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The Trial of Henry Kissinger – Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens goes straight for the Jugular in The Trial of Henry Kissinger. Under his fearsome gaze, the former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor is accused of being a war criminal whose reckless actions and heinous disregard for international law have led to torture, kidnapping and murder.

This book is a polemical masterpiece by a man who, for over forty years, was the Anglosphere’s pre-eminent man of letters.  In The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Hitchens’ verve, style and firebrand wit are on show at the height of their potency. 

The Trial of Henry Kissinger is certainly an eye-opening read and a devastating attack on both his character and many of his actions – which had a significant impact on thousands of lives around the world – showing him (with supporting documents) to be a morally bankrupt man.  As the quote on the back cover of the book from the Literary Review says:

‘This book is so stupidly defamatory that if Kissinger values his reputation, he really must sue’

The silence on this matter, from the Nobel Peace Prize winner himself really does speak volumes.

Chronicling the different events Kissinger was a part of – a litany of manufactured, supported and prolonged wars,  and sabotaged peace talks, all a tale of so many lives ruined and lost needlessly, – it is frightening to see how he moved through successive U.S. governments with his power intact.   Hitchens is clearly no lover of the man but as ever, his arguments are reasoned, razor-sharp and not afraid to court controversy.  There is a term ‘Hitchslap’ that does the rounds that is often used for his most incisive commentary and this is certainly a good example of the term.

One of the most telling pieces of information is that Kissinger’s papers (the ones he classified as personal, when it is suspected many are incriminating) are under lock and key at the Library of Congress and can only be opened after Kissinger dies thanks to the agreement beforehand.  Of course being in the public interest a subpoena would most likely open it up (and a huge can of worms) but there in lies the issue. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on 19/02/2018 in History, Journalism, Essays

 

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Valentine’s Date

I’ve been saving these up for today, as what is more romantic than to show the official wedding photos now that we have them, on Valentine’s Day.  I will show a selection here (less than I’d hoped due to the internet being on the blink, thanks to some high winds) and for anybody who is interested in the full set of nearly 1900 photos, you can check them all out at this link…here!

The ladies were looking great even before getting into their dresses…

The Gents were as suave as always…

Releasing the doves was picturesque, even if Crissy’s failed to fly after this shot… Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 14/02/2018 in Life, Photography, The Philippines

 

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Early Shots

I have returned after a wonderful wedding and honeymoon week.  Photos will be coming soon of course, there have been so many posted on Facebook already and once the official ones are through, there will be a couple of posts coming up with the photos that really encapsulate the day.  Until then here are a few photos – in no particular order –  of my travels so far.

A visit to a beach – especially these beaches – in the company of wonderful people is always good. Added to great food, swimming at night, a thousand stars in the canopy of the sky and a super moon; followed by paddling about in the morning and enjoying the view of the sun glinting off the clear water, it was perfect…except for the grimmest toilet and shower facilities I have encountered in a long time.  Eagle eyed viewers will recognise the beach as being just a stone’s throw away from the beach I went to last year Costa de Oro.

Intramuros (within the walls) is also known as the Walled City, so being because the Spanish built the wall in the 16th century to protect themselves from attack in those days when it was a remote outpost of the Empire.  The span of this fortifications is impressive and there are still some cannons lining the walls as well as a sign warning about flying golf balls from the local course. There is a fascinating bookshop amongst other things in this part of Manila, which tempted me with lots of local literature.  One day I will be back for handfuls of that, as there seemed to be some enticing and powerful works waiting for my eyes.

Twin Lakes is a picturesque spot overlooking Lake Taal (which contains the second most active volcano in The Philippines, although Mt Mayon is stealing all the headlines at the moment), here we spent some time photographing, the wind was a bit chill and we had other places to go so didn’t enjoy any of the places to eat whilst taking in the view.  We didn’t really explore the resort but it was nice just to take in the clean air and the natural beauty of the area.  The highlands of Tagaytay are considered cold, with the average minimum temperature for January being 18 degrees.  The wind keeps it feeling cool sometimes but is considered pretty cold for Filipinos.
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Posted by on 07/02/2018 in Photography, The Philippines, Travel

 

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Tuning Out

After my last post based, based on a song I heard, which created some fanciful writing of my own, I decided to add some more musical pieces that make my mind whimsical. On a side note, I won’t be around from the 26th for a while, as I shall be getting married and catching up with my parents and best man Tom who are coming over for the occasion.  If I don’t get around to moderating and replying to your comments in the in the next week, that is the reason why.

Both these pieces I came across whilst playing the atmospheric flash game 6 Differences.

Who could say no to a bit of Sigur Ros!

