The Best of Companions

There are countries where it is easy to be a tourist, and countries where enjoying oneself takes a bit of extra effort. Despite my long association with Poland, I must concede that it falls into the latter camp, although not for wholly obvious reasons. It isn’t simply that the communist-era hotels are not up to …

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Should We Assassinate Saddam?

Hands up anyone who remembers the first scene in Air Force One, the film in which Harrison Ford plays the American president as action hero: The opening credits roll, parachutes open up, American paratroopers swoop down.

French lessons post-Stalin

If the task of a good novel is to describe a particular time and a particular place in such a way that they seem real to people who never knew that time and that place, then here is a very good novel indeed.

Serendipity Rules OK

It isn’t history, it isn’t fiction, and it isn’t scholarship, although it contains elements of all three: in fact, one might say that The Oxford Companion to English Literature belongs in a genre all of its own. That being the case, one might also say that reviews of Companions to English Literature belong to a …

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Fond Memories of Stalin

“Remember that the two presidents do not know each other,” one official cautioned the New York Times. “Mr. Putin,” opined their correspondent, “seems unlikely to achieve with Mr. Clinton the easy-going ‘Boris and Bill’ chemistry that dominated during Mr. Yeltsin’s two terms.”

Die vergessenen Millionen

Vor achtzig Jahren errichtete die Sowjetunion in Solowetzky den ersten Gulag. Millionen Menschen wurden in Lager deportiert, wo sie elend starben. Fast jede russische Familie ist betroffen. Dennoch will heute in Russland niemand etwas davon wissen.

The battle for the Holocaust legacy

In the travelling over the past fifteen years or so, I reckon I have visited several dozen memorials to Hitler’s destruction of the Jews. I have been to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem; to the Polish museums and memorials commemorating Auschwitz, Treblinka, and the Warsaw ghetto; to uncounted monuments and plaques, wrecked synagogues …

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