The overthrow of Árbenz in 1954 was among the most ill-conceived CIA operations. In the hypercharged atmosphere of the early cold war, President Dwight Eisenhower, secretary of state John Foster Dulles, and his brother, CIA director Allen Dulles, decided that Guatemala threatened the United States.
British writer, radio producer and birdwatcher Tim Dee is the laureate of the feathered world, from the capercaillie, in Jacobean doublet, ink black with pearl drops, puffing his wobbling throat and singing like a drunk, to Ukraine bustards, calandra larks, swallows, black grouse, nightjars and demoiselle cranes.
In 1936, James Agee and photographer Walker Evans travelled on assignment to Hale County in Alabama, a place inhabited by poor tenant farmers, where the world seemed ironclad, immutable, one year discernible from another only by another death or marriage, the unsurprising and largely joyless round of a life without exits.
It’s a wonder any of Georgian Dublin survived at all given how many enemies it had, from government ministers bearing historic resentments to state companies wishing to make a mark, speculative property developers in cahoots with party fundraisers, dangerous buildings inspectors and demented roads engineers.
Nabokov’s masterpiece still occasionally has to be defended against the charge that it uses a high-art modernist veneer to excuse pornographic pleasures. In fact it is a complex, convoluted literary puzzle, a hall of mirrors where moral viewpoint is elusive, an intellectual and aesthetic provocation set to challenge readers in a similar way to that in which a grandmaster sets a chess puzzle.