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Dream Ticket

Peter Shore, 6 October 1983

The Diary of Hugh Gaitskell 1945-1956 
by Philip Williams.
Cape, 720 pp., £25, September 1983, 0 224 01911 2
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... National Union of Mineworkers, the friendship of that redoubtable sage and miners’ leader, Sam Watson, and through him, powerful new friends in the dominant section of the Trade Union movement: allegiances that were to be crucial in his subsequent battle for power with Bevan. The conflict with Bevan arose over Gaitskell’s Treasury role as controller of ...

A Ripple of the Polonaise

Perry Anderson: Work of the Nineties, 25 November 1999

History of the Present: Essays, Sketches and Despatches from Europe in the Nineties 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
Allen Lane, 441 pp., £20, June 1999, 0 7139 9323 5
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... of St John Philby and Robert Byron, of Norman Douglas and Patrick Leigh-Fermor, of R.W.Seton-Watson and Rebecca West. Sorties farther afield – like Peter Fleming’s expeditions to the Gobi or Matto Grosso – were fewer. Paradoxically, the vast expanse of the Empire itself was not fertile soil for this kind of ...

Eye-Catchers

Peter Campbell, 4 December 1986

Survey of London: Vol. XLII. Southern Kensington: Kensington to Earls Court 
Athlone, 502 pp., £55, May 1986, 0 485 48242 8Show More
Follies: A National Trust Guide 
by Gwyn Headley and Wim Meulenkamp.
Cape, 564 pp., £15, June 1986, 0 224 02105 2
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The Botanists 
by David Elliston Allen.
St Paul’s Bibliographies, 232 pp., £15, May 1986, 0 906795 36 2
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British Art since 1900 
by Frances Spalding.
Thames and Hudson, 252 pp., £10.50, April 1986, 0 500 23457 4
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Paintings from Books: Art and Literature in Britain, 1760-1900 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 527 pp., £55, March 1986, 0 8142 0380 9
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History of the British Pig 
by John Wiseman.
Duckworth, 118 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 9780715619872
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... have hit him had he not been forcibly restrained.’ It was in the work of an earlier member, H.C. Watson, that the Society’s future lay. He joined in 1840, and lived frugally as a self-supporting scholar on a small private income, devoting his life to the taxonomy and distribution of British plants. His Topographical Botany was the precursor of the ...

Floreat Brixton

Tam Dalyell, 5 December 1985

An Eton Schoolboy’s Album 
by Mark Dixon.
Debrett, 118 pp., £10.95, November 1985, 0 905649 78 8
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... Work and scholarship mattered to teachers like Oliver Van Oss, M.N. Forrest, A.J. Marsden and Peter Hazell, fresh back from Normandy, Arnhem or the Far East. ‘You’d better realise how lucky you are to be here, and you’d better justify yourselves’: that was their attitude. I don’t detect the same pressures in Dixon’s book, nor the same ...

Hypnotise Her

Thomas Jones: Axel Munthe’s exaggerations, 29 January 2009

Axel Munthe: The Road to San Michele 
by Bengt Jangfeldt, translated by Harry Watson.
Tauris, 381 pp., £25, March 2008, 978 1 84511 720 7
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... travelling in Italy with her parents; he was the family’s doctor in Rome. They had two children, Peter and Malcolm, and remained technically married until his death in 1949, though they spent very little time together and he saw almost nothing of his sons as they were growing up. ‘There seems to have been no question of passionate love on Axel’s ...

Havens

Daniel Kevles, 17 August 1989

Thinking about science: Max Delbrück and the Origins of Molecular Biology 
by Ernst Peter Fischer and Carol Lipson.
Norton, 334 pp., £13.95, January 1989, 9780393025088
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Is science necessary? Essays on Science and Scientists 
by M.F. Perutz.
Barrie and Jenkins, 285 pp., £14.95, July 1989, 0 7126 2123 7
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... work, and strong aversion to speculation beyond what is justified by the experimental results’. Peter Medawar once extolled imaginative guesswork as part of the scientific process. Perutz comments: ‘During the first 33 years of my own research imaginative guesswork proved useless: only after my colleagues and I had solved the structure of haemoglobin by ...

Diary

Chris Mullin: A report from Westminster, 25 June 2009

... given that she is so far unscathed and might reasonably have expected preferment. Then Tom Watson in the Cabinet Office announced that he, too, would be leaving. As if all that wasn’t enough, the ‘Star Chamber’ set up by the Labour Party National Executive announced that four of the big expenses offenders would not be permitted to contest the ...

