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4+ teosta 339 jäsentä 9 arvostelua

About the Author

Charlie English has held numerous positions at The Guardian, most recently as head of international news. A fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the author of a previous book, The Snow Tourist, he first journeyed to Africa at nineteen, and has traveled widely there and elsewhere around the näytä lisää globe. He lives in London with his family. näytä vähemmän
Image credit: Charlie English, Photo: © Nicola Hippisley

Tekijän teokset

Associated Works

The Greek Myths: The Power of Love (2008) — Series editor, eräät painokset11 kappaletta
The Greek Myths: Origins of the gods (2008) — Series Editor — 9 kappaletta
The Greek Myths: Jason and the Argonauts (2008) — Series editor, eräät painokset7 kappaletta
The Greek Myths: the Trojan War (2008) — Series editor, eräät painokset7 kappaletta
The Greek Myths: The Odyssey (2008) — Series editor, eräät painokset6 kappaletta
The Greek Myths: Thebes (2008) — Series editor, eräät painokset6 kappaletta

Merkitty avainsanalla


York, Yorkshire, England, UK
East Riding of Yorkshire, England, UK
London, England, UK
Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
London, England, UK
Imperial College London (BEng|Electrical Engineering)
Guardian News & Media (arts editor, associate editor, head of international news, chief foreign leader writer)
Victoria Hobbs
Lyhyt elämäkerta
Charlie English was born in York in 1967. He was brought up in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and studied Electrical Engineering in London before moving to Pakistan for his first job in journalism. He has worked for the Independent, French television and the Guardian, where he is currently associate editor of the paper.



I really liked how the author kept his personal story integrated with the informative aspects of the book. Too much factual data and it becomes textbook-like and boring, too much personal introspection and it becomes self-indulgent; the author kept the perfect balance. I also liked the final chapter, "A Snow Handbook", which is simply a collection of interesting bits and pieces about snow that didn't fit anywhere. For example, there are lists of books and movies that are snow-related, quotes from poetry, random factoids about snow, and illustrated instructions on how to build an igloo. I highly recommend this book.… (lisätietoja)
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blueskygreentrees | 3 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jul 30, 2023 |
So, this turns out to be a rather complicated work, though the guts of it deals with the elevation of what is now called "outsider art," as practiced by the resident patients of the German mental health institutions, and as publicized by one Hans Prinzhorn, a somewhat sketchy psychiatrist who used this art to try and elevate the humanity of its producers. This became something of a faddish enthusiasm for numerous avant-garde artists; particularly of surrealist persuasion. The foil to this were disdainful cultural conservatives, who with scorn referred to the artists and their works as "degenerate;" including Adolph Hitler, the greatest enemy of degeneracy in Germany.

Where this all comes together is in the Nazi cultural "action" simply referred to as "Degenerate Art," where elite modern art was contrasted with the work of the mental patients, in the hopes of discrediting the whole enterprise. This is before "Aktion T4," the Nazi's first exercise in industrial murder, which did away with ten of thousands of German mental patients; including most of the artists Prinzhorn touted. English delves into this "event" in rather greater detail than I have previously seen, and it makes for real jaw-clinching reading.

