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Book Reviews
The Days of Surprise by Paul Durcan
A Paul Durcan poem featured on the recent shortlist for A Poem For Ireland, itself a measure of his immense popularity in this country. The poet’s ever-changing moods range from devastating social satire, madcap comedy, elegy and wry expressions of outrage on behalf of those who feel left out. The poem 1916 Not to Be Commemorated is Durcan at his corrosive best. Paddy Kehoe
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Hitler's First Victims
On April 13, 1933 deputy prosecutor Josef Hartinger was summoned to the recently-founded concentration camp at Dachau. Four prisoners had just been shot, and the SS guards were insisting that the men had been attempting to escape. The eminent Bavarian lawyer found neat precision wounds at the back of the head, and all 4 were Jews. Hartinger realised that sinister plans were afoot, as revealed in Ryback's compelling account. P K
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Western Philosophy in 100 Haiku
The History of Western Philosophy in 100 Haiku by Haris Vlavianos (translated from the Greek by Peter Mackridge) is a pocket-size paperback, which boils down the work of 100 philosophers into the statutory 17 syllables. Vlavionos goes for humour where he can. Take John Stuart Mill on Liberty: Am I bothering you?/ No? Then I will eat as much/Pudding as I want! Paddy Kehoe
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Red Cavalry Isaac Babel
Think of M*A*S*H transported to the Russia of 100 years ago , and you get some sense of what Isaac Babel was about. The great Russian found sufficient eccentricity and madness to put a kind of demented colour scheme into these brilliant short tales from the Russian Soviet War of 1919-1920, on which he reported. The first major Russian-Jewish writer to write in Russian, Babel was murdered in Stalin’s purges of 1940. P Kehoe
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Penguin Book of Russian Poetry
Russia continues to occupy the headlines which should prompt some of us to revisit its proud poetic heritage in the new anthology from Penguin Classics, in this copious anthology of poems which has been edited and translated by Robert Chandler, Boris Drayluk and Irina Mashinski. Mandelstam, Brodsky, Pasternak, and well before them, Pushkin and Lermontov, all generously represented here in paperback. P Kehoe
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