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Notes on…London’s secondhand bookshops

After seeing the Dalai Lama receive an award at St Paul’s Cathedral, I thought I’d look in at some secondhand bookshops around the British Museum on my walk home. They had all gone. Gone the neat shop in Museum Street where I bought David Knowles’s Great Historical Enterprises; gone the untidy shop in Coptic Street

What’s eating Turkey

  Ankara ‘Islam, politics, economics — choose two’ is a great line, said by one of my Turkish students, and it would make a good exam question. Tayyip (the name means ‘very clean’ in Arabic — cf. ritual washing) Erdogan (meaning ‘strong hawk’, a Turkish nationalist reference) came to power in 2002 with a very

Why Sweden has riots

  Stockholm  ‘All of them should have been very happy,’ Robert A. Heinlein begins his 1942 novel Beyond This Horizon. The material problem has been solved on this future earth, poverty and disease have been eradicated, work is optional. And yet parts of the citizenry are not enthusiastic. Some are bored, others are preparing a

How social media helps authoritarians

Have you heard? Do you know? Are you, as they say, ‘in the loop’? When the Mail on Sunday said a ‘sensational affair’ between ‘high profile figures’ close to Cameron had ‘rocked’ No. 10, did you have the faintest idea what it was talking about? I did, but then I’m a journalist. Friends in the