As for Prinzhorn himself, he was fortunate to pass away before he lived to see his greatest achievement dragged through the gutter; though he was drifting into the Nazi orbit, having long lost his charismatic self-belief.
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Shrike58 | 1 muu arvostelu | Aug 2, 2022 |
This extraordinary piece of work might be read in conjunction with Mary Lane's Hitler's Last Hostages. While Lane's excellent book covers some of the same ground, it focuses more on the Nazi looting of museums and private art collections to feed Hitler's own art obsession and desire for glorification of a new Aryan culture. English delves into the dark flip side (did you think it could get even darker ?): the demonization of modern art as exemplified in the Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) exhibition, specifically as a propaganda tool. This was built in association with a collection of art works - drawings, paintings, sculptures, and whatever media was available - done by the inmates of psychiatric institutions across Germany, assembled by an art historian turned psychiatrist named Hans Prinzhorn. Prinzhorn collected, studied, examined and published a book of hundreds of these works, and championed them as more than just proof or examples of the patients' pathologies, but as worthy works of creativity and artistry. Modern European artists were astounded and inspired by them. Hitler's cronies seized on the "art of insanity" and deliberately exhibited them side by side with the "degenerate" modern art they loathed as an object lesson in the imminent destruction of German culture: Look! These degenerate artists want us all to be like this! Crazy, ugly, insane - bet you can't pick out the ones by the lunatics from the so-called 'real' artists! This is what THEY want us to be! This is what these museums are spending your tax money on! It was all part of a carefully crafted campaign to vilify "the Other" and herald the new age to come of sunlit soldiers, beautiful blonde mothers, and apple-cheeked children in sunny meadows. Which meant that all those defective people - disabled, mentally ill, ugly - were "lives not deserving lives," "ballast lives," only undermining Germany's future and costing txpayers money. In fact, they were so expensive that it was recommended to asylum administrators to starve or beat them to death because it was cheaper than shipping them to the gas chambers (which they also did, loading up postal service buses to ferry them in). The hospitals and asylums were emptied of 70,000 disabled and mentally ill people, including children, who were then methodically murdered. And then their families were to be checked out, since they "produced" these defective people, it seemed likely they carried the defects also, and so... As much as we already know about Nazi horrors, it seems there are always more depths to which they went. And still, there were heroes who resisted them: the president of the German psychiatrists association objected, and helped hospitals hide their endangered patients. His name was Karl Bonhoeffer, father of Dietrich (and another son besides - also butchered by the Nazis).

English introduces us to Prinzhorn and many of the artists, their work, and what became of them all (virtually every artist he collected was killed by the Nazis). It is an astonishing story, and fleshes out the role of art: not just as loot and bragging rights, but as a tool for the inculcation, explication, and justification of evil. The writing is brisk and vivid, as befits a veteran Guardian journalist covering the arts and international affairs. I wish the notes had been handled differently: supporting notes are collected in the back of the book, but not linked to pages or specific references, and rather are prose passages themselves. A good writer like English could have woven some of the supporting facts into the text, and then done a standard bibliography / footnote list, rather than make me keep flipping back and forth!

In the 1960s, a psychiatry trainee at the Heidelberg hospital opened up a myseriously locked cupboard in a side room. There were the stacks and bundles of the fragile art works of the murdered inmates of Prinzhorn's era. They have been cleaned, restored, and now have their own museum, library, and exhibition space. As they should. Ruhe in Frieden.
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JulieStielstra | 1 muu arvostelu | Aug 20, 2021 |
The city of Timbuktu with its ancient history has long captivated people. Just the very name conjures up images of an oasis in the desert, a city full of exotic people and a place where the mysteries of the East meet the gateway to the dark continent of Africa. It is a place that drew travellers in the Eighteenth century seeking the legendary place where even the slaves wore gold, but the desire to reach there was not always met with success, history shows us that the roads there were littered with failed expeditions as they succumbed to the hostile landscape, disease and attack.

There is another side to Timbuktu, it has always been a world centre in the Islamic world for learning from as far back as the 13th Century. As they became a centre where knowledge was pooled. This has left a lasting legacy of thousands and thousands of documents, books and manuscripts in public and personal libraries throughout the city on subjects as diverse as astronomy, religion, law and history as well as cultural subjects like poetry. These vast libraries came under threat from destruction in 2012 as al-Qaeda–linked jihadists poured across Mali wreaking havoc and destruction as they went. After destroying several mausoleums the librarians and archivists of the city were forced to consider the fate of their precious papers. So began the race to either hide the manuscripts or in the case of large collections, to move them to another city where they would be safe.

At times this reads like a thriller, as he tells the stories of how the manuscripts were moved from Timbuktu to a place of safety in Bamako using secure networks of couriers. Much of it was carried out in secret as the least amount of people that knew about it, the safer the operation. Charlie English recounts the stories he’d been told, before travelling to the city to see for himself the lockers and their precious cargoes. Whilst I think that it was important to set the context, for me it felt like there was too much emphasis on the past events. I didn’t like the switching around of the old and the new, I would have preferred the current day and historical events to be in separate sections. With its history, contemporary world issues and focus on ancient books, it is a difficult book to pigeonhole. It is a fascinating and very readable account of a small but significant part of world history.
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PDCRead | 2 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Apr 6, 2020 |


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