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A Minor Irritant to the French Authorities

Fred Halliday, 20 February 1997

Vietnam 1945: The Quest for Power 
by David Marr.
California, 602 pp., $50, October 1995, 0 520 07833 0
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... When the Allies gathered at Potsdam in July 1945 to organise the postwar world, it is unlikely that any of those taking part had ever heard of Vietnam. The actual name had been eliminated, the prewar French colonialists having divided the country into three, and on the surface, the postwar arrangements for that part of Indochina were clear: first, Chinese and British troops would enter and then the French colonial rulers would return ...

Family Business

Fred Halliday, 17 July 1997

... Among the less visible casualties of the recent Aitken libel case was the possibility of improving the quality of discussion about Saudi Arabia, an anomalous state with which, whatever a humanrights oriented Government may intend, Britain will continue to have close relations for many years. The standard negative images of the Kingdom were easy enough to find in the Aitken saga, and have been amply reinforced by coverage of the trial of two expatriate British nurses accused of murdering a colleague ...

Smell of Oil

Fred Halliday, 6 November 1980

Arabia, the Gulf and the West 
by J.B. Kelly.
Weidenfeld, 530 pp., £15, May 1980, 0 297 77759 9
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... The rise to prominence of the countries of the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf has been one of the stranger chapters in recent world history. Within the space of a decade they have come to impose a rather expensive toll upon the world economy, to play a significant if unpredictable part in the calculations of many a firm and government. This emergence has not been without its theatrical elements, nor without its unexpected consequences, among which the fall of the Shah, the tumult of republican Iran and the current Iraq-Iran war must count as the most momentous so far ...

Lying abroad

Fred Halliday, 21 July 1994

by Henry Kissinger.
Simon and Schuster, 912 pp., £25, May 1994, 9780671659912
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True Brits: Inside the Foreign Office 
by Ruth Dudley Edwards.
BBC, 256 pp., £16.99, April 1994, 0 563 36955 8
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Mandarin: The Diaries of Nicholas Henderson 
by Nicholas Henderson.
Weidenfeld, 517 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 297 81433 8
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... The conduct of foreign policy has of late fallen into disrepute. The confusions of the post-Cold War world have made diplomacy seem especially futile. Economic decline has turned attention to the cost of overseas display, and the disappearance of a single external object of confrontation has reduced the public sense that external commitments matter to the country ...

Bring on the hypnotist

Neal Ascherson, 12 March 1992

After the Fall: The Failure of Communism and the Future of Socialism 
edited by Robin Blackburn.
Verso, 327 pp., £32.95, November 1991, 0 86091 540 9
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... long battalions of unemployed under the discipline of the Chicago School.’ Like Hobsbawm, Fred Halliday and Eduardo Galeano in this book, he points out that the enormous influence of the Soviet Union in the post-war world was not all malign, but – in ways which were unintended as well as intended – often positive. The USSR was ‘the ...

Politics and the Prophet

Malise Ruthven, 1 August 1996

Lords of the Lebanese Marches: Violence and Narrative in an Arab Society 
by Michael Gilsenan.
Tauris, 377 pp., £14.95, February 1996, 1 85043 099 3
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The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World 
edited by John L. Esposito.
Oxford, 480 pp., £295, June 1995, 0 19 506613 8
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Unfolding Islam 
by P.J. Stewart.
Garnet, 268 pp., £25, February 1995, 9780863721946
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Islam and the Myth of Confrontation: Religion and Politics in the Middle East 
by Fred Halliday.
Tauris, 256 pp., £35, January 1996, 1 86064 004 4
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... marginalisation, found an anchor ... in their religion’. In Islam and the Myth of Confrontation Fred Halliday attributes the appeal of Islamist movements in the Middle East to the crisis of the postcolonial state – in particular, its inability to meet the economic and cultural aspirations of its people. The movement in Iran ‘has an Islamic ...


Jon Halliday, 2 June 1983

In the Service of the Peacock Throne: The Diaries of the Shah’s Last Ambassador to London 
by Parviz Radji.
Hamish Hamilton, 343 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 241 10960 4
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... own views as ‘nasty’ (an epithet bestowed on a well-argued article in the Times by my brother Fred Halliday, for example). On the other hand, Radji is quite right to feel that there was something demeaning in the way his country’s regime kowtowed to self-interested Londoners. His portrayal of a part of the British ruling stratum is, wittingly and ...

