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Destiny v. Democracy

David Runciman: The New Deal, 25 April 2013

Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time 
by Ira Katznelson.
Norton, 706 pp., £22, April 2013, 978 0 87140 450 3
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... As Ira Katznelson records, in November 1933, more than a year after FDR’s election, Lloyd Warner was burned alive before a cheering crowd of ten thousand in Princess Anne, Maryland, after an attempt to hang him had failed. Nothing so ghastly was permitted on the streets of Hitler’s new Reich. Still, this didn’t stop the Nazis romanticising the ...

Escaped from the Lab

Robert Crawford: Peter Redgrove, 21 June 2012

A Lucid Dreamer: The Life of Peter Redgrove 
by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 341 pp., £30, January 2012, 978 0 224 09029 2
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Collected Poems 
by Peter Redgrove, edited by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 496 pp., £25, January 2012, 978 0 224 09027 8
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... publish his poems, but broke down again and failed to get a degree. Student friends, who included Philip Hobsbaum and Ted Hughes, registered that Redgrove was impressively unusual. Hobsbaum thought he bore ‘a resemblance to Frankenstein’s monster, only better dressed’. Harry Guest recalls him carrying ‘a swordstick with him’ – like a Mr Hyde ...

Bravo l’artiste

John Lanchester: What is Murdoch after?, 5 February 2004

The Murdoch Archipelago 
by Bruce Page.
Simon and Schuster, 580 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 7432 3936 9
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Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Media Wizard 
by Neil Chenoweth.
Crown Business, 416 pp., $27.50, December 2002, 0 609 61038 4
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Autumn of the Moguls: My Misadventures with the Titans, Poseurs and Money Guys who Mastered and Messed up Big Media 
by Michael Wolff.
Flamingo, 381 pp., £18.99, January 2004, 0 00 717881 6
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... charming. Everyone agrees. You get a glimpse of this in the account of working for him written by Philip Townsend, who was his butler in London during the 1980s. (Townsend had a dog who died, and whom he kept in Murdoch’s freezer.) When Murdoch made the switch to living more healthily – influenced by the fact that his father died at 67 – he did so by ...

Speak for yourself, matey

Adam Mars-Jones: The Uses of Camp, 22 November 2012

How to Be Gay 
by David Halperin.
Harvard, 549 pp., £25.95, August 2012, 978 0 674 06679 3
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... toxic – by making the value and prestige of romantic love less axiomatic.’ Following Michael Warner in The Trouble with Normal, he points out that the social function of romantic love is to be anti-social, to represent a private, spontaneous, anarchic rebellion against the order of society. Love is the one socially conventional emotion that is ...

Racist Litter

Randall Kennedy: The Lessons of Reconstruction, 30 July 2020

The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution 
by Eric Foner.
Norton, 288 pp., £18.99, October 2019, 978 0 393 65257 4
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... he look instead to American reformers such as Frederick Douglass, Abby Kelley, Eugene Debs and A. Philip Randolph. In The Second Founding, Foner returns to this theme, stressing the exceptional and innovative nature of the Reconstruction Amendments. The Thirteenth Amendment ordered emancipation without compensation and was the first occasion on which the ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1996, 2 January 1997

... remember how comedians only appeared in Film and Radio Fun long after their vogue had passed. Jack Warner with his catchphrase ‘Mind my bike’ and Joe E. Brown were known to me only as personalities from the comics not from the medium which had originally made them famous. I suppose this might be taken as an extension of the Hegelian doctrine that the owl ...

It’s Finished

John Lanchester: The Banks, 28 May 2009

... to market participants is as familiar as beans on toast. (An example: when AOL took over Time Warner, the old media company supplied 70 per cent of the profit-stream, but ended up with 45 per cent of the merged firm, because AOL’s market cap was so much bigger. How successfully did that play out? Well, at the time of the merger, the new combined ...

Memoirs of a Pet Lamb

David Sylvester, 5 July 2001

... slight Northern accent. He was one of a large family: Abe; then Bec, the one girl; then my father, Philip, called Phil but Phishel at home, from his Hebrew name, Feisal; then Jack, Harry, Sid, Dave and Louis. Their father was a tailor, one who earned too little, with all those mouths to feed, to be able to buy shoes for his children to wear to school. At 13 or ...

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