Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Smile and Smile: Turkey’s Feel-Good Foreign Policy

World Affairs Journal
July/August 2010

As the First General Law of Travel tells us, every nation is its stereotype. Americans are indeed fat and overbearing, Mexicans lazy and pilfering, Germans disciplined and perverted. The Turks, as everyone knows, are insane and deceitful. I say this affectionately. I live in Turkey. On good days, I love Turkey. But I have long since learned that its people are apt to go berserk on you for no reason whatsoever, and you just can’t trust a word they say. As one Turkish friend put it (a man who has spent many years in America, and thus grasps the depth of the cultural chasm), “It’s not that they’re bad. They don’t even know they’re lying.”

Continue reading Smile and Smile: Turkey’s Feel-Good Foreign Policy

An Artful Robbery

The National
May 2, 2010

Recently, a Turkish museum’s staff discovered that a large number of famous Ottoman-era drawings from their collection were forgeries, the originals probably stolen years ago. Claire Berlinski finds that the theft of valuable artworks across the world is more common than many think.

During a recent inventory of Turkey’s State Painting and Sculpture Museum in Ankara, museum personnel noticed that some of the frames looked wrong. On further inspection, they discovered to their horror that a significant number of the collection’s famous drawings by the late-Ottoman era landscape artist Hoca Ali Rza, as well as numerous other important works, were forgeries. Not only that, they were photocopies – forgeries so crude that in principle, a child should have seen the difference.

Continue reading An Artful Robbery

The Age of Steam

January 17, 2010

ISTANBUL Shafts of misty light pierce the steam of the Ca?alo?lu hamam in Istanbul’s Eminönü district, once the heart of walled Constantinople and the seat of the Ottoman Sultanate. Built by Sultan Mahmud I in 1741 to provide revenue for the Haghia Sophia mosque, its marble rooms are opulent, timeless pleasure-domes of fountains and gilded columns. In the women’s section, a pleasant gabble of feminine voices mingles with the sound of sluicing water; the bathers gossip languidly, gently washing one another’s hair. Nothing could be more authentically Turkish than this.

Continue reading The Age of Steam

Turkish Delight: A Sour Delicacy

Turkey poses particular problems for the foreigner attempting to make sense of it. Istanbul, especially, appears to be quite Western, and in many ways it is. This seduces the observer into thinking it is more intelligible than it is. It is easy to believe that you know what’s going on and who stands where on the political compass. Quite often, you’re wrong.

Continue reading Turkish Delight: A Sour Delicacy

Zadie didn’t tell the real race story

The Sunday Times, February, 2006
by Maurice Chittenden

White Teeth was a whitewash, says Muslim who inspired prizewinning novel’s central character

WHITE TEETH, the novel that made Britain feel good about the state of its race relations, has been accused of whitewashing the truth by the real-life model for one of its characters.

Ziad Haider Rahman, the inspiration for Magid, one of the twin Muslim brothers at the centre of the novel, said Zadie Smith’s book, which was adapted for a television series, was divorced from reality.

Continue reading Zadie didn’t tell the real race story

Rammstein’s Rage

Azure, March 2005
Rammstein’s Rage

Rammstein — a made-up word meaning, more or less, “ramming stone” — is a popular German band. (1) Very popular. Rammstein released its first album, Herzeleid (“Heartache”), in 1995. Within days, it topped the German Media Control Charts. It stayed in the number one position for five weeks, then remained in the top ten for two years, an unrivaled achievement in Germany’s notoriously fickle pop music market.

Continue reading Rammstein’s Rage

Das Jackboot: German Heavy Metal Conquers Europe

The New York Times, January 2005

DURING THE GERMAN band Rammstein’s 1998 American debut tour, the lead singer, Till Lindemann, whipped out a monstrous black appliance in his performance of “Bück Dich” (“Bend Over”) and employed it to simulate sex with his keyboardist, who lay on the floor with a mask on his face, a chain around his neck and a gag in his mouth. When they tried this in Worcester, Mass., the two men spent the night in jail on obscenity charges.

This is nothing compared with the uproar they have caused in Germany, where people actually understand their lyrics.

Continue reading Das Jackboot: German Heavy Metal Conquers Europe

A Legacy to Women

The Spectator 13 April 2013

The blows Margaret Thatcher struck against socialism at home and the Soviet empire abroad are her most noted achievements. But an even greater legacy was bequeathed to her sex.

She was and will always be supremely significant to women. Unlike other women to whom she is often compared, she compromised no essential aspect of her personality.

Continue reading A Legacy to Women

Her Iron Road

Margaret Thatcher made her own political way, from beginning to end.

8 April 2013

Before acquiring power, Margaret Thatcher was nothing. She was trained as a chemist. Her career in politics was marked by doggedness, but no one, before her accession to office, would have noted her as a distinctive British personality, a woman who for a time could embody the national will. It was power that established her importance, and power that brought into being all of her now-immortal incarnations—diva, mother of the nation, coy flirt, hissing serpent, stern headmistress, eyes of Caligula, mouth of Bardot, screeching harridan, frugal housewife, Boadicea the Warrior Queen, and Iron Lady, all in one.

Continue reading Her Iron Road

Thatcher Matters

by Kathryn Jean Lopez
April 8, 2013

There Is No Alternative: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters is the title of a book by Claire Berlinski. Berlinski talks to National Review Online about why, in fact, she does!

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Why does Margaret Thatcher “matter,” as your book’s subtitle puts it?

CLAIRE BERLINSKI: I wrote much of this book in 2007.

Continue reading Thatcher Matters