Nick Cohen’s book opens with a quotation from the late Christopher Hitchens about how ‘ideas and books have to be formulated and written by individuals’. It is just as well that we still have individuals such as Cohen, who are sufficiently bloody-minded – as Hitchens himself was – to strike out against conventional wisdoms and a wilful collective complacency. As Cohen’s work amply demonstrates, we in the West believe ourselves to be free but when it comes to freedom of speech we are anything but. Even legitimate criticism can leave us financially ruined or dead.
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With just a few days to go until the first issue of the new decade, does anyone recognise the stern figure on our February cover?
'Fiona Shaw, in Jonathan Miller’s production, is the best shrew I have seen. She starts off in a mustard yellow dress with a mustard sharp tongue.'
From the archive, Kate Kellaway on a 1988 production of 'The Taming of the Shrew'.
'He was not a revolutionary at all of course. He was only marginally a socialist. His tradition was rooted in the Liberal aristocracy, and his politics were entirely bounded by Parliament.'
From the archive, Paul Foot on Tony Benn's diaries.