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

Red Shift

Tom Wall
The Soviet Union was happy in the 1980s to forge links with a party that was acquiring more than its fair share of young intellectuals, many with influence in the Irish trade union movement. Nevertheless, Sinn Féin the Workers Party’s hostility to the IRA was a problem for Moscow.
Jan 30, 2020, 12:55 PM

Scholarship, snobbery, skulduggery

Jim Smyth
Sir John Harold Plumb was a prodigious historian and journalist. a tireless networker, a professor, master of Christ’s College, a member of the British Wine Standards Board. He collected porcelain, paintings, wine, acolytes, enemies, dowager duchesses and other people’s wives.
Jan 30, 2020, 12:51 PM

Washing the Nation’s Dirty Laundry

Ursula Quill
The women interned in mother-and-baby homes not only did forced penance for other people’s sins. They also quite literally washed the laundry of the state, including that of institutions like hospitals, the National Library, Áras an Uachtaráin and the ESB.
Jan 30, 2020, 12:43 PM

America Dreaming

Nicole de Silva
There was a time when the American Dream was taken to mean the integration of immigrants and a reasonable level of prosperity for all. Yet it is reasonable to point out the term’s elasticity of meaning, and that today some of the hardest-working Americans remain poor.
Jan 30, 2020, 12:38 PM

Owning Up

David Donoghue
After initial attempts to simply forget the past and focus on economic reconstruction, Germany’s record of coming to terms with Nazi-era crimes has been impressive. The same, regrettably, cannot be said of the US with regard to the history of slavery and racism in the American South.
Jan 30, 2020, 12:31 PM

Not so Innocent

Ciaran O’Neill
The ‘Irish slaves’ meme enjoyed considerable success on social media for some time before its lack of historical substance was exposed. As the evidence of both documents and bricks and mortar attests, there is more reason to be aware of Irish slaveowners than slaves.
Jan 30, 2020, 12:28 PM

A European Destiny

Michael Foley
A massive and erudite history of southeastern Europe from late antiquity to the present demonstrates that the region is properly part of the continent’s history and culture rather than a transitional place between ‘Western’ order and civilisation and the chaos of the Orient.
Jan 30, 2020, 09:34 AM

Putting it on

Catherine Kelly
Katherine O’Dell’s acting fame is based on being Hollywood-Irish, particularly in her role as a nun in the hugely successful ‘Mulligan’s Holy War’. Cinema, of course, trades in yearning and, as her daughter remarks, Katherine could miss the old sod standing in her own kitchen in Dublin.
Jan 30, 2020, 09:30 AM

Saturated with Light

Thomas McCarthy
Another perfect volume from Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, the poet of sunlight and cloisters. The collection is a joy to read, and a reminder, yet again, that poets are sent to amaze us, to bring us all nearer to the light.
Jan 30, 2020, 09:22 AM

Glimmering in the Dark

Ross Moore
In his artfully constructed second novel, which displays a fine ear for dialogue and a sharp eye for the workings of relationships, Neil Hegarty has conflated patriarchy, religion, violence and family in a manner that is both exactingly specific and utterly convincing.
Jan 30, 2020, 09:09 AM

Moving from the Familiar

Catherine Phil MacCarthy
Change, Anne Enright tells us, is chiefly what the short story is about, with something known at the end – or nearly known ‑ that was not known before. Many of Pat O’Connor’s stories begin in a place that is familiar to us but soon move to somewhere strange and unsettling.
Jan 30, 2020, 09:01 AM

Shandy, Anyone?

Tadhg Hoey
Imagine a ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ for the 21st century, except that the kitchens and flophouses have become nightclubs and galleries and the immigrant dishwashers and angry chefs have been replaced by vagabond writers and stoned conceptual artists.
Jan 30, 2020, 08:47 AM

A Place to Stand

Sean O’Hogain
Poems whose titles use the word ‘against’, like ‘Against Despair’, ‘Against Anxiety’ and ‘Against Earnestness’, are not Groucho Marx-inspired (‘whatever it is I’m against it’) but rather resemble small prayers, personal ones rather than those out of the churches’ lexicon.
Jan 30, 2020, 08:37 AM

A Safe European Home

Bryan Fanning
In 2015 Germany and Austria agreed on a policy which resulted in the resettling in Europe of more than a million Syrian refugees ‑ a far less daunting business than dealing with 30 million displaced people in the aftermath of World War II.
Jan 2, 2020, 18:09 PM

A Fetish for Failure

Eva Kenny
A few years ago the injunction to ‘Fail again. Fail better’ emerged as a mantra for the Silicon Valley types, ‘upfailing’ being, in inspirationalist thinking, just a stage of growth and self-enrichment. One shouldn’t need to say that this is all very remote from Samuel Beckett’s philosophy.
Jan 2, 2020, 18:05 PM

The Tigress in Winter

Rory Montgomery
After eleven years as prime minister, Margaret Thatcher was forced to resign in 1990. She lived another 22 years, while ‘Thatcherism’ lived on as a political memory for longer. Perhaps Labour’s huge losses to the Tories in the Midlands and North in last month’s election suggest that she is now in the process of being forgotten.
Jan 2, 2020, 18:01 PM

Standing Up for Justice

Patricia Craig
Mary Ann McCracken, sister of the executed 1798 leader Henry Joy, was an advanced thinker, a dedicated philanthropist and a model of composure, dignity and firmness. Long surviving her brother, she could be seen on Belfast docks aged 88 handing out anti-slavery pamphlets.
Jan 2, 2020, 17:53 PM

A Lick of Red Paint

Henry Patterson
The most intellectually influential journal of the British Marxist left found itself, over half a century, unable to say anything about the conflict in Ireland. Embarrassed by the sectarianism of the Provo campaign, British leftists nevertheless remained fixated on ‘the anti-imperialist struggle’.
Jan 2, 2020, 17:48 PM

An Ordinary Evil

Kevin Stevens
‘Game of Thrones’ is ubiquitous in our culture, yet two-thirds of millennial Americans do not know what Auschwitz is. A new study of Josef Mengele reminds us that we do not live in a world of sorcerers and dragons but one in which ordinary people are capable of unimaginable evil.
Jan 2, 2020, 17:43 PM

Paper-thin Walls

Andy Storey
The late Peter Sutherland was ‘among the most influential powerbrokers of the last thirty years or so’. Unfortunately, his biographer’s inability to seriously grapple with his exercise of that power causes the reader to veer between exasperation and, too often, frustrated laughter.
Jan 2, 2020, 17:40 PM