Portraits

Obisesan

Akinpelu Obisesan — a gentleman diarist in colonial Africa

Obisesan was a wealthy and well-known public figure who established himself in the higher echelons of late colonial Nigerian society. Through his eyes, and specifically through his voluminous diary writing, we glimpse the profound historical changes that were wrought by British colonialism in Yorubaland.

The Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal

Bohumil Hrabal — king of palaverers

The Czech writer, whose lively and rambunctious fiction sees his characters veer between lunacy and frivolity; pleasure and pain, lived a complex life, laying bare his own suffering in his prose.

chiang ching kuo

Chiang Ching-kuo — dictator or democrat?

To Chiang’s backers, he was a well-intentioned autocrat who put in place the foundations for Taiwan’s democratic transition; to his critics he was a sometimes brutal dictator who acted as he did out of necessity to ensure the survival of his party and its hold on power.

German Chancellor Gustav Stresemann

Gustav Stresemann — The man who almost saved the world

Stresemann guided the Weimar Republic through its post-war crisis with agility and tenacity. The question of whether he might have been able to do the same following the Wall Street Crash and the ensuing chaos remains bitterly alluring.

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