Phil Shannon

Ian Fleming had few pretensions about the literary merit of his James Bond novels, writes Phil Shannon.

Phil Shannon reviews Oxford University historian Marc Mulholland's book about the 19th century French Republican and communist revolutionary Emmanuel Barthélemy.

When conversing with commoners, members of the British Royal Family are instructed to always ask the question "And what do you do?" For, after all, this gives the working class something to talk about – their job.

But Phil Shannon says it is high time the question was returned in kind by asking of the royals: "And what do you do?"

Considering the terrors that Mikhail Sholokhov lived through and nearly perished from in Stalinist Russia, it is a wonder that the Soviet novelist retained any sense of humour. Yet he did.

Denis Diderot is now remembered, if at all, only as the name of a Metro railway station in an unfashionable neighbourhood of Paris. 

In his day, however, the 18th century Enlightenment philosopher was quite the subversive intellectual who parted the ideological fog of religious, moral and political backwardness for a view of the sunnier uplands of today’s society, writes Phil Shannon.

Dr Richard Sorge, a German communist who penetrated the innermost political and military circles of the Japanese and German governments for a decade from the mid-1930s, only ever had one good thing to say about the Nazis.

Nuclear weapons need never have been built. Our world could have been free from the “frozen tableau of terror” of 9500 nuclear warheads capable of destroying the world 100 times over, as Peter Watson comprehensively shows in Fallout: Conspiracy, Cover-Up and the Deceitful Case for the Atom Bomb

Australia’s capitalists were quick to see the tremendous marketing potential of Anzac Day by aligning their consumer brand with the officially revered military brand of Anzac. As early as 1916, the “commercial appeal” of the word “Anzac” was being used to flog various foodstuffs, beverages, soaps, toys, all sorts of apparel, Rexona healing ointment (tested in the trenches!), watches, matches, jewellery, cafés and restaurants.

Mutiny on The Western Front: 1918
Greg Raffin
Big Sky Publishing, 2018
216 pages

For those who may have been living in a cave without electricity for a while, it may need pointing out that the Australian establishment likes to conduct extravagant khaki-and-slouch-hat festivals to annually celebrate the gore-filled Australian invasion of Gallipoli on April 25 in 1915.

The Club: How the Premier League Became the Richest, Most Disruptive Business in Sport|
Joshua Robinson & Jonathan Clegg
John Murray Publishing, 2019
338 pages

If football is a simple game (get the ball, pass the ball), then the football business is even simpler (buy the best players, bank the profits).

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