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ISSUE 134 MAY 2007
Contributors to this issue
ANDREW ADONIS is minister for schools
DAVID ALMOND ’s Skellig won the 1998 Whitbread children’s book award
PAUL BARKER is a senior research fellow at the Young Foundation
JOE BOYD is a music producer and the author of White Bicycles (Serpent’s Tail)
STEPHEN CHAN is a professor of international relations at Soas
ROBERT COLLS is professor of English history at the University of Leicester
MARK COUSINS is the author of The Story of Film (Pavilion Books)
JASON COWLEY is a senior editor at the Observer
RICHARD DOWDEN is director of the Royal African Society
STEPHEN EALES is a professor of astrophysics at the University of Cardiff
MICK FEALTY is a visiting research associate at Queen’s University, Belfast
MICHAEL FRY is a historian
ANTHONY GIDDENS is a sociologist and a former director of the LSE
JULIAN GOUGH ’s novel Jude: Level 1 (Old Street Publishing) is published in July
JUDITH RICH HARRIS is a psychologist and author of No Two Alike (WW Norton)
CAR HILLS is a former editor of PEN News
KEVIN JACKSON ’s monograph The Pataphysical Flook (BFI) is out in June
OLIVIA JUDSON is author of Dr Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation (Vintage)
NIBRAS KAZIMI is a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute, Washington
TIM KING is a writer living in France
BEN LEWIS presents BBC4’s Art Safari
EDWARD LUTTWAK is author of Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace (Harvard)
ANNIE MACCOBY BERGLOF is an American writer living in London
ANDREW MARTIN ’snovel, Murder at Deviation Junction (Faber), is out in June
JONATHAN MYERSON is a novelist, playwright and screenwriter
MICHAEL PREST is a freelance writer specialising in business and economics
ALEX RENTON won the 2006 Glenﬁddich award for best food writer
DAVID SOSKICE is a visiting professor of government at Harvard University
DAVID WILLETTS is shadow education secretary and MP for Havant
Coverstory The middle of nowhere Western analysts are forever bleating about the strategic importance of the middle east. But despite its oil, this backward region is less relevant than ever, and it would be better for everyone if the rest of the world learned to ignore it, says EEddwwaarrdd LLuuttttwwaakk..
12ICCin the dock The international criminal court’s approach to justice may be jeopardising peace in African war zones.
13Leave London alone Ken Livingstone’s development plan is an ill-guided attempt to impose order on London’s creative chaos. PAUL BARKER
14Nietzsche in Harare The era of Robert Mugabe is coming to an end. Who will follow him? STEPHEN CHAN
15Railway panache Train companies should stop apologising and embrace their heritage.
16Town hall blues I have just spent four years as a local councillor, and I know that ordinary people do not want more power. JONATHAN MYERSON
20Have the Conservatives really changed? Are the Tories under David Cameron a genuinely new party?What do they mean by social responsibility?
ANTHONY GIDDENS VSDAVID WILLETTS
31The fallen planet Last year, the solar system was ofﬁcially reduced to eight planets when Pluto was demoted by the International Astronomical Union. Why? And how? STEPHEN EALES
35Why home doesn’t matter The BBC series Child of Our Time assumes that studying children with their parents will help us understand their personalities. But the biggest environmental inﬂuences happen outside the home. JUDITH RICH HARRIS
42Divine comedy The Greeks understood that comedy is superior to tragedy. But since the middle ages, western culture has overvalued the tragic and undervalued the comic. It’s time writers got back to the serious business of making us laugh. JULIAN GOUGH
48Follow the leader The centre-left has been in power for ten years, thanks to a centralised leadership system attuned to the interests of middle Britain. After Blair, will Labour turn to electoral reform?
55Ian Paisley Why has the man once seen as the embodiment of Protestant intransigence now done a deal with Sinn Féin?
2 Prospect MAY 2007 Columns
10These islands Reinventing Edinburgh. MICHAEL FRY
18Washington watch George Tenet’s sort-of apology. TUMBLER
24Matters of taste Ethical taramasalata. ALEX RENTON
30Letter from clubland International women’s day at the Savile. ANNIE MACCOBY BERGLOF
41Rivers of Babylon The middle class trickles back to Baghdad. NIBRAS KAZIMI
52France profonde Lessons from the election campaign. TIM KING
54Inefﬁcient markets The private equity debate. MICHAEL PREST
59Brussels diary Mandelson’s own goal. MANNEKEN PIS
80The prisoner Sharing a cell with dishy Paul. CAR HILLS
04Letters 06News & curiosities 08Grayling’s question 08Enigmas & puzzles 60The list 73Classiﬁeds 78The generalist
Robert Colls’s English journeys. William Skidelsky interviews Lionel Shriver. Ross Douthat proﬁles Rudy Giuliani. Jonathan Rée on the art of the essay. The next issue ofProspectis published on 31st May
Arts and books
61 Slog’s dad Slog always said his dad would come back one day. And, in the spring, he got his wish. DAVID ALMOND
66 Theatre by numbers How do plays about science get across the excitement and importance of the subject without turning into a lecture?
68 Blacks, whites and blues Marybeth Hamilton paints a vivid picture of the early blues collectors. But it’s a pity that she can’t grasp the brilliance of Robert Johnson. JOE BOYD
69 Hitler’s myth-maker Apologists for Leni Riefenstahl say she cared nothing for politics. But her indifference to how her talents were used made her repugnant. KEVIN JACKSON
70 What Simon says Simon Barnes’s reﬂections on sport’s meaning too often come at the expense of his subjects. ROBERT COLLS
71 The self-made exile Michael Foot’s tirades enlivened politics and helped sustain the credibility of parliament. ANDREW ADONIS
65Widescreen What explains the success of 300 ? MARK COUSINS
77Private view Surrealism at the V&A. BEN LEWIS
79Between the lines Why Ilike Inspector Morse . JASON COWLEY
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ANTHONY GIDDENS and DAVID WILLETTS continue their debate on the Tories
LESLEY CHAMBERLAIN talks Russian literature with Rowan Williams
TIM ALLEN and PHIL CLARK reply to Richard Dowden on the ICC
ROBERT JACKSON ’s Iran diary
KAMRAN NAZEER reads Thomas Pynchon—week by week by week
JULIAN GOUGH ’s National Short Story prize-winning story
SHEREEN EL FEKI visits Paris’s banlieues
Revisit our past coverage of some of the topics covered in this issue.
MICHAEL LIND on how the Israel lobby distorts US foreign policy
TOM PORTEOUS on Iran under President Ahmadinejad
RICHARD KELLY on the demoralisation of Northern Ireland’s Protestants
ERIC KAUFMANN on the modernisation of unionism
ANNABEL GILLINGS on the relationship between genes and personality JEROME BURNE on the importance of peers in forming personality
Prospect MAY 2007 3