To the extent that Russia’s project of joining the Western developed world has failed, and it has failed, its search for a distinctive world stance appears urgent; the paradigm of a united state and church, defined against a decadent, liberal and atheist West, is much favoured.
Bodies preserved in bogland, dating from the Iron Age or even before, are found right across northwestern Europe. It is difficult to know a great deal of their lives or beliefs or interpret their deaths, but what we do know is that their killers tried to obliterate them; and failed.
Huge numbers of people died in the Nazi concentration camps but they were not where the majority of Jews perished. Rather they were an instrument of the regime’s desire for total repression and control which changed and adapted to suit the particular needs of the time.
A fictional portrait of Dublin in the years leading up to the Great War and 1916 is brimming with ideas and has a great deal of historical interest, even if its author’s ill-digested anger at his enemies and overschematic approach to characterisation may reduce the artistry.
A memoir can be an expansive story in which, regrettably, nothing is left out and which one would really prefer not to have to listen to. Or it can be a careful literary construction where much raw material has clearly been set aside and what remains is shaped by patient artifice.
A new book that argues that the way forward for social democracy is more state, more tax, more spending fails to convince. If these were recipes likely to be favoured by the electorate there would be social democratic governments thriving all over the Western world.