Notes From the Margins…
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An Afternoon in Belchite

  • September 04, 2014
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Lower Aragon is a very different place to the towering peaks of the Aragonese Pyrenees, where I spent most of last week.   Drive south of Zaragoza and you leave the fertile plain of the Ebro River and pass through a strikingly weird lunar landscape of chalk-white hills that would make a perfect location for Starship Troopers or  a cinematic version of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.

Curve round beyond these hills and head east roughly parallel to the Ebro and you find yourself in flattish terrain of bronze rock and hard soil, dotted with a...

Lost in the Fear Factory

  • August 25, 2014
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As anybody who has ever been exposed to a dangerous or life-threatening situation knows, fear is not a particularly useful emotion.   At an individual level, it can paralyse the resolve and confidence that you need to survive or go forward, undermine the mental clarity required to take essential decisions, and reduce you to a...

Ferguson: The Future in the Present?

Ferguson: The Future in the Present?

  • August 16, 2014
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The response of  the police of Ferguson, Missouri in response to protests at the apparent extrajudicial execution of black teenager Michael Brown has once again drawn attention to what the Economist has called the ‘hyper-military culture’ of the US police.

This culture has drawn the attention of civil liberties campaigners for some time,   in over-the-top...

Israel and Gaza: Sexy Cool Genocide

  • August 03, 2014
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In 1955 the dovish Israeli prime minister Moshe Sharett wrote in his diary that his countrymen had transformed revenge into a ‘sacred principle’ and worried that such tendencies ‘ must make the State appear in the eyes of the world as a savage state that does not recognize the principles of justice as they have...

Walter White, Aneurin Bevan, and the end of the NHS

  • July 11, 2014
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There can’t be many fans of tv crime drama who are unaware of the grim trajectory of Walter White in the hit series Breaking Bad.     To those who don’t know, White begins the series as a humble chemistry teacher diagnosed with cancer who resorts to cooking crystal meth in order to pay his...

One, two, three viva l’Algerie

  • July 03, 2014
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Algeria is not a country that has had much to celebrate recently.     In the 1990s, the Algerian government’s refusal to accept an imminent Islamist victory in national elections prompted a savage conflict between the ruling FLN and an array of Islamist groups.

An estimated 150, 000 Algerians died in a war of massacres and...

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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