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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs: "Mark Thwaite ... has a maverick, independent mind"

Blog entries on '26 May 2006'

Friday 26 May 2006


David Herman reviews The Hooligan's Return by Norman Manea (via 3 Quarks).

According to the wikipedia: "Norman Manea (born 19 July 1936) is a Romanian writer and intellectual, born in Burdujeni, Suceava County, Bukovina. Because he was Jewish in the time of Fascist-controlled Romania, Manea was deported in 1941 (at the age of 5) together with the rest of his family to a concentration camp in Transnistria, but survived, along with his whole family ... Manea is one of the most internationally famous contemporary Romanian writers, considered more popular abroad than in his native country."

Posted by Mark Thwaite

Friday 26 May 2006

Friday Science: Global warming

Is it, as James Lovelock claims, already too late to save humanity and the planet we rely on? We don't know, but there doesn't seem to be too solid a ground for confidence. Unfortunately, I missed David Attenborough's recent TV programme on the subject, but you can read his views here. Attenborough has remained as sceptical as possible for as long as he could, but now, he says, it is time to get "engaged".

It's probably not the kind of engagement Attenborough had in mind, but's free weekly email intelligence reports said this week that Earth First! is promising to launch a radical campaign against climate change, taking direct action including the blocking of refineries and generally aiming to "make a lot of noise".'s analysts are sceptical that this will make much difference, but the seriousness of the problem certainly seems to demand, at the very least, noise.

Not least because New Scientist reports this week that climate change can even affect the "frequencies of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and catastrophic sea-floor landslides". Unfortunately, this article isn't available on the website ...

Perhaps what we really need to wake people up to the dangers of climate change, says Marguerite Holloway in Scientific American, is a new Silent Spring, the 1962 book by Rachel Carson widely credited with launching the environmentalist movement. If Holloway is right, we could have found it in Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert. It could, she argues, be "this era's galvanising text."

Posted by Stuart Watkins

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Memorial Tablet

Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare:
For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
‘In proud and glorious memory’... that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire?

-- Siegfried Sassoon
Collected Poems (Faber and Faber)

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Word of the Day

The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

Pre-order Anu Garg's new book: The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or Two: The Hidden Lives and Strange Origins of Common and Not-So-Common Words (ISBN 9780452288614), published by Penguin more …

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October's Books of the Month

The New Spirit of Capitalism The New Spirit of Capitalism
Luc Boltanski; Eve Chiapello
Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM Horizons Touched: The Music of ECM
Steve Lake, Paul Griffiths

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