Revolution from Above

Colin Legum, 1 April 1982

The Ethiopian Revolution 
by Fred Halliday and Maxine Molyneux.
Verso, 304 pp., £15, January 1982, 0 86091 043 1
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... possibly be nearer than they are to fastening a Marxist system on a reluctant country. However, as Halliday and Molyneux are at pains to point out, conflict between a revolutionary central government and ethnic or regional forces is common in modern social upheavals, as indeed it was in earlier bourgeois revolutions. The French Revolution was strongly ...

If not in 1997, soon after

Keith Kyle, 21 July 1994

The Rise, Corruption and Coming Fall of the House of Saud 
by Said Aburish.
Bloomsbury, 326 pp., £20, April 1994, 0 7475 1468 2
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... end of the House of Saud, then the West would still be in a better position for having tried. When Fred Halliday published a book about Iran, prophesying a mullah-led revolution, the revolution promptly took place. So it would perhaps be tempting fate to write off Aburish’s scenario for Saudi Arabia. But it is worth remembering the state the Kingdom was ...

A Long Forgotten War

Jenny Diski: Sheila Rowbotham, 6 July 2000

Promise of a Dream: A Memoir of the 1960s 
by Sheila Rowbotham.
Allen Lane, 262 pp., £18.99, July 2000, 0 7139 9446 0
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... of us) to make of her resignation from the editorial board of Black Dwarf? After pro-vanguardist Fred Halliday had dismissed her discussion paper ‘One Law for the Lion and the Ox is Oppression’ with ‘I disagree with you 100 per cent,’ she couldn’t face the next discussion on her paper ‘Cinderella Organises Buttons’. She cowered in the pub ...

Crazy America

Edward Said, 19 March 1981

... a few bombs might frighten rational foes. But was Iran – is Iran – rational?’ Certainly, as Fred Halliday wrote in the Los Angeles Times on 25 January, there was much to be critical of in Iran, religion and unceasing revolutionary turmoil having proved themselves incapable of providing a modern state with the kind of day-to-day decisions likely to ...

Ahead lies – what?

R.W. Johnson, 12 March 1992

Paradigms Lost: The Post Cold War Era 
edited by Chester Hartman and Pedro Vilanova.
Pluto, 205 pp., £10.95, November 1991, 0 7453 0638 1
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The Crisis of Socialism in Europe 
edited by Christiane Lemke and Gary Marks.
Duke, 253 pp., £37.95, March 1992, 0 8223 1197 6
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... disarray as soon as it strays from mere critique. Moreover, a typically shrewd piece from Fred Halliday apart, not even the whole truth about the Third World is being faced. A great deal of environmental damage is due, for example, to simple peasant abuse of the land under the pressure of irresponsible population growth. And it is pointless to ...

Make for the Boondocks

Tom Nairn: Hardt and Negri, 5 May 2005

by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri.
Hamish Hamilton, 426 pp., £20, January 2005, 0 241 14240 7
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... began to struggle out from the chrysalis of the ism. In The Globalisation of World Politics Fred Halliday points out that nationalism has been ‘promoted by processes of globalisation’, and its paradox is to ‘stress the distinct character of states and peoples’ while itself being manifestly a global phenomenon. The phenomenon originated ...


John Burnside: Fred and Rosemary West, 10 December 1998

Happy like Murderers 
by Gordon Burn.
Faber, 390 pp., £17.99, September 1998, 0 571 19546 6
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... Although it sets out to explore the lives of Fred and Rosemary West – along with Peter Sutcliffe, the most notorious figures in recent British criminal history – Happy like Murderers reads more like a novel than a documentary. In this respect, it recalls Truman Capote’s ‘novel of fact’, In Cold Blood, which made compelling fiction out of the brutal and senseless murder of an apparently typical American family in rural Kansas, and created a new genre on the way ...

That was the year that was

Tariq Ali, 24 May 2018

... Trodd, Ken Loach, Tony Garnett, John McGrath. You know, from the cultural milieu. There was Clive, Fred Halliday, later Sheila Rowbotham got involved, and Roger Smith, script editor at the BBC. The French May erupted as we were about to launch the first issue, which had come out looking slightly miserabilist and unimaginative. It was generally felt that ...

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