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19 April 1990
... At an enormous ‘peace’ rally in Durban at the end of February Nelson Mandela called upon the warring Inkatha and UDF factions to ‘throw your arms into the sea’, an appeal which met with considerable applause. Perhaps the loudest ovation of all, however, came when Mandela announced, at the meeting’s end, that he had ‘a wonderful present’ to offer the crowd – ‘the mother of the nation ...
6 July 1989
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... Paul Foot has a shocking story to tell, the story of Colin Wallace. It is, quite literally, a story of gunpowder, treason and plot. The fact that Foot’s publishers have had to rush the book out in weeks in order to beat the deadline of the new Official Secrets Act, and have deliberately forsaken all advance publicity for fear of pre-emptive action against the book, says something rather disgraceful ...
21 February 1991
... President de Klerk’s further instalment of reform leaves no doubt that South Africa is moving away from the era of apartheid at some speed. His speech follows hard on a truce agreement between the ANC and Inkatha – the first step towards ending a conflict which has cost some five thousand lives in Natal and on the Reef since 1985. Whether the truce will hold and whether it will stem the creeping ...
24 July 1986
Shootdown: The Verdict on KAL 007 
by R.W. Johnson.
Chatto, 335 pp., £10.95, May 1986, 0 7011 2983 2
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... Profound embarrassment has greeted the publication of R.W.Johnson’s book on the shooting-down of a Korean airliner over Russian airspace. Even its serialisation in the Sunday Telegraph showed signs of embarrassment, as though the editors had not realised what ...


R.W. Johnson: Breakdown in the Bush

10 May 2001
... roared past. But when you have to make tracks dignity seems unimportant, especially when you’ve discussed Einstein under the stars with a Seventh Day Adventist, and maybe even seen a leopard. R.W.Johnson ...

Short Cuts

R.W. Johnson: Robbie Gets His Gun

25 September 2008
... My friend Robbie’s always had a bit of a thing about guns. In a country like South Africa this is difficult to avoid. A murder rate of roughly four hundred a week and a rape every 26 seconds concentrates the mind. Since we got our freedom in 1994 we’ve had more than 270,000 murders. Once a government fails that badly to provide law and order any old Hobbesian will tell you that the social contract ...


R.W. Johnson: South Africa’s Elections

19 May 2011
... If the polls are right, the ANC will suffer its worst ever electoral reverse in the local elections due to be held in South Africa on 18 May. The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, seems poised to win not only Cape Town, its main base, but to gain seats right across the country. In the Western Cape the DA will probably win a majority of towns and cities; it will make inroads in the Northern ...

Burning Blankets

R.W. Johnson: Robert Mugabe’s latest tidy-up

7 July 2005
... Robert Mugabe’s Operation Murambatsvina (‘driving out trash’) began on 19 May. Heavily armed militia, backed by helicopters and fighter planes, swooped down on a helpless civilian population. Mugabe’s forces have bulldozed and burned his political opponents’ shacks and makeshift shops in Zimbabwe’s cities, rounding up terrified men, women and children, and piling them onto open lorries ...


R.W. Johnson: ‘Author Loses Leg in Lagoon’

6 August 2009
... invade and poison the body (the other man had died, as is normal with this disease). Almost certainly the reason the lagoon was polluted with such a deadly organism was to do with the dumping of raw sewage by communities living upriver. Only months later was I able to Google necrotising fasciitis and find a long list of famous people who died from the disease, usually within 24 or 48 hours of ...


R.W. Johnson: Magdalen College

19 November 2009
... Magdalen College was founded in 1458 by William Waynflete, a farmer’s son who became the bishop of Winchester and chancellor of England, and so endowed the college as to make it the richest in Oxford or Cambridge until the foundation of Cardinal College (renamed Christ Church after Wolsey’s fall). It did no harm to Magdalen that Wolsey, who was one of its fellows, himself became Henry VIII’s ...

Stitched up

R.W. Johnson

21 October 1993
Return to Paradise 
by Breyten Breytenbach.
Faber, 214 pp., £17.50, November 1993, 0 571 16989 9
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... é betrayed Sankara, set an ambush for him, gunned him down, and buried him in a grave so shallow that one of his hands was left sticking through the soil. But then think, Breytenbach says, of Prince Johnson of Liberia, who had a video made of his predecessor, Sergeant Doe, being tortured to death, with Johnson talking him through it, offering him a smoke, scolding him for dirtying his pants as the ...

Seven Days

R.W. Johnson

4 July 1985
The Pick of Paul JohnsonAn Anthology 
Harrap, 277 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 245 54246 9Show More
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... Paul Johnson does not, as they say, need much introduction. Whatever one thinks of his opinions, one has to admire his frenetic energy. From 1955 to 1970 he poured forth strong left-wing views in the New ...
20 September 2001
The Trial of Henry Kissinger 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Verso, 159 pp., £15, May 2001, 1 85984 631 9
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... of it all, as Kissinger did, with even more power and an undiminished reputation. There was nothing natural or easy about this: there weren’t many Kennedy appointees who lasted the distance with Johnson. Kissinger, then, was an extraordinary bureaucratic warrior who, unlike anyone else, simultaneously held the positions of National Security Adviser, Secretary of State and chairman of the Forty ...

Trump: Some Numbers

R.W. Johnson

14 November 2016
... behind the governor’s party – 2016 should have been a shoo-in for a Mitt Romney or a John McCain, especially against such an unpopular candidate as Hillary Clinton. A second point: when Lyndon Johnson passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in 1965 he said with regret that the Democrats would lose the South for a generation. His judgment proved correct. A generation on, in 2008 ...

Althusser’s Fate

Douglas Johnson

16 April 1981
The Long March of the French Left 
by R.W. Johnson.
Macmillan, 345 pp., £20, March 1981, 0 333 27417 2
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One-Dimensional Marxism 
by Simon Clarke and Terry Lovell.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 85031 367 8
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Communism and Philosophy 
by Maurice Cornforth.
Lawrence and Wishart, 282 pp., £8.95, July 1980, 0 85315 430 9
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The Crisis of Marxism 
by Jack Lindsay.
Moonraker, 183 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 0 239 00200 8
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Class in English History 1680-850 
by R.S. Neale.
Blackwell, 250 pp., £12, January 1981, 0 631 12851 4
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... until, in practice, 1970) and Georges Marchais. The meeting at Argenteuil may well have been held, not to settle questions of Party philosophy, but to bring the intellectuals into line, in what R.W.Johnson, in his new book, has picturesquely called ‘the long march of the French Left’, culminating in the Communist-Socialist alliance which hoped to win the legislative elections of 1978 but failed to ...

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