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Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough, 22 October 2015

... leader. Would he – could he? – perform the countless vital tasks that come naturally to David Cameron or Tony Blair: everything from how to comport yourself at the despatch box to the best way to climb out of a chauffeur-driven car, from how to use an autocue to knowing which pop band to choose on Desert Island Discs. If you don’t know which tie ...

Balfour, Weizmann and the Creation of Israel

Charles Glass: Palestine, 7 June 2001

One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate 
by Tom Segev, translated by Haim Watzman.
Little, Brown, 612 pp., £25, January 2001, 0 316 64859 0
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Ploughing Sand: British Rule in Palestine 1917-48 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Murray, 290 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 7195 6322 4
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... portray the Zionist pioneers waging a war of independence against the British oppressor. Jon and David Kimche provided a good example of the conventional Israeli analysis of British policy in Both Sides of the Hill: Britain and the Palestine War (1960). ‘It was a mixture of ignorance, blundering, indecision and local bias against the Jews, encouraged by ...

Provenly Unprovable

Solomon Feferman: Can mathematics describe the world?, 9 February 2006

Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel 
by Rebecca Goldstein.
Norton, 224 pp., $13.95, February 2006, 0 393 32760 4
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... of the second requires much more delicate work). We would not have had Gödel paired with Paul Cohen – who proved the independence of the Axiom of Choice twenty years after Gödel’s failed efforts – as if they were colleagues, or teacher and student (at the time, Cohen was on the faculty at Stanford, on the other ...

Brandenburg’s Dream

Derek Walmsley: Digital Piracy, 7 January 2016

How Music Got Free 
by Stephen Witt.
Bodley Head, 280 pp., £20, June 2015, 978 1 84792 282 3
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... were full of poor quality, often wrongly titled mp3s. A 25-year-old New Yorker called Bram Cohen, a programmer at a short-lived internet start-up, saw an elegant way to improve the system. Each file to be distributed could be split into bits of information, Witt explains, then ‘instead of downloading the entire [song] from one user, you could ...

Who Are They?

Jenny Turner: The Institute of Ideas, 8 July 2010

... than this allows; apart from anything else, such a belief generates more exciting copy. Nick Cohen, the Observer columnist and author of What’s Left: How the Left Lost Its Way (2007), has called them ‘a vicious movement’ and ‘the smallest and nastiest of the Trotskyist sects’ (the latter in a piece from 2002 that prophetically notes how ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine, 3 December 1981

The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... So the majority are actresses (Elsie and Leigh), academics (Cam and Darbishire), artists (Bell, Cohen, Knight) or authors (Allingham, Blyton, Compton-Burnett, Sackville-West and Sitwell), topped off with occasional politicians (Astor, Bonham Carter and Lady Lloyd-George) and royals (Princess Marina, Queen Victoria Eugénie, the Princess Royal). Vera ...

I’m a Surfer

Steven Shapin: What’s the Genome Worth?, 20 March 2008

A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life 
by Craig Venter.
Allen Lane, 390 pp., £25, October 2007, 978 0 7139 9724 8
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... at the University of California, San Francisco. Working with the Stanford geneticist Stanley Cohen, Boyer had helped to develop some elegant recombinant DNA technologies which immediately suggested enormous value to the pharmaceutical industry. As was normal at the time, intellectual property rights were assigned to the universities, from the licensing ...


Christopher Tayler: Patrick McCabe, 5 April 2001

Emerald Germs of Ireland 
by Patrick McCabe.
Picador, 380 pp., £14.99, January 2001, 0 330 39161 5
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... Rather than a ‘narrator’, however, it might make sense to speak of the book having, as David Hayman has suggested of Ulysses, an ‘Arranger’ – ‘something between a persona and a function, somewhere between the narrator and the implied author’. This isn’t an entirely gratuitous comparison: Emerald Germs of Ireland is a more Joycean book ...

