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Latvian Notebook

Monday morning, on the Baltic Air 137 to Riga. I finish a taut John Grisham thriller, dip into Kilcullen’s brilliant thesis on counter insurgency, The Accidental Guerrilla, then ponder my editor’s benevolent but searching comments yesterday on the book which I have written with Ed Young on British foreign secretaries. Nearly three hours well spent.

Green shoots with shallow roots

It’s true there are signs of an economic recovery, says Martin Vander Weyer, but we should also beware a ‘third wave’ of destruction It’s springtime in North Yorkshire, which traditionally means lashing rain and temperatures like February. But however unseasonal the weather, nature knows when it’s time to wake up: in the first few days

Happy birthday Big Ben

Though the moral fabric of Parliament is in tatters, its architecture remains an inspiration. Stephen Bayley celebrates Pugin’s crazy, magnificent clock tower Boing. That most familiar sound is now 150 years old. Because I am fortunate enough to live near Westminster, I often hear it during solitary moments at night in the bathroom. But, like

Why I’m voting for Ukip

I once gave the Conservatives their biggest ever donation, yet I recently took the difficult decision to support Ukip for the European elections on 4 June. So I have been expelled from the Tory party. I am not an observant person but I do not seem to have been cut by anyone since then; rather

If we lose hearts and minds, we will lose the war

Sir Olaf Caroe — a legendary figure of the Raj, ethnographer of the Pashtuns and last administrator of the North-West Frontier of British India — wrote in 1958 that ‘unlike other wars, Afghan wars become serious only when they are over; in British times at least they were apt to produce an after-crop of tribal