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

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.

The Romantic Englishman

George Orwell is celebrated as the man who made political writing an art. But if he was a brilliantly gifted, and often funny, polemical writer, politically he was frequently off the mark, right about one big thing but hopelessly wrong about many small ones.

The Last Chapter

Books and bookselling have been with us for a couple of thousand years, in which time they have progressed out of the libraries and into bookshops and homes, away from institutions and towards individuals. A great success story, but nearly all stories have an ending.

Apples at World’s End

Czesław Miłosz lived through a century in which many thought they could take History by the scruff of the neck, for the aggrandisement of their own nation or the betterment of mankind. The notion at one stage half-appealed to Miłosz too, but he was to learn to be less ambitious.

Does Europe Exist?

Does culture reside only in particular nations and national traditions or can we speak of a European culture? And if we can, what might it be and how can we best preserve it?