 
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Posted by on 26/01/2018 in Music, My Writings

 

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Motorway Melancholy

Sometimes a song makes you recall something, sadly neglected from the past. The song in question wasn’t heard until years later but conjures up a feeling of something mostly forgotten and brings it back to the surface in a surprising amount of clarity.  unsurprisingly the dreamy feel of this song matched well with Twin Peaks in which it was featured last year.

The dark, mysterious qualities of the night and accompanying drowsiness of a passenger make for a fertile playground. Sat, staring at a frequently empty motorway, the gentle motion of your transport flowing smoothly like liquid between lanes, lulling you into flights of fancy.  The near silence, the faint sound of tyres rolling over road or background ambient music, all lead one to their own introspections.

Other solitary cars travelling to destinations important to them, sometimes appear, demanding stories are created for their occupants. Then as fleeting as this brush with another is, it becomes just another soul forgotten instantly, unconscious background layering to your musings. Then that one thing that holds the attention of your mind appears.

It’s that turning with all the implied adventure of the unknown or the almost totally hidden building secreted in darkness and lying tantalisingly back behind the tree line. The mystery is overwhelmingly intoxicating because of that single light left on in a warehouse or office.  The signs too poorly lit to be properly legible, yearn to be read. This singular beacon in its lonely magnificence begs as much speculation,as the tiny lanterns of light in the black sky. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 24/01/2018 in My Writings, Travel

 

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The Eye Opener – Indrajit Garai

In this collection, meet:
Franck, who has to align his desires with his needs; Nathan, who has to adjust to his constantly changing turf; and, Cedric, who has to open his eyes to reconstruct himself.

After reading volume one of Indrajit Garai’s short stories entitled Sacrifices – which I enjoyed a lot –  volume two was much-anticipated by this reader.  It was a pleasant surprise then, to recently find an email sat in my inbox, offering the second book up for review.

In this round of stories, there is a more international feel, instead of focusing solely on France. The demanding circumstances and struggles of the characters remain the same, however and retain the emotional impact of everyday struggles and problems.  All walks of life depicted here, meaning plenty of variety in the works on offer.

Garai’s strength lie in humanising his characters, making the reader feel invested in the characters, sympathising with their trials and the things they do in order to survive; allowing us to examine ourselves through the protagonists.  The important things in life can be so often forgotten, as these stories show so without spoiling anything I will succinctly give a brief outline of each story.

The Alignment takes the odious subject of hoarded riches and how it is moved around to the detriment of the workers who need the security. As well as the perception of social status regarding money and the people who have it. The sheer waste of money is highlighted along with legal but morally shady big business practises used everyday.   Also there is the persona aspect of how easy it is to blinded by the gaining of wealth, instead of caring for those around us; which is the true richness of life.

The second story, The Changing Turf, is about contact with a different culture, the contrasts and fitting in.  This story didn’t entirely convince me, although I sympathised with Nathan, I didn’t really like his character, he became a little annoying in some of his ways after a time.  The ending a little obvious to me as well, and I felt this to be the weakest story of both of Garai’s books to date. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 22/01/2018 in Fiction

 

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Black Sheep – Susan Hill

Brother and sister, Ted and Rose Howker, grew up in Mount of Zeal, a mining village blackened by coal. They know nothing of the outside world, though both of them yearn for escape. For Rose this comes in the form of love, while Ted seizes the chance of a job away from the pit. But neither can truly break free and their decisions bring with them brutal consequences…

dispensing with the normal ghost story – always atmospherically written by Hill –  which has become a bit of a tradition for me around the holiday season, this year I chose this short story instead to mix it up a bit.  Whilst not being conducive to Christmas cheer in any way whatsoever, it was a very rewarding read.

As the front cover says this is a bleak piece of writing and I can imagine that a lot of people may well be put off by that, however I really appreciated it for its unflinching portrayal of a tough and cheerless life.  The story is told in few words and as such the shortness of the book helps the reader through, as being under 150 pages long/short means the story is manageable over a brief period and doesn’t drag the reader into too much despair.

The miners and their families are easily recognisable, they could have come from other iconic works.  The citizens of the community resemble less extreme versions of those found in Zola’s Germinal or Dickens’ Hard Times for example. It does feel almost clichéd in that respect Hill writes on the side of accuracy as memorably depicted by plenty of authors and social commentors such as George Orwell’s insightful and agonising The Road to Wigan Pier.

As well written as it is, sometimes this is a tough read but I found it a book I could read quickly and more importantly wanted to read in a couple of sessions.  The strengths of the book lie in the simple yet descriptive writing, which contains many interesting and well-rounded characters and their struggles with their severe reality, of life and loss. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 19/01/2018 in Fiction

 

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