Ian Buruma

Ian Buruma: Collaborators

49 min listen

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the writer and editor Ian Buruma, to talk about his new book Collaborators: Three Stories of Deception and Survival in World War Two. A Chinese princess who climbed into bed with Japanese nationalist gangsters; an observant Jew who sold his co-religionists to the Nazis; and Himmler’s

The myth of Japan’s warrior spirit

Should we fear a new martial spirit in Japan? Is there a samurai lurking inside those armies of grey-suited corporate men waiting to spring forth? Even though Japan’s constitution, drawn up by the Americans after the war, forbids military combat abroad, the fear of a Japanese militarist revival has never quite gone away, especially in

Orange alert | 26 January 2017

That the US should have elected as president someone like Donald Trump came as a shock. But the US is a strange country, given to periodic outbursts of political madness — though perhaps never quite as mad as this. That the Dutch, often caricatured as pragmatic, bourgeois, phlegmatic, business-minded, tolerant and perhaps a little boring,

Vote for freedom!

One of the most appealing arguments for Brexit is that it will make British citizens freer than they are now. The greatness of Great Britain lies, after all, in its long history of relative freedom. But now, so the proponents of Brexit like to claim, Britain is shackled by the tyranny of the EU, as

Ian Buruma’s notebook: Teenagers discover Montaigne the blogger

Bard College in upstate New York, where I teach in the spring semester, is an interesting institution, once better known for sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll than academic rigour. This has changed, thanks to Bard’s president, Leon Botstein, who conducts orchestras when he is not presiding. This semester, I am teaching a class in

Russian Notebook

It took me more than three hours by taxi to get from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport to the centre of town. My Bulgarian friend, Ivan Krastev, a shrewd political analyst, describes the difference between Russia and the Soviet Union as one between traffic jams and queues. Queues were tedious, freezing in winter, but sometimes convivial. Traffic

A flame lit at Rugby

 Pierre, Baron de Coubertin (1863-1937) was a very odd cove. Inspired as much by a rural fête in Shropshire known as the Much Wenlock Olympics as by ancient Greece, he invented the modern Olympic Games. The original spur for his sporting endeavour was the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, which ended in a terrible French defeat.