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Inga Clendinnen: Raul Hilberg’s Sources of Holocaust Research

23 May 2002
Sources of Holocaust Research: An Analysis 
by Raul Hilberg.
Ivan Dee, 218 pp., $26, September 2001, 1 56663 379 6
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Neighbours: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland 
by Jan Gross.
Princeton, 261 pp., £12.95, May 2001, 0 691 08667 2
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... experienced killers among the men who attacked the Jedwabne Jews with clubs, knives, spikes, rocks, water and fire (the Germans had refused them guns), but the bulk of the work was done by local men. JanGross cannot reconstruct what happened that day from contemporary records, because there are none. The Germans, not long arrived in the town, permitted the action, but they neither participated nor ...

Those Streets Over There

John Connelly: The Warsaw Rising

24 June 2004
Rising ’44: ‘The Battle for Warsaw’ 
by Norman Davies.
Pan, 752 pp., £9.99, June 2004, 0 330 48863 5
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... at 100,000.’ Polish historians believe that Poles massacred Jews in 24 towns in the summer and autumn of 1941. In July 1941, Poles in Jedwabne murdered Jews in a day-long pogrom, as we know from JanGross’s book Neighbours, published in 2001. Since then, Polish researchers have located 23 other towns where Poles massacred Jews. Ignoring this research and citing no sources, Davies claims that ...
7 January 2010
... ye whole visible Hemisphere in colour like Lead-vapours or a tall Frescoo ceiling, or marbled veined grotto. All symphonicall to my Genius, regaling my cloud-born, my Nubigenous Genius, Black clouds, gross & mineral fumes vomited out of a Cupella; Aeriall nitre, black lists, Clouds heaped in cliffs, dreadfull & vast; and winds, violent & furious so as to Rock the Turret until I could not write, and ...

They’re just not ready

Neal Ascherson: Gorbachev Betrayed

7 January 2010
Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment 
by Stephen Kotkin, with Jan Gross.
Modern Library, 240 pp., $24, October 2009, 978 0 679 64276 3
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Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire 
by Victor Sebestyen.
Weidenfeld, 451 pp., £25, July 2009, 978 0 297 85223 0
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There Is No Freedom without Bread: 1989 and the Civil War that Brought Down Communism 
by Constantine Pleshakov.
Farrar, Straus, 289 pp., $26, November 2009, 978 0 374 28902 7
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1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe 
by Mary Elise Sarotte.
Princeton, 321 pp., £20.95, November 2009, 978 0 691 14306 4
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... seems unbearable to put up with these preposterous little autocrats for another week, another day, another hour. So the people went into the street, and reform turned into collapse. Here Kotkin and Gross have an interesting analysis. Kotkin is contemptuous of theories which argue that ‘civil society’ asserted itself. There was no civil society in those nations, he claims – with the significant ...

A Little Swine

Sheila Fitzpatrick: On Snitching

3 November 2005
Comrade Pavlik: The Rise and Fall of a Soviet Boy Hero 
by Catriona Kelly.
Granta, 352 pp., £17.99, May 2005, 1 86207 747 9
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... me that the historical record bears this out, there is no doubt that denunciation flourished in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and the postwar Soviet-style regimes in Eastern Europe. The sociologist JanGross developed the ingenious theory that denunciations constituted a form of ‘privatisation’ of the totalitarian state, since they enabled individuals to draw on the state’s coercive power to ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Good Enough to Eat

24 January 2008
... hunt with the mallard, rabbit (or is it a hare?) and deer they have killed. That is what Joseph Parrocel shows in a painting of around 1700: when still furred and feathered as they are here, or in Jan Weenix’s study of a hound and game, dead creatures trigger a tactile appetite – how would it feel to stroke the fur? – rather than a culinary one. The single detail I found in a painting in the ...

Guerrilla International

Caroline Moorehead

6 August 1981
The Terror Network: The Secret War of International Terrorism 
by Claire Sterling.
Weidenfeld, 357 pp., £7.95, June 1981, 0 297 77968 0
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... wing think-tanks. The one ‘proof’ she offers for the Kremlin’s strategy is an interview by Michael Ledeen, editor of the Washington Quarterly Review (of the Georgetown Institute) with General Jan Sejna of Czechoslovakia, who defected to the United States in 1968. The General said nothing publicly on the subject of terrorism at the time of his defection. In 1980, when he was interviewed by ...
30 January 1992
A Cultural History of Gestures: From Antiquity to the Present 
edited by Jan​ Bremmer and Herman Roodenburg.
Polity, 220 pp., £35, December 1991, 0 7456 0786 1
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The New Oxford Book of 17th-Century Verse 
by Alastair Fowler.
Oxford, 830 pp., £25, November 1991, 0 19 214164 3
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... grammars’ investigated by other contributors range from that governing posture in Classical Greece to that governing masculinity in contemporary Andalusia. There are some fascinating vignettes. Jan Bremmer reveals that an Athenian male who swayed his hips when he walked, or looked over his shoulder, or inclined his head to one side, was quite likely to be classified as a passive homosexual ...

Regret is a shabby thing

Bernard Porter: Knut Hamsun

27 May 2010
Knut Hamsun: Dreamer and Dissenter 
by Ingar Sletten Kolloen, translated by Deborah Dawkin and Erik Skuggevik.
Yale, 378 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 300 12356 2
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Knut Hamsun: The Dark Side of Literary Brilliance 
by Monika Zagar.
Washington, 343 pp., £19.99, May 2009, 978 0 295 98946 4
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... literally. Monika Žagar was provoked to write Knut Hamsun: The Dark Side to counter the ‘whitewashing’ of Hamsun which, as she sees it, continues to this day. Included in her indictment are Jan Troell’s 1996 biopic of his later years, Hamsun, with Max von Sydow playing the elderly author, on the whole sympathetically; Ingar Sletten Kolloen’s first, two-volume version of his biography ...

