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.

Enda O’Doherty

A Learning Curve

A German writer learns the cost of making a god of the nation

The Europeans

Eurosceptics have been predicting the collapse of the EU for twenty years now, sure that the citizens would realise it was all an impossible dream

The Necessary Other

Categorising groups of people as ‘Other’ is a practice that seems to be frowned upon in the best intellectual circles. But there are markers apart from ethnicity, nationality and religion. Why shouldn’t we regard those who strongly oppose our values as fundamentally different?

Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang

His indisputable genius ensured that William Shakespeare assumed the status of England’s chief literary emblem, in the same way that Cervantes was chosen to represent Spain, Dante Italy or Molière France. But why was it that he seemed so uninterested in writing about the place?

Enemies of the Nation

In late 19th century France, the propagandists of the far right warned that the nation faced a mortal enemy, a parasitical stranger who could not be assimilated. This was the Jew. Today the far right sees an almost identical foe, who is with us but not of us. This is the Muslim.

Collateral Damage

Thomas Niedermayer was a German factory manager whose plant brought much-needed jobs to West Belfast. A new book tells the story of his death at the hands of the IRA, and places it in the context of an armed campaign which was certain it would prevail but eventually had to settle for a lot less.

It’s Only Me

Michel de Montaigne lived through the French wars of religion and was involved in many attempts on behalf of his king to broker a peace. On the whole, however, he preferred to be occupied with his books, which he insisted he read not to improve but to amuse himself.

An Obstinate People

The greatest Jewish crime, for early modern Christians, was the rejection and killing of Christ. But they also had a long list of other faults they found, from physical marks, ugliness and proneness to illness to moral failings such as greed, clannishness and lack of manly courage.

The High-Wire Man

Joseph Roth took stylistic risks in his journalism, but they almost always paid off. He became one of the most highly respected contributors to the German press – until 1933, when, as an anti-Nazi and a Jew, he suddenly found himself unemployable. He died in exile in France in 1939.

Daddy’s Pal

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.