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Obama v. Clinton: A Retrospective

Eliot Weinberger: A Tale of Two Candidates, 3 July 2008

... sign, but had no idea what it meant.) I’d grown up during the civil rights movement, had heard Martin Luther King speak. And here was an African-American who had risen higher than any non-white person in any Western country, and moreover had done so in a nation that has never, with the exception of the Irish John Kennedy, elected a president from even its ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2011, 5 January 2012

... plaintive rider:I have completed the census form while strongly objecting to the agency, Lockheed Martin, that is carrying it out. Information of this nature should only be divulged to a government agency under the direct control of parliament. Lockheed is basically an arms manufacturer and thus not the most scrupulous of organisations. This is an undertaking ...

The Ribs of Rosinante

Richard Gott, 21 August 1997

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life 
by Jon Lee Anderson.
Bantam, 814 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 593 03403 1
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Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara 
by Jorge Castañeda, translated by Marina Castañeda.
Bloomsbury, 480 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 7475 3334 2
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... consultant on a World in Action documentary.) At La Esperanza, we found the commander, Major Ralph ‘Pappy’ Shelton, a Korean veteran, in an expansive mood. With a handful of senior American officers he was celebrating the end of the six-month crash course they had organised for the Bolivian Army. A team of 16 Spanish-speaking ‘trainers’ had ...

Gielgud’s Achievements

Alan Bennett, 20 December 1979

An Actor and his Time 
by John Gielgud.
Sidgwick, 253 pp., £8.95
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... like a footballer’s, showing a considerable expanse of thigh.’ Sounding unaccountably like Ralph Lynn in an Aldwych farce, Gielgud ventured to remark to Hicks: ‘I say, sir, that’s a remarkably attractive girl with M Guitry, don’t you think,’ and was rewarded with the trenchant comment: ‘Try acting with her old boy. It’s the cabman’s ...

Prime Ministers’ Pets

Robert Blake, 10 January 1983

Benjamin Disraeli Letters: Vol. I 1815-1834, Vol. II 1835-1837 
edited by J.A.W. Gunn, John Matthews, Donald Schurman and M.G. Wiebe.
Toronto, 482 pp., £37.50, June 1982, 0 8020 5523 0
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The Gladstone Diaries: with Cabinet Minutes and Prime Ministerial Correspondence, Vol. VII, January 1869-June 1871, Vol. VIII, July 1871-December 1874 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew.
Oxford, 641 pp., £35, September 1982, 0 19 822638 1
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by Sarah Bradford.
Weidenfeld, 432 pp., £14.95, October 1982, 0 297 78153 7
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Gladstone: Vol. I 1809-1865 
by Richard Shannon.
Hamish Hamilton, 580 pp., £18, November 1982, 0 241 10780 6
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H.H. Asquith: Letters to Venetia Stanley 
edited by Michael Brock and Eleanor Brock.
Oxford, 676 pp., £19.50, November 1982, 0 19 212200 2
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... and Buckle, or in the garbled and inaccurate version edited by his curmudgeonly younger brother Ralph, who has high claims to be one of the worst editors in English history. It is nice to have the correct text, and quite a number of letters have not appeared in print before – in particular, a series which concerns his finances, letters to his legal ...

Imaginary Homelands

Salman Rushdie, 7 October 1982

... nostalgia. It is also a useful tool with which to work in the present. John Fowles begins Daniel Martin with the words: ‘Whole sight: or all the rest is desolation.’ But human beings do not perceive things whole; we are not gods but wounded creatures, cracked lenses, capable only of fractured perceptions. Partial beings, in all the senses of that ...

Passing-Out Time

Christopher Tayler: Patrick Hamilton’s drinking, 29 January 2009

The Slaves of Solitude 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Constable, 327 pp., £7.99, September 2008, 978 1 84529 415 1
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The Gorse Trilogy 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Black Spring, 603 pp., £9.95, June 2007, 978 0 948238 34 5
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... Thousand Streets trilogy. In 1930, he tried to straighten out his love life by marrying Lois Martin, a woman he’d met at one of Priestley’s Hampstead drinks parties. He was, he told his mother as he broke the news by post, ‘incredibly happy – touch wood’. But the newlyweds soon agreed that they were ‘sexually incompatible’, and Lois took on ...

