The other side of the curtain

A Soviet soldier and a Czechoslovakian woman tune in. Prague, 1968. Photo by Mondadori/Getty During the Cold War, US propagandists worked to provide a counterweight to Communist media, but truth eluded them all by Melissa Feinberg is associate professor of history at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Her latest book is Curtain of Lies: The Battle over Truth in Stalinist Eastern Europe (2017). On 22 December 1949, with Cold War tensions running high, the United States president Harry S Truman gave a speech to dedicate the carillon at Arlington National Cemetery. Freedom, Truman declared, was the core of the American creed. Those buried at … Continue reading The other side of the curtain

The British Guys Who Cruise Outdoor Areas for Impromptu Sex With Other Men and/or Women

by C. Brian Smith Or as it’s known across the pond—‘dogging’ Brits like to bone in public. So much so that more than half the participants of a recent survey admitted to having had sex in a public place — parking lots, the back seat of cars in parking lots, woodland coves with cars in parking lots, etc. In fact, after speeding, it was the second most common crime Brits admitted to having committed. The slang term for this, “dogging” (or sex in public while other people watch), originates from the phrase “to walk the dog” since a) dog walkers in the U.K. regularly … Continue reading The British Guys Who Cruise Outdoor Areas for Impromptu Sex With Other Men and/or Women

Alt-Right or jihad?

image edited by Fernando Kaskais – The Brussels suburb of Molenbeek Unleashed by globalisation’s dark side and the collapse of communities, radical Islam and the alt-Right share a common cause by Scott Atran is the director of research in anthropology at the CNRS, École Normale Supérieure, and a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford. He is co-founder of Artis Research, and the author of Talking to the Enemy (2010) and In Gods We Trust (2002). The last of the shell-shocked were being evacuated as I headed from home toward Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s famed tourist-filled walkway in August 2017. Another disgruntled ‘soldier of ISIS’ had just … Continue reading Alt-Right or jihad?

Monster mash

All images © The British Library Board Beastly births, ass-popes and satanic hybrids: nothing distils the weirdness of the early moderns like their woodcuts Jon Crabb is a writer, art historian and editor for British Library Publishing. His latest book is Graven Images: The Art of the Woodcut (2017). Divine visions, terrifying monsters, bizarre beasts. The intricate woodcut prints of the 16th and 17th centuries capture the fear and wonder of a world transfixed by invention and transformed by knowledge. Known as the early modern period or, more lavishly, the Age of Discovery, these years represent a temporal space that was a liminal … Continue reading Monster mash

Intimate spaces

Photo by Eve Arnold/Magnum In his Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard created a philosophy of at-homeness, rich in emotion and memory Gillian Darley is a writer and broadcaster specialising in architecture and landscape. Her latest book, with co-author David McKie, is Ian Nairn: Words in Place (2013).  She lives in London. I bought my copy of Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space at the Architectural Association’s Triangle Bookshop, at a time when inner London telephone codes still began with ‘071’ and while I was the architectural correspondent of the Sunday newspaper The Observer. That copy has been on the bookshelf above my desk ever since, kept for a … Continue reading Intimate spaces

Spoiling for a fight

image edited by Web Investigator –  Image courtesy the Trustees of the British Library Short of a battlefield, the most violent place in medieval England was Oxford. Why did Brits stop beating each other up? by Jim Sharpe is professor emeritus of early modern history at the University of York. He is the author of Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman (2004). On 10 February 1355, St Scholastica Day, two students at the University of Oxford got into a dispute with the landlord of the tavern at which they had been drinking. The quality of the wine, they felt, was not … Continue reading Spoiling for a fight

Les anglo-saxons

France, 1950. Photo by Mark Kauffman/LIFE/Getty Not just American or British, the Anglo-Saxon is a mirror to Frenchness: the country’s alter-ego and most feared enemy by Emile Chabal is a chancellor’s fellow in history and the director of the Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Edinburgh. In the English-speaking world, the term ‘Anglo-Saxon’ usually refers to a specific period in medieval history. Occasionally, a residual contemporary usage creeps back into general parlance – such as the common expression ‘White Anglo-Saxon Protestant’, used to describe a certain type of American East Coast elite – but this is unusual. … Continue reading Les anglo-saxons