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A Tentative Idea for a Lamp

Tim Radford: Thomas Edison, 18 March 1999

Edison: A Life of Invention 
by Paul Israel.
Wiley, 552 pp., £19.50, November 1998, 0 471 52942 7
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... and a way of getting electricity from coal. He also left five million pages of papers and records. Paul Israel’s dense and sometimes exasperating book is a fine example of the ‘many worlds’ theory of biography: Edison was incontestably one of the great Victorians. The Victorian label, however, gets harder to append when it includes people who, like ...

The Israel Lobby

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt: The Israel Lobby, 23 March 2006

... Six-Day War in 1967, the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the ...

‘No view on it’

Paul Foot, 22 October 1992

Nuclear Ambiguity: The Vanunu Affair 
by Yoel Cohen.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 297 pp., £10.99, July 1992, 1 85619 150 8
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... showed during the first years of his ordeal are on the wane. If he does go mad, the authorities in Israel will be delighted. They have always presented Vanunu to the world as a misfit, a wayward semi-loon who, in the interests of his country, is best kept locked up. Vanunu’s loyalty to his country started to dissolve during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, an ...


Gabriele Annan, 7 May 1981

When memory comes 
by Saul Friedländer, translated by Helen Lane.
Faber, 185 pp., £5.50, February 1981, 0 374 28898 4
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... It might be depilating ladies’ legs, but more often it was scrubbing their floors. Pavel – now Paul – was put in a Jewish children’s home, where his mother visited him on Sundays. From his point of view, the fall of France improved matters, because his parents carried him off to a small spa near Montluçon in the unoccupied zone. Néris was full of ...


Ian Gilmour, 23 October 1986

Britain’s Civil Wars: Counter-Insurgency in the 20th Century 
by Charles Townshend.
Faber, 220 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 0 571 13802 0
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Terrorism and the Liberal State 
by Paul Wilkinson.
Macmillan, 322 pp., £25, May 1986, 0 333 39490 9
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Terrorism: How the West can win 
edited by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Weidenfeld, 254 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 79025 0
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Political Murder: From Tyrannicide to Terrorism 
by Franklin Ford.
Harvard, 440 pp., £24.95, November 1985, 0 674 68635 7
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The Financing of Terror 
by James Adams.
New English Library, 294 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 0 450 06086 1
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They dare to speak out: People and institutions confront Israel’s lobby 
by Paul Findley.
Lawrence Hill (Connecticut), 362 pp., $16.95, May 1985, 0 88208 179 9
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... pursuing. In this country sensible discussion of terrorism is still possible. Charles Townshend, Paul Wilkinson and James Adams are immune to the hysteria that has afflicted Reagan’s America. Performing a miracle of compression, Mr Townshend tells the story of British ‘counter-insurgency’ in Ireland, the Middle East, India, Malaya, South Africa and ...

Letting them live

Alan Ryan, 4 August 1988

A History of the Jews 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 643 pp., £8.95, April 1988, 0 297 79366 7
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The Burning Bush: Anti-Semitism and World History 
by Barnet Litvinoff.
Collins, 493 pp., £17.50, April 1988, 0 00 217433 2
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Living with Anti-Semitism: Modern Jewish Responses 
edited by Jehuda Reinharz.
Brandeis/University Press of New England, 498 pp., £32.75, August 1987, 9780874513882
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... it is certainly the picture that dominates most attempts to write a general history of the Jews. Paul Johnson, already the author of a History of Christianity and a History of the English People, starts his third excursus into universal history with some self-interrogation. ‘Why have I written a history of the Jews?’ he asks, and offers four ...

Very like St Paul

Ian Sansom: Johnny Cash, 9 March 2006

The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love and Faith of an American Legend 
by Steve Turner.
Bloomsbury, 363 pp., £8.99, February 2006, 0 7475 8079 0
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Walk the Line 
directed by James Mangold.
November 2005
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... car manufacturers. He was also the author of a novel, Man in White (1986), about the life of St Paul, with whom he liked to compare himself: ‘Also interesting, for me at least,’ he writes in Cash (1997), ‘were the parallels between Paul and myself. He went out to conquer the world in the name of Jesus Christ; we in ...

On Pegasus

Edan Ring, 4 November 2021

... With​ the Covid infection rate soaring in spring last year, Naftali Bennett – Israel’s then defence minister, now its prime minister – came up with an original approach to the crisis. As an emergency measure, the domestic security service, Shin Bet, had already been tasked with reporting the movements of mobile phone users for the purposes of contact tracing, making Israel one of the most privacy-disregarding countries in the world when it came to the battle against coronavirus ...


Edward Said: My Encounter with Sartre, 1 June 2000

... Once the most celebrated intellectual, Jean-Paul Sartre had, until quite recently, almost faded from view. He was already being attacked for his ‘blindness’ about the Soviet gulags shortly after his death in 1980, and even his humanist Existentialism was ridiculed for its optimism, voluntarism and sheer energetic reach ...

‘We’ know who ‘we’ are

Edward Said: Palestine, Iraq and ‘Us’, 17 October 2002

... militias and left-wing Muslim and Arab nationalist groups had already lasted seven years. Although Israel sent its Army into Lebanon only once before 1982, it had early been sought as an ally by the Christian militias, who co-operated with Sharon’s forces during the siege. Sharon’s main ally was Bashir Gemayel, leader of the Phalange Party, who was elected ...

Silent Partner

Yitzhak Laor: Israel’s War, 8 May 2003

... suicide bombing became a tactical problem. Then there were images of terrorist attacks inside Israel along with what seemed to be footage from Iraq of a putative uprising. A British security expert was interviewed, and told us what we already knew: that every Iraqi citizen would, from now on, be treated as a suspect. Since the war had from the beginning ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: Iraq’s Invisible Weapons, 19 June 2003

... if these weapons did exist, they posed, most obviously, a threat exclusively to the not so distant Israel, in whose interests it certainly was to see Iraq invaded. As Yitzak Laor has written in this paper, for Israeli hawks, the Iraq war came in very handy, since it neutered a serious enemy by proxy, without Israel having to ...

The Academy of Lagado

Edward Said: The US Administration’s misguided war, 17 April 2003

... House has ever bothered to investigate it. Iraq might once have been a potential challenge to Israel. It was the one Arab country with the human and natural resources, as well as the infrastructure, to take on Israel’s arrogant brutality. That is why Begin bombed Iraq pre-emptively in 1981, supplying a model for the ...

Mishal’s Luck

Adam Shatz: The Plot against Hamas, 14 May 2009

Kill Khalid: The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal and the Rise of Hamas 
by Paul McGeough.
Quartet, 477 pp., £25, May 2009, 978 0 7043 7157 6
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... hostility to Oslo, and had compared trading land for peace to appeasement with Hitler. Mishal, Paul McGeough writes in Kill Khalid, his gripping account of the plot, was selected from a list of targets by Netanyahu not only because he was suspected of orchestrating the suicide bomb campaign, but because he made an articulate case for Hamas’s position, in ...

‘Bye Bye Baghdad’

Paul Foot, 7 February 1991

... greatly assisted the commercial and strategic interest of the US, tied as it is so closely to Israel, Turkey and Indonesia. The toppling of Somoza in Nicaragua in 1979 threatened the hegemony of United States capital there, as did the democratic government of Chile from 1970 to 1973, the left-wing government of Grenada in 1982, and the dictatorship in ...

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