For those weary of politicians trading pre-spun soundbites, it’s reassuring to know that the art of debate is alive and flourishing under the aegis of Intelligence Squared. Launched in London in 2002, it now has branches in New York, Sydney, Athens, Hong Kong, Kiev and Tel Aviv; you can participate online, and in America and Australia its events can be followed on radio and television. This autumn’s London line-up is particularly strong: Francis Fukuyama and David Runciman debate the proposition “Democracy: even the best ideas can fail” at the Royal Institution (Sept 22nd). Steven Pinker discusses his new writing guide, “The Sense of Style”, with Ian McEwan at the Royal Geographical Society (25th). Jeremy Paxman chairs a “Napoleon the Great?” debate at the Emmanuel Centre with Andrew Roberts praising and Adam Zamoyski dissing the Emperor (Oct 8th), and Simon Schama takes on Tracy Chevalier in “Rembrandt vs Vermeer” (RGS, Oct 15th). Meanwhile, the New York chapter debates Iraq (Sept 30th), inequality and the American Dream (Oct 22nd) and assisted suicide (Nov 13th), all at the Kaufman Centre. Sydney’s headliner is “Society would flourish under female rule” at the City Recital Hall on Oct 28th. ~ Anthony Gardner
Intelligence Squared intelligencesquared.com
TALKS AT A GLANCE
Cheltenham Literature Festival (Oct 3rd-12th). You’d be hard pressed to find a stronger hand of novelists than this one: Richard Ford, Kazuo Ishiguro, Martin Amis, Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Hilary Mantel, Colm Tóibín, Salman Rushdie...
Michael Sandel (Methodist Central Hall, London, Oct 23rd). As “The Public Philosopher” on Radio 4, Sandel is supremely lucid. Here he asks, “How do we want to live together?”
Hilary Mantel and Harriet Walter (Union Chapel, London, Sept 11th). Timberlake Wertenbaker asks the two dames how they get under the skin of a character. Hosted by Intelligent Life and the Royal Society of Literature. To book, click here.
Manchester Literature Festival (Oct 6th-19th). Amis and Tóibín resurface here, along with Sarah Waters, Margaret Drabble and the ebullient Jackie Kay. ~ AG