Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Writers and Writing Category

Je Suis Raif Badawi

  • January 17, 2015
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We’ve heard a great deal over the last two weeks from Western governments about free speech and freedom of expression.   We’ve heard that free speech is a defining value of our civilization that ‘the terrorists’ want to take away from us.     We’ve heard from Francois Hollande that ‘France has principles and values, in particular freedom of expression.’     David Cameron has told us only this week that ‘ we have made clear to those who think they can muzzle freedom of speech and expression with violence that our voices will...

The folly of Roberto Saviano

  • January 15, 2015
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I’m a huge admirer of Roberto Saviano’s remorseless denunciation of the Neapolitan Camorra Gomorrah.   When I read it some years ago I was blown away by its incendiary prose, its moral fury and the almost reckless courage of its author.   Literary reviewers often refer to ‘brave’ books from writers who face no risks,...

Terrorism: the Medea Syndrome

  • September 14, 2014
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Violence and the consequences of violence are recurring themes in   Greek classical drama, particularly in the works of the three great tragic dramatists Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripedes.     All three were citizens of an Athenian state that waged imperial wars of conquest as well as defensive wars against foreign aggression.   Aeschylus...

The Honourable Woman

  • July 08, 2014
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I tend to be wary of Western films and dramas about the Middle East.   Too often they tend to reduce Middle Eastern politics to easily digestable and simplistic tropes whose primary purpose is entertainment.

As Jack Sheehan has pointed out in Reel Bad Arabs, Hollywood has a particularly bad record when it comes to dealing...

Generation War

  • May 11, 2014
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Last night I watched the last part of the German WWII mini-series Generation War.   For those of you that haven’t seen it, the series has provoked strong reactions in Germany and also abroad.   Some German historians have hailed it as an honest and unvarnished account of the war on the Eastern Front, in...

George Orwell’s Grave

  • April 30, 2014
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George Orwell is a writer who has had a big influence on my writing, politics,   and even my choice of residence at one time.     I’m currently preparing a book proposal about 1984 and the dystopian imagination.     So on Saturday I took advantage of a trip to the West Country to...

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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