Dancing to Greet the New Dawn

  • Isadora: the Sensational Life of Isadora Duncan
    by Peter Kurth, Little Brown & Company, 2002, 704pp.

Although she lived well into the era of silent movies, there are no filmed images of Isadora Duncan in motion. Because she was camera-shy, there are very few photographs of her either, and those that exist invariably show her draped in togas, striking dramatic poses. Continue reading “Dancing to Greet the New Dawn”

A History of Horror

  • Le Siècle des Camps
    Joel Kotek and Pierre Rigoulot, JC Lattes, 805 pages.

Contrary to what might be expected, the first recorded use of the expression “concentration camps” did not occur in either Germany or Russia. Nor, even, was the term originally English, as many also mistakenly believe. In fact, as far as it is possible to ascertain, the first person to speak of concentration camps or, more precisely, to speak of a policy of “reconcentración” – was Arsenio Martinez Campos, then the commander of the Spanish garrison in Cuba. Continue reading “A History of Horror”

Anti-Americanism creates some strange bedfellows

Poised as I am, halfway between the two cultures, it was a little strange watching British reactions to events in America last week. It was a little strange even being in Britain last week. On Tuesday after hijacked planes had hit targets in Washington, where my family live, and New York, where most of my friends live, I was standing in Bond Street, dialling and redialling their numbers on my mobile telephone, unable to get through. Continue reading “Anti-Americanism creates some strange bedfellows”

The Great Error

The most unpleasant city in Russia - and why no one wants to leave it.

North of the Arctic Circle, roses do not grow. There are no daisies or lilies; there are no sunflowers or geraniums. Only a few species of charmless wildflower have learned to take advantage of the very short, very hot, northern summers. Continue reading “The Great Error”