Romanitas

Patrick Wormald, 19 November 1981

Roman Britain 
by Peter Salway.
Oxford, 824 pp., £19.50, August 1981, 9780198217176
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Roman Britain 
by Malcolm Tood.
Fontana, 285 pp., £2.95, May 1981, 0 00 633756 2
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... Britons than to Roman soldiers and administrators. What it comes down to is another paradox. Peter Salway protests twice that Roman Britain belongs to a historical, not a prehistoric period. But to a significant extent, so it seems to me, it was a prehistoric (or at least protohistoric) part of an intensely historical world. The written history of the ...

Shovelling Clouds

Adam Mars-Jones: Fred Vargas, 23 April 2015

Temps glaciaires 
by Fred Vargas.
Flammarion, 490 pp., €19.90, March 2015, 978 2 08 136044 0
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... bachelors, and that’s still the template. Dorothy L. Sayers hardly seemed to believe in Peter Wimsey’s passion for Harriet Vane, and no one else is likely to. In his book Strangers: Homosexual Love in the 19th Century, Graham Robb made a strong case that the granddaddy of them all, Poe’s Dupin, is coded as homosexual. Offering a dry précis of ...

Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair, 23 January 1997

Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where, unknown to him, his high-life associate, the film-maker Peter Whitehead, had been taken, after suffering a heart attack. It was one of those mornings of indulgent sunshine, filtered through gauze. Lilies and bell-shaped purple flowers. Twigs. A long pine table which gave Marks plenty of elbow room to roll his herbal ...

Hyacinth Boy

Mark Ford: T.S. Eliot, 21 September 2006

T.S. Eliot: The Making of an American Poet 
by James E. Miller.
Pennsylvania State, 468 pp., £29.95, August 2005, 0 271 02681 2
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The Annotated ‘Waste Land’ with Eliot’s Contemporary Prose 
by T.S. Eliot, edited by Lawrence Rainey.
Yale, 270 pp., $35, April 2005, 0 300 09743 3
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Revisiting ‘The Waste Land’ 
by Lawrence Rainey.
Yale, 203 pp., £22.50, May 2005, 0 300 10707 2
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... Thirty years later, when Eliot’s prestige and influence were at their zenith, John Peter, a Canadian academic, published an article in Essays in Criticism called ‘A New Interpretation of The Waste Land’. Peter argued that the poem was at heart an elegy that might be compared to Tennyson’s In ...

Todd Almighty

Peter Medawar, 16 February 1984

A Time to Remember: The Autobiography of a Chemist 
by Alexander Todd.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £15, November 1983, 0 521 25593 7
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... chemical rather than crystallographic, and they played no part in resolving, as Crick and Watson did, the double helical conformation of DNA. Todd confirmed his mastery of the nucleotide field by the synthesis of flavin-adenine-dinucleotide, reported in 1952, and, as expected and predicted, he won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1957 ‘for his work ...

In the Hands of the Cannibals

Neal Ascherson, 20 February 1997

Europe: A History 
by Norman Davies.
Oxford, 1365 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 19 820171 0
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... obligatory references to dark, peripheral events like the Partitions of Poland or the reforms of Peter the Great – now fa1l into oblivion, not because they are incomplete but because they are distortions. Neither is this a matter of crude ‘equating’: of setting out to prove that the Counter-Reformation in Central Europe was as important as it was in ...

Our Cyborg Progeny

Meehan Crist: Gaia will save us. Sort of, 7 January 2021

Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence 
by James Lovelock.
Allen Lane, 160 pp., £9.99, July 2020, 978 0 14 199079 8
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... and suitable for life.As an illustration, in 1983 Lovelock and the atmospheric scientist Andrew Watson devised Daisyworld, a computer simulation of a hypothetical world in which ecological competition between daisies of different colours affects planetary albedo, or the amount of solar radiation that is reflected back out into space – one of the ways in ...

Maigret’s Room

John Lanchester: The Home Life of Inspector Maigret, 4 June 2020

... pretty quickly – as Suite at the Majestic. That same translation became The Strange Case of Peter the Lett, then The Case of Peter the Lett. In 1963 it was newly translated as Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett. David Bellos’s recent translation is the first with the confidence to call the book in English what it is ...

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