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Stalin’s famine, a war on Ukraine

A calamity made in Moscow Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine. By Anne Applebaum. Doubleday; 496 pages; $35. Allen Lane; £25. OF THE estimated 70m deaths due to famines in the 20th century, at least 40m occurred under communist regimes in China, the Soviet Union, North Korea and Cambodia. The …

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A carpenter philosophises

Hammer, chisel, heart and soul Making Things Right: A Master Carpenter at Work. By Ole Thorstensen. Translated by Sean Kinsella. MacLehose Press; 240 pages; £16.99. HANDS can reveal much about the lives of their owners. Ole Thorstensen’s fingers are surprisingly intact, and he has a few small but unremarkable scars. …

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Thomas Ruff’s manipulative photography

Manga-nificent WHEN Thomas Ruff was young, he had a simple ambition: to travel the globe taking colourful pictures of far-away places for National Geographic. Then he went to art school. His teachers at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf, where he began studying in 1977, were Bernd and Hilla Becher, a couple …

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Migration and identity in a new German novel

Go, Went, Gone. By Jenny Erpenbeck. Translated by Susan Bernofsky. New Directions; 320 pages; $16.95. Portobello Books; £14.99. A RETIRED classicist, Richard shuns strident rhetoric. This reserved and solitary man, the protagonist of Jenny Erpenbeck’s seventh novel, nonetheless comes to a severe judgment on the plight of African refugees in …

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Many writers try to span America’s political divide

THAT left- and right-leaning Americans read different books might be the least surprising fact about publishing. After all, they live in different places, eat different food, listen to different music and, of course, consume different kinds of news. All these reinforce one another; increasingly, progressives and conservatives simply do not …

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Sotheby’s launches a new prize for cutting-edge curators

SMALL museums that struggle to find the funding their curators need to research and develop innovative, ideas-based exhibitions are to get a boost from Sotheby’s, a commercial auction house, which on September 28th announced the inaugural winners of its $250,000 annual Sotheby’s Prize. The 2018 Sotheby’s Prize will be shared …

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The American embassy building in London is a modernist classic

THE State Department is in the process of moving the American embassy in London from glamorous Mayfair to a 450-acre industrial site on the south bank of the River Thames. The new owners of the old Grosvenor Square plot are Qatari Diar, the development wing of the Qatari government, who …

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The transformation of Britain’s “City of Culture”

SELDOM has Hull’s Ferens gallery been the scene of such frenetic activity. It is playing host to the Turner Prize, Britain’s most prestigious—and often controversial—visual arts award; the four short-listed artists’ works have to be ready for public display by September 26th. Since its beginnings at the Tate Britain in …

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A colourful way of bringing attention to South Side Chicago

EARLIER this year Amanda Williams was asked to be a creative consultant on the Obama Presidential Library. This was an surprising honour for an artist who had earned a public profile in her hometown of Chicago only two years before, thanks to a single project as declamatory as it was …

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The liberal order of the past 70 years is under threat

The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World. By Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro. Simon & Schuster; 608 pages; $30. Allen Lane; £30. THE rules-based international order that emerged from the wreckage of the second world war was a huge improvement on any preceding era. It …