Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Writers and Writing Category

Snobbery is Good for You

  • November 02, 2015
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Today, while waiting to have my hair cut, I happened to come across a Howard Jacobson article in the weekly Independent about Germaine Greer.    This wasn’t an unexpected or a guilty pleasure.  I rarely find reading Jacobson a pleasure at all, and I don’t really care too much to hear about what he thinks about anything.  For one thing I don’t  find him nearly as funny or as witty or incisive as he seems to regard himself, and he also exudes a certain supercilious sense of his own cleverness...

Eduardo Galeano 1940-2015: Presente

  • April 16, 2015
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I was sorry to hear of the death of Eduardo Galeano   this week.       There was a time when he had a big impact on my own political formation and my own understanding of history.   I first read Open Veins of Latin America sometime in the late 70s when I...

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,...

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

Terrorism: the Medea Syndrome

  • September 14, 2014
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Violence is a recurring theme in  Greek classical drama,  and the works of the three great tragic dramatists Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripedes.     All three were citizens of a democratic Athenian state that waged wars of conquest as well as defensive wars against foreign aggression, and some of them participated in these wars.  ...

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...

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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