A solid combination of candor, clever turns of phrase, and clear insight into the English psyche.



An award-winning British journalist offers a straightforward view of the rise of English nationalism since World War II.

While Britain shared in the war victory and avoided becoming Germany’s colony, it lost an empire.Meanwhile, former Axis powers and the countries that had been invaded were thriving. All those countries moved on after WWII, but England never did, writes O’Toole (Judging Shaw: The Radicalism of GBS, 2017, etc.), a winner of the Orwell Prize and the European Press Prize. The desperate fear of Europeanization and loss of Englishness called for “Empire 2.0,” built on an Anglosphere incorporating Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the Caribbean. As the concept of political correctness took over, a new scapegoat presented itself in the form of the EU. The threats posed to national health and public housing were invented, causing unreasoned yet omnipresent fear and encouraging vociferous nationalism, which eventually led to the Brexit decision. The grievances it was supposed to address never existed. “The great upheaval of 2016 was never really about Europe,” writes the author. “Those who have caused it turned out to have very little interest in…the EU itself….They had no plan for how the UK would relate to the EU after Brexit, largely because that relationship was not the real focus of their obsessions. They were concerned…with Britain’s relationship to itself and its own self-image. Their desire was to exit a condition of ordinariness which, they had succeeded in convincing themselves, is an unnatural and oppressive imposition on an extraordinary country.” As the author shows, Brexit trivializes the serious and takes the trivial seriously. Brexiteers Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson spout lies and invent enemies and insults, which leads to chaos and long-lasting consequences. “Whatever happens with Brexit,” writes O’Toole in this deft assessment, “this toxic sludge will be in England’s political groundwater for a long time.”

A solid combination of candor, clever turns of phrase, and clear insight into the English psyche.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63149-645-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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