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Salman Rushdie had good reason to avoid having an index in his recent memoir. Indexes are a fine replacement for forming an opinion by actually reading a book, and reading Joseph Anton is not only enjoyable but necessary. It is a masterful and deeply moving book which addresses many, if not all, of the unsettled accounts from literature's bloodiest recent battle. Those who behaved with courage are remembered, and so are those who did not. One of the joys of reading the book is being surprised by the names that come up.

Of course nobody will be surprised to read of Keith Vaz MP assuring the author of his "full support" only a couple of weeks before addressing a crowd of thousands of Muslims at a rally against The Satanic Verses. But how fascinating it is to read of Rushdie's meeting with Vaz's then party leader. "Kinnock was opposed, he said at one point, to state subsidies being given to segregated Muslim schools, but what could he do, he cried, it was Labour policy. It was not possible to conceive of his adversary, the formidable Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher, feebly throwing up her arms like that," writes Rushdie. This could not be said of any political leader since Mrs T.

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Towards the end of a discussion between Roger Scruton and Terry Eagleton organised by Intelligence Squared there is an opportunity for audience questions. Eagleton's disciples are instantly recognisable by their unintelligible points, which peter out long before ever arriving at a question-mark.

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