News and reviews

The secret lingo that fooled Mary Whitehouse!

Added on 16/05/2019

Language is not only a means of general communication, oiling the social wheels. With codes, ciphers and passwords, it can form a secret, private dialect, the keys to its meaning made available only to those in the know.

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Vasily Grossman & the Soviet Century reviewed in the Sunday Times

Added on 12/05/2019

Vasily Grossman spent 100 days in Stalingrad during the most intense fighting of the siege. He was a war reporter for Red Star and had some reputation as a novelist but it was his reports from the city that made him a national hero.

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Ruby Ray: Kalifornia Kool featured in the Guardian

Added on 09/05/2019

Photographer Ruby Ray found herself at the epicentre of a movement in late-70s San Francisco and started to capture the bands, artists and writers who defined it. In this new book, her greatest shots have been assembled.

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K-Punk sensitively reviewed in the London Review of Books

Added on 09/05/2019

Mark Fisher killed himself on 13 January 2017, at the house in Felixstowe he shared with his wife and young son. His mental health had been deteriorating, according to the Ipswich Star’s report of the inquest, since the previous May.

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Fat: A Cultural History reviewed in the Literary Review

Added on 09/05/2019

Why do we in the West have such an intense aversion to fat? Was fatness really celebrated as a sign of health, prosperity, status and beauty in the distant past? Christopher Forth explores these questions in his lively, ambitious book.

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Emperor by Geoffrey Parker reviewed in the Sunday Times

Added on 05/05/2019

Thrones were no game in Renaissance Europe. Rebellion might mean extinction — of a clan, a city, a country. Get your dynastic politics wrong, and your realm might vanish from the map. Get it right, and dominions would fall into your lap.

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Who’s Afraid of the World Wide Web?

Added on 02/05/2019

James Griffiths’s The Great Firewall of China tells the 20 year story of how the Chinese authorities have brought the internet to heel by slowly developing and enforcing the doctrine of ‘cyber-sovereignty’. It’s also a story of naivety.

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The World of the Crusades reviewed in the Times

Added on 01/05/2019

When it was suggested to Roger of Sicily that he might crusade in north Africa, he squeezed out a resounding fart. “If you are determined to wage holy war on the Muslims, then the best way is to conquer Jerusalem,”

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MUP’s Unfinished Business banned by Northern Ireland prison

Added on 30/04/2019

A Northern Irish prison that holds some of the most dangerous republican paramilitary prisoners has banned a new academic book about dissident Irish republicans. Maghaberry in County Antrim has prevented inmates gaining access to…

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The Vory shortlisted for Pushkin House Russian Book Prize

Added on 25/04/2019

Six highly readable books covering history, politics and memoir have been shortlisted for the Pushkin House Russian Book Prize 2019. The award supports the best non-fiction writing in English on the Russian-speaking world.

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Palaces of Pleasure reviewed in the Guardian

Added on 24/04/2019

Few British songs are as well known as “I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside”. For many listeners it only takes a few bars to conjure up hazy images of striped deckchairs and dripping ice-cream cones, strolling along the prom (prom prom)…

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Victor Hugo gave Notre Dame life as the vibrant heart of France

Added on 22/04/2019

Victor Hugo was not enamoured with the title of Frederic Shoberl’s English translation of his 1831 novel Notre-Dame de Paris. For the future “great man” of French literature, the book’s main attraction was the gothic cathedral itself.

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