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Hell Is A City

2 Jan

HellIsaCity1960The recent, sad death of the great Billie Whitelaw prompted me to divert from the nuclear norm and reflect on a film in which she played a small – but significant – part. Hell Is A City is a frequently overlooked gem of post-war British cinema. An unabashedly commercial crime movie that, nonetheless, contains much to recommend it. It also happens to be one of my favourite pieces of post-war British cinema.

Hell Is A City very much follows the traditional pattern for its type: hardened criminal commits robbery and accidental murder, hard-bitten cop with a terrible home life is determined to track him down, cop trawls through the seedier elements of society to get his man. Yet, there are several things which make the film something apart from the norm.

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Reading the Cold War

9 Nov

Today – as almost everybody is doubtless aware – is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a momentous event in modern history and one that I still vividly remember from my childhood. In the popular mind, that rush of people though gaps in the wall represented the end of the Cold War. Therefore, I thought I’d do a list of nine pieces of Cold War scholarship that I think represent the best of what’s out there. This is by no means authoritative or complete, it’s simply a selection of works that I admire or find find particularly useful (and are, in many ways, reflective of my own research interests).

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Confronting the Conspiratorial

1 Mar

I never imagined when I started this Ph.D that would have to confront conspiracy theory as part of the project. Just goes to show how much I know. Not that my topic area involves any of the big conspiracy theories: the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Kennedy assassination, or allegedly faked moon landings to name but three of the most widespread and popular.

The condensed version of the theory that impinges on my research goes like this: Western governments (mainly the U.S. and to a lesser extent the UK) willfully looked the other way when it came to the Pakistani nuclear programme and in some cases actively encouraged nuclear proliferation amongst states that would become (or were) enemies of those self same Western nations.

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Interesting Nuclear History Reads

8 Feb

For want of something substantive to say (I’m currently mired in the documents I harvested from The National Archives last month), I though it might be useful to highlight some recent scholarship in the field of nuclear history. Rather than give substantive reviews of these works (although I am working on a full review of Nuclear Apartheid) I’ll offer brief comments, plus links to reviews as appropriate.

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