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Islamic State v. al-Qaida

Owen Bennett-Jones

3 November 2016
Isis: A History 
by Fawaz A. Gerges.
Princeton, 368 pp., £19.95, March 2016, 978 0 691 17000 8
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Isis: Inside the Army of Terror 
by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan.
Regan Arts, 411 pp., £12.99, April 2016, 978 1 68245 029 1
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Irregular War: Isis and the New Threat from the Margins 
by Paul Rogers.
I.B. Tauris, 224 pp., £18.99, June 2016, 978 1 78453 488 2
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... city’s residents can hope to escape notice by obeying the rules and keeping a low profile. Under the militias, that wouldn’t be enough. People fear IS but some fear its opponents even more. As MichaelWeiss and Hassan Hassan argue, the strategy of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s al-Qaida in Iraq, the forerunner of Islamic State, has been posthumously vindicated. Zarqawi argued that the mass murder of ...

What Family Does to You

Eleanor Birne: Anne Enright

18 October 2007
The Gathering 
by Anne Enright.
Cape, 261 pp., £12.99, May 2007, 978 0 224 07873 3
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... then unpiles them again because there are people starving in Africa and her brother has just died and he never went into a shop. She finds herself thinking about the first boy she loved, the gentle MichaelWeiss; she wonders whether he too has succumbed to the middle-class dream. She needs – in some larger, vaguer way – to decide how to live her life. She has money, but she needs a purpose and a ...

The Hijackers

Hugh Roberts: What will happen to Syria?

15 July 2015
From Deep State to Islamic State: The Arab Counter-Revolution and Its Jihadi Legacy 
by Jean-Pierre Filiu.
Hurst, 328 pp., £15.99, July 2015, 978 1 84904 546 9
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Syrian Notebooks: Inside the Homs Uprising 
by Jonathan Littell.
Verso, 246 pp., £12.99, April 2015, 978 1 78168 824 3
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The Rise of Islamic State: Isis and the New Sunni Revolution 
by Patrick Cockburn.
Verso, 192 pp., £9.99, January 2015, 978 1 78478 040 1
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Isis: Inside the Army of Terror 
by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan.
Regan Arts, 288 pp., £12.99, February 2015, 978 1 941393 57 4
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... something else. Cockburn provides an invaluable history of IS along with a powerful critique of Western policy in Iraq and Syria and an unsparing analysis of Shia politics in Baghdad. In their book MichaelWeiss and Hassan Hassan lean much further towards Filiu’s thesis, that the rise of IS can be blamed in large part on the Assad regime, and they devote a chapter to the dealings between the Syrian ...

I Could Sleep with All of Them

Colm Tóibín: The Mann Family

6 November 2008
In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story 
by Andrea Weiss.
Chicago, 302 pp., £14.50, May 2008, 978 0 226 88672 5
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... in 1906, and that Thomas loved Erika, the eldest, born in 1905, and also Elisabeth, born in 1918. The other three – the barely tolerated ones – were Golo, born in 1909, Monika, born in 1910, and Michael, born in 1919. Erika remembered a time during the shortages of the First World War when food had to be divided but there was one fig left over. ‘What did my father do? He gave this fig just to me ...

Exhibitionists

Hal Foster: Curation

3 June 2015
Ways of Curating 
by Hans Ulrich Obrist.
Penguin, 192 pp., £9.99, March 2015, 978 0 241 95096 8
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Curationism: How Curating Took Over the Art World – And Everything Else 
by David Balzer.
Pluto, 140 pp., £8.99, April 2015, 978 0 7453 3597 1
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... academics were attracted to theory while most curators stuck to connoisseurship. This divide was less marked between academics and curators who worked on premodern periods – the Renaissance expert Michael Baxandall, for example, was greatly respected in both worlds – and some curators of 20th-century art are much admired in the academy (the Museum of Modern Art in New York has had a string of such ...
27 January 2020
A Cultural History of Tragedy: Vols I-VI 
edited by Rebecca Bushnell.
Bloomsbury Academic, 1302 pp., £395, November 2019, 978 1 4742 8814 9
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... itself into a theatre, as the citizens who had learned to assess complex issues in the law courts and the democratic assembly brought their forensic powers to bear on Medea and Agamemnon. As Naomi Weiss points out, plays were a multimedia, multisensory experience, with music, dance, costumes and special effects – more like a rock concert than the Royal Court. Isabelle Torrance insists on tragic ...

