Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Writers and Writing Category
Writing and Terror: Peter Herman’s Unspeakable

Writing and Terror: Peter Herman’s Unspeakable

  • August 08, 2019
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From the so-called ‘anarchist terror’ of the late 19th century to al Qaeda and Islamic State, the history of terrorism is filled with episodes in which governments have overreacted to  terrorist violence.  Emergency antiterrorist legislation, military tribunals, wars and quasi-militarisation, extra-legal procedures, torture, administrative detention, national security hysteria – all these responses have been repeated throughout the relatively short period in which terrorism was first identified as a unique category of violence in the second half of the nineteenth century.

This uniqueness – and the tendency towards overreaction that has accompanied it – has often...

Ahmet Altan’s Freedom Song

Ahmet Altan’s Freedom Song

  • August 04, 2019
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There have been many times in my life, particularly during these last few years, when I have doubted my vocation as a writer.  Faced with the rise of populism, ‘post-truth’ politics, churnalism, nationalist demagoguery, and the shallowness and hysteria that so often underpins 21st century politics, it’s tempting in one’s more despondent moments to conclude...

The Savage Frontier: Page 99 Test

The Savage Frontier: Page 99 Test

  • January 17, 2019
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Marshal Zeringue’s Campaign for the American Reader blog has a fun exercise called ‘ the Page 99 test.’  Following Ford Madox Ford’s dictum ‘ Open the book at page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you,’ it invites writers to talk about page 99 in one of their...

What I’m Reading: Blog Piece

What I’m Reading: Blog Piece

  • January 15, 2019
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When I’m writing non-fiction, my reading tends be dominated by the subject in hand. I try to read obsessively on whatever project i’m writing about so that I’m completely filled up by it. When I’m in between books, as I am now, I try to read more freely, either catching up on books I’ve been...

The Infernal Machine: the Relaunch!

The Infernal Machine: the Relaunch!

  • December 29, 2018
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Hello world!  It’s been a while since I posted on this site, and I must apologize to my regular readers for my prolonged absence.  I haven’t been here for a number of reasons.  Firstly, I simply didn’t have time.  There is only so much of an average day that you can spend writing, and I...

Edward Abbey: Desert Warrior

Edward Abbey: Desert Warrior

  • March 04, 2018
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Over the last two years I’ve found myself reading a lot of what is often loosely called ‘nature writing’.  This is partly because of my forthcoming book  on the Pyrenees and my research into the so-called ‘discovery’ of the Pyrenees that took place during the nineteenth century.  This was a period when the Pyrenees were...

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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