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The Embryo Caesar

Eric Foner: After Hamilton, 14 December 2017

The Burr Conspiracy: Uncovering The Story of an Early American Crisis 
by James E. Lewis Jr..
Princeton, 715 pp., £27.95, November 2017, 978 0 691 17716 8
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... jury indicted Burr and several others for treason and allied crimes. Burr’s trial in 1807, James Lewis writes in The Burr Conspiracy, was ‘the nation’s first great legal spectacle’. It was avidly covered by the press, and attorneys on both sides directed their speeches to the public as much as to the court. Burr raised money to support a short-lived ...


Max Hastings: Letters from the Front, 10 September 2015

... when we were in support. The Hun put over some shrapnel-registering shells, I think. Willie Martin and I were in command of Support trench with 3 platoons (Willie is our second captain – a ripping fellow, a regular officer) we got the men in dugouts and were returning to the telephone dugout. We heard the usual whizz and I dropped down and Willie ...

Freedom of the Press

Anthony Lewis, 26 November 1987

... Martin Chuzzlewit, in the Dickens novel, crosses the Atlantic in a packet boat. When it reaches New York, newsboys come aboard shouting out the latest in their papers: the New York Sewer, the Stabber, the Plunderer and so on. ‘Here’s the Sewer’s exposure of the Washington gang,’ one cries, ‘and the Sewer’s exclusive account of a flagrant act of dishonesty committed by the Secretary of State when he was eight years old, now communicated, at a great expense, by his own nurse ...

Don’t lie on your gold

Tom Shippey: Dragons!, 9 June 2022

The Dragon in the West: From Ancient Myth to Modern Legend 
by Daniel Ogden.
Oxford, 458 pp., £30, September 2021, 978 0 19 883018 4
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... with scales, live in caves, love to hoard treasure and, of course, breathe fire. George R.R. Martin found a neat solution to an old problem with dragons. The now standard layout is a cumbersome four legs and two wings – after all, dragons need six limbs to walk as well as fly, don’t they? Not necessarily. As one can see in some episodes of Game of ...

The Ballad of Andy and Rebekah

Martin Hickman: The Phone Hackers, 17 July 2014

... on Clarke: From: [Redacted] Sent: 25 May 2005 17:34 To: Coulson, Andy Cc: Weatherup, James Lewis has had a tip that Home Secretary Charles Clarke is having an affair with his blonde, attractive special adviser Hannah Pawlby. He got this from a Westminster insider who fancied Pawlby, was going to ask her out and was told, ‘Don’t bother wasting your ...

The Word on the Street

Elaine Showalter, 7 March 1996

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics 
by Anonymous.
Chatto, 366 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6584 7
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... Primary Colors, whoever the author, is a first novel. If so, it’s the best fictional debut since Martin Amis. There isn’t a slack line or a flat character in the book; even walk-ons like the Stanton family doctor, ‘thin almost to the point of consumption, and tilted somehow, like the Tower of Pisa, wearing a cape and a hat and small round glasses, like ...

Darts for art’s sake

Julian Symons, 28 September 1989

London Fields 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 470 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 224 02609 7
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... and even thinking or reading about them for too long may induce ‘nausea, clinical nausea’. So Martin Amis in ‘Thinkability’, the introduction to his collection of stories Einstein’s Monsters. The monsters are the weapons – but also ourselves, who are ‘not fully human, not for now’. Given such a premise, the weapons must be written about by a ...


Michael Dobson, 8 June 1995

Edmond Malone, Shakespearean Scholar: A Literary Biography 
by Peter Martin.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £40, April 1995, 0 521 46030 1
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... glinting eyes, in Reynolds’s 1778 portrait, stare fixedly past us from the dust-jacket of Peter Martin’s biography. Indeed the book’s steady prose, for all its professions of admiration, does little to suggest that Martin (the first writer to undertake a life of Malone since 1860) has managed to muster much of the ...

