Max writes regularly for Britain’s Daily Mail, and is a Contributing Editor of the Financial Times. He reviews books for the British Sunday Times, and for the New York Review of Books. Here are some examples of his recent topical journalism:
The White War by Mark Thompson (Basic Books)
Many Anglo-Saxons perceive Italy’s role in modern history as marginal and verging upon absurdity. Few American or British people contrived to hate Mussolini and his nation in the Second World War as they hated Hitler and his, because they did not fear Italians in the same way. There were those ponderous jokes which pleased stupid men with large moustaches in English pubs in the 1950s, about Italian tanks lavishly equipped with reverse gears. The day after Italy entered World War I in May 1915, a Slovene child in the Hapsburg Alpine village of Caporetto contributed something to the same legend by exclaiming as he saw Bersaglieri troops cycling towards him in their exotic plumed hats: ‘Daddy, daddy, look at all the ladies coming here on bikes !’ (p.71).
The Crimean War by Orlando Figes (Metropolitan Books)
The Crimean War In The British Imagination by Stefanie Markovits (Cambridge)
Considering the depth of mutual suspicion and animosity between Britain and Russia after 1815, it is astonishing that the lion and bear have fought each other only twice. At Winston Churchill’s behest, British forces played a desultory role supporting the White interest in the 1919-21 Civil War. The nations clashed much more fiercely between 1854 and 1856, when the Crimean War made a flagellatory impact on British society: it set a benchmark for political and military bungling, and public recrimination about it, which endures today.