The crisis in modern masculinity

Luridly retro ideas of what it means to be a man have caused a dangerous rush of testosterone around the world – from Modi’s Hindu supremacism to Trump’s nuclear brinkmanship

On the evening of 30 January 1948, five months after the independence and partition of India, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was walking to a prayer meeting at his temporary home in New Delhi when he was shot three times, at point-blank range. He collapsed and died instantly. His assassin, originally feared to be Muslim, turned out to be Nathuram Godse, a Hindu Brahmin from western India. Godse, who made no attempt to escape, said in court that he felt compelled to kill Gandhi since the leader with his womanly politics was emasculating the Hindu nation – in particular, with his generosity to Muslims. Godse is a hero today in an India utterly transformed by Hindu chauvinists – an India in which ...

The Killing Season; The Army and the Indonesian Genocide reviews – timely and forceful orthodoxy demolished

Two books crush the official version of 1960s anti-leftist massacres in Indonesia, implicate the US and UK and revise how we define genocideTwo books, by Geoffrey Robinson and Jess Melvin, reveal why one of the worst blood-lettings of the 20th century took place and who was responsible

Joshua Oppenheimer’s 2012 documentary The Act of Killing follows a cabal of ageing hoodlums around the city of Medan, in north-west Indonesia. Between 1965 and 66, they had enthusiastically joined militias across the country that garrotted, stabbed and mutilated to death at least half a million suspected leftists. Almost half a century later, they bragged openly about their exploits to Oppenheimer, for state propaganda since the late 60s has lionised the killers as heroes, and demonised the victims as godless communist traitors to the nation.

This polemically cinematic film – the first of two he made about the massacres – has transformed awareness of ...

The Long Hangover by Shaun Walker review – Putin’s new Russia

Russian nationalism and nostalgia in a former Moscow correspondent’s account of Putin’s rule

Shaun Walker, for several years the Guardian’s Moscow correspondent, describes his book as neither an apology for Vladimir Putin’s policies nor an anti-Putin polemic. It’s a fine line, but he is more successful than most of his western journalistic competitors in exploring the often contradictory attitudes that Russians hold towards their president and the hybrid system he is building on the basis of Russian nationalism, Soviet nostalgia and a striving for international respect.

Walker reports several illuminating interviews with people who hold “an often intangible longing for a past, if not the actual Soviet past, then at least for the sense of meaning that went with it”. There’s a strange but revealing encounter with Ivan Panikarov, a retired power station worker in Kolyma in Siberia, who has created a Gulag museum in his own flat. Amid the ...

A Party with Socialists in It review – Labour’s left from the 19th century to Corbyn

Simon Hannah’s survey of the left of the party is unsparing and more about unfulfilled promise than Corbynistas may like

In writing about a party as muddled together and misrepresented as Labour, clarity is a powerful weapon. Authors who accurately describe the party’s competing factions and traditions, and the ever shifting balance between them, are relatively rare. They are also a threat to Labour’s many enemies, who have often relied on portraying the party, and the left of it in particular, as a vast but hazy conspiracy.

This pithy book, “intended mainly for those who have been drawn into politics” since Jeremy Corbyn stood for leader, aims to “introduce the major historical struggles” of the Labour left and “explain what was at stake”. Simon Hannah is a young leftwing Labour activist, and there is an avuncular foreword from the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell. Yet Hannah’s approach to the Labour left, ...

Mary Wollstonecraft must finally have her statue | Letters

Please join our call to break the ‘bronze ceiling’ and celebrate the extraordinary life and legacy of Mary Wollstonecraft, write men including Jeremy Corbyn, Andrew Adonis, Tom Watson and Vince Cable, actors Jason Isaacs and Sam West and John Hannett of Usdaw

We are joining the call made last International Women’s Day, by over 80 female politicians, academics and public figures, for the pioneering human rights champion Mary Wollstonecraft to be memorialised. Wollstonecraft was the first to call for gender equality, over 250 years ago, when she challenged the male philosophers and politicians of the time, including Burke and Rousseau. She called for women not “to have power over men but over themselves”.

As a key Enlightenment philosopher, her ideas on justice and education have become core values here in Britain and beyond. Her words directly informed Gladstone’s plans for state education in 1870. Mary Wollstonecraft was neither ...

Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb – digested read

‘Say what you like about Hitler – but at least he topped himself when it all went wrong. That’s skin in the game’

You’ve missed me. You almost certainly don’t know that, but you have. And the reason you don’t know is, first, because you’re almost certainly a schmuck who doesn’t get probability theory – and, second, because you don’t have skin in the game. Me, I always have skin in the game. That’s what makes me special. That’s why I made millions as a financial trader. That’s why I’m so much cleverer than everyone else. If you take just one thing away from this book, make it this: Big Nick knows best and is doing you a favour by writing it.

Skin in the Game is the latest in my collection of works that I’ve grandiosely called Incerto. Remember Antifragile and The Black Swan? They were mine. People said ...