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Born in Los Angeles, MS-13 came to terrorise El Salvador

The monster and the boysBorn in Los Angeles, MS-13 came to terrorise El SalvadorTwo books unpick the factors that led to the gang’s riseBooks & artsSep 26th 2020 editionMS-13. By Steven Dudley.Hanover Square Press; 352 pages; $28.99. To be published in Britain by Bonnier Books in July 2021; £8.99.The Hollywood Kid. By Óscar Martínez and Juan José...

The sudden success of Sigrid Nunez

Cool to be kindThe sudden success of Sigrid Nunez“What Are You Going Through” is a companion piece to her bestselling “The Friend”Books & artsSep 26th 2020 editionFOR ALMOST a quarter of a century, Sigrid Nunez maintained the quiet life of a writer’s writer. Critically acclaimed but under-known, she published her first novel in 1995 and then many...

James Baker and the art of power

All the presidents’ manJames Baker and the art of power“The Man Who Ran Washington” describes a distinguished statesman’s career and guileBooks & artsSep 26th 2020 editionThe Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III. By Peter Baker and Susan Glasser.Doubleday; 720 pages; $35.DURING THE confusion that followed the attempt...

Civilisations once met and melded in Ravenna

Pivot of the worldCivilisations once met and melded in RavennaThe city in a swamp was a hinge between East and WestBooks & artsSep 26th 2020 editionRavenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe. By Judith Herrin. Princeton University Press; 576 pages; $29.95. Allen Lane; £30.IN AROUND 700AD a nameless scholar in the north of Italy made a five-volume...

Hercule Poirot turns 100

Little grey cellsHercule Poirot turns 100The strange case of the Belgian detectiveBooks & artsSep 26th 2020 edition“HE WAS HARDLY more than five feet, four inches, but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg…His moustache was very stiff and military.” With this description Agatha Christie introduced Hercule Poirot...

Pride, prejudice and the story of New York English

JohnsonPride, prejudice and the story of New York EnglishSome Americans look down on New York accents. New Yorkers don’t careBooks & artsSep 19th 2020 editionTHE MOST effective form of birth control known to man, said Lewis Grizzard, is a Bronx accent. The late newspaper columnist from small-town Georgia enjoyed teasing northerners. But it is hardly...

A bold French film stirs controversy in America

Banlieue cinemaA bold French film stirs controversy in America“Cuties” has attracted attention from Ted Cruz and QAnonBooks & artsSep 19th 2020 editionLIKE ANY 11-year-old girl starting at a new school, Amy (Fathia Youssouf) just wants to fit in. The conservative Muslim teachings of her Senegalese mother’s world impose a creed of pudeur, or modesty....

African entertainers are wowing global audiences

From Nollywood to NetflixAfrican entertainers are wowing global audiencesNever before have so many burst into the global mainstream at the same timeBooks & artsSep 19th 2020 edition“I SWEAR TO make sure you never forget about me,” sings Burna Boy on the opening track of “Twice as Tall”, which was released last month. These days there is little chance...

Opera, Nazism and Richard Wagner’s painful legacy

A hateful beautyOpera, Nazism and Richard Wagner’s painful legacyAlex Ross is no Wagner apologist. In “Wagnerism” he instead offers a “passionate ambivalence”Books & artsSep 19th 2020 editionWagnerism: Art and Politics in the Shadow of Music. By Alex Ross.Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 784 pages; $40. Fourth Estate; £30.HITLER CASTS as long a shadow...

Daniel Yergin’s new survey of the world of energy

Energy and politicsDaniel Yergin’s new survey of the world of energyThough brisk and authoritative, “The New Map” is not in the same league as “The Prize”Books & artsSep 17th 2020 editionThe New Map: Energy, Climate and the Clash of Nations. By Daniel Yergin. Penguin; 512 pages; $38. Allen Lane; £25.ON ITS PUBLICATION in 1991 Daniel Yergin’s “The...

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