Books

Interview: Boualem Sansal

May 6, 2010

Thirty years ago, an Algerian engineer got lost and wound up in a small village, several hours out of his way. The village was spotless, with flowers growing everywhere, quite unlike others in the region. Curious, he asked around and discovered that the village chief was German. "He was a war criminal who had escaped to Egypt at the end of the war", the former engineer now recalls. "When the Algerian War of Independence started, he was sent to Algeria as a military adviser.

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Review: The Escape Of Sigmund Freud

By Madeleine Kingsley, April 29, 2010

By David Cohen
JR Books, £18.99

How fortunate that Freud's famous couch is a museum piece, no longer in professional service. Patients of the great Sigmund's successors could be mightily distracted by the secret of how this Persian-rugged antique came out of Nazified Austria to rest (along with 20 suitcases, Freud's personal library and a thousand objets d'art ) at 20 Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead.

David Cohen's masterly book reveals how, in 1938, the aged father of psychoanalysis fled Vienna thanks to the very Nazi commissar assigned to seize Freud's papers and assets.

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Review: Fear

By Jonathan Beckman, April 22, 2010

By Stefan Zweig (Trans: Anthea Bell)
Pushkin Press, £10

Irene Wagner is a bored Viennese housewife who, to vary the round of walks and tea-parties with which a woman of her position was expected to occupy herself, takes a lover - a déclassé, somewhat raffish pianist.

Leaving an assignation one day, she is confronted by a snapping harridan (whose unconvincing Billingsgate mars Andrea Bell's otherwise elegant translation), who accuses Irene of stealing her man.

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Irving Penn: Small Trades

By Clive Sinclair, April 22, 2010

By Virginia A Heckert and Anne Lacoste
J. Paul Getty Museum, £34.99

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The Political Right In Israel: Different Faces of Jewish Populism

By Colin Shindler, April 15, 2010

By Dani Filc
Routledge £75

Why do so many impoverished Israelis vote for the Right? Netanyahu's policies of privatisation and empowerment of the private sector clearly seem to be against their interests. Yet they shout: "Long live Bibi and Israel".

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The world turned upside down: the global battle over god, truth and power

By David Conway, April 15, 2010

By Melanie Phillips
Encounter Books, £13.99

Many westerners subscribe to one or more of the following propositions, all patently false according to Melanie Phillips. Why they do forms the subject of her far-ranging, absorbing study.

First, in its long-running conflict with the Palestinians, Israel has always been and remains principal aggressor and they principal victims.

Second, the West was taken to war in 2003 on the false pretext that it faced imminent threat from weapons of mass destruction that the Saddam regime had manufactured and was stockpiling.

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Review: Final Demands

By Madeleine Kingsley, April 8, 2010

By Frederic Raphael
JR Books, £16.99

Dust off your classical dictionary; fine-tune your ear to irony, aphorism and erudition. Frederic Raphael's Final Demands fires all his favourite literary feux d'artifice, so you may as well come duly equipped to this third novel in the Glittering Prizes trilogy.

Few readers (and viewers) over 50 need an introduction to Raphael's recurring hero Adam Morris, the too-clever-to-be-kosher Cambridge graduate who, with his coterie of media stars and academics, took the 1960s by storm, scholarship and a soupçon of Hollywood scriptwriting.

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Review: No Enchanted Palace

By Adam Lebor, April 8, 2010

By Mark Mazower
Princeton University Press, £16.95

For Israeli governments and their supporters, the United Nations is only slightly less malevolent than the devil incarnate.

Numerous UN bodies, whose memberships are dominated by the developing and Islamic worlds, are obsessed with Israel. Bashing the Jewish state provides a useful distraction from those decrepit regimes' failures to provide basic freedoms and services for their citizens.

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Review: The Myths of Liberal Zionism

By Jonathan Beckman, April 1, 2010

By Yitzhak Laor
Verso, £14.99

Somewhere inside this tendentious rant are the seeds of much better book. It would be about the strangeness of Israel's attitude towards Europe: how does it psychologically accommodate its close relationship to countries that connived in the destruction of so many Jews? And why does it so vigorously aspire to envisage itself as Western?

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Making mutual hatred

By Irwin Mansdorf, April 1, 2010

Nazi Propaganda for the Arab world
By Jeffrey Herf
Yale University Press, £20

From Empathy to denial
By Meir Litvak and Esther Webman
Hurst, £25

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