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Holborn at Heart

Jonathan Parry, 23 January 1997

Disraeli: A Brief Life 
by Paul Smith.
Cambridge, 246 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 521 38150 9
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... It was, rather, a way of asserting his right to power in England, which could be seen as a modern Israel, the most powerful and talented contemporary nation. So England became valuable in two senses: it was the place that he, the wandering outsider, could claim as home, and, because it was global top dog, it gave him the chance to live out the Napoleonic ...

Journeys across Blankness

Jonathan Parry: Mapping the Middle East, 19 October 2017

Dislocating the Orient: British Maps and the Making of the Middle East, 1854-1921 
by Daniel Foliard.
Chicago, 336 pp., £45, April 2017, 978 0 226 45133 6
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... indicates, with affecting but spurious precision, the territorial boundaries of the 12 tribes of Israel, in what the children, like almost everyone else in the 18th and 19th centuries, called the Holy Land. When in 1856 the civil service tried to haul itself into the modern world by holding competitive entry examinations, candidates for junior clerkships in ...

Are we in a war? Do we have an enemy?

Slavoj Žižek: Love Thy Neighbour, 23 May 2002

... in the way the Western media report from the occupied West Bank: when the Israeli Army, in what Israel itself describes as a ‘war’ operation, attacks the Palestinian police and sets about systematically destroying the Palestinian infrastructure, Palestinian resistance is cited as proof that we are dealing with terrorists. This paradox is inscribed into ...

Why the hawks started worrying and learned to hate the Bomb

John Lewis Gaddis: Nuclear weapons, 1 April 1999

The Gift of Time: The Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons 
by Jonathan Schell.
Granta, 240 pp., £9.99, November 1998, 1 86207 230 2
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... abolition to their own and allied governments – Mrs Thatcher was particularly scathing. But as Jonathan Schell points out in The Gift of Time, ‘history often creates a problem whose only real solution lies beyond the pale of current political acceptability.’ Reykjavik expanded the pale: it brought the idea of abolishing nuclear weapons into the ...

Irangate

Edward Said, 7 May 1987

The Jaguar Smile: A Nicaraguan Journey 
by Salman Rushdie.
Picador, 171 pp., £2.95, January 1987, 0 330 29990 5
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Turning the Tide: US Intervention in Central America and the Struggle for Peace 
by Noam Chomsky.
Pluto, 298 pp., £5.95, September 1986, 0 7453 0184 3
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... statements in the Israeli press and elsewhere that all the various contacts maintained between Israel and the Shah have been restored since the Islamic Revolution. Moreover the two cornerstones of Israel’s Iran policy before the Revolution are no less cogent after it: that Iran is a natural ally for ...

I don’t want your revolution

Marco Roth: Jonathan Lethem, 20 February 2014

Dissident Gardens 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Cape, 366 pp., £18.99, January 2014, 978 0 224 09395 8
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... men of the same generation, born in the mid to late 1960s – are Michael Chabon, Junot Díaz and Jonathan Lethem. The books they wrote were interested in popular culture or counterculture as much as in the thoughts and passions of characters. Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000) chronicled the rise of superhero comics in postwar ...
... solace out to Eritrea. Two of the most important protagonists in the Gulf war, Saudi Arabia and Israel, have also been assiduous dabblers in the Horn. As the Eritrean movement shifted away from its conservative Muslim base in the early Seventies towards a higher representation of Christians and a more democratic style, the Saudis used a policy of selective ...

Cyber-Jihad

Charles Glass: What Osama Said, 9 March 2006

The Secret History of al-Qaida 
by Abdel Bari Atwan.
Saqi, 256 pp., £16.99, February 2006, 0 86356 760 6
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Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror 
by Michael Scheuer.
Potomac, 307 pp., £11.95, July 2005, 1 57488 862 5
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Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden 
edited by Bruce Lawrence, translated by James Howarth.
Verso, 292 pp., £10.99, November 2005, 1 84467 045 7
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Osama: The Making of a Terrorist 
by Jonathan Randal.
Tauris, 346 pp., £9.99, October 2005, 1 84511 117 6
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... modus operandi that would increase his media celebrity. The veteran Washington Post correspondent Jonathan Randal, in his detailed and thoroughly researched biography Osama: The Making of a Terrorist, noted that in 1996 ‘he crossed the threshold from a war of words against Saudi Arabia and the United States and planning violent operations to ...

