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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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... history of the 1944 rising. In it, he traces the fateful call to arms to two men: Leopold Okulicki and Tadeusz Pelczynski, Polish generals who met on 21 July 1944 in a flat in Warsaw. Radio stations were just broadcasting news of the failed attempt on Hitler’s life; Allied and Soviet armies were advancing quickly on Germany. The Nazi regime ...

Such amateurishness …

Neal Ascherson: The Sufferings of a Young Nazi, 30 April 2009

The Kindly Ones 
by Jonathan Littell, translated by Charlotte Mandell.
Chatto, 984 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 0 7011 8165 9
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... who had worked at Auschwitz, some of them prisoners and others SS medical officers on the camp staff. No research comes closer to answering the ‘How could they have?’ question. In the course of the book, Lifton defined two mental strategies adopted by the SS doctors in order to distance themselves from what they were doing and seeing. He called the ...

Nodding and Winking

Stephen W. Smith: Françafrique, 11 February 2010

... to a post-colonial godfather. ‘Do you really think Ali could lose the election?’ I’d asked a staff sergeant at the Doussala border checkpoint. ‘Of course I do! Many people hate him.’ This was three weeks in advance of an unprecedentedly open election: for the first time since Gabon’s independence from France in 1960, there was no incumbent ...

Where Life Is Seized

Adam Shatz: Frantz Fanon’s Revolution, 19 January 2017

Écrits sur l’aliénation et la liberté 
by Frantz Fanon, edited by Robert Young and Jean Khalfa.
La Découverte, 688 pp., £22, October 2015, 978 2 7071 8638 6
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... neither a Muslim ‘native’ nor a white European, Fanon stood at a lonely remove from both the staff and the residents at Blida. He was also a colonial administrator, as Macey observes, occupying ‘the traditional position of the black citizen from an “old colony” with a civilising mission to perform among the North African or black African subjects ...

I only want the OM

Christopher Tayler: Somerset Maugham, 1 September 2005

Somerset Maugham: A Life 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Vintage, 411 pp., £12, April 2005, 1 4000 3052 8
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... In 1926, he bought the Villa Mauresque – the original structure was built in 1906 by Leopold II of Belgium for his personal confessor – and settled in France. Syrie stayed in London, where she was taking a profitable interest in interior design (a reliable mark of bad character in her husband’s later books). They were divorced in ...

One day I’ll tell you what I think

Adam Shatz: Sartre in Cairo, 22 November 2018

No Exit: Arab Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre and Decolonisation 
by Yoav Di-Capua.
Chicago, 355 pp., £26, March 2018, 978 0 226 50350 9
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The Stillborn: Notebooks of a Woman from the Student-Movement Generation in Egypt 
by Arwa Salih, translated by Samah Selim.
Seagull, 163 pp., £20, April 2018, 978 0 85742 483 9
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... fascist I ever met’. He cancelled a meeting with Yitzhak Rabin, then the army chief of staff, protesting that ‘I came to meet the people, the left and civil society, not the military. Besides, I had already spent an excellent evening with this fascist general!’ He even stood up David Ben-Gurion, the founder of the state, while missing none of ...

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