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Mai Khoi’s dissenting voice

In the dying days of February, an audience gathered in the foyer of the Phu Sa Lab performing-arts space in Hanoi’s Tay Ho District. Representatives from the American embassy and other members of the diplomatic corps rubbed shoulders with activists,

Running and plotting: Armando Iannucci’s ‘The Death of Stalin’

The international release of Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin was attended by two fitting ironies. The first was that Vladimir Putin’s Russia—after this month’s election result, it remains undoubtedly his—banned it outright on the grounds of its “extremism”. (Yelena

Vietnam’s answer to Pussy Riot furiously dissents

Mai Khoi Do Nguyen has long been described as Vietnam’s Lady Gaga. In more recent years, as her political activism has come to the fore, her expressions of rude dissent, she has also been compared to Russia’s infamous protest band,

‘Slow Burn’: Trump, Nixon and the art of the podcast

It is a truth universally acknowledged—well, acknowledged by everyone but the man himself—that Donald Trump is obsessed with the news media and its coverage of him. Among US presidents, only Richard Nixon has hated the media more, or been more

The sun sets on the RMS St Helena

It’s the end, as they say, of an era. Or at least it was meant to be. On Saturday last week, the RMS St Helena departed the South Atlantic island that gives it its name for what was supposed to

Two Book Reviews

The following book reviews were written for The Weekend Australian back in 2016. For whatever reason — probably the fact that I didn’t file them on time — they were never published. I’m putting them out there now for posterity’s sake. From the review

Postcard from nowhere

Every morning in Transnistria, the self-proclaimed Eastern European country that no other country recognises, there’s a run on the banks. You wouldn’t think there would be much demand for a currency like the Transnistrian ruble, which doesn’t have an ISO

Why read ‘The Flashman Papers’ today?

When George MacDonald Fraser sat down to pen Flashman, the first volume of what would eventually become a thirteen-book series known as ‘The Flashman Papers’, one doubts he knew how enduring his titular character would become. A minor figure in Thomas Hughes’ Tom Brown’s