BlueGreenEarth:
Reviews, Interviews, Extracts, Features
 
REVIEW: When Red Guards went on the Rampage
 
Nien Cheng (Life and Death in Shanghai), who has recently died in the United States aged 94, felt the full force of Mao's Cultural Revolution and lived to tell the tale in a memoir full of insights that are still relevant today, writes MICHAEL WAGSTAFF.
REVIEW: A Tiger in Bondage
 
According to Robert Baer (SEE NO EVIL: the true story of a ground soldier in the CIA’s war on terrorism), who served the CIA for 20 years, the company is now a tied-up toothless tiger but MICHAEL WAGSTAFF wonders whether the chains might be taken off and the teeth put back in.
REVIEW: Philip Roth
 
Reading Philip Roth in his present mood is like negotiating with a wraith, writes MICHAEL WAGSTAFF. In review are Everyman (2006); Exit Ghost (2007); Indignation (2008) & The Humbling (2009).
INTERVIEW: The Philosophers' Quarrel
 
Robert Zaretsky and John T. Scott, authors' of The Philosophers’ Quarrel: Rousseau, Hume and the Limits of Human Understanding, answer questions about the little row between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and David Hume.
REVIEW: Armour-plated History
 
The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History, by Philip Bobbitt:

For those who have always wondered exactly what the 20th century with its empire-building, world wars, nation-forming, societal upheaval, corporate hegemony and constitutional change was all about, this is the book to read, albeit with some caution, writes ROBERT ALLEN.

REVIEW: Citizen Wolfowitz and the Nowhere Man
 
The debris from the Bush catastrophe lies all around us, in Iraq, Afghanistan, the ‘war on terror’ and the economic crisis. An immense cauldron of human misery. Experienced journalists, like Nick Cohen, should have seen through it all but, argues MICHAEL WAGSTAFF, instead lost their way and now shout insults into the darkness while safely tucked up in the cosy world of the columnist. In Review - What’s Left? How Liberals lost their way, by Nick Cohen; Democracy and Revolution: Latin America and Socialism Today, by D. L. Raby.
REVIEW: Chess Pieces
 
Jeremy Silman's books on chess are jewels, says MICHAEL WAGSTAFF. In Review: Silman's Complete Endgame Course: From Beginner To Master and The Amateur's Mind: Turning Chess Misconceptions Into Chess Mastery.
REVIEW: "Jaysus, this is great, we have our own gas, God it will be great"
 
Five Irishmen describe how they took on the might of Shell, and the ostensibly democratic institutions set up to protect them, and won after a long campaign, which, writes MICHAEL WAGSTAFF, included a spell in jail. In Review: Our Story by the Rossport 5, by Mark Garavan, Willie and Mary Corduff, Micheál and Caitlín Ó Seighin,
Philip and Maureen McGrath, Brendan Philbin, Vincent and Maureen McGrath
.
REVIEW: No Heroes
 
The 1953 coup in Iran that ousted the popular prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh was a setback for the country's political development and directly led to the bloodletting that followed, but, writes MICHAEL WAGSTAFF, reading some Western authors you wouldn't know how bad it really was. In Review: Iran Today, by Dilip Hiro and All the Shah's Men, by Stephen Kinzer.
REVIEW: "She took off her scarf at the Loya Jirga, she'll take her off her pants in parliament"
 
Malalai Joya, the youngest MP in the Afghan parliament, and Tariq Ali, the Pakistan-born commentator, have much to tell us about the realities behind the so-called 'war on terror' writes MICHAEL WAGSTAFF.
FEATURES: The Outsider, by Robert Allen
 
Irène Némirovsky’s unfinished novel Suite Française, published 62 years after her death, is regarded as the literary find from the 20th century. It has fascinated critics and readers and, as more of her books are translated into English, prompted an inquest into the life of this Ukrainian-born Jew who perished in Auschwitz in 1942. ROBERT ALLEN looks at her latest novel translated into English and the first of two recent biographies.
Third Reich at War REVIEW: The Nazis and their Children
 