Wrecking Ball

Adam Shatz: Trump’s Racism

6 September 2017
... In late July​ , HBO unveiled plans for a new show set in an alternative reality, in which the Confederate South, led by General Robert E. Lee, has successfully seceded from the Union. D.B. Weiss, one of the producers of Confederate, explained the thinking behind the series: ‘What would the world have looked like if Lee had sacked DC, if the South had won – that just always fascinated me ...

Miss Lachrymose

Liz Brown: Doris Day’s Performances

11 September 2008
Doris Day: The Untold Story of the Girl Next Door 
by David Kaufman.
Virgin, 628 pp., £29.95, June 2008, 978 1 905264 30 8
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... private life. ‘It sounds,’ she once said, ‘like I’m starring at the Gaiety Theater.’ Her brother, Paul, called her Doke. Childhood friends called her Dodo or Didi or Priscilla Preoccupied. Michael Curtiz called her Miss Lachrymose (she could weep on cue). Jack Carson called her Zelda. Fans called her Miss Huckleberry Finn. Film crews called her Nora Neat and Dorothy Detail. A staff assistant ...

Not to Be Read without Shuddering

Adam Smyth: The Atheist’s Bible

20 February 2014
The Atheist’s Bible: The Most Dangerous Book That Never Existed 
by Georges Minois, translated by Lys Ann Weiss.
Chicago, 249 pp., £21, October 2012, 978 0 226 53029 1
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... Machiavelli (1469-1527), whose Prince outlines an instrumental conception of religion as a useful theatre for the new ruler that chimed with a sense of De tribus’s (non-existent) thesis; Michael Servetus (1511-53), burned at the stake; and Bernardino Ochino, author of Disputa intorno (Basel, 1561), and ‘that villain and secretary of hell’ (according to Thomas Browne) who converted to all ...

There is no cure

Michael​ Wood: Freud’s Guesswork

6 July 2006
The Penguin Freud Reader 
edited by Adam Phillips.
Penguin, 570 pp., £14.99, January 2006, 0 14 118743 3
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... In 1936 Freud wrote a letter to Romain Rolland, offering him a speculation about a particular memory as a 70th birthday gift. The memory concerned a trip Freud took to Athens with his brother, and his own ‘curious thought’ at the sight of the Acropolis: ‘So this all really does exist, just as we learned in school!’ Freud describes himself as two people, one making the comment and the other ...

The Mask It Wears

Pankaj Mishra: The Wrong Human Rights

21 June 2018
The People v. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It 
by Yascha Mounk.
Harvard, 400 pp., £21.95, March 2018, 978 0 674 97682 5
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Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World 
by Samuel Moyn.
Harvard, 277 pp., £21.95, April 2018, 978 0 674 73756 3
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... liberals, removed from the cockpit of American power, forage for ideas and inspiration on the lumpen right. The New York Times’s op-ed page lured Bret Stephens, a climate-change denier, and Bari Weiss, a campus agitator known for persecuting Arab scholars, away from the Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal. The Atlantic hired, then a few days later fired, Kevin Williamson, a prose stylist at the ...

American Breakdown

David Bromwich

9 August 2018
... Netanyahu wants. The Netanyahu-Adelson-Trump connection is well known to the US and Israeli press, but it has been emphasised by only a few journalists, including Peter Stone, Amy Wilentz and Philip Weiss. Whatever the malignity of Putin’s design, he will never equal the success of Netanyahu’s speeches to Congress in 2011 and 2015, which received a combined total of 55 standing ovations. Yet any ...

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