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Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

He Meant Well

Maurice Walsh
In 1949, the US’s chief strategic thinkers believed themselves to be ‘for all our shortcomings not only great but good, and therefore a dynamic force in the mind of the world’. In such a spirit the CIA sent Colonel Edward Lansdale to Vietnam in 1954. The goodness, such as it was, proved to be not enough.
May 4, 2018, 13:00 PM

Inventing the Working Class

Marc Mulholland.
Karl Marx, born 200 years ago this month, was ‘a true and loyal friend, but a vehement and hateful enemy’. To be in his small circle was to feel part of something historic, but also to be exposed to constant critical scrutiny. Once he feared for his political reputation, Marx let no politesse hold him back. His correspondence with Friedrich Engels is full of unedifying abuse of almost everyone they knew.
May 5, 2018, 11:29 AM

Greed and Good

Tom Hennigan
That Mario Vargas Llosa should champion liberal principles is scarcely surprising, given the damage wrought by rival doctrines in South America. His new study might have benefited, however, from considering the ways in which liberal politics seems to have come unstuck elsewhere.
Jun 8, 2018, 13:16 PM

Why not both?

Carmel Heaney
More and more people describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’. Yet perceptions of what it is to be religious have changed significantly and broadened over the last sixty years. Perhaps, for a good life, we need not just human rights culture but the Sermon on the Mount.
Jul 6, 2018, 12:47 PM

Too Dark Altogether

Angus Mitchell
The Congo Free State, a territory in which Belgium’s King Leopold II ran a hugely murderous regime of exploitation at the turn of the twentieth century, had been called ‘darkest Africa’. On this darkness, not of course innate, the campaigner ED Morel shone a strong light.
Jul 7, 2018, 10:53 AM

Tales from the Wardrobe

John Mulqueen
If historian Mark Mazower’s father was a quiet man, his reticence was nothing compared to his father’s. Starting from some diaries found in a wardrobe, Mazower has traced an epic and often tragic family history that played out against the turmoil and violence of the early twentieth century.
Oct 2, 2018, 17:16 PM

Justice Withheld

Ian Doherty
Anti-Catholic riots in London in 1780 led to 1,000 deaths. It would be almost another fifty years before equality of citizenship was finally established, the brilliant campaigning of O’Connell and the determination of Wellington finally overcoming the hysterical opposition of the king.
Oct 2, 2018, 17:31 PM

In Himself an Entire People

Seamus Deane
Charles de Gaulle was a traditional Catholic Christian. He rarely spoke of or even mentioned God but rarely failed to speak instead of France, the great stained-glass rose window in which the divine light had glowed through the centuries in radiance or in sombre melancholy.
Oct 2, 2018, 18:26 PM

The Genius and the Pedant

Johnny Lyons
Isaiah Berlin had not only a great gift for political philosophy but an unusual talent for verbal expression: his wartime diplomatic despatches from the US were greatly prized by Churchill. A new book by his editor surprisingly reveals that he was very reluctant to have his work published.
Nov 10, 2018, 09:02 AM

Counsel for Humanity

Pádraig McAuliffe
Hersch Lauterpacht and Raphael Lemkin, two of the fathers of modern international law, spent significant time in what is now the Ukrainian city of Lviv. A cultured oasis of Habsburg culture before the First World War, the city would change hands eight times between 1914 and 1944.
Dec 6, 2018, 13:48 PM

Starving Them Out

Martin Tyrrell
The naval blockade of Germany during the First World War is a subject that is little treated today. Yet estimates of civilian deaths caused by it range from around 400,000 to more than three-quarters of a million. Not until there were German signatures on the Treaty of Versailles was it fully lifted.
Dec 6, 2018, 13:54 PM

Paris Destroyed, Paris Surviving

Seamus Deane
Paris has always been a moveable feast. There are many people, Parisians and others, who think the city was destroyed long before Hitler ordered it to be burned in 1944 and others who think it has been repeatedly destroyed since, in the name of renovation, development, restoration.
Dec 6, 2018, 14:34 PM

Resisting Populism

Breandán Mac Suibhne
Actor, journalist, Fenian activist, historian, victim of police brutality, and, latterly, lawyer and lobbyist Gus Costello wrote with sympathy of the plight of African Americans in the ‘draft riots’ of 1863, a conflict featuring Irishmen on both sides, as police protectors and as members of the mob.
Mar 4, 2019, 18:43 PM

Freezing and Melting

Patricia Craig
More women than you might think have seen fit over the centuries to wander out, in good thick skirts or other climate-appropriate attire in the most far-flung of places. Most of the rest of us have preferred to stay at home, cosy and safe, reading of the savage beasts and strange peoples they encountered.
Mar 4, 2019, 19:33 PM

Believe in the Movement

Marc Mulholland
The young Eric Hobsbawm was intoxicated by the ‘stern discipline’ the revolutionary organisation demanded of its adherents. ‘Ground yourself in Leninism,’ he admonished himself in his diary. The communist militant had to be ‘totally unscrupulous and outrageously flexible’.
Mar 4, 2019, 19:39 PM

Lotharingia: Europe’s Lost Country, Simon Winder

Pity the poor continental children who must grapple with Charles the Bald, Charles the Bold, Charles the Fat, Charles the Simple, Philip the Bold, Philip the Fair and a good dozen of Henrys. To all of this complexity, Winder is a perpetually good-humoured guide.
Mar 14, 2019, 20:29 PM


John Mulqueen
We should be sceptical when great powers tell us a region is riven by age-old, unresolvable conflicts and hatreds. This was the kind of mystification that in 1938 supplied Britain and France with an excuse to abandon their ally Czechoslovakia, a European democracy, to Hitler.
Apr 3, 2019, 18:07 PM

Peace to end Peace

Angus Mitchell
In making the case that war is simply humanity’s natural lot, other causes of conflict, such as secret diplomacy, the arms trade, inequality, censorship to protect national security and industrial capitalism’s wish to profit from misery, perhaps get off rather lightly.
May 2, 2019, 06:55 AM

The SS’s Bargaining Chips

David Blake Knox
As World War Two drew to an end, a number of prominent prisoners of the Germans were moved to South Tyrol in the Italian Alps. Among them were veterans of the Great Escape, two former European prime ministers and a handful of Irishmen who had served in the British army.
May 2, 2019, 07:29 AM

Time’s Factory

Fintan Calpin
Ali Smith’s novels have always been interested in deviant temporalities and ‘unexpected afterlives’. Her narratives are never singular or isolated, but a gathering of threads and she has also pushed at the formal boundaries between the novel and the essay.
May 2, 2019, 13:21 PM