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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World History

Hard Power

Thucydides and the pursuit of domination through warfare

Witness to War

Peadar O’Donnell walks into Franco’s military revolt

The Fascist Precursor

Fiume and the ‘poetic dictatorship’ of Gabriele d’Annunzio

Our Enemies’ Enemies

At the outset of the Cold War, the Vatican and the United States had a project in common, helping senior Nazis escape justice by providing them with new identities and false papers. Their crimes became irrelevant as the West ‘turned on a sixpence’ to confront its new enemy, Russia.

Portrait of Fox

Isaiah Berlin did not share the view that philosophy, and particularly practical philosophy, could be coherently pursued independently of history or, more specifically, of a certain historical self-awareness which springs from a knowledge and appreciation of the past.

A World of Tears

A man finds himself in Antwerp with nothing to do. Then he remembers, among other things, that this is the town where the painter Peter Paul Rubens made his home. At first, this annoys him, because he has no interest whatsoever in the painter. But then he thinks, why not write a book about Rubens.

History in a Shoebox

The fashion writer Hadley Freeman came upon a shoebox when rummaging through her grandmother’s wardrobe. The past it hinted of led her on a hunt through the archives that eventually uncovered the tragic and inspiring history of her Jewish family’s experiences in wartime France.

Didn’t They Do Well?

Irish settlers in Argentina saw no contradiction between leaving a country wracked by land conflict and occupying land in the one to which they’d moved from which the native people had been expelled. For they were a civilised people and the dispossessed were savages.

Nuremberg Calling?

William Joyce, ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, was tried in connection with his propaganda broadcasts from Nazi Germany. Treason was the charge since he was a British subject, having obtained a passport by deception. Had he been tried at Nuremberg with other Nazis he might not have hanged.

For the Cause

In the mid-1930s, 40,000 men enlisted in the International Brigades to fight fascism in Spain. Many died, while the recollections of some who returned, like those published in a moving memoir from the mid-1970s, do not cast much credit on the organisers of the resistance.