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Short Cuts

Ben Jackson: The Canadian Election, 22 October 2015

... Sometimes​ there’s nothing more useful than bad news. So when it was confirmed at the start of September that Canada’s economy was in recession, the leaders of the opposition parties were turning cartwheels on their way to the stump. ‘The news that is consuming Ottawa today is old hat to Canadians across the country,’ declared Justin Trudeau, the Liberal Party’s youthful leader and the son of Canada’s long-serving prime minister Pierre Trudeau ...

Anti-Party Party

Ben Jackson: The Greens, 7 May 2015

Honourable Friends? Parliament and the Fight for Change 
by Caroline Lucas.
Portobello, 281 pp., £14.99, March 2015, 978 1 84627 593 7
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... Caroline Lucas​ became the Green Party’s first MP when she won Brighton Pavilion in 2010. Two years later she resigned as leader of the party in England and Wales and was replaced by Natalie Bennett. In 2011, the Greens took minority control of Brighton and Hove City Council, and in 2013 Jenny Jones, who has represented the Greens in the London Assembly since 2000, became a peer in the House of Lords ...


Ben Jackson: Watch the World Burn, 9 September 2021

... Earlier​ this summer, pandemic restrictions in Canada began to loosen and my wife, Beth, and I decided to take a trip to British Columbia to visit family and friends we hadn’t seen in eighteen months. At the end of June a devastating heat dome – caused when high pressure clamps hot air over a region for days or weeks – struck western North America, overturning countless temperature records and sparking hundreds of wildfires ...

Don’t talk to pigeons

Ben Jackson: MI5 in WW1, 22 January 2015

MI5 in the Great War 
edited by Nigel West.
Biteback, 434 pp., £25, July 2014, 978 1 84954 670 6
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... At​ the height of spy mania during the First World War, two British agents were sent to East Anglia in a car fitted with a Marconi radio receiver. Their aim was to intercept illicit messages crossing the sea. ‘They left London at noon,’ Basil Thomson, then head of the Met’s Criminal Investigation Department, later recalled in Queer People (1922 ...

Having Fun

Ben Jackson: Online Shaming, 9 April 2015

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed 
by Jon Ronson.
Picador, 277 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 0 330 49228 7
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... popping up, some of them seriously overestimating Upham’s importance by listing him alongside Ben Bernanke or Alvin Roth. Wood tracked down Venture Cap’s head office: the address was for a back entrance next to an Indian restaurant in Manhattan. He had found his way into the world of reputation management firms. There are hundreds of these groups ...

Just about Anything You Want

Ben Jackson: Guerrilla Open Access, 6 October 2016

The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz 
by Aaron Swartz.
Verso, 368 pp., £15.99, February 2016, 978 1 78478 496 6
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... In January​ 2011, Aaron Swartz was arrested for downloading 4.8 million academic articles from the digital archive JSTOR, using a laptop hidden in a broom cupboard on the MIT campus. He was 24, and already a respected and influential computer programmer. As a teenager, he had helped develop RSS, a syndication format that led to the explosion in popularity of blogging, and Markdown, an easy to use tool that converted text to HTML ...

Doomed to Draw

Ben Jackson: Magnus Carlsen v. AI, 6 June 2019

The Grandmaster: Magnus Carlsen and the Match that Made Chess Great Again 
by Brin-Jonathan Butler.
Simon and Schuster, 211 pp., £12.99, November 2018, 978 1 9821 0728 4
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Game Changer: AlphaZero’s Groundbreaking Chess Strategies and the Promise of AI 
by Matthew Sadler and Natasha Regan.
New in Chess, 416 pp., £19.95, January 2019, 978 90 5691 818 7
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... If you know​ anything about Magnus Carlsen, you probably know that he is supposed to be making chess cool. Before he was twenty, he was the subject of two books and a film; in the years since – he’s now 28 and the world’s best chess player – he has been one of Cosmopolitan’s sexiest men and one of Time’s hundred most influential. He is imposingly good-looking; it’s impossible not to be impressed by his quiff, even if his face always looks slightly swollen, as if he’s coming off an especially bad night’s sleep or a mild allergic reaction ...

