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Who will stop them?

Owen Hatherley: The Neo-Elite, 22 October 2014

The Establishment and How They Get Away with It 
by Owen Jones.
Allen Lane, 335 pp., £16.99, September 2014, 978 1 84614 719 7
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... Part​ of what makes Owen Jones such a phenomenally successful figure by left-of-Labour standards is his ability to be several things at once. He is both insider, reporting back to ‘us’ about what ‘they’ think, and outsider, as shocked and angry about it as ‘we’ might be. He was brought up in Sheffield, Falkirk and Stockport and speaks in a sharp Mancunian accent, but he is also an Oxford graduate, with all the connections that can entail ...

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough, 21 October 2015

... finally to stunned resignation. A scattering of dissident voices on the payroll – Seumas Milne, Owen Jones, Zoe Williams, George Monbiot – were drowned out by a host of detractors, from within the paper and without: Tim Bale, Nick Cohen, Anne Perkins, Michael White, Martin Kettle, Peter Hain, Alan Johnson, Tony Blair (twice), Jonathan ...

Diary

Owen Bennett-Jones: Night Shifts at Bush House, 8 July 1993

... opportunity to end its civil war. In Bosnia some of the political groundwork has been done by Lord Owen and Cyrus Vance. But it’s been futile without military commitment. Since the Bosnian Serbs and Croats view the UN forces in Bosnia with contempt, they have felt no need to make any serious political commitments or compromises. Western policy not only lacks ...

One Click at a Time

Owen Hatherley, 29 June 2016

PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future 
by Paul Mason.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £8.99, June 2016, 978 0 14 197529 0
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Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World without Work 
by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams.
Verso, 256 pp., £12.99, October 2015, 978 1 78478 096 8
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... In thinking about how we got here, Srnicek and Williams – like so many recent writers, from Owen Jones to Mark Fisher to Philip Mirowski – lay great stress on the think-tanks (the Mont Pelerin Society and the like) that had their solutions ready when Keynesianism faltered in the mid-1970s. The ‘folk politics’ of Climate Camps, single-issue ...

After Ceausescu

Owen Bennett-Jones, 25 January 1990

... Same brothel, different whores’: the words chosen by Valentin Gabrielescu of the re-created National Peasants’ Party to express his opinion of Romania’s provisional government, the National Salvation Front. And he’s by no means alone in distrusting Romania’s new rulers. From the lunch tables of the elegantly-appointed restaurant in the Writers’ Union to the raucous student meetings all over Bucharest, the Front, as it calls itself, attracts puzzled enquiry, suspicion and, as often as not, angry derision ...

Further to Fall

Owen Bennett-Jones, 21 August 1997

Switzerland Unwrapped: Exposing the Myths 
by Mitya New.
Tauris, 210 pp., £18.95, June 1997, 1 86064 300 0
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Blood Money 
by Tom Bower.
Macmillan, 387 pp., £16.99, March 1997, 0 333 71517 9
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... For forty years after the Second World War, the Swiss had every reason to believe that theirs was the optimal form of government. There was political and social stability, full employment, virtually no crime and, for a time, the highest per capita income in the world. Switzerland’s system of government with its many celebrated peculiarities was not only unique but uniquely successful ...

After the Revolution

Owen Bennett-Jones, 20 December 1990

... The thrice-weekly flights of Romania’s national airline Tarom from Bucharest to London have an atmosphere all their own. In the bleak waiting-room, most of the passengers stand and settle in for the inevitable delay. The room contains a few Romanians excited to be on their way to Western Europe and many more West Europeans delighted to be on their way back to civilisation as they know it ...

What Fred Did

Owen Bennett-Jones: Go-Betweens in Northern Ireland, 22 January 2015

... There is​ a sentence in Jonathan Powell’s Talking to Terrorists: How to End Armed Conflicts that raises intriguing questions about how the Northern Ireland peace process got underway.* ‘Martin McGuinness,’ Powell writes, ‘still denies sending the message stating that “our war is over” which started the correspondence with John Major, and it is pretty clear in retrospect that one of the intermediaries in the chain between the government and the IRA did in fact embellish the message ...

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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... Should​ women carry out knife attacks? In the September issue of its Inspire Guide, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula argued against it. In October an article in the Islamic State publication Rumiyah (‘Rome’) took the opposite view. Having discussed possible targets – ‘a drunken kafir on a quiet road returning home after a night out, or an average kafir working his night shift’ – the magazine praised three women who, on 11 September, were shot dead as they stabbed two officers in a Mombasa police station ...

The Second Resolution Question

Owen Bennett-Jones: Post-Invasion Iraq, 31 May 2017

Iraq: The Cost of War 
by Jeremy Greenstock.
Heinemann, 467 pp., £25, November 2016, 978 1 78515 125 5
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... Jeremy Greenstock​ was the UK ambassador to the United Nations during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq and then the special envoy for Iraq, based in Baghdad during the occupation. Obviously he wrote his memoirs with a view to having them published. Mistakes had been made in Iraq and there was public interest in what knowledgeable insiders had to say about them ...

Terrorists? Us?

Owen Bennett-Jones, 7 June 2012

Terror Tagging of an Iranian Dissident Organisation 
by Raymond Tanter.
Iran Policy Committee, 217 pp., £10, December 2011, 978 0 9797051 2 0
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... They include Rudy Giuliani, Howard Dean, Obama’s former national security adviser General James Jones and the former congressman Lee Hamilton. The rate for a speech is between $20,000 and $40,000 for ten minutes. Subject matter is not a concern: some speakers deliver speeches that barely mention the MEK. In recent months the Obama administration has ...

Bunches of Guys

Owen Bennett-Jones: Just the Right Amount of Violence, 19 December 2013

Decoding al-Qaida’s Strategy: The Deep Battle against America 
by Michael Ryan.
Columbia, 368 pp., £23.15, September 2013, 978 0 231 16384 2
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The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organisations 
by Jacob Shapiro.
Princeton, 352 pp., £19.95, July 2013, 978 0 691 15721 4
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... by the West’s hatred of Islam. The actions of a few fringe figures such as Pastor Terry Jones who do indeed seem to hate Islam are then cited as supporting evidence. One aspect of the US’s use of torture, incidentally, has received too little attention. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded no fewer than 183 times. At some point he worked out ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: David Jones’s War, 19 March 2015

... Last year​ – year one of the Great War centenary – David Jones’s In Parenthesis, a long prose-and-verse evocation of his first months as a soldier, got a decent outing. The poet Owen Sheers drew on the text for his play Mametz at National Theatre Wales in the summer; Faber reissued the book with T ...

Bardism

Tom Shippey: The Druids, 9 July 2009

Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 491 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 300 14485 7
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... of the three-volume Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales (completed in 1807 and named for its sponsor Owen Jones, aka Owain Myfyr) with his many interpolations into the genuinely ancient ‘Triads of the Island of Britain’. His forgeries – for there is no doubt about his literary talent – were only slowly unravelled. Even more significant, though, is ...

Serried Yuppiedromes

Owen Hatherley: What happened to London?, 20 August 2014

Guide to the Architecture of London 
by Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward.
Phoenix, 511 pp., £16.99, July 2013, 978 1 78022 493 0
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... last thirty years is to compare the introductions to the first and most recent editions of Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward’s Guide to the Architecture of London. In 1983, they wrote of a city in decline, its population down by about a sixth from its postwar height. ‘London is cleaner and uglier than it was at the beginning of the century; but it is ...

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