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Blame It on Mussolini

R.W. Johnson: The Turning Points of the Second World War, 29 November 2007

Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions that Changed the World 1940-41 
by Ian Kershaw.
Allen Lane, 624 pp., £30, June 2007, 978 0 7139 9712 5
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... the French colonial empire would be divided up between Germany, Italy and Spain. South Africa and Southern Rhodesia would be removed from the British Empire to become a single state (doubtless under a pro-Nazi leader like John Vorster), but Germany would take Northern Rhodesia to act as a bridge between its east and west African territories. Germany would ...

When that great day comes

R.W. Johnson, 22 July 1993

... new Boer Republics, one is tempted to see Ian Smith’s Rhodesian UDI as setting a pattern for all southern Africa. After all, Angola and Mozambique already have their effective Renamo and Unita sub-states and the de facto fragmentation of Zaire is underway. In the end all these quasi-independent states may fail, as Ian Smith’s did, but equally, the map of ...

Could it have been different?

Roger Southall: R.W. Johnson’s South Africa, 8 October 2009

South Africa’s Brave New World: The Beloved Country since the End of Apartheid 
by R.W. Johnson.
Allen Lane, 701 pp., £25, April 2009, 978 0 7139 9538 1
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... In the west and east of the continent they achieved their ambitions in the 1950s and 1960s, but in southern Africa they faced more determined enemies. The ANC was driven into exile; the influence of the South African Communist Party within the national liberation movement grew, and Leninist politics, in turn, stressed centralisation, hierarchy, secrecy and ...

On Thatcher

Karl Miller, 25 April 2013

... of 10 Downing Street.Tam Dalyell, 5 April 1984 The brutality of the riot police drafted in from southern counties has left deep scars on the minds of the people of this village, and an inheritance of hatred and mistrust of the local police. This hatred will take until long after this strike is over to heal – not months, but generations. The contempt which ...

At the Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: David Goldblatt, 26 April 2018

... once turned at all hours, dredging off waste as indigenous miners and migrants from elsewhere in southern Africa burrowed and died for ore.In 1968, as more profitable mines were opening west and south of the Rand, a selection of Goldblatt’s photos appeared in Optima magazine with an essay by Nadine Gordimer, ‘A Time and Tailings’. Born in a mining town ...

Black on Black

R.W. Johnson, 24 November 1988

... the Church should not necessarily condemn violence. His antics during the Pope’s recent visit to Southern Africa are difficult to explain as anything other than pique at being over-shadowed as chief religious ‘personality’ in the region. That none of these things can in the slightest shake the widespread black admiration for Tutu is due to two ...
... passing the bill on to Pretoria. A second insight was provided by the little-noticed trial in southern Natal of three MK men, apprehended in possession of a large stock of ammunition, machine-guns, grenades and pistols. The Police insisted that when initially apprehended, the men (who were charged with car theft) had claimed to be officers of the ...

Nixon’s Greatest Moments

R.W. Johnson, 13 May 1993

Nixon: A Life 
by Jonathan Aitken.
Weidenfeld, 633 pp., £25, January 1993, 0 297 81259 9
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... in doubt,’ he said of the release of Federal land, ‘make a park out of it.’ His Southern strategy depended on a careful courtship of racist whites, but his own principles on race were unimpeachably liberal. When he came to office – 15 years after the Supreme Court ruling against school segregation – only 5.2 per cent of black children ...

Beloved Country

R.W. Johnson, 8 July 1993

... and Hong Kong Chinese – significant numbers of all of these groups are now showing up all over southern Africa. With up to 750,000 British passport-holders here, Britain inevitably remains the predominant destination of those leaving – but such people are able to drift out at will, so nobody really knows how many are going. There is talk that the Jewish ...
... 10 Downing Street.Tam Dalyell, 5 April 1984The​  brutality of the riot police drafted in from southern counties has left deep scars on the minds of the people of this village, and an inheritance of hatred and mistrust of the local police. This hatred will take until long after this strike is over to heal – not months, but generations. The contempt which ...

With Luck

John Lanchester, 2 January 1997

The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage 
edited by R.W. Burchfield.
Oxford, 864 pp., £16.99, November 1996, 0 19 869126 2
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... at Rugby and Balliol, and worked as a teacher at Sedbergh for 17 years before losing his job in a row over his refusal to prepare boys for Confirmation. Fowler was now 41. He moved to London, where he scratched a living writing pieces, ‘and attempted’, in Ernest Gowers’s words, ‘to demonstrate what he had always maintained to be true – that a man ...

Apartheid’s Last Stand

Jeremy Harding, 17 March 2016

Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola since the Civil War 
by Ricardo Soares de Oliveira.
Hurst, 291 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 1 84904 284 0
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A Short History of Modern Angola 
by David Birmingham.
Hurst, 256 pp., £17.99, December 2015, 978 1 84904 519 3
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Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria and the Struggle for Southern Africa 
by Piero Gleijeses.
North Carolina, 655 pp., £27.95, February 2016, 978 1 4696 0968 3
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A General Theory of Oblivion 
by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated by Daniel Hahn.
Harvill, 245 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 1 84655 847 4
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In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre 
by Lara Pawson.
I.B. Tauris, 271 pp., £20, April 2014, 978 1 78076 905 9
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Cuito Cuanavale: Frontline Accounts by Soviet Soldiers 
by G. Shubin, I. Zhdarkin et al, translated by Tamara Reilly.
Jacana, 222 pp., £12.95, May 2014, 978 1 4314 0963 1
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... in African politics at Oxford, explains: ‘Off went the poorly cut uniform and in came Savile Row suits.’ But party and state have remained inextricably bound together; and both perform the will of the president, José Eduardo dos Santos, who assumed office in an age of strongmen, between Margaret Thatcher’s first election victory in 1979 and Robert ...

Why did they lose?

Tom Shippey: Why did Harold lose?, 12 March 2009

The Battle of Hastings: The Fall of Anglo-Saxon England 
by Harriet Harvey Wood.
Atlantic, 257 pp., £17.99, November 2008, 978 1 84354 807 2
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... of internecine feuding (which it kept up until William executed Waltheof years later). In 1055 the southern government sent in Harold’s brother Tosti to settle things down. It was a disastrous appointment. He had no standing in the area, with a Danish name like Tosti (short for Thorstein) he was bound to antagonise the English, and in the end he antagonised ...

Positively Spaced Out

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Building of England’, 6 September 2001

The Buildings of England: A Celebration Compiled to Mark 50 Years of the Pevsner Architectural Guides 
edited by Simon Bradley and Bridget Cherry.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2001, 0 9527401 3 3
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... he had grown up and which for the most part he cordially loathed as hardcore subtopia: ‘like southern California … entirely directed to serving urban man’. Readers who had thought Pevsner rude must have been aghast at Nairn. In the towns and cities things got worse as the 1960s wore on. Alexandra Wedgwood, describing Birmingham in 1966, writes from ...

Responses to the War in Gaza

LRB Contributors, 29 January 2009

... Gaza meant its gradual transformation into a ghetto. In 2000, Doron Almog, then the chief of the southern command, began policing the boundaries of Gaza: ‘We established observation points equipped with the best technology and our troops were allowed to fire at anyone reaching the fence at a distance of six kilometres,’ he boasted, suggesting that a ...

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