New Unions for Old

Colin Kidd, 4 March 2021

The Case for Scottish Independence: A History of Nationalist Thought in Modern Scotland 
by Ben Jackson.
Cambridge, 210 pp., £18.99, September 2020, 978 1 108 79318 6
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Standing up for Scotland: Nationalist Unionism and Scottish Party Politics, 1884-2014 
by David Torrance.
Edinburgh, 258 pp., £80, May 2020, 978 1 4744 4781 2
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... North Sea oil, resentment over the poll tax, the closure of the Ravenscraig steelworks. Ben Jackson’s intricate account of the intellectual development of Scottish nationalism marks a highly original departure from the norm, and allows us to distinguish the various progressive themes that have since the 1960s enriched and transformed the ...


Susan Pedersen, 6 October 2011

Structures and Transformations in Modern British History 
edited by David Feldman and Jon Lawrence.
Cambridge, 331 pp., £50, January 2011, 978 0 521 51882 6
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The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain 
edited by Simon Gunn and James Vernon.
California, 271 pp., £20.95, May 2011, 978 0 9845909 5 7
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Classes, Cultures and Politics: Essays on British History for Ross McKibbin 
edited by Clare Griffiths, John Nott and William Whyte.
Oxford, 320 pp., £65, April 2011, 978 0 19 957988 4
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... interests and institutions successfully targeted trade unionists as the enemy within (by Ben Jackson). None of the essays has much truck with grand theory; their authors are no more likely to cite the contributors to the Joyce volume than vice versa; the collection is as miscellaneous as the volume for Stedman Jones. But a higher proportion of ...

Our Founder

John Bayley: Papa Joyce, 19 February 1998

John Stanislaus Joyce: The Voluminous Life and Genius of James Joyce’s Father 
by John Wyse Jackson and Peter Costello.
Fourth Estate, 493 pp., £20, October 1997, 1 85702 417 6
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... and at present a praiser of his own past.’ No wonder that two veteran Joyceans, John Wyse Jackson of the Chelsea Press, editor of Flann O’Brien and Oscar Wilde, and the Dublin social historian Peter Costello, should have been inspired to produce a full-length biography of, so to speak, Our Founder. It is in its way a unique undertaking. Hard to ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Bob Dylan’s Tall Tales, 21 October 2004

... joining him on the Vote for Change tour of battleground states include R.E.M., James Taylor and Jackson Browne, with the Dixie Chicks – whose lead singer, Natalie Maines, got into trouble for saying that they were ashamed of George W. Bush’s Texas connections, though she later apologised for the remark – bringing some relative youth to the ...

Brand New Day

Niela Orr: ‘The Wiz’ and the Prez, 18 March 2021

... a record label, bought the movie rights. The subsequent film, which starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson, as well as Richard Pryor and Lena Horne, was a commercial and critical flop. But it became classic holiday viewing for many Black Americans, including my family. The Wiz is set in late 1970s New York, dingy and rundown, full of dilapidated tenements of ...

Thou shalt wage class war

Gareth Stedman Jones, 1 November 1984

Proletarian Philosophers: Problems in Socialist Culture in Britain 1900-1940 
by Jonathan Rée.
Oxford, 176 pp., £15, February 1984, 0 19 827261 8
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... Federation and was scornful of the religious and political eclecticism of a Tom Mann or a Ben Tillett. Instead, it drew upon the pure and uncontaminated Marxism that it found in the writings of the American socialist, Daniel De Leon. It was from De Leon’s Two Pages of Roman History that the name of the League was coined, and the watchwords of De ...

Pop Eye

Hal Foster: Handmade Readymades, 22 August 2002

Image Duplicator: Roy Lichtenstein and the Emergence of Pop Art 
by Michael Lobel.
Yale, 196 pp., £35, March 2002, 0 300 08762 4
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... painting and its feverish gestures; mainstream critics, who had finally come around to Jackson Pollock and company, were not happy about this turn of events. In 1949 Life had showcased Pollock under the banner: ‘Is He the Greatest Living Painter in the United States?’ In 1964 the same magazine profiled Lichtenstein under the heading: ‘Is He ...

False Moderacy

T.J. Clark: Picasso and Modern British Art, 22 March 2012

Picasso and Modern British Art 
Tate Britain, 15 February 2012 to 15 July 2012Show More
Mondrian Nicholson: In Parallel 
Courtauld Gallery, 16 February 2012 to 20 May 2012Show More
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... Krasner hearing a book go hurtling across the studio next to hers, smashing against a wall, and Jackson Pollock emerging with the words: ‘Goddamn it! That guy has done everything. There’s nothing left.’ But the further point of the anecdote is that Pollock did find ways, eventually, to turn the ‘everything’ to his advantage. That was partly ...

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