Peru’s beauty has been a real curse

As the planet gets more and more ravaged, the mind can begin to glaze over at the cumulative general statistics — so much rainforest lost, so many glaciers melted, so much less oil left. Joseph Zárate’s masterly new book reminds us that when it comes to fighting on the front line of the environmental wars, it’s all in the detail, and that nothing is quite as simple as might at first appear. Some years ago I went to a remote area on the border between Peru and Bolivia where a meteorite had landed on a small village and caused mass poisoning. The hospitals had filled up both with the locals

A Romeo and Juliet-like tragedy in Uttar Pradesh

In the early hours of 28 May 2014 the bodies of two young girls were found hanging from the branches of a mango tree in the small village of Katra in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Their deaths caused outrage locally and attracted attention worldwide, as domestic and foreign media descended on Katra, the case gaining international notoriety less than two years after the gang rape of a young woman, Jyoti Singh, on a bus in Delhi in 2012. The Good Girls is a tragic tale, both in terms of what it reveals about village life and also about what women in India can expect in a society hidebound

One of the last men-only jobs left — offshore in the North Sea

As a child, I loved the Ladybird ‘People at Work’ series. I had the ones on the fireman, the policeman, the fisherman and the postman; and just one on a woman, The Nurse. Now, of course, they seem absurd. Women are doing all those ‘man’s’ jobs, and many more. So where do you go to find a men-only workplace? A monastery, maybe. Or an oil rig. It’s not clear how Tabitha Lasley first fell in with riggers, but she was quickly enthralled. They are among the best paid blue-collar workers in the country — at the height of the North Sea oil boom even rig cleaners earned £300 a day

Humiliating the IRA was a fatal mistake

It was said that Reginald Maudling, as home secretary, once boarded a plane in Belfast and immediately requested a stiff drink, muttering: ‘Get me out of this awful bloody country!’ This does not appear in Ian Cobain’s compelling, interwoven narrative about a killing in Lisburn, near Belfast, in April 1978, but it emblemised some of London’s attitudes to what was sometimes called ‘Ulster’. Even during the height of the Troubles, with daily shootings, bombings and killings, the Province was frequently ignored at cabinet level: the spirit of Maudling prevailed in both Conservative and Labour administrations. By Cobain’s measure, Labour’s Roy Mason was as bad as any Tory. His hardline swaggering