Uncle Vester’s Nephew

Graham Coster, 27 February 1992

Dead Elvis: A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession 
by Greil Marcus.
Viking, 256 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 670 83846 2
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Rythm Oil: A Journey through the Music of the American South 
by Stanley Booth.
Cape, 254 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 224 02779 4
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... Beale Street where the rackety blues clubs are, and the streetsweepers who ply it every day. Furry Lewis, one of his most affecting portraits, was one of the Deep South’s most important country blues artists. But blues doesn’t pay you a living, so, even though handicapped by an artificial leg, Lewis had to earn his ...

What do you do with them?

Rose George: Eddie Stobart, 4 April 2002

The Eddie Stobart Story 
by Hunter Davies.
HarperCollins, 282 pp., £14.99, November 2001, 0 00 711597 0
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... And now Eddie Stobart fans drive thousands of unnecessary miles a year for sightings. Emma Lewis, a recent contestant on The Weakest Link, said that her hobby was ‘collecting Eddie Stobart lorries’. And what, Anne Robinson asked, do you do with them? ‘Nothing,’ Emma replied. ‘I prefer the Volvos to the Scanias,’ Ena Poulton of ...

When did you get hooked?

John Lanchester: Game of Thrones, 11 April 2013

A Song of Ice and Fire: Vols I-VII 
by George R.R. Martin.
Harper, 5232 pp., £55, July 2012, 978 0 00 747715 9
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Game of Thrones: The Complete First and Second Seasons 
Warner Home Video, £40, March 2013, 978 1 892122 20 9Show More
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... parallel tradition of para-literary works, from Carroll to Conan Doyle to Stoker to Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling, Pullman. There’s no other body of literature quite like it: just consider the comparative absence of fantasy from the French and Russian traditions. And yet it’s perfectly normal for widely literate general readers to admit that they read no ...

In a Boat of His Own Making

James Camp: Jack London, 25 September 2014

Jack London: An American Life 
by Earle Labor.
Farrar, Straus, 439 pp., £21.99, November 2013, 978 0 374 17848 2
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The Sea-Wolf 
by Jack London.
Hesperus, 287 pp., £9.99, August 2013, 978 1 78094 200 1
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... you?’ Pnin is moved: ‘The vicissitudes of celebrity!’ The ‘celebrated work’ in question, Martin Eden (1909), turns on those same vicissitudes. The hero is a self-taught writer who rises from anonymity much as London had, then kills himself out of disenchantment. ‘He was the fad of the hour,’ Martin thinks near ...


Wystan Curnow, 19 March 2015

... separated and sealed into coffins; both escape   but fail to find each other on YouTube. Ruark Lewis would     like to be their friend, but first must face his past.     Akasha and Enkil make other arrangements;   they are worshipped, of course, they have 666 friends in common, but are trapped for many years so other vampires   get to ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Da 5 Bloods’, 2 July 2020

... best scene manages to get the landmines in too. The warriors are Paul (Delroy Lindo), Eddie (Norm Lewis), Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr) and Otis (Clarke Peters). Paul’s son David (Jonathan Majors) has belatedly joined them. They have been trekking through the jungle for a day or two and (with the exception of David) aren’t as young as they were. Tempers ...


Patrick Parrinder, 25 October 1990

Notes on the Underground: An Essay on Technology, Society and the Imagination 
by Rosalind Williams.
MIT, 265 pp., £22.50, March 1990, 9780262231459
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The Mask of the Prophet: The Extraordinary Fictions of Jules Verne 
by Andrew Martin.
Oxford, 222 pp., £27.50, May 1990, 0 19 815798 3
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... and Underground Men of more recent literary fantasy. In Technics and Civilisation (1934), Lewis Mumford identified mining technology as the key to the world-view of modern science. Mining robs raw nature of its colour, shape and symbolic significance, and converts it into lumps of mineral ore to be torn out and exploited. The more traditional view of ...

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