Coming soon: The New Statesman Century

Weidenfeld & Nicolson's 100th anniversary book will feature contributions from George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes and Hugh Grant.

 

From Weidenfeld & Nicolson: 

Weidenfeld & Nicolson to publish

THE NEW STATESMAN CENTURY

Alan Samson, Publisher Non-Fiction, has bought World Rights from Sophie Lambert of Tibor Jones & Associates for THE NEW STATESMAN CENTURY  edited by the magazine ‘s own editor, Jason Cowley. The book will be published by W&N in August 2013 to mark the magazine’s centenary year.

THE NEW STATESMAN CENTURY will celebrate 100 years of stellar and influential journalism with a fascinating selection of the most interesting, groundbreaking and amusing writing to have appeared in the magazine.  Contributors include George Orwell, WB Yeats, HG Wells, Virginia Woolf, Graham Greene, Christopher Hitchens, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Richard Dawkins and Hugh Grant.

No British periodical or weekly magazine has a richer and more distinguished archive than the New Statesman, which has long been at the centre of British political and cultural life.  If not quite at the centre, then at the most energetic, subversive end of the progressive centre-left.  

Most of the great political and cultural writers of the last 100 years or so have written for the New Statesman.  Many have been on its staff or were associates of it: HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw, John Maynard Keynes, V.S. Pritchett, Paul Johnson, Christopher Hitchens and John Gray.  Many of the radical causes of our times were launched in association with or in the pages of the New Statesman -.  for example, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Charter 88.  There is, too, a rich history of illustration and cartoons to draw on, from Low's sketches of the great and the good to the gonzo art of Ralph Steadman and Will Self's early comic strips.

The book is much more than an anthology.  It tells the story of the New Statesman century, from the eve of the First World War to the long aftermath of 9/11 and the Great Recession through which we are still passing.  It looks forward as well as back, offering a unique and unpredictable perspective on a tumultuous century.

Jason Cowley said: “We are delighted to be collaborating on this project with Weidenfeld & Nicolson, a publishing house as distinguished and venerable as the New Statesman itself. The book should delight anyone with an interest in good writing, and the history, politics and literature of a tumultuous century.”

Jason Cowley is a journalist, magazine editor and writer.  He became editor of the New Statesman in October 2008. Before that he was the editor of Granta magazine and a senior editor and writer on the Observer. In 2009 and 2011 he was named editor of the year in the Newspaper and Current Affairs Magazines category at the British Society of Magazine Editors awards. He is the author most recently of a memoir, The Last Game (2009).

Published by W&N in August 2013 at £20 in hardback and £10.99 in eBook. For further information please contact Helen Richardson on 0207 520 4449 or email helen.richardson@orionbooks.co.uk

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Rarely has it mattered so little if Manchester United won; rarely has it been so special they did

Team's Europa League victory offers chance for sorely needed celebration of a city's spirit.

Carlo Ancelotti, the Bayern Munich manager, memorably once said that football is “the most important of the least important things”, but he was only partly right. While it is absolutely the case that a bunch of people chasing around a field is insignificant, a bunch of people chasing around a field is not really what football is about.

At a football match can you set aside the strictures that govern real life and freely scream, shout and cuddle strangers. Football tracks life with such unfailing omnipresence, garnishing the mundane with regular doses of drama and suspense; football is amazing, and even when it isn’t there’s always the possibility that it’s about to be.

Football bestows primal paroxysms of intense, transcendent ecstasy, shared both with people who mean everything and people who mean nothing. Football carves out time for people it's important to see and delivers people it becomes important to see. Football is a structure with folklore, mythology, language and symbols; being part of football is being part of something big, special, and eternal. Football is the best thing in the world when things go well, and still the best thing in the world when they don’t. There is nothing remotely like it. Nothing.

Football is about community and identity, friends and family; football is about expression and abandon, laughter and song; football is about love and pride. Football is about all the beauty in the world.

And the world is a beautiful place, even though it doesn’t always seem that way – now especially. But in the horror of terror we’ve seen amazing kindness, uplifting unity and awesome dignity which is the absolute point of everything.

In Stockholm last night, 50,000 or so people gathered for a football match, trying to find a way of celebrating all of these things. Around town before the game the atmosphere was not as boisterous as usual, but in the ground the old conviction gradually returned. The PA played Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, an Ajax staple with lyrics not entirely appropriate: there is plenty about which to worry, and for some every little thing is never going to be alright.

But somehow the sentiment felt right and the Mancunian contingent joined in with gusto, following it up with “We’ll never die,” – a song of defiance born from the ashes of the Munich air disaster and generally aired at the end of games, often when defeat is imminent. Last night it was needed from the outset, though this time its final line – “we’ll keep the red flag flying high, coz Man United will never die" – was not about a football team but a city, a spirit, and a way of life. 

Over the course of the night, every burst of song and even the minute's silence chorused with that theme: “Manchester, Manchester, Manchester”; “Manchester la la la”; “Oh Manchester is wonderful”. Sparse and simple words, layered and complex meanings.

The match itself was a curious affair. Rarely has it mattered so little whether or not United won; rarely has it been so special that they did. Manchester United do not represent or appeal to everyone in Manchester but they epitomise a similar brilliance to Manchester, brilliance which they take to the world. Brilliance like youthfulness, toughness, swagger and zest; brilliance which has been to the fore these last three days, despite it all.

Last night they drew upon their most prosaic aspects, outfighting and outrunning a willing but callow opponent to win the only trophy to have eluded them. They did not make things better, but they did bring happiness and positivity at a time when happiness and positivity needed to be brought; football is not “the most important of the least important things,” it is the least important of the most important things.

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