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From Bagram

Jason Burke: In Afghanistan, 23 May 2002

... the base. The road had recently been named Disney Drive, in the memory of 21-year-old Specialist Jason Disney, of the 7th Transportation Battalion of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, who was killed in a welding accident on the base on 13 February. According to the new commemorative sign planted in the concrete, his ‘dedication, diligence and dogged ...


Jason Burke: In Kurdistan, 19 September 2002

... Since the British and Americans set up the no-fly zones that allowed the Kurds to establish their mini-state in northern Iraq, the Iraqis have stayed behind a row of fortifications on the high ground along the ceasefire line. From within Kurdistan, you can see a series of squat, square bunkers, on the hills three miles to the south, among the scruffy pines and burnt patches of grass ...


Jason Burke: An execution in Kabul, 22 March 2001

... The first execution I saw was in August 1998. All the executions in Kabul take place in the football stadium, and I sat high in the concrete terraces, buying endless small glasses of green tea from a hawker as I waited for the amputations – which precede most Taliban executions – to start. A crowd of around five thousand had filed quietly through the tunnels and onto the stands ...

Bonds of Indebtedness

Lawrence Rosen: How not to look at Islamic cultures, 7 September 2006

On the Road to Kandahar: Travels through Conflict in the Islamic World 
by Jason Burke.
Allen Lane, 297 pp., £20, May 2006, 0 7139 9896 2
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... forms of verisimilitude with the insights we are apparently being given. Now in his mid-thirties, Jason Burke has reported for the Observer for more than a decade, from almost every Muslim country. On the Road to Kandahar begins as a ‘post-adolescent adventure’. The budding journalist, with ‘steely gaze, worldly cynicism, and what I hoped was a ...

The Uses of al-Qaida

Richard Seymour, 13 September 2012

... clear than we are given to believe. ‘The first reference to something called “al-Qaida”,’ Jason Burke pointed out in Al-Qaida: The True Story of Radical Islam (2007), appeared in a CIA report compiled in 1996, which mentions that ‘by 1985 bin Laden had … organised an Islamic Salvation Front, or al-Qaida,’ to support mujahideen in ...

Gentlemen Did Not Dig

Rosemary Hill: 18th-Century Gap Years, 24 June 2010

The Society of Dilettanti: Archaeology and Identity in the British Enlightenment 
by Jason Kelly.
Yale, 366 pp., £40, January 2010, 978 0 300 15219 7
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... beer and Bread & Cheese to my friends the Garretteers in Grubstreet for these few days past.’ Jason Kelly, writing for a transatlantic audience, goes to greater lengths to account for this and other similar ‘moments of semiotic disjuncture’, as he calls them, than is perhaps necessary for a British readership whose ears still occasionally ring to the ...


Terry Eagleton: T.S. Eliot’s Politics, 19 September 2002

The ‘Criterion’: Cultural Politics and Periodical Networks in Interwar Britain 
by Jason Harding.
Oxford, 250 pp., £35, April 2002, 9780199247172
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... Fascist but a reactionary, a distinction lost on those of his critics who, in the words of Edmund Burke, know nothing of politics but the passions they incite. Ideologically speaking, Fascism is as double-visaged as the Modernism with which it was sometimes involved, casting a backward glance to the primitive and primordial while steaming dynamically ahead ...

Excessive Bitters

Jenny Diski: The blind man who went around the world, 7 September 2006

A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveller 
by Jason Roberts.
Simon and Schuster, 382 pp., £12.99, August 2006, 0 7432 3966 0
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... independent. Choosing to sit on her bed when the light of the world was dimming was not an option. Jason Roberts describes something of the same behaviour in James Holman who, in 1810, suddenly went blind at the age of 25: Once hope of a cure is extinguished in the newly blind adult, there is typically a period of self-mourning, in which the individual ...

Oak in a Flowerpot

Anthony Pagden: When Britons were slaves, 14 November 2002

Captives: Britain, Empire and the World 1600-1850 
by Linda Colley.
Cape, 438 pp., £20, September 2002, 0 224 05925 4
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... from the Algonquin chief, Powhatan, by his daughter Pocahontas (playing Medea to Smith’s Jason), had first been captured by the Turks and sold as a slave in Istanbul. The continuity of the stories of the Empire from the eastern Mediterranean to the Americas is inescapable. No one region can be understood in isolation from the rest. Nor, as Colley ...

In Disguise of a Merchant

Linda Colley: Company-States, 30 July 2020

Outsourcing Empire: How Company-States Made the Modern World 
by Andrew Phillips and J.C. Sharman.
Princeton, 253 pp., £25, June, 978 0 691 20351 5
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... countries.One of the virtues of this intelligent and well-researched book by Andrew Phillips and Jason Sharman is that it provides long and wide historical contexts in which such questions can be posed. The authors’ central argument is that ‘some of the most important actors in the crucial formative stages of the modern international system were neither ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... why were the firefighters not coming up with breathing equipment and helping them down? Why indeed.Jason Garcia, Jessica’s cousin, lived in a neighbouring block and when he saw the tower was on fire he called Ramiro, Jessica’s dad. ‘We have been evacuated,’ Ramiro said. ‘I’m here with Adriana and Melanie’ – Jessica’s mother and older sister ...

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