A Winter Mind

John Burnside

25 April 2013
... for. The skies above those frozen rivers could be translucent, almost blinding, touched with willow pattern blue or peach or an elusive pigeon grey, or the dark, textured gold of old vellum, as in Jan van Goyen’s Winter Landscape with Skaters or Hendrick Avercamp’s Scene on the Ice Near a Town, but no matter how bright or dark the heavens, how empty or crowded the ice, what was important was ...


John Sturrock

20 February 1986
Handbook of Russian Literature 
edited by Victor Terras.
Yale, 558 pp., £25, April 1985, 0 300 03155 6
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Verbal Art, Verbal Sign, Verbal Time 
by Roman Jakobson, edited by Krystyna Pomorska and Stephen Rudy.
Blackwell, 208 pp., £25, July 1985, 0 631 14262 2
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Historic Structures: The Prague School Project 1928-1946 
by F.W. Galan.
Croom Helm, 250 pp., £22.50, May 1985, 0 7099 3816 0
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Mikhail Bakhtin 
by Katerina Clark and Michael Holquist.
Harvard, 398 pp., £19.95, February 1985, 0 674 57416 8
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The Formal Method in Literary Scholarship: A Critical Introduction to Sociological Poetics 
by M.M. Bakhtin and P.M. Medvedev, translated by Albert Wehrle.
Harvard, 191 pp., £7.50, May 1985, 0 674 30921 9
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Dialogues between Roman Jakobson and Krystyna Pomorska 
translated by Christian Hubert.
Cambridge, 186 pp., £15, August 1983, 0 521 25113 3
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The Dialogical Principle 
by Tzvetan Todorov, translated by Wlad Godzich.
Manchester, 132 pp., £25, February 1985, 0 7190 1466 2
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Rabelais and his World 
by Mikhail Bakhtin, translated by Hélène Iswolsky.
Indiana, 484 pp., $29.50, August 1984, 0 253 20341 4
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... Time, and is the best thing in the book, which is an otherwise random and insufficient selection of his essays – is more fatalistic than angry: for Jakobson, Russia has always been a society too gross to support such fine geniuses as Mayakovsky. Rather than dwell on the poet’s fate, Jakobson turns to the characterisation of his poetry. Jakobson remained in Prague until the Nazis came, teaching ...

Who whom?

Christopher Ricks

6 June 1985
The English Language Today 
edited by Sidney Greenbaum.
Pergamon, 345 pp., £12.50, December 1984, 0 08 031078 8
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The English Language 
by Robert Burchfield.
Oxford, 194 pp., £9.50, January 1985, 9780192191731
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A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language 
by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan​ Svartvik.
Longman, 1779 pp., £39.50, May 1985, 0 582 51734 6
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by John Silverlight.
Macmillan, 107 pp., £17.50, May 1985, 9780333380109
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Faux Amis and Key Words: A Dictionary-Guide to French Language, Culture and Society through Lookalikes and Confusables 
by Philip Thody, Howard Evans and Gwilym Rees.
Athlone, 224 pp., £16, February 1985, 0 485 11243 4
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by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 631 13793 9
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Fair of Speech: The Uses of Euphemism 
edited by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 222 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 19 212236 3
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... 18th and 19th-century novel; and she points out that ‘maidenhead’ was a euphemism. Diane Johnson and John Murray, on doctors and their proper self-protection, mention ‘consumption’. And John Gross, in a finely judged and moving essay on ‘Intimations of Mortality’, offers a grim humane reminder that some, still, of the uses of euphemism (pace Enright’s cry, ‘Come back, euphemism, all is ...

Good enough for Jesus

Charlotte Brewer

25 January 1990
The State of the Language: 1990 Edition 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels.
Faber, 531 pp., £17.50, January 1990, 9780571141821
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Clichés and Coinages 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 305 pp., £17.50, October 1989, 0 631 15691 7
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Rhetoric: The Wit of Persuasion 
by Walter Nash.
Blackwell, 241 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 631 16754 4
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... straightforwardly, language is seen as something that buoys up the Establishment, and explicitly or implicitly downgrades the feelings and experiences of a minority group. In ‘Aids: Keywords’, Jan Zita Grover runs through a lexicon of Aids vocabulary after the manner of Raymond Williams, angrily expounding the ways in which PLWA (people living with Aids) are linguistically punished by the rest ...

Devoted to Terror

Thomas Laqueur: How the Camps Were Run

23 September 2015
KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps 
by Nikolaus Wachsmann.
Little Brown, 865 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 0 316 72967 3
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... of individual lives and moments, and of historical forces great and small, his subject emerges. It is no ordinary world. ‘There are times when history is let off the leash,’ the Polish academic Jan Kott remembered one of his teachers saying of the war years. Wachsmann understands this. No criminal operation has left as much evidence, great mountains of it, as the concentration camps. Wachsmann ...


Barbara Everett

2 April 1987
... In this haunt of the Old Devils there is something strikingly reminiscent of one of Larkin’s most potent small poems, the Dutch 17th-century genre-painting of a tavern, at once radiant and very gross, which he called ‘The Card-Players’. The Larkin poem possesses a rich calm moral abstraction that works against and yet through its earthy image of what happens when, in the company of ‘Jan van ...

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