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Politics and the Prophet

Malise Ruthven, 1 August 1996

Lords of the Lebanese Marches: Violence and Narrative in an Arab Society 
by Michael Gilsenan.
Tauris, 377 pp., £14.95, February 1996, 1 85043 099 3
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The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World 
edited by John L. Esposito.
Oxford, 480 pp., £295, June 1995, 0 19 506613 8
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Unfolding Islam 
by P.J. Stewart.
Garnet, 268 pp., £25, February 1995, 9780863721946
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Islam and the Myth of Confrontation: Religion and Politics in the Middle East 
by Fred Halliday.
Tauris, 256 pp., £35, January 1996, 1 86064 004 4
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... as terrorism, holy war, human rights and the status of women. In his entry on Terrorism, Augustus Richard Norton argues that the ‘deliberate and random uses of violence for political ends against protected (i.e. non-combatant) groups’ has historic roots in the Middle East, but is far from being exclusive to one confession. He maintains that the first ...

Among Flayed Hills

David Craig, 8 May 1997

The Killing of the Countryside 
by Graham Harvey.
Cape, 218 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 0 224 04444 3
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... round to the job in October, he destroys the fruit. How different from the Yorkshire farmer in the dale of Dent where we used to stay at Easter. He looked after his own field boundaries, layering the hedges and mending the stone dykes, and when I told him one evening that the blackthorn was flowering already down by the river, he exclaimed: ‘I shall have to ...

The King and I

Alan Bennett, 30 January 1992

... autumn I bought, at Deighton Bell in Trinity Street, a copy of George III and the Politicians by Richard Pares, a book I have still, my name written in it by a friend, as I disliked my handwriting then as I do now. It was a detailed, allusive book, demanding a more thorough knowledge of 18th-century politics than a schoolboy could be expected to have, but I ...

In the Châtelet

Jeremy Harding, 20 April 1995

François Villon: Complete Poems 
edited by Barbara Sargent-Bauer.
Toronto, 346 pp., £42, January 1995, 0 8020 2946 9
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Basil Bunting: Complete Poems 
edited by Richard Caddel.
Oxford, 226 pp., £10.99, September 1994, 0 19 282282 9
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... in the Sixties and Seventies, she thinks that rhyming English would have been pointless, and Peter Dale’s rather desperate versions (Penguin, 1978) surely prove the point. To the povre Villon, importuned, resurrected, sanctified in heretical pantheons, Sargent-Bauer is a dependable ally. No dutiful translation like hers can hope to ride with the turbulence ...

The Manners of a Hog

Christopher Tayler: Buchan’s Banter, 20 February 2020

Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan 
by Ursula Buchan.
Bloomsbury, 479 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4088 7081 5
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... Between​ the wars, the journalist Richard Usborne recalled in 1953, there was a feeling that John Buchan was good for you. ‘If not exactly the author set for homework, Buchan was certainly strongly recommended to the schoolboy by parent, uncle, guardian, pastor and master,’ he wrote in Clubland Heroes, a study of the thrillers he had enjoyed as a child ...

Competition is for losers

David Runciman: Silicon Valley Vampire, 23 September 2021

The Contrarian: Peter Thiel and Silicon Valley’s Pursuit of Power 
by Max Chafkin.
Bloomsbury, 400 pp., £25, September, 978 1 5266 1955 6
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... altogether more disruptive. Another of his favourite books is The Sovereign Individual by James Dale Davidson and William Rees-Mogg (father of Jacob), first published in 1997 and reissued in 2020 with a preface by Thiel. It predicts the demise of the nation-state and the emergence of low or no tax libertarian communities in which the rich can finally ...

Barely under Control

Jenny Turner: Education: Who’s in charge?, 7 May 2015

... Most of them were developed under Andrew Adonis’s academies programme for New Labour: the Richard Rogers-designed Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney, which opened in 2004, is one of these, as is Zaha Hadid’s Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton. The programme was launched in 2000 by the then education secretary, David Blunkett, who explained that if ...

You Muddy Fools

Dan Jacobson: In the months before his death Ian Hamilton talked about himself to Dan Jacobson, 14 January 2002

... overtly political play. There may have been another play early on.A one-acter? Yes, possibly.Peter Dale told me you once produced a play at Oxford, a small piece by Harold Pinter. I had started another magazine at Oxford called Tomorrow. And for its fourth issue I’d written to Pinter. He had just become prominent then, but I’d learned about him ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... in the flats above and below don’t even know there’s been a fire. This was something else.’ Richard Welsh is a senior officer with the London Fire Brigade. His pager went off at 1.18 a.m. ‘Initially they had six machines there,’ he said. ‘Then they asked for eight, and then ten, and then 15, 20, and then 25. I’m hearing that on the way there, so ...

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