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In my previous life, I was a journalist and editor. Not much work from that time is available online, because it pre-dated the digital era. (Although sometimes I get nice surprises. Quite by accident, I discovered that a piece I wrote for the New Statesman in August 1999, about Yugoslavia, had been posted.) So I am – slowly, gradually – putting a few pieces online, in this archive. There isn’t too much logic about the process; it just depends on what takes my fancy, or what comes up in the course of other projects.

#1 The reburial of Imre Nagy
A section, in the original English, from my chapter for A L’Est: La Memoire Retrouve,edited by Alain Brossat, Sonia Combe, Jean-Yves Potel, Jean-Charles Szurek, Editions La Decouverte, Paris 1990

Extract: The textbook covering modern history, Number Four in the series, was being rewritten. The edition it is replacing, used by a generation of Hungarian schoolchildren, describes 1956 as a ‘counter-revolution’. I want to meet the person responsible for this canonical text and in the small world that is Budapest, it is not hard to get a name. I expect to find a hard-bitten party stalwart, but meet instead a disillusioned and well-meaning woman. Agota Joverne Szirtes is happy to talk, and put her side of the story. Nagy PDF

#2 Uneasy sits the Czechoslovak crown
Susan Greenberg in Prague on the state bank that stands at the eye of the separation storm. The Guardian, December 19, 1992

Extract: If the money speculators move in, or if Prague and Bratislava diverge too strongly on economic policy, they will put a special Czech stamp on old notes and change over the entire currency within two days. Tellers are reportedly hard at work, practising their wrist action while men with stop-watches record how long it takes. They have already discovered that the stickers get stuck when the money goes through a counting machine. There’s nothing secret behind these preparations, just a keen interpretation of an agreement which spells out the grounds for any future currency split – a set of “divergence criteria”, which mirrors the monetary convergence criteria of the Maastricht treaty. Crown PDF


#3 Slow Journalism
Prospect, February 2007

Extract: Many people in Britain write fiction on the strength of the kudos they hope to win if the work gets published. Why don’t they think there is a pot at the end of the nonfiction rainbow? The main reason is the belief in Britain that literature is, by default, fiction. Occasionally, pieces of fact-based literature get reclassified as novels once they are judged to be ‘good’—Alain de Botton has described how the publisher of his first nonfiction book tried to brand it as a novel. ‘There’s a feeling in Britain that to be a writer is to be a novelist,’ he said.  Slow Journalism

#4 Therapy on the couch
Mindfield series, Camden Press, 1999

Extract [from Introduction]: In a country where therapy is still relatively marginal, the anger it provokes seems staggering. Look at it from the therapist’s point of view: hundreds of people in the UK are out there, doing something not very glamorous and usually badly paid, who think they are answering a need because people in anguish come to them for help, and at every turn they are portrayed as vultures waiting to pounce on the vulnerable, manufacturing victims and undermining society in the process. No wonder many therapists are desperate to reassure the public. They want to be loved and understood, just like us all. Book available here

#5 The meeting is the messageProspect, February 20, 1998

Clouds of hubris are gathering over the annual meeting of the world’s most important people in Davos. Susan Greenberg says the organisers are so fearful of offending the participants that real debate has been stifled. Davos article

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