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Definable Traces in the Atmosphere: Selected Writings

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This rich selection of Mike Marqusee’s writing captures the kaleidoscopic mind of a polymath who delighted in deploying one sphere of knowledge to provide exhilarating insight into others. These pages capture the connections and contrasts between William Blake and Thomas Paine, Bob Dylan and Muhammad Ali, cricket and the nation state, Jewish identity and the BDS campaign, f This rich selection of Mike Marqusee’s writing captures the kaleidoscopic mind of a polymath who delighted in deploying one sphere of knowledge to provide exhilarating insight into others. These pages capture the connections and contrasts between William Blake and Thomas Paine, Bob Dylan and Muhammad Ali, cricket and the nation state, Jewish identity and the BDS campaign, flamenco music and the films of John Ford, and the vagaries of political activism, often working closely with those who, subsequent to Mike’s untimely death in 2015, went on to lead the Labour Party. The extraordinary profusion of Mike’s interests was rooted deep in the soil of principles: a lifelong commitment to socialism, a recognition of the transformative nature of art, an expansive internationalism, and a commitment to intellectual and personal honesty heedless of cost. Acute and erudite, the pieces that make up Definable Traces in the Atmosphere reveal an intellect both serious and engaged. But Mike was never a writer who succumbed to the doctrinaire or the earnest. In marveling at this tapestry of some of his most memorable writing we can share another defining characteristic of its author’s outlook: a joyful appreciation that life’s pleasures are there for the sampling.


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This rich selection of Mike Marqusee’s writing captures the kaleidoscopic mind of a polymath who delighted in deploying one sphere of knowledge to provide exhilarating insight into others. These pages capture the connections and contrasts between William Blake and Thomas Paine, Bob Dylan and Muhammad Ali, cricket and the nation state, Jewish identity and the BDS campaign, f This rich selection of Mike Marqusee’s writing captures the kaleidoscopic mind of a polymath who delighted in deploying one sphere of knowledge to provide exhilarating insight into others. These pages capture the connections and contrasts between William Blake and Thomas Paine, Bob Dylan and Muhammad Ali, cricket and the nation state, Jewish identity and the BDS campaign, flamenco music and the films of John Ford, and the vagaries of political activism, often working closely with those who, subsequent to Mike’s untimely death in 2015, went on to lead the Labour Party. The extraordinary profusion of Mike’s interests was rooted deep in the soil of principles: a lifelong commitment to socialism, a recognition of the transformative nature of art, an expansive internationalism, and a commitment to intellectual and personal honesty heedless of cost. Acute and erudite, the pieces that make up Definable Traces in the Atmosphere reveal an intellect both serious and engaged. But Mike was never a writer who succumbed to the doctrinaire or the earnest. In marveling at this tapestry of some of his most memorable writing we can share another defining characteristic of its author’s outlook: a joyful appreciation that life’s pleasures are there for the sampling.

25 review for Definable Traces in the Atmosphere: Selected Writings

  1. 5 out of 5

    John Millard

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Knew nothing about him so the learning was fun. I do not follow sport of any kind but I did appreciate the insights into the political importance of international competition as described in the writings about cricket.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nat

  3. 5 out of 5

    Fionn McGorry

  4. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

  5. 4 out of 5

    Louie

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dan Sumption

  7. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Wilde

  8. 5 out of 5

    Georgina Phillips

  9. 4 out of 5

    Christine

  10. 4 out of 5

    OR Books

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marianne

  12. 5 out of 5

    John Gulla

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paul Haworth

  14. 5 out of 5

    Russell Field

  15. 5 out of 5

    mark mendoza

  16. 4 out of 5

    Greg

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kathrine

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gene

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kat Schartz

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sadie

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dante

  23. 5 out of 5

    Linh

  24. 5 out of 5

    Abigail Adams

  25. 4 out of 5

    Danny Finkelstein

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