We came, we saw, he died

Jackson Lears: Clinton’s Creed, 5 February 2015

Hard Choices 
by Hillary Clinton.
Simon and Schuster, 635 pp., £20, June 2014, 978 1 4711 3150 9
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HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton 
by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.
Hutchinson, 440 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 0 09 195448 2
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... that she and her handlers have been fashioning since the debacle of the 2008 primaries, or so Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes argue in HRC, their inside-dopester account of Clinton’s ‘rebirth’. Allen and Parnes serve as a chorus, commenting portentously on the events described in Hard Choices. Together the two books constitute a vast ...

Manliness

D.A.N. Jones, 20 December 1984

Last Ferry to Manly 
by Jill Neville.
Penguin, 165 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 14 007068 0
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Down from the Hill 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 218 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 246 12517 9
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God Knows 
by Joseph Heller.
Cape, 353 pp., £8.95, November 1984, 0 224 02288 1
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Wilt on High 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 236 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 9780436458118
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... about this hitchhiker, a sort of thriller, but the man starts talking about Handel, listening to Israel in Egypt on the car radio: he had been in a choral society before he was made redundant. They talk of the prophet Isaiah and Paul is moved to think: ‘The television set lives for us, now that we have sold our birthright to the computers.’ He has been ...

Here in Canada

D.A.N. Jones, 21 March 1985

The Engineer of Human Souls 
by Josef Skvorecky, translated by Paul Wilson.
Chatto, 571 pp., £9.95, February 1985, 9780701129316
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The Governess 
by Patricia Angadi.
Gollancz, 181 pp., £8.95, February 1985, 0 575 03485 8
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The Anderson Question 
by Bel Mooney.
Hamish Hamilton, 185 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 9780241114568
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The Centre of the Universe is 18 Baedekerstrasse 
by Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy.
Hamish Hamilton, 199 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 241 11492 6
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... than the Canadians of the 1970s. Rebecca, the only survivor of a family of Jewish sisters, went to Israel. Prema, once an anti-Nazi saboteur, went to Australia but returned to Czechoslovakia in 1968 (just missing Smiricky on his way out) and wrote to him from their hometown, giving the news (mostly bad) about their old friends, and ...

What’s our line?

Henry Gee, 27 January 1994

The Neandertals: Changing the Image of Mankind 
by Eric Trinkaus and Pat Shipman.
Cape, 454 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 224 03648 3
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In Search of the Neanderthals: Solving the Puzzle of Human Origins 
by Christopher Stringer and Clive Gamble.
Thames and Hudson, 247 pp., £18.95, May 1993, 0 500 05070 8
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Self-Made Man and His Undoing 
by Jonathan Kingdon.
Simon and Schuster, 369 pp., £20, March 1993, 0 671 71140 7
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... later. Independent evidence suggests that these Moderns occupied the caves of Mount Carmel in Israel before Neanderthals did (and so could not have evolved from them). The Moderns spread around the world, replacing the indigenous archaic populations by whatever means and the Neanderthals and the other archaic forms died without issue. This is the ...

Doing Well out of War

Jonathan Steele: Chechnya, 21 October 2004

... to come from a small European country, such as Norway, which has already mediated between Israel and the Palestinians and in Sri Lanka. Another is that a European group of ‘eminent persons’ could broker talks. The parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe – to which Russia belongs – has so far been the leading international group on ...

Preacher on a Tank

David Runciman: Blair Drills Down, 7 October 2010

A Journey 
by Tony Blair.
Hutchinson, 718 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 0 09 192555 0
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... himself to do that. He still can’t bring himself to do it when faced with another crisis, the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006. Again, he acknowledges that Hizbullah firing rockets on Israel was ‘a quite deliberate provocation’ and that ‘Israel reacted to the provocation in the way ...

Effing the Ineffable

Glen Newey: Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century by Jonathan Glover, 25 November 1999

Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century 
by Jonathan Glover.
Cape, 469 pp., £18.99, October 1999, 0 224 05240 3
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... under ‘Religion’. As misrepresentations go, it’s not bad: a deity created in our own image. Jonathan Glover’s book is not exclusively about the Holocaust, but unlike many other atrocities chronicled in this lengthy codex it bags a section to itself, and the culminating one: the Final Solution as grand finale. The book’s subtitle is ‘a moral ...

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