Rancorous Luminaries

R.W. Davies, 28 April 1994

Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives 
edited by J. Arch Getty and Roberta Manning.
Cambridge, 294 pp., £35, September 1993, 0 521 44125 0
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Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant 
by Amy Knight.
Princeton, 312 pp., £19.95, January 1994, 0 691 03257 2
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This I Cannot Forget: The Memoirs of Nikolai Bukharin’s Widow 
by Anna Larina.
Hutchinson, 385 pp., £25, March 1994, 0 09 178141 8
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Stalin i Ordzhonikidze: Konflikty v Politbyuro v 30-e gody 
by O.V. Khlevnyuk.
Rossiya Molodaya, 144 pp., December 1993, 5 86646 047 5
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... Then in the Seventies, Moshe Lewin’s work on Russian peasants and Soviet society and Stephen Cohen’s outstanding biography of Bukharin presented a Soviet society in flux, and a Communist policy which was not fixed in one mould but contained competing trends within itself. For these historians, Stalin’s victory at the end of the Twenties over the more ...

Aids and the Polio Vaccine

Edward Hooper: New evidence, 3 April 2003

... virus’) must have existed in the 1940s or 1930s. However, in Science last July, Jon Cohen, the magazine’s leading Aids correspondent, wrote about a ‘beautiful study’ of rampant recombination in the spleen of an HIV-infected patient, observing that the research raised ‘serious questions about phylogeny trees that attempt to date the ...

The Wildest, Highest Places

David Craig, 17 July 1997

John Muir: His Life and Letters and Other Writings 
edited by Terry Gifford.
Baton Wicks, 912 pp., £20, November 1996, 1 898573 07 7
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... to see nature as benign has been called a flaw by his most intelligent critic, Michael Cohen, in The Pathless Way. As we climbed together on a route called Great White Book in the Tuolumne domes east of Yosemite, he told me how Muir was disconcerted by the writhen and stunted junipers rooting in crevices of the granite because they were ...

Capital Folly

Avi Shlaim: The Jerusalem Syndrome, 21 March 2002

Divided Jerusalem: The Struggle for the Holy City 
by Bernard Wasserstein.
Profile, 420 pp., £9.99, March 2002, 1 86197 333 0
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... transition period. They were belatedly tabled at the summit convened by Bill Clinton at Camp David in July 2000, but Jerusalem was the issue that ultimately led to the failure of the summit and the breakdown of the Oslo peace process. Religious rivalries are notoriously difficult to resolve, and Jerusalem’s spiritual significance for the three great ...

Existence Unperceived

W.D. Hart, 15 October 1981

Philosophical Subjects: Essays Presented to P.F. Strawson 
edited by Zak van Straaten.
Oxford, 302 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 9780198246039
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... papers in Philosophical Subjects. For some time, John Searle has been in the business of refuting David Hume’s thesis that purely normative or evaluative claims cannot be derived from purely factual claims. This has generated a certain amount of argument in the journals. Jaakko Hintikka is one of Searle’s critics. In ‘Prima-Facie Obligations’, Searle ...

The Ultimate Deal

Henry Siegman: The Two-State Solution, 30 March 2017

... only way he will be able do it. Nevertheless, Trump’s appointment as his ambassador to Israel of David Friedman, a long-time contributor to the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and an unhinged right-winger who has accused Israeli and American Jewish supporters of a two-state solution as being ‘worse than kapos’, hardly supports the notion ...

The Statistical Gaze

Helen McCarthy: The British Census, 29 June 2017

The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick-Maker: The Story of Britain through Its Census, since 1801 
by Roger Hutchinson.
Little, Brown, 352 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 4087 0701 2
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... as late as 1891 spoke no language other than Welsh (39-year-old Evan James and his sons John and David). But what moves us about these census records is not curious job titles or strange placenames. The vast majority of users of are family historians, who, as Deborah Cohen observes in Family Secrets: Shame ...

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