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They would have laughed

Ferdinand Mount: The Massacre at Amritsar, 4 April 2019

Amritsar 1919: An Empire of Fear and the Making of a Massacre 
by Kim A. Wagner.
Yale, 325 pp., £20, February 2019, 978 0 300 20035 5
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... massacre has been told many times, but rarely with such narrative vigour and moral passion as by Kim Wagner in this centenary account. He quotes at length from Dyer’s own evidence to the commission of inquiry led by Lord Hunter, who had been solicitor general for Scotland in the Asquith government. Again and again, Dyer convicts himself out of his own ...

Who were they?

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: ‘Thuggee’, 3 December 2009

Stranglers and Bandits: A Historical Anthology of ‘Thuggee’ 
edited by Kim Wagner.
Oxford, 318 pp., £22.99, January 2009, 978 0 19 569815 2
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... mixture of bandits, freebooters and warrior-ascetics a specific group called the ‘Thugs’. As Kim Wagner’s anthology shows, they did not invent the term. Wagner begins with excerpts from articles by the Indologists Wilhelm Halbfass and Paul Dundas, suggesting that the word thaka or thaga can be found at least as ...

The Koreans and their Enemies

Jon Halliday, 17 December 1992

Korea Old and New: A History 
by Carter Eckert, Ki-baik Lee, Young Ick Lew, Michael Robinson and Edward Wagner.
Harvard, 454 pp., £11.95, September 1991, 0 9627713 0 9
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The Wilder Shores of Marx: Journeys in a Vanishing World 
by Anthony Daniels.
Hutchinson, 202 pp., £16.99, April 1991, 9780091741532
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... a delegate to the World Youth Festival), Daniels saw more than many who have spent much longer in Kim II Sung’s narcissistic ‘paradise’. ‘North Korea,’ he observes, ‘was not so much a factory of flattery as a forced labour camp for it.’ It is a society dominated by fear. Daniels encountered one of the many surrealist mini-dramas which ...

What does a chicken know of bombs?

David Thomson: A Key to Brando, 25 November 2019

The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando 
by William J. Mann.
HarperCollins, 718 pp., £22, November 2019, 978 0 06 242764 9
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... Brando from Shattuck Military Academy in Minnesota, probably because his favourite teacher, Earle Wagner, suddenly turned on him. Wagner was himself fired from the Academy later for sexual involvement with cadets.This backstory is well told, and the connecting of the two incidents is persuasive: Brando was very ...

On the imagining of conspiracy

Christopher Hitchens, 7 November 1991

Harlot’s Ghost 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 1122 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7181 2934 2
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A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs 
by Theodore Draper.
Hill and Wang, 690 pp., $27.95, June 1991, 0 8090 9613 7
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... allow it to be heard. The Commission had announced Stephen Foster when they were actually playing Wagner. Surely, critics who had followed the true score should have pointed that out? A good question, but perhaps one that only literature can answer. ‘Critics’ – the press, the academics, the think-tankers – do not care to admit that they missed the ...

Ten Typical Days in Trump’s America

Eliot Weinberger: Ten (More) Days in America, 25 October 2018

... showing his Democratic challenger, Nate McMurray, speaking in Korean, juxtaposed with a photo of Kim Jong-un, and claims that McMurray is offering to outsource American jobs. It ends: ‘You can take Nate McMurray at his word.’ (McMurray has served on various US-Korea government trade panels and is married to a Korean. Collins has been indicted and is ...

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