Berfrois

Alexander McGregor on the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands

Alexander McGregor on the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands

Japan’s emergent culture of remilitarisation may be focused on the current Senkaku question but that is not its cause.

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O Tannenbaum

O Tannenbaum

Dd it ever strike you as a strange thing to drag a living tree once a year into your home and set it up to worship? If you are old enough, you may have seen decorating fashions come and go.

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72 days in 1871

72 days in 1871

L’imaginaire de la Commune is the title of Kristin Ross’s new book in its first, French edition. It is debatable whether this laconic phrasing could have survived the passage into English with its resonances unimpaired.

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Pynchon is truly the forgotten founding father of colonial New England…

Pynchon is truly the forgotten founding father of colonial New England…

On October 16, 1650, the General Court of Boston summoned the town executioner. Like his name, the executioner’s thoughts as he made his way to the marketplace that afternoon, far from the gallows at Boston Common, remain lost to history.

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Pea soup was usually made from dried yellow split peas, not green ones…

Pea soup was usually made from dried yellow split peas, not green ones…

During the Victorian era, the worst London fogs occurred in the 1880s and ’90s, most often in November. Yet as early as 1853, in the opening pages of “Bleak House,” Charles Dickens refers to “implacable November weather”

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Alexander McGregor on Leopold II of Belgium

Alexander McGregor on Leopold II of Belgium

“The mind of man is capable of anything because everything is in it, all the past as well as the future”, wrote Conrad in Heart of Darkness. This rather begs the historical question of responsibility. Were these actions the result of Leopold’s capriciousness or will?

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Everyday events could make nuclear war seem imminent…

Everyday events could make nuclear war seem imminent…

My mother doesn’t remember Pearl Harbor. But she was there. Barely two months old, she spent the raid held tightly by her mother in an improvised bomb shelter, where the two of them had joined some Honolulu neighbors.

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Meowzart

Meowzart

The absurdity of a cat piano has no doubt contributed to its appeal across the centuries. But the license granted in the space of the imaginary points to illicit aspects of the real.

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Manik Sharma: When Battalions Come

Manik Sharma: When Battalions Come

The earliest roots of the intelligence agency, as having a bone and mortar identity, began with the establishment of the British Intelligence Bureau, in Shimla, in 1878.

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Was Napoleon the true progenitor of the European Union?

Was Napoleon the true progenitor of the European Union?

In the spring of 1812, on the eve of commanding more than 600,000 soldiers to invade Russia, Napoleon Bonaparte laid out his plans for the future of Europe.

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Late Excursions Through the London Streets

Late Excursions Through the London Streets

At the end of the seventeenth century a new literary genre or subgenre emerged in England, one that might be characterized as the nocturnal picaresque.

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Iron Laughs

Iron Laughs

I did survive communism and even laughed. But I've stopped laughing many times since. First of all, of course, because in the former Yugoslavia, the collapse of the old system brought wars.

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Alison Kinney on the Bayeux Embroidery

Alison Kinney on the Bayeux Embroidery

The masterpiece—the war memorial, wall hanging, apologia—tells the same old story, a case of do or die: a tale of friends betrayed, cross-Channel invasion, and the passage of a comet heralding the doom of old England.

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The Bird and Baby

The Bird and Baby

During the hectic middle decades of the 20th century, from the end of the Great Depression through the Second World War and into the 1950s, a small circle of intellectuals gathered weekly in and around the University of Oxford to drink, smoke, quip, cavil, read aloud their works in...

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Religious practice and identity after the war was neither condoned nor condemned…

Religious practice and identity after the war was neither condoned nor condemned…

Whether oppression and resistance, Soviet domination and domestic nationalism, or Communist ideology and state practices, the collapse of Communism has forced scholars to find a middle ground among extremes.

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Shut Not Your Doors

Shut Not Your Doors

In October 1865, a 22-year-old wordsmith living on Ashburton Place, behind the Massachusetts State House, filed what has to be one of the nastiest book reviews ever published.

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Thoreau’s Walk

Thoreau’s Walk

Summer and winter our eyes had rested on the dim outline of the mountains in our horizon, to which distance and indistinctness lent a grandeur not their own, so that they served equally to interpret all the allusions of poets and travellers

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Can benevolent autocrats be trusted with development?

Can benevolent autocrats be trusted with development?

Historians have recently begun to investigate how development became central to the global humanitarian politics of the twentieth century, and why it has never been able to deliver on its promises.

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‘Freud tended to dodge political questions’

‘Freud tended to dodge political questions’

The problem with the V-2 rocket, wrote George Orwell from London, is that “unlike most other projectiles, it gives you time to think.

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