Sunday 24 August 1997
! Liberty Against the Law: Some 17th Century Controversies by Christopher Hill, Penguin pounds 9.99. We all know plenty about "that general and inbred hatred which still dwells in our common people against both our Laws and Lawyers". But what we may not know is that the problem was recognised (by John Hare) as early as 1647, and that it has its origins in the English Civil War. The Parliamentarians, Hill explains, were fighting for "liberty and property". But why should the property-less majority uphold an ideal of freedom which never cared a whit about them? Hence highwaymen and smugglers, The Beggar's Opera and Robin Hood. Those essays have been criticised by specialists as thin and repetitive, the old wine of Hill's classic books about Cromwell, Bunyan, the Levellers and so on poured into yet another skin. But they are crisply written and dynamic, and a solid non- specialist historical read.
! The Dream Mistress by Jenny Diski, Phoenix pounds 5.99. Walking out of a Camden cinema after a row with her boyfriend, Mimi discovers a filthy old lady dying in the street. At the hospital, she is slowly unswaddled, and christened Bella by a nurse. The narrative which follows switches between Mimi's story and several possible ones for Bella: failed Jewish mother, failed Carmelite nun, reviled miracle-worker, a woman without a face. The title Diski has chosen for her eighth novel may lead you to expect standard-issue fancy-feminist stuff, but don't be misled. The imagery is bold, hard-edged, and painful: much of this novel seems to prefigure the appallingly sad and autobiographical Skating To Antarctica, published earlier this year.
! Knights in White Armour: The New Art of War and Peace by Christopher Bellamy, Pimlico pounds 12.50. A former soldier and academic, Christopher Bellamy has worked as a defence correspondent in Chechnya, Bosnia and the Gulf. His objective? To identify the most efficient modes of military intervention in our current state of "world disorder". His proposal? That the UN forces should reconstitute themselves on the model of the French Foreign Legion, as a super-professional, supra-national model army: "a little monastic, perhaps, tending the sick and conducting diplomacy as well as being fearsome in battle". Bellamy's historical framework is formidable - Sun Tzu and Clausewitz are key figures - but elegantly used. A postscript on Zaire updates his thesis to 1997. And there's a useful glossary of contemporary jaw-jaw - from "fog of war" to "sub-strategic deterrent" - hidden in the back.
MARTIN ROWSON IS ON HOLIDAY
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
- 2 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 3 Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
- 4 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 5 Refugee crisis: Aylan's life was full of fear - in death, he is part of 'humanity washed ashore'
The real reason Eddie Redmayne was cast as a trans woman in The Danish Girl
First Look at Bryan Cranston transformed into LBJ for HBO’s ‘All the Way’ film
Idris Elba is ‘too street’ to play 007, says James Bond author
This little boy loves books so much that he cries when his mother stops reading to him
Prog rock finally comes of age with launch of the first Official Progressive Chart
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up