News and reviews

Behind the Screen reviewed in the Observer

Added on 18/08/2019

All human life is there” used to be the boast of the (mercifully) defunct News of the World. Like everything else in that organ, it wasn’t true: the NoW specialised in randy vicars, chorus girls, Tory spankers and other minority sports.

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Sinan Antoon’s The Book of Collateral Damage reviewed in The National

Added on 15/08/2019

In Sinan Antoon’s The Baghdad Eucharist, which was translated into English in 2017, the fault lines within an Iraqi Christian ­family are mapped and the individual struggles and shared strength of two of its members charted.

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The War for the Seas reviewed by Max Hastings

Added on 04/08/2019

The great NAM Rodger’s history of the Royal Navy argues that the 1757 execution of Admiral Byng for failing to relieve Menorca, far from being ridiculous as Voltaire suggested, galvanised Britain’s seamen.

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McMindfulness reviewed in the Evening Standard

Added on 01/08/2019

If you don’t know what mindfulness is, I’ll put it in a nutshell. Let’s say you’re stressed. Sit quietly and watch the stressful ideas whizzing around your brain. Notice the stress is not real but just a few whizzing ideas. Doesn’t that feel better?

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Mark Fisher’s K-Punk featured in the New Statesman

Added on 31/07/2019

Everything, it seems, is going badly. We are living through an age that has had its promise suffocated by austerity, that has exhausted us through precarity; an age where climate disaster is scoffed at by some as the selfish concern of…

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The Quarter by Naguib Mahfouz reviewed in The Scotsman

Added on 31/07/2019

As a general rule, it’s best to treat manuscripts “discovered” after the death of an author with a certain amount of scepticism. The chances of turning up an unpublished classic in this way are vanishingly slim…

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McMindfulness featured in Psychology Today

Added on 30/07/2019

I’ve been asked recently to design interventions that build resilience to social anxiety, which makes plenty of sense for those who experience anxiety as a debilitating disorder that prevents participation in normal daily activities.

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The War for the Seas reviewed in the Times

Added on 26/07/2019

“I do not say the French will not come. I only say they will not come by sea.” So said the Earl of St Vincent in 1801. The same was true in 1940. The plan to transport Hitler’s Wehrmacht across the Channel was a hastily improvised affair.

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Wading Right In reviewed in brief in Nature

Added on 24/07/2019

Whether swamp, fen, bog or tidal salt marsh, wetlands are complex ecosystems that filter pollutants, sequester carbon and prevent flooding. Yet globally, since 1900, 64% of them have drained away.

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Cigarettes, inc reviewed in Times Literary Supplement

Added on 23/07/2019

After the American industrialist James B. Duke took over his father’s North Carolina tobacco company in the 1880s, the story goes, he “disrupted” the industry by introducing machine-rolled cigarettes.

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Palaces of Pleasure reviewed in the Guardian

Added on 23/07/2019

Whether it was visiting a “human zoo”, taking a bull on a hot-air balloon ride, or singing risqué songs about rhubarb, Victorian Londoners loved to have fun. Victorians effectively invented the modern leisure industry.

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The Uneven Path of British Liberalism featured in the Guardian

Added on 22/07/2019

In 2015, as Tudor Jones notes in his forthcoming book The Uneven Path of British Liberalism, the Lib Dems suffered an electoral collapse as great as the two great vanishings that the Liberal party managed in the 20th century.

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