Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Writers and Writing Category

Saint Hitchens

  • December 18, 2011
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Clearly atheists cannot be saints, but the media response to Christopher Hitchens’ death doesn’t fall far short of a kind of secular canonisation.   I’m not going to comment on those who knew him as friends, because friendship generates its own priorities, but enough already, of this brave seeker after truth/new George Orwell/contrarian business.

I liked Hitchens’ writing once, and I used to have two books of his collected essays, but I wasn’t a full-on disciple.   Despite his undoubted skill and stylistic brilliance, I sensed a self-important writer who was a little...

The death of Christa Wolf

  • December 03, 2011
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The German writer Christa Wolf died this week, aged 82.   For much of her career she was known as an East German writer of course.   During the Cold War she wasn’t pro-Western enough to be considered a dissident, but she was too individual and idiosyncratic to fit within the...

Niall Ferguson – a man of our time

  • November 27, 2011
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I have never read any of Niall Ferguson’s books and I hope I won’t have to.  But I have read his articles and the occasional interview and I have always found him an insufferably pompous, arrogant,  self-regarding prat (eg. ” the real point about me isn’t that I’m good-looking, it’s that I’m clever”...

The deadline cometh

  • November 19, 2011
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It’s been a bit difficult to find time to blog over the last week or so.  The main reason is the approaching deadline for my book on borders and immigration, which is due to be handed over to my publishers next month.   I always find the process of finishing a book difficult...

Rami Zurayk’s War Diary

  • October 02, 2011
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I’ve just read Rami Zurayk’s magnificent War Diary: Lebanon 2006, a searing account of the 33-day Israel-Hizbullah war that began in July 2006, when Hizbullah carried out a cross-border raid in which 2 Israeli soldiers were kidnapped and 3 killed.

Determined to restore the ‘credibility of its military deterrent’,  Israel unleashed what later became known as...

Harigate and the Independent’s shameful cover-up

  • September 15, 2011
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After nearly two months of expectation and speculation, the Independent has announced the result of its ‘inquiry’ into the various accusations levelled against its columnist Johann Hari.

Yesterday Hari published a characteristically  self-serving apology, which admitted to plagiarism and conducting vicious ‘sock-puppeting’ campaigns against people he dislikes on the Internet, and yet still managed 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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