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The Queen and Prince Philip in Barbados, February 1966; the island became independent on 30 November.
Photograph: Keystone/Getty
My mother’s small island taught me what independence really means
My mother never made it to 50. She was 44 when she came home from a day of shopping in Stevenage town centre, went to sleep on the floor, and died. Her death was sudden. She didn’t leave a will – but she did leave a wish. She wanted to be buried in Barbados, the island of her birth, “not this cold place”. I was 19, my brothers 24 and 23. None of us had proper jobs or any money – but once we realised we had access to sufficient funds, we made it happen.


A Trump, Pence sign outside a house near downtown Muncie, Indiana
Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
The view from Middletown: final thoughts on Trump's victory
The Guardian has today published my last despatch from Muncie, Indiana from where I covered the US presidential elections. The article, which you can find online here, or in today’s print edition, is a long read that tries to pull together the things that I saw over the month that I was tin the city that relate to the broader national picture. You can read an excerpt below.

 The disused Borg Warner factory in Muncie, which once employed more than 5,000 men and women. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
How Trump took middle America
In 1924, Robert and Helen Lynd, a husband-and-wife team of researchers, travelled from New York City into the heart of the midwest to undertake a study of daily life in an ordinary American town, Muncie, Indiana. The Lynds approached their mission in much the same spirit that Joseph Conrad entered the Heart of Darkness – to look upon denizens of middle America as an anthropologist might chronicle the strange customs of another race.


‘Trump’s victory was not simply a rebuke to the Democrats in general or Clinton in particular. It was an indictment of the entire political class.’
Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP
Electing Trump: the moment America laid waste to democracy as we know it
Most pundits said they wouldn’t do it; most pollsters insisted they couldn’t do it; everyone from the pope to Beyoncé said they shouldn’t do it. Now it’s done.


Photograph: UPI / Barcroft Images
America elects Donald Trump - Politics Weekly podcast
The view from Middletown: 'More than any other election, people want it to be over'
Today’s the day. For many I’ve spoken to during my month-long stay in Muncie, Indiana, it couldn’t have come too soon. First impressions are often inaccurate. But I stand by my initial view that a significant section of folk here are embarrassed by this election. There are, I am well aware, people who are enthusiastic about both candidates. I’ve seen them on television at rallies. But then that’s what rallies are for. In my time here I have met very few who are enthusiastic about either but many who loathe one or the other.
The view from Middletown: 'People feel let down by their politicians' – video


Hillary Clinton at a California primary night rally in Brooklyn.
Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
The view from Middletown: 'The perfect female presidential candidate doesn't exist'
Just a week to go. The overwhelming sense I get from people here in Muncie is that they just want it to be over. Their impatience isn’t just election fatigue – it’s feels like a kind of nervous exhaustion brought on by the clear fragility of the whole enterprise formerly known as American democracy. But the other thing that’s happened, since the email leaks on Friday, is that Democrat supporters are abandoning the notion that Hillary Clinton’s victory will be a formality and are now trying to get their heads around the possibility of a Trump victory.

 Women in Walnut Street in downtown Muncie. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
The view from Middletown: 'The perfect female presidential candidate doesn't exist'
As Bea Sousa went to cast her vote early at Muncie’s courthouse a couple weeks ago, the historic symbolism of the moment crept up on her unawares. She paused to take it in.
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Stranger in a Strange Land – Encounters in the Disunited States
book review
'It often takes an outsider to look inside. This is especially true of the United States.'
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