical and critical than the first. Writers such as Douglas Hay, E.P. Thompson, Michael Ignatieff, and especially Michel Foucault, retold the story in a much more analytical and sophisticated way, showing how criminal justice developments were tied into wider social movements such as the rise of capitalism, the expansion of the ...

Return of the real

A.D. Nuttall, 23 April 1992

Uncritical Theory: Post-Modernism, Intellectuals and the Gulf War 
by Christopher Norris.
Lawrence and Wishart, 218 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 85315 752 9
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... who doesn’t believe a word he says rapidly becomes both boring and futile. Norris says that Michael Ignatieff misread Hume, in a piece he wrote for the Observer. Hume, notoriously, pointed out that you cannot argue from an Is to an Ought; you can heap up factual statements until the cows come home, but your ethical conclusion will not ...

Moderation or Death

Christopher Hitchens: Isaiah Berlin, 26 November 1998

Isaiah Berlin: A Life 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 386 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7011 6325 9
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The Guest from the Future: Anna Akhmatova and Isaiah Berlin 
by György Dalos.
Murray, 250 pp., £17.95, September 2002, 0 7195 5476 4
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... you will not be astonished to learn, was ‘grey’ in the opinion of the Bundys.)Now, I know that Michael Ignatieff was aware of the existence of the above correspondence at least a year ago. And I also urged Bird to send it to him. But the Vietnam drama takes up less than a page of his biography, and mentions Berlin’s real positions not at all. We are ...

Dependence and Danger

Paul Seabright, 4 July 1985

Passion: An Essay on Personality 
by Roberto Mangabeira Unger.
Collier Macmillan, 300 pp., £13.95, September 1984, 9780029331200
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The Needs of Strangers 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 156 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 7011 2866 6
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... ethics, and the problem of solidarity much as it is posed by Unger, are two of the main themes in Michael Ignatieff’s The Needs of Strangers. ‘What do we need in order to be human?’ asks the blurb. ‘Whose needs have we the right to speak for, ours alone or those of the strangers at our door?’ Ignatieff is a ...

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