Category Archives: misery for the many, freedom for the few

the road to Luxor

My driver smokes in the car, plays Quranic chants, and slags off the Muslim Brotherhood. His brief history of modern Egypt, in basic English: Gamal Abdel Nasser not good, Anwar Sadat not good, Hosni Mubarak good. With Mubarak not Muslims … Continue reading

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Imperium

Ryszard Kapuściński was a Polish reporter who was sometimes accused of a certain, well, embellishment. It’s true that this astonishing book about the end of the Soviet empire has its moments of what might be described as magical journalism: a … Continue reading

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earth do not cover their blood

From the moment the bus stops, Auschwitz and Birkenau, 67 and a half years to the day after their liberation, are heaving with guided tour groups in a Babel of languages. The story goes on and on: three-and-a-half almost relentless … Continue reading

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Dresden: the Saxon one percent

Upstairs in the Royal Palace of the Kings of Saxony is a spectacular collection of Ottoman weaponry, from the days when the Turks had Hungary and threatened Vienna. Downstairs, the so-called Green Vault: two floors of unbelievable and unnecessary trinkature … Continue reading

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The American Future

A curious title for what is a work of thematic history about America interspersed with passages of personal reminiscence, but Simon Schama’s book was written during the 2008 election, those days of surging hope when it seemed the US might … Continue reading

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Falling Off The Edge

A book by Alex Perry, foreign correspondent with Time Magazine, published in 2008. It’s an account (sometimes self-promoting, but then considering the extremes to which he has gone in the service of his trade, it’s not hard to forgive him … Continue reading

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Crisis Economics

I just finished a book of this name by Nouriel Roubini (famous for predicting the 2008 crash) and Stephen Mihn. It’s hardly a work of art, and in places quite dreadfully written (how about this for a string of cliches: … Continue reading

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