Rachel Cohen

Testament of Youth

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Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth is based on Vera Brittain’s remarkable First World War memoir. Published in 1933 and covering the years 1900 to 1925, it is an account of falling in love, coming of age and devastating wartime loss. Vera lost her brother Edward, her fiancé Roland Leighton and close friends Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow. They, along with almost three-quarters of a million British soldiers perished in the trenches and on the battlefields of Europe.

The Last Asylum

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In a culture where mental illness still carries much stigma Barbara Taylor’s memoir is an important book about pain and treatment.

Taylor, a biographer of Mary Wollstonecraft, describes her agonising journey of mental collapse. In the 1980s she began psychoanalysis in order to seek help for her anxiety, depression, insomnia and drinking.

She was admitted to Friern mental asylum — the largest asylum in Europe which closed its doors in 1993, a year after Taylor was discharged.

Out of Time: The Pleasures and Perils of Aging

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Lynne Segal, Verso, £16.99

This is a beautifully written book of the complexities of aging in a society that treats the old with disdain or indifference while prizing youth and "newness".

Drawing on literature, memoirs and sociological research with older people, as well as historical writing and journalism, Lynne Segal examines what it means to age, both culturally and physically.

She surveys the "varied and inconsistent" memoirs of writers who try to make sense of their aging as they celebrate, lament, or try to meet the challenge of a new vulnerability.

Hawks and Doves Unite

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Review of 'Israel/Palestine', Tanya Reinhart, Seven Stories £7.99

Tanya Reinhart is a linguistics scholar who turned to political writing after the deception of the Palestinian people over the so called peace negotiations of Oslo. Reinhart has been a consistent political activist. She has produced a concise but detailed and accessible analysis of the machinations of the Israeli state. This book debunks myth after myth concerning the Camp David negotiations with a series of illuminating quotes from Israeli military and government officials shedding further light on Israel's true intentions.

Moving Down the Highways of Life

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Review of 'I'm Going Home', director Manoel de Oliveira

I'm Going Home' is a French film by the little known but prolific Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira. Michel Piccoli's protagonist, Gilbert Valance, is an ageing and principled actor who meets tragedy one night after the show. Like many recent French films 'I'm Going Home' opens with the scene of a play, in this case Ionesco's 'Exit the King' in which Gilbert is the lead. The metaphor soon becomes clear. After the curtain falls he learns that his wife and daughter have been killed in a car accident. He is left alone with a small grandchild whom he tries to comfort and be comforted by.

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