Walter Ellis

The BBC’s march to war

Perhaps we are growing war-weary – weary, that is, of the gathering storm of World War One documentaries on the BBC. There have been so many, not just Max Hastings (for) and Niall Ferguson (against), but Jeremy Paxman keeping the home fires burning and the reheated I Was There interviews with veterans of the conflict whom

Dreams and Nightmares: Europe in the twentieth century

So much abuse has been heaped on the European Union in recent years that it is easy to forget that Europe and the EU are not the same thing. Geert Mak reminds us of this fact. He is one of the most celebrated journalists and commentators in the Netherlands. Mak – widely read, multi-lingual and

Rifleman by Victor Gregg is a book you ought to read

I live in New York and until this month I had never heard of Victor Gregg, the World War II veteran whose 2011 memoir, Rifleman, was hailed as possibly the most honest and outspoken ever written by an enlisted soldier and ‘an outstanding book that deserves to become a classic’. Gregg is 93, which is

Review: Mod! – A Very British Style, by Richard Weight

Doesn’t it all seem a long time ago? For years, the 1960s remained a key cultural reference, universally understood. But then, at some point, probably around the turn of the millennium, the Eighties took over and the Sixties began to fade into a psychedelic version of 1920s sepia. The two periods, separated by the shame

Reading into that good night

New York —  Call me an old curmudgeon, but it seems to me that the only way the description World Book Day would make any sense would be if, in some way, the world was brought together by a book — preferably on the same day.   But for that to happen, J.K. Rowling would

Is this the future, and do I like it? Pt. 2

After Paul Torday related his latest adventure in the digital new world, here is Fleet Street veteran Walter Ellis on the trials of self-publishing on Amazon. Soon kindled and soon burnt: The gentle art of online publishing The idea of a level playing field is that everyone engaged in a competitive activity should have the

An unlikely cult

There’s something Kerry Wilkinson isn’t telling us. But I’m not sure he knows what it is.   Four months ago, the most remarkable thing about Wilkinson was that, at the age of 30, he was a part-time magistrate, handing out fines to local miscreants. A sports journalist for the BBC website, living in Preston, he

The grim lessons of Katrina

New York It is tempting when looking back on natural catastrophes to see them as symbols of the affected nation’s fatal departure from good sense or moral progress. Hubris is retrospectively invoked to justify the evident nemesis. The horrific events in New Orleans and surrounding territories are being picked apart, like entrails in aboriginal Africa,

Diary – 15 January 2005

New York America is supposed to be the can-do society, where you can order up pizza at three o’clock in the morning and refinance your mortgage with one click of a mouse. Don’t you believe it. Our local pizza parlour only opens when it feels like it. More to the point, negotiating a mortgage requires

Survival of the richest

New York As British universities lurch from funding crisis to funding crisis, the jealous eyes of the academic establishment focus obsessively on the United States as the role model for future success. The assumption is that if UK universities charged ‘realistic’ fees, they would recreate themselves as ‘world class’ — or, at any rate, superior