Category Archives: History

Human cycles

page11-nature_logoSOMETIMES, history really does seem to repeat itself. After the US Civil War, for example, a wave of urban violence fuelled by ethnic and class resentment swept across the country, peaking in about 1870. Internal strife spiked again in around 1920, when race riots, workers’ strikes and a surge of anti-Communist feeling led many people to think that revolution was imminent. And in around 1970, unrest crested once more, with violent student demonstrations, political assassinations, riots and terrorism…

This article was first published in Nature  on 1 August 2012. To continue reading click here.

Wanda

titlepieceI met Wanda (pronounced Vanda) in late 2003, a year before she became my mother-in-law. She was nearly 80 and her mind was as sharp as a scalpel. Behind her glasses, her pale-blue eyes sparkled with intelligence. She disliked sentimentality but was a sucker for beauty, and would gaze in rapture at the ice-dancing on television. She was happy when surrounded by family, but she had a more private pleasure too: losing herself in the city. She would wander aimlessly through the streets of London and, though short-sighted, would leave her glasses behind when she went…

This article first appeared in the Guardian on 9 June 2007. To continue reading click here.

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