Richard J. Evans’ trilogy on the Nazis’ Third Reich is predictable, writes MICHAEL WAGSTAFF, unlike Margrit Schiller’s Baader-Meinhof memories which asks the awkward questions that have no easy answers. Even today, decades after that Doris Day era, the history of post-war German history is still too sensitive for proper historical study. [...] Instead we find it more comfortable to write about the Nazis, because the script is unequivocal.
The Priest of Paraguay REVIEW: The Priest of Paraguay, by Hugh O'Shaughnessy and Edgar Venerando Ruiz Diaz
 
Events in Paraguay over the past 60 years have been the raw material for political thrillers but, MICHAEL WAGSTAFF writes, O'Shaughnessy and Diaz in their book on Fernando Lugo – the Priest of Paraguay – only tell part of the story. But you want to know about what's going on in this obscure South America state you'll want to read it.
Empire's Workshop REVIEW: Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States & the rise of the new imperialism, by Greg Grandin
 
"In Latin America there are no terrorists, only hunger and unemployment and delinquents who turn to crime," said General Rene Vargas in response to another US intervention on South America, where, MICHAEL WAGSTAFF realises, the Yanks' free market theories are no longer welcome.
Switzerland: an Overview REVIEW: Switzerland: an Overview by Emil Zopfi et al
 
Switzerland attracts tourists who marvel at its natural beauty and technological sophistication but the Swiss people aren’t as enamoured with their country, says ROBERT ALLEN. This book is an honest appraisal of modern Switzerland.
REVIEW: I Am Alone - WALTER MACKEN: Dreams on Paper by Ultan Macken
 
Sixty years ago despite opposition to his books from the establishment in Ireland, the Irish writer Walter Macken wrote his breakthrough novel, Rain On The Wind. Macmillan, Macken’s London publisher, decided to market his books as romantic fiction aimed at the Irish diaspora in America and Britain. It put the Galway-born novelist in a successful sub-genre of his own, but, writes ROBERT ALLEN, it never gave him the stature of other 20th century Irish novelists.
Inverting the Pyramid REVIEW: Inverting the Pyramid: A History of Football Tactics, by Jonathan Wilson
 
Jonathan Wilson’s history of soccer tactics, from 2-3-5 to 4-5-1, is a compelling and interesting book - it chronicles progression in the story of tactical changes and the people who made them since soccer became a professional sport. But, argues ROBERT ALLEN, it doesn’t tell the full story.
Knut Hamsun: Dreamer and Dissenter REVIEW: Knut Hamsun: Dreamer and Dissenter, by Ingar Sletten Kolloen
 
The long awaited English language translation of Ingar Sletten Kolloen’s biography of Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun, appearing during the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Nordlander’s birth, should have been a literary event to savour. Instead, writes robert allen, Kolloen's work is an assassination attempt on Hamsun’s multifaceted character.
Allen Ginsberg REVIEW: Allen Ginsberg: The Last American Hero: reviews of The Letters of Allen Ginsberg and The Selected Letters of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder.
 
Author, Bill Morgan, brings the American poet’s personal life into the public domain. His latest activity sees the publication of some of Ginsberg’s letters. ROBERT ALLEN reads them and looks back to the period of Ginsberg’s passing and the impact it had on those who believed they had witnessed the demise of a soaring comet.
EXTRACT: Seeking Solace, by Robert Allen
 
From the forthcoming book, Imagining Ireland: Storytellers, Quiet Men and Scholars. Imagining Ireland, its people, traditions, the continuing transitions from the old to the new has been an intellectual pursuit since the 11th century. By the 20th century, a rustic, primitive image of a poetic people whose lives are ordered by old ways had hardened into a modern literary tradition. It was an image that was hardly ever authentic. We had suddenly been alienated from our own culture; our voices were stilled.
INTERVIEWS: Chellis Glendinning, author of Chiva: A Village Takes on the Global Heroin Trade, interview and introduction by Robert Allen
 
Reclamation in the Face of Globalization - an introduction to the work of Chellis Glendinning: Chiva is a book about community empowerment in the face of the most vile intertwining of greed, government complicity, and corporate development one can imagine.
FEATURES: Political Art & Creativity, by Robert Allen
 
"Once art becomes part of the mainstream it is no longer art, it is a commodity, something that has to have a value. The images, stories, songs and artistry of the corporate world are manufactured items that serve a function for commerce, they do not and never will be mistaken for creative art."
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