Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Writers and Writing Category

The Wisdom of Martin Amis

  • February 08, 2013
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There are a lot of writers who I have admired and drawn inspiration from in the course of my life, but Martin Amis is not one of them.     Even in the 80s, when he first began to break it big, I was repelled by his   showy, look-at-me prose, which always seemed to be straining to get the world to adore him as much as he clearly adored himself.

I have no time whatsoever for writers – or people – like that.     And I felt that there was more than...

Sour Times

  • September 14, 2012
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Years ago, in the midst of World War I, the great Austrian satirist Karl Kraus wrote – or rather compiled – a massive play entitled The Last Days of Humanity, which remains one of the most ferocious anti-war polemics ever written.

In it the pacifist Kraus brought all his formidable satirical skills to bear as he...

In Praise of George Clare

  • August 17, 2012
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I”ve just got back from a Central European holiday with my family.   We flew to Slovakia and then travelled by train from Bratislava to Vienna, followed by a long train journey to Kosice, the second city of Slovakia, in the eastern borderland area near Poland and Ukraine.

Internet access was intermittent and the frequent change...

In praise of Ronald Fraser

  • April 21, 2012
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I’m currently reading Napoleon’s Cursed War (2008)  by the incomparable British historian Ronald Fraser, who died this February at the age of 81.  I previously knew Fraser’s work from Blood of Spain, his peerless oral history of the Spanish Civil War, which I read many years ago.

This is a very different, but no less...

Himadeep Muppidi and the Colonial Gaze

  • March 21, 2012
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I’ve just read Himadeep Muppidi’s astonishing  The Colonial Signs of International Relations, which is published by my publisher Hurst & Co.  Muppidi is a political scientist and Associate Professor of International Studies at Vassar College, New York, and his book is a compelling reflection on the intellectual impact of colonialism on his own discipline.

If...

Scandinavia: Our Imaginary Hell

Scandinavia: Our Imaginary Hell

  • January 29, 2012
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Things are getting fraught in Borgen,  the new series by the Danish company DR productions, which produced The Killing.     The corrupt and amoral political shark Laugesen has published a tell-all memoir which dishes the dirt on the sex-lives of some of the ministers in Birgitte Nyborg’s coalition government.

The Special Branch have been bugging...

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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