I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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The Trump Enigma

Here we go again. For the third consecutive presidential election, US voters are likely to face a choice between a moderate career politician and an angry demagogue for whom lying and gaslighting are not just nasty political tactics but governing principles and reflexive personal traits. The result, the polls tell us, could go either way. […]

Hatred’s Underground Streams

How fast is the influence of the far right in Ireland growing? This question has been on the agenda of public discussion since the assertion of the Garda Commissioner in May 2023 that the far right has failed to grow in Ireland, bucking trends in other European countries. ‘Across Europe,’ he said, ‘we have seen […]

A Bodyguard of Lies

Stakeknife’s Dirty War: The Inside Story of Scappaticci, the IRA’s Nutting Squad, and the British Spooks who ran the War, by Richard O’Rawe, Merrion Press, 254 pp, €18.99, ISBN: 978-1785374470 The Padre: The True Story of the Irish Priest who armed the IRA with Gaddafi’s Money, by Jennifer O’Leary, Merrion Press, 256 pp, €18.99, ISBN: […]

Endgame in Paris

On February 13th 1936, the French socialist leader Léon Blum left the Palais Bourbon in Paris, the site of the lower house of parliament, to travel the relatively short distance to his home on the île Saint-Louis. He was driven by Georges Monnet, a friend and colleague, and they were accompanied by Monnet’s wife, Germaine. […]

There Will Be Blood

End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites and the Path of Political Disintegration, by Peter Turchin, Allen Lane, 240 pp, £25, ISBN: 978-0241553480 Peter Turchin is the founder of the discipline of ‘cliodynamics’ (Clio being the ancient Greek muse of history), a big-data-enabled approach to the study of history over the very long term. He is frank in […]

Sort of Neutral

  Is Ireland Neutral? The Many Myths of Irish Neutrality, by Conor Gallagher, Gill Books, 336 pp, €18.99, ISBN: 978-0717195992 Conor Gallagher asks a simple question: is Ireland neutral? However, as he amply demonstrates in this lucid, readable and very timely book, this simple question does not have a simple answer. A scan of newspaper […]

The Lure of Nostalgia

The Return of the State by Graeme Garrard, Yale University Press, 227 pp, £16.99, ISBN: 978-0300256758 We are almost entirely dependent on the state for our security and wellbeing. And yet it often seems to be an uncherished institution. If the Irish state is in any way representative, it has had a bad press in […]

Comrade Inconstant

The Socialist Patriot: George Orwell and War, by Peter Stansky, Stanford University Press, 136 pp, £10.99, ISBN: 9781-503635494 In this short book, pioneering Orwell biographer Peter Stansky shows how Orwell’s development as a writer was influenced by the four major wars in which he participated ‑ the two world wars, the Spanish Civil War and […]

Before the Deluge

Many elements of the Lemass/Whitaker approach were to inform nationalism as it was reconceptualised in the 1980s and 1990s: the need for co-operation and partnership; a recognition that ultimately only Irish people could solve their own problems and that Britain could not be a persuader for unity but could facilitate it if circumstances changed; an openness to flexibility on symbolic issues.

The Life of a Dog

Though François Fejtő throughout his long life kept his eye on central and eastern Europe, both in his largely anonymous professional work as a regional specialist for Agence France Presse and in his more pointed essays for various literary-political reviews, he fought his ideological battles in Paris, a city in which intellectuals have a certain importance, and a certain sense of their own importance.