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Thursday, Jun 19, 2014
Thomas Ricks's 2009 book The Gamble predicted that the 'surge' was far from the end of the Iraq War.

Back when publishers still released books about Iraq, Thomas Ricks wrote a pair of them that were forward-thinking for the time but now look powerfully prescient. Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003 to 2005 (2006) was a damning an indictment of the Bush / Cheney / Rumsfeld crew’s excited rush to war and then seeming boredom with the details of actually managing it. It wasn’t the first book to lay out that case, but given the depth of Ricks’s reporting and his lack of ideological cant (which hampered a number of other books on the Iraq fisaco), it was one of the most definitive and difficult to dispute.


It was Fiasco’s less-celebrated 2009 companion volume, however, that truly stands out today.


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Tuesday, Jun 3, 2014
Joe Strummer cycled through a wardrobe's worth of personas in his career; but it never changed his fundamental authenticity or optimism.
This article is adapted from the chapter “Mystery Train: Joe Strummer on Screen” in Punk Rock Warlord: The Life and Work of Joe Strummer.


Excepting perhaps only Fats Domino, the Clash’s Joe Strummer had the greatest name in the history of rock and roll. Of course, it wasn’t actually his name. Nobody has a moniker that perfectly suited to their profession, especially in the business called show. After all, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame isn’t filled with people named John Smith or Ruth Adams.


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Friday, May 30, 2014
These two events grappled energetically with Ireland’s scruffily banging-through post-Celtic Tiger present and the not-so-buried wounds of its terrorized past.
Above: Dublin signpost image from Shutterstock.com.


In a spare white lobby-like space just off Temple Bar, the walls are decorated with highly personable photographic portraits of distinctive faces. A facepainted woman with a wry smile, the tough-looking trio of girls leaning up against a brick wall, the farmer with his tractor, the bearded drunk with lidded eyes, the young drunks with wide-open eyes.


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Thursday, May 29, 2014
This packed-room symposium quickly turned from three writers talking about their novels to a thoughtful state of the union on the purposes and thrills of modern crime fiction.
Above: Dublin signpost image from Shutterstock.com.


The Dublin Writers Festival held its talk titled “The State of Crime” in a mysteriously out-of-the-way location: a small event room at the Central Library located up a staircase in the middle of the Ilac shopping center. It wasn’t spacious enough for the crime fans and would-be crime writers in attendance, so chairs were added and the doors closed on those who had arrived too late.


What they missed turned out to be less about crime and mysteries themselves but what’s behind them, and why one would want to write them.


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Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Little can put you more in the proper mood for book-minded conversation than the faint drizzle and grey skies of Ireland.
Above: Dublin signpost image from Shutterstock.com.


On the Sunday of its first weekend, the Dublin Writers Festival was cloud-shrouded in an atmospherically light rain. Sunshine and a warm breeze might make the heart beat faster, but little can put you more in the proper mood for book-minded conversation than a faint drizzle and grey skies.


This is Dublin, after all, which proudly carries its status as UNESCO City of Literature, and where the odd plaque on an undistinguished townhouse near St. Stephen’s Green reminds you that Bram Stoker lived there, and the Gate Theatre just happens to be staging An Ideal Husband by the Dublin-raised and -educated Oscar Wilde.


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