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The strange case of Elvis Presley’s musical posterity

Culture | Elvis lives, againA new film seeks to restore the King’s supremacyAt the peak of his fame, Elvis Presley was perhaps the most recognisable individual on the planet. Just as you may conjure Charlie Chaplin in your mind’s eye using only a bowler hat, a toothbrush moustache and a cane, it is easy to picture Presley with no more than a quiff,...

In praise of slow sport

Culture | The long gameEnthralling contests do not have to be quickfire entertainmentAMONG THE many things people find mysterious about cricket is how anyone can remain interested in a match that can last for five days—and perhaps still finish without a decisive result. But the second Test match of the summer between England and New Zealand this month...

The women who challenged Portugal’s dictatorship

Culture | The case of the “Three Marias”A book that caused a scandal 50 years ago remains powerfully relevantLeaving home one summer’s evening in 1971, Maria Teresa Horta noticed a car was following her. She had recently published a volume of poetry, “Minha Senhora de Mim” (“My Lady of Myself”), which reflected on female sexual pleasure. Portugal’s...

Pet Shop Boys achieved a kind of alchemy that only music can

Culture | Back StoryTheir hits have endured because they transmute sadness into joyWhen “it’s a sin” was released in 1987, gay marriage was barely a dream. Margaret Thatcher’s government would soon pass a law banning the “promotion of homosexuality” in classrooms. Neil Tennant, Pet Shop Boys’ singer and lyricist, drew on his spell at a Catholic school...

What Manhattan’s street-food vendors reveal about their city

Culture | World in a dishThe lessons of a day in Midtown with Sherif Baioumy and his halal cartSherif baioumy’s morning begins at around 7am in a garage in Queens, where he loads up his cart with the day’s food: marinated chicken, a ten-pound skewer of ground lamb, rice, vegetables, hot dogs, falafel, frozen chips, canned soft drinks and bottled water....

The curious history of America’s national anthem

Culture | “The Star-Spangled Banner”Mark Clague explores its meaning and music in “O Say Can You Hear”O Say Can You Hear? By Mark Clague. W.W. Norton; 325 pages; $28.95 and £20.99In july 1814 an unsigned magazine article bemoaned the state of patriotic music and poetry in America. “Our national songs are full of ridiculous exaggeration, and frothy rant,...

“Atoms and Ashes” is a dramatic account of nuclear accidents

Culture | Ghosts in the machinesBut Serhii Plokhy’s scepticism of nuclear power goes too farAtoms and Ashes. By Serhii Plokhy. W.W. Norton; 368 pages; $30. Allen Lane; £25Given that they are grounded in an aspect of nature unknown before the turn of the 20th century, it is not surprising that the immense, insensible powers of nuclear reactions have...

“The Lazarus Heist” explains North Korea’s wild hacking spree

Culture | Pirates of PyongyangThe internet lets the hermit kingdom steal money from all over the worldThe Lazarus Heist. By Geoff White. Penguin Business; 304 pages; $29.95 and £20The “hermit kingdom” of North Korea is so technologically backward that it is visible—or rather invisible—from space. Photographs taken at night show a country covered in...

The tragedy of Alaa Abd el-Fattah, a relentless revolutionary

Culture | #FreeAlaaOne of Egypt’s best thinkers, the writer and activist has spent most of the last decade in prisonYou Have Not Yet Been Defeated. By Alaa Abd el-Fattah. Seven Stories Press; 352 pages; $18.95. Fitzcarraldo; £12.99To call Alaa Abd el-Fattah’s new book urgent is no cliché. Though the blogger and activist has spent most of the last decade...

Rediscover Erich Korngold’s sumptuously melodic compositions

Culture | A prodigious talentHe is best known for his influential, Oscar-winning film scores. His exquisite operas and concert pieces deserve a hearing, tooRonald reagan considered “Kings Row” (1942) his best work as an actor. Beyond its presidential cast, the small-town melodrama has another claim to fame. Moviegoers may find its lavish soundtrack...

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