Books

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.

Resistance Was Not Futile

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Review of 'The Irish War of Independence', Michael Hopkinson, Gill and Macmillan £24.99

The 1980s and 1990s were dominated by attempts by various academics to undermine any notion of popular mobilisation against the ruling order. Nowhere did that reach such a pitch as in Ireland. Many books and newspaper columns tried to denigrate the war fought for Ireland's independence from Britain between 1919 and 1921.

Mississippi Murder

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Review of 'The Little Friend', Donna Tart, Bloomsbury £16.99

From the gripping opening page of Donna Tartt's new novel, you know you are on unfamiliar ground. The book is set in the American Deep South--home to poisonous snakes and redneck preachers, a place of sweltering heat and exotic plants.

The book begins with the shocking murder of a much loved nine year old boy, Robin. The story then jumps forwards a few years and describes the impact of the murder on Robin's relatives--his eccentric aunts, his devastated mum Charlotte and his sisters Harriet and Allison.

Through the Maze

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Review of 'Carrying the Elephant', Michael Rosen, Penguin £7.99

We spent the afternoon in the park. He ran around like a loon playing French cricket with the girls and ate too many peanuts. In the evening we had cold meat and salad, and then went to bed. A couple of hours later he called out my name and I knew he was dying. Then the doctors said he was dying. Then they operated and he didn't wake up. Two days later I came home and saw his plate where he had left it. On it were two curled slices of salami he'd rejected. That was when the grief hit.

When Disaster Strikes

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Review of 'The Spirit of Terrorism', Jean Baudrillard, Verso £8; 'Ground Zero', Paul Virilio, Verso £8 and 'Welcome to the Desert of the Real!', Slavoj Zizek, Verso £8

The attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001 were, among other things, a cultural event. The destruction of the twin towers in particular was intended to have a symbolic effect. As Jean Baudrillard puts it, the towers 'have disappeared. But they have left us the symbol of their disappearance, their disappearance as symbol. They, which were the symbol of omnipotence, have become, by their absence, the symbol of the possible disappearance of that omnipotence--which is perhaps an even more potent symbol.'

The Way We Think Now

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Review of 'British Social Attitudes', National Centre for Social Research, Sage £37.50

There are always nuggets of fascinating information in the annual British Social Attitudes surveys. What is interesting about this year's is the themes that develop through some of the studies. One is the growing liberalism expressed by the findings on race, sexuality and drugs. The other is the gap found between some of New Labour's flagship policies and popular opinion.

In the Imagination

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Review of 'Albion', Peter Ackroyd, Chatto and Windus £25

Peter Ackroyd has written a range of great books that explore the relationships between a variety of historical times and places and the imaginations they foster. In his new book he sets out to find a 'native spirit that persists through time and circumstance' by looking for what was modern in Anglo-Saxon and medieval literature.

Up, Down and Out

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Review of 'Milosevic: A Biography', Adam LeBor, Bloomsbury £20

The Victorian writer Thomas Carlyle once commented that a well written life was as rare as a well spent one. Adam LeBor's biography of Slobodan Milosevic is that common thing--an inferior book about an infamous life.

Trouble and Strike

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Review of 'The Secret History of the IRA', Ed Moloney, Penguin £20 and 'Sinn Fein', Brian Feeney, O'Brian £11.99

These are two very different but equally invaluable books charting the tortured journey of contemporary Irish Republicanism towards constitutional politics. They are particularly illuminating about the transformation of the Provisional IRA from its pursuit of armed struggle against the British presence to ministerial office in the Stormont Assembly following the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which at the time of writing has been suspended for the second time in recent years.

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