When the news broke about the recent events in Japan, involving an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear crisis, it immediately hit the headlines across the world. In the process it replaced what had been the top international news story for many days – Libya.
On 30 January 1933 Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany and the Nazi Third Reich was born. Two days later the radio station in Berlin’s Potsdammerstrasse broadcast a talk by a 26-year-old theologian. The address had the dry title of “The Younger Generation’s Altered Concept of Leadership” but it was political dynamite because it dealt with the so-called Führer principle. It was an idea, popular in Germany since the end of the First World War, that what the country needed was a new, strong leader to guide it back to greatness. The young theologian explained how such a leader inevitably becomes an idol and a “mis-leader”. Before he could finish, the speech was cut off.
or Why Office Work is Bad for Us and Fixing Things Feels Good, by Matthew Crawford There is a detectable trend these days for the titles of books to be rather long. No more the snappy, catchy title, easily typed into a search engine or quoted in a bookshop or library – rather something which gives the game away before you’ve even looked into the work. Matthew Crawford’s book represents the trend. Its long title tells you what it’s all about in two, rather lengthy phrases.
In a speech last week US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned repressive governments not to restrict internet freedom, saying such efforts will ultimately fail.
Review: The Forsaken – From the Great Depression to the Gulags: Hope and Betrayal in Stalin’s Russia, by Tim Tzouliadis. This is a remarkable book, not least because its central theme is remarkable – Americans in the Gulag. How come Americans (lots of them) were held prisoner for years in the Soviet Union’s notorious slave-labour camps? It seems incredible but it’s true, and Tim Tzouliadis has done a great deal of research to tell us how it all came about and what happened to the people involved.
Anyone travelling around London in the recent past, whether visitors or locals, would have been bombarded by posters containing the word “Budapest” in large letters. An exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts entitled Treasures from Budapest was widely advertised as a major show and drew masses of people to the building on Piccadilly.
Are guidebooks facing extinction? That was the title of an article published recently in the UK’s The Observer. The author was exuberant about the possibilities of discovering unknown locations without any guidebook or map, but rather by means of the internet, and in particular by accessing so-called apps on a mobile phone, which give instant information about the environs of wherever you happen to be. It produced a string of criticisms about the naivety of relying on unknown sources and defending the use of a well-researched, reliable guidebook.
This appears to be a formidable book. The paperback edition weighs over 800 grams, is nearly five centimetres thick and has 602 pages. It’s enough to put you off before you begin. But it shouldn’t! Despite its length and serious context (the years preceding the Second World War, the war itself and the period following), this is a very readable novel, the plot of which carries you through, scene by scene, drama by drama, often in the manner of a thriller.
Take what must be one of the longest trolley-bus rides in the world – from Simferopol to Yalta, a journey of some 90 kilometres – and you first reach the southern coast of the Crimean peninsula at a place called Alushta. From here to Yalta and beyond, a string of Black Sea resorts welcomes thousands of mainly Russian- and Ukrainian-speaking holidaymakers every summer to what is still known as the Russian Riviera, though the peninsula is today part of Ukraine.