Dingy Quadrilaterals

Ian Gilmour: The Profumo Case, 19 October 2006

Bringing the House Down: A Family Memoir 
by David Profumo.
Murray, 291 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 7195 6608 8
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... years. Meanwhile Valerie had become a star of stage and screen. In one film she played opposite Ralph Richardson, whom she much liked, and Laurence Olivier, whom she did not, finding him selfish, offhand and cold. He was however preferable to Leslie Howard, who with his girlfriend for a time shared a house with the Havelock-Allans. Valerie’s best-known ...

Too Fast

Thomas Powers: Malcolm X, 25 August 2011

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention 
by Manning Marable.
Allen Lane, 592 pp., £30, April 2011, 978 0 7139 9895 5
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... time. On any morning that summer, Little might have brushed shoulders with the slender, watchful Ralph Ellison, passing through the Harlem YMCA, where Little roomed for a time only a block away from Small’s. Ellison was preparing himself to write the great black American novel, and he later set an important scene in the Harlem YMCA, which offered a bed and ...

Whatever you do, buy

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare’s First Folio, 15 November 2001

The Shakespeare First Folio: The History of the Book Vol. I: An Account of the First Folio Based on Its Sales and Prices, 1623-2000 
by Anthony James West.
Oxford, 215 pp., £70, April 2001, 0 19 818769 6
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... been sufficiently difficult to decipher for the publishers to commission the professional scribe Ralph Crane to prepare fresh transcripts, and even these were sometimes misread during typesetting. Judging from this, from Shakespeare’s signatures on legal documents, and from the few holograph pages we have of his scriptwriting (part of his contribution to ...

Give or take a dead Scotsman

Liam McIlvanney: James Kelman’s witterings, 22 July 2004

You Have to Be Careful in the Land of the Free 
by James Kelman.
Hamish Hamilton, 437 pp., £12.99, June 2004, 0 241 14233 4
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... Jerry remarks to his sceptical black girlfriend, before making an uncomfortable allusion to Ralph Ellison: ‘I enjoyed being an alien. Fuck them. The invisible man. Fine.’ Perhaps more damagingly, Kelman’s satire on the US security industry is curiously tame. Not only has DeLillo done this kind of thing with greater gusto and vision, but Kelman has ...

Loaded Dice

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Ta-Nehisi Coates, 3 December 2015

Between the World and Me 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Text, 152 pp., £10.99, September 2015, 978 1 925240 70 2
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... handcuffed by a white police officer while attempting to open his own front door; in 2012 Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old on his way home from a convenience store in Florida, was murdered by a neighbourhood watchman called George Zimmerman; in 2014 the killings of Brown and Eric Garner, an unarmed man from Staten Island who was choked to death by a ...

The Israel Lobby

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt: The Israel Lobby, 23 March 2006

... The Lobby also includes prominent Christian evangelicals like Gary Bauer, Jerry Falwell, Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson, as well as Dick Armey and Tom DeLay, former majority leaders in the House of Representatives, all of whom believe Israel’s rebirth is the fulfilment of biblical prophecy and support its expansionist agenda; to do otherwise, they ...

A Hard Dog to Keep on the Porch

Christopher Hitchens, 6 June 1996

... with Central America. But since these questions come from the Nation magazine, and from Ralph Nader and Jerry Brown, they can be, and are, easily shrugged off as ‘marginal’. Understandably, the Republicans display little relish for dragging up the savings-and-loan scandal, or for raising the question of campaign donations, or for investigating ...


Alan Bennett: My 2006, 4 January 2007

... in Settle I feel a tug at my jacket. I look down and it’s little white-haired 85-year-old Onyx Ralph, who just about comes up to my waist. ‘Hello, Mr Bennett. Did you think I was a mugger?’ 11 July. Baroness Scotland is put up to defend the government’s shameful capitulation to the United States in the extradition treaty. She makes much of the rule ...

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