Author Archives: JamesH

Cyber-con. The London Review of Books, 2 December 2010

Death to the Dictator!: Witnessing Iran’s Election and the Crippling of the Islamic Republic by Afsaneh Moqadam
Bodley Head, 134 pp, £10.99, May 2010, ISBN 978 1 84792 146 8 The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom by Evgeny Morozov
Allen Lane, 408 pp, £14.99, January 2011, … Continue reading

Caught in the net. The New Statesman, 4 May 2009

Thursday 26 March 2009, day 66 of Barack Obama’s presidency, may be remembered as the moment at which his clean-living administration went to pot. The occasion was the launch of Obama’s online town hall, Open for Questions, designed to build … Continue reading

Losing the plot. The Observer film quarterly, 22 March 2009

Stanley Kubrick’s 1956 film The Killing follows a prickly collection of gangsters as they plan to rob a racetrack of millions of dollars. The way that it follows them, however, was considered most unusual at the time. Right from the … Continue reading

Stars of CCTV. The Guardian, 4 February 2006

Twenty years ago, the American novelist Paul Auster wrote a short novel that turned out to be eerily prophetic. The story was about a man – known only as Blue – who is approached by a stranger called White and … Continue reading

Didn’t see that coming, did you? The fall of futurology. The Financial Times, 5 March 2005

In Stanislaw Lem’s novel, The Futurological Congress, published in 1971, Ijon Tichy, a Russian cosmonaut on his way to an international gathering of futurologists in the developing world, is so badly wounded in the crossfire of a local revolution that … Continue reading

Don’t forget your teddy bear. The New Statesman, 16 December 2002

Anyone remember Bagpuss? For the uninitiated, Bagpuss was a lackadaisical toy cat who slept in the window of an antiques shop. Only after the shop closed did Bagpuss shake himself into life, whereupon our furry friend began making merry in … Continue reading

Sartre, Bogart and the last puff of freedom. The New Statesman, 13 March 2000

New Statesman March 13, 2000 LENGTH: 1753 words HEADLINE: Sartre, Bogart and the last puff of freedom; Smoking once meant glamour and romance; now, the smoker is victim and polluter. By James Harkin BYLINE: James Harkin BODY: Imagine, as a … Continue reading

The author as performer. Cover story, FT Life and Arts, 9 June 2009

Late last year, for one night only, fans of the musical The Lion King were turned away from the Lyceum theatre in London’s West End. If they had been able to peer inside at the stage they would have witnessed … Continue reading

Middleman in the Middle East. Cover story, FT magazine, 3 January 2009

Sometime in the late 1980s, a British embassy vehicle was inching its way through the mountains of Balochistan in Pakistan when angry tribesmen barred its path. The tribespeople were in dispute with the government over water rights and when they … Continue reading

Shock and gore: the story of Ogrish. FT magazine, 14 January 2006

On April 21 last year, 12 miles outside Baghdad, a helicopter was shot from the sky by an obscure insurgent group calling itself the Islamic Army of Iraq. On board were 11 security guards and aircrew who had been working … Continue reading

The Buddha of Balmoral. Cover story, FT magazine, 7 February 2004

It is six days after the Prince of Wales’s 55th birthday, but he has not had much time to celebrate. In the past week he has visited, among other places, a prison in Lancashire, an old people’s home in Gloucestershire … Continue reading

The Big Chill. The Independent on Sunday (London), 7 December 2003

Outside the field rehabilitation clinic, the queue is growing uncharacteristically restless. Baked by the midday sun of a sweltering British summer, some are jostling for position, while others are beginning to encroach on the makeshift tent. Pandemonium threatens. A bearded, … Continue reading

The Guardian Saturday Interview: Amartya Sen. 18 February 2006

There is something about dining at an Oxbridge high table which makes conversation seem a little inadequate. Perhaps it is the surroundings. We are seated at the top of a magnificent dining hall in Trinity College, Cambridge, from which academics … Continue reading

The Guardian Saturday Interview: Gerry Adams. 17 December 2005

The first thing you notice when having lunch with Gerry Adams is that people are prone to stare in the most peculiar way, as if the president of Sinn Fein were part celebrity and part leper. We have, however, chosen … Continue reading

The Guardian Saturday Interview: William J. Mitchell. 26 November 2005

William J Mitchell does not look much like a cyborg. When I meet him in London, in the bookshop of the imposing Royal Institute of British Architects building in Portland Place, he seems every inch the retiring, self-effacing middle-aged family … Continue reading

Lunch with the FT: Bret Easton Ellis. 5 November 2005

It is just past noon, and I am sitting at one of the best tables in one of London’s most sought-after restaurants – The Wolseley, where reservations need to be made weeks in advance – neatly decked out in an … Continue reading

Lunch with the FT: Tom Friedman. June 18, 2005

Thomas L. Friedman is a writer in a hurry. He has arrived 15 minutes late for our lunch, and strides right past the fussing restaurant staff to shake my hand and sit down. Making up for lost time, he flicks … Continue reading

We all need to be in the loop. The Times (London), 18 February 2009

On December 20 last year, a Boeing 737 preparing for take-off in Colorado skidded off the runway, tumbled into a ravine and injured 38 people. Just moments after the accident, while his fellow passengers sat reflecting on their good fortune … Continue reading

This nudging stuff is nothing new. The Guardian comment pages, 5 August 2008, updated 12 August 2011

This nudging stuff is nothing new – and it’s all a bit shaky The Guardian, Comment pages, 5 August 2008. Just like the wicked, there is going to be no rest for Conservative MPs this summer. Courtesy of David Cameron, … Continue reading

Europe must fight back in the battle for ideas. The Financial Times comment pages, 28 February 2008

What does it mean to be a “libertarian paternalist” or a “transhumanist”? What is it like to live in an “experience economy”? When people murmur knowingly about something called “the wisdom of crowds”, what are they talking about? Is there … Continue reading

These books will change your life. The Financial Times, 6 January 2007

How much should one tip a prostitute? Dylan Jones, the editor of GQ and energetic man-about-town, is here to tell you the right thing to do. His book, Mr Jones’ Rules For the Modern Man, touts itself as a kind … Continue reading

Eurovision is the only vision Europe deserves. The Financial Times, 18 May 2006

Last week, as it does every year, Europe Day fell on May 9, marking the day in 1950 when Robert Schuman presented his suggestion for a united Europe. Few people, bar those employees of the European Commission in Brussels who … Continue reading

Jumping the gun: the new doctrine of military pre-emption. The Financial Times, 24 April 2006

On Thursday March 16, in the first major restatement of its national security strategy for nearly four years, the White House identified Iran as the single greatest danger to US interests. In the same announcement, the US government reiterated its … Continue reading