Stalin’s famine, a war on Ukraine

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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 precise number of deaths remains uncertain, as do the causes, owing to the difficulty of disentangling the effects of war, revolution and disease, as well as those regimes’ isolation and secrecy. Even low estimates, however, are damning: what clearer illustration could there be of socialism’s impracticality than its repeated failure to feed its own people?

In her powerful account of the famine in Soviet Ukraine in the early 1930s Anne Applebaum, a Pulitzer prize-winning writer (and a former journalist at The Economist), tells an even more sinister story. Far from an unintended result of ill-conceived…Continue reading

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Visualising the careers of musicians-turned-actors

THE news of Harry Styles’s casting in “Dunkirk” (2017) was met with bemusement. It was hard to imagine the boyband heartthrob, with his Mick Jagger-esque locks and floral suits, under siege on the beaches of northern France (rather than under siege from hordes of teenage girls). Did a short comic …

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Britain could become basketball’s latest global outpost

FOR ONE night a year the O2 Arena, London’s biggest indoor stadium, belongs to basketball. On January 11th the 20,000-seat venue hosted its eighth regular-season fixture since 2011, between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers, the former of whom are genuine championship contenders this season in the National Basketball …

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Is art-connoisseur yet another job threatened by technology?

THE patient is carefully positioned on a pristine rectangular table. A signal is given, and from behind a glass wall, a technician directs an X-ray machine overhead. Zapping begins. This is not a hospital. It is the conservation laboratory of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Visits here were part of the …