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Hero or double agent? An encounter with Lech Walesa

Lech Walesa is probably the most famous of all the thousands — actually millions — who struggled against the oppression of Communist rule in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The only person with a similar level of fame is Vaclav Havel in what was then Czechoslovakia. Walesa was the leader of the Solidarity trade

George Eliot was much more radical than we give her credit for

It’s easy to forget, as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of her birth, how radical George Eliot actually was. The face that smiles tenderly out at us from François d’Albert-Durade’s portrait (pictured), on the dust jacket of her books, seems to epitomise the moralising Victorians — very establishment. And perhaps this is why her dramatic

The mesmerising mediocrity of Trump’s opponents

If you believe the headlines, President Donald Trump is in deep trouble. The great impeachment saga is gathering pace. House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff has been conducting closed-door interviews as part of his investigations into whether the President abused his executive power in his efforts to dig up dirt on his political rival, Joe


Franco’s exhumation could help decide the Spanish election

I was no sooner in Madrid than General Franco was exhumed from his mausoleum not far from El Escorial. An air force helicopter ferried his remains from the Valley of the Fallen, where a gigantic stone cross marks the dictator’s grave as well as that of 34,000 Spanish Civil War dead. For four decades the

Notes on...

The war heroes of Northolt Airport

At 6.50 p.m. on 31 August 1997 a plane touched down at Northolt Airport. It was a lamentable and dismal evening. Prince Charles, wretched and ghastly, accompanied the coffin that carried the body of his former wife Diana. Watching from the wings was Tony Blair. The nation mourned. And Northolt Airport did the job it