|The Expo Files: Articles by the Crusading Journalist by Stieg Larsson|
|Category: Politics and Society|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Despite the age of the original pieces, this is a sterling collection of anti-fascist journalism, and a building block too to the author's thriller trilogy.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: March 2012|
|Publisher: Maclehose Press|
Stieg Larsson would not have known Anders Breivik, but if they'd coincided you can be damned sure he knew all there was to know about him. Larsson and his journalist colleagues were working to condemn the far-right activities throughout Europe, and open the truth about the right-wing Swedish parties to his audience, and here is constant proof he knew an awful lot about his awful subject. In just the first two, powerful, short essays here he brings terrorism in the UK, Italy and Oklahoma to his home audience, and discusses Swedish extremism in its light; showing the liberal laws in Sweden that allowed the extremists to be seen as too much on the straight and narrow, too mainstream, and even able to enter parliament. The idea of 'it couldn't happen here' gets blown out the water, and as we've seen that is relevant to us everywhere.
This is just the kind of Larsson book for me. I've said elsewhere on this site that if you take a major author, one known for some hugely celebrated books or one specific genre, I'll turn instead to the most contrary title available. Be it Larsson, I'll shelve the Millennium trilogy, and instead gulp this non-fiction down. It is a mirror piece to his thrillers anyway, informing the reader of those books on what the author really felt, really knew and worked with, and what he was really conveying.
If I could change anything about this volume I'd first move the biography to the beginning, and expand on it. I'd always had Larsson down as a young firebrand, with the emphasis on young, but some works here date from 1983. The pieces generally come from the journal Expo, as the title suggests, and the numbering of its volumes seems very peculiar, until things settles down to be Internet journalism. Most of it is about ten years old, but it's still very relevant, very educational, and definitely interesting.
Here is the neo-Nazi waiting in society until it was somehow made acceptable to address and convey rampant anti-Semitism on the Internet and something called Radio Islam, and here too the liberal accepting it under freedom of speech idea(l)s. These extremists could never be mistaken for mainstream, but by successfully stretching people's perceptions they could reveal more of their propaganda. One minute Larsson is being great on the threat of Islamic and other anti-Semitism being normalised, the next he is being great on the social acceptance of astrology.
The preface says the book has been thematically edited, and on the whole it does swing from being about extremism to discussions about feminism and the position of women in society, but they are addressed from the same anti-right-wing standpoint. There's condemnatory talk of the right-wing press picking up on one case of inter-racial gang rape to the exclusion of Swedish-only examples, and the longest piece is an academic essay regarding how 'honour killings' are deemed completely separate, distinct from and alien to the indigenous Swede killing and dismembering his bride. After homophobia joins in at the end, you need astrology, and a piece of travel journalism, as light relief. It's a bonus to have Larsson showing us how his subjects often fall flat on their face - as regards their symbology or their own wife-bashing habits.
There is also a longer piece on the dangers of being a journalist exposing yourself to this kind of extremist dross, and the people that create it. Just as the politics and views of Larsson and his colleagues inspired his thrillers, so the evident success attributable to his name as a result inspired this collection. You don't need to quibble about his opinions, or the age of the pieces. You ultimately just need to absorb these works - and it's a shortish volume overall - and hope that in the end, before it becomes too late, it DOES happen here and that wherever we are, we get an author and a volume of writing like this addressing our own country.
I must thank the publisher for my review copy.
For an unbiased attack on illogicality of a different kind, we have our Top Ten Books For The Defenders Of Reason list to peruse. For a discussion of some kind of extremism, you might like Politics of Fear: Beyond Left and Right by Frank Furedi.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Expo Files: Articles by the Crusading Journalist by Stieg Larsson at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Expo Files: Articles by the Crusading Journalist by Stieg Larsson at Amazon.com.
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