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The God Squad

Andrew O’Hagan: Bushland, 23 September 2004

... at last perfectly illustrates both the universal dilemma and the general solution, this riddle in steel and stone is at once the perfect target and the perfect demonstration of non-violence, of racial brotherhood, this lofty target scraping the skies and meeting the destroying planes halfway, home of all people and all nations, capital of everything, housing ...

Oh, My Aching Back

Roy Porter, 2 November 1995

The History of Pain 
by Roselyne Rey, translated by Elliott Wallace and J.A. Cadden , and S.W. Cadden.
Harvard, 394 pp., £25.50, October 1995, 0 674 39967 6
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... describes her mastectomy without anaesthetic as ‘the most terrifying pain ... when the dreadful steel was plunged into the breast – cutting through veins – arteries – flesh – nerves’, we can vicariously share that horror. But what of that dauntless early Victorian intellectual, Harriet Martineau? She took to her bed for five years, complaining of ...

They’re just not ready

Neal Ascherson: Gorbachev Betrayed, 7 January 2010

Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment 
by Stephen Kotkin, with Jan Gross.
Modern Library, 240 pp., $24, October 2009, 978 0 679 64276 3
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Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire 
by Victor Sebestyen.
Weidenfeld, 451 pp., £25, July 2009, 978 0 297 85223 0
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There Is No Freedom without Bread: 1989 and the Civil War that Brought Down Communism 
by Constantine Pleshakov.
Farrar, Straus, 289 pp., $26, November 2009, 978 0 374 28902 7
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1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe 
by Mary Elise Sarotte.
Princeton, 321 pp., £20.95, November 2009, 978 0 691 14306 4
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... 11.45 a.m. two military helicopters landed outside the army barracks in Târgoviste, a bleak steel town 120 kilometres north of Bucharest built in the brutal style favoured by etc, etc.’ Yet he also provides a continuous, highly readable flow of detail. Some of it is unfamiliar to the general public, if not to the experts who have tunnelled through the ...

How do you like your liberalism: fat or thin?

Glen Newey: John Gray, 7 June 2001

Two Faces of Liberalism 
by John Gray.
Polity, 161 pp., £12.99, August 2000, 0 7456 2259 3
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... to law. To name names is invidious, but the one that irrepressibly suggests itself is that of Ronald Dworkin, whose claim to be the doyen of the legalist school is probably the strongest. Dworkin, who’s never been one to see the difference between magisterial prose and a sound argument, is an exponent of a secular natural law jurisprudence in which ...
Still the New World: American Literature in a Culture of Creative Destruction 
by Philip Fisher.
Harvard, 290 pp., £18.50, May 1999, 0 674 83859 9
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... writing: ‘Long before Cincinnati’s triumph could occur, the highways of America turned to steel, and Chicago, the junction point of the rail system and the Great Lakes, became the city of promise, the place “about to become” or “sure to become” the key city of the Midwest. Later, the highways of the country turned to concrete and ...

Rising Moon

R.W. Johnson, 18 December 1986

L’Empire Moon 
by Jean-Francois Boyer.
La Découverte, 419 pp., August 1986, 2 7071 1604 1
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The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection 
by Edward Herman and Frank Brodhead.
Sheridan Square, 255 pp., $19.95, May 1986, 0 940380 07 2
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... the titanium industry, pharmaceuticals, fishing, the import-export business, printing, steel, agricultural products and banking. These interests are organised under a plethora of labels (including such typical Moonie appellations as One Up Inc., Uniworld and Happy World Inc.), and Boyer does a heroic job in trying to enumerate them – by 1985 ...

Charmed Life

John Bayley, 15 September 1983

The Russian Revolutionary Novel: Turgenev to Pasternak 
by Richard Freeborn.
Cambridge, 256 pp., £27.50, January 1983, 0 521 24442 0
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Boris Pasternak: His Life and Art 
by Guy de Mallac.
Souvenir, 450 pp., £14.95, February 1983, 0 285 62558 6
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Pasternak: A Biography 
by Ronald Hingley.
Weidenfeld, 294 pp., £12.95, August 1983, 9780297782070
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Selected Poems 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Jon Stallworthy and Peter France.
Allen Lane, 160 pp., £7.50, February 1983, 0 7139 1497 1
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Poets of Modern Russia 
by Peter France.
Cambridge, 240 pp., £20, February 1983, 0 521 23490 5
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Russian Literature since the Revolution 
by Edward Brown.
Harvard, 413 pp., £20, December 1982, 0 674 78203 8
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... Stalin implicitly claimed. A saviour was needed, to lead the people back to life, as a new Tsar of steel had been needed, at least by the inherent logic of the Bolshevik ethos, to fuse the national sense of purpose, the will to drive towards the industrial future. On several occasions Pasternak insisted that there could, as it were, be only one true artist at ...

Is this the end of the American century?

Adam Tooze: America Pivots, 4 April 2019

... president to evoke a mixture of outrage, horror and derision both at home and abroad. Both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were accused, in their time, of endangering the legitimacy of the American world order. The cultural conservatism and overt nationalism of the American right is fiercely at odds with bien pensant global opinion. This culture clash ...

Wedded to the Absolute

Ferdinand Mount: Enoch Powell, 26 September 2019

Enoch Powell: Politics and Ideas in Modern Britain 
by Paul Corthorn.
Oxford, 233 pp., £20, August 2019, 978 0 19 874714 7
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... the villain’s moustache he had grown, he told Malcolm Muggeridge in 1940, in imitation not of Ronald Colman but of Friedrich Nietzsche, whom he adored and to whom he bore a resemblance. Above all, that harsh, thrilling, unnaturally slowed-down voice. Has anyone else ever made the loveable Brummie accent sound sinister, at least until Peaky Blinders came ...

Too Obviously Cleverer

Ferdinand Mount: Harold Macmillan, 8 September 2011

Supermac: The Life of Harold Macmillan 
by D.R. Thorpe.
Pimlico, 887 pp., £16.99, September 2011, 978 1 84413 541 7
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The Macmillan Diaries Vol. II: Prime Minister and After 1957-66 
edited by Peter Catterall.
Macmillan, 758 pp., £40, May 2011, 978 1 4050 4721 0
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... Nonconformist, she was no better pleased when he formed a close affection for one of his tutors, Ronald Knox, who came within an inch of converting Macmillan to Catholicism. The war saved him from taking this step, which would almost certainly have prevented him from becoming prime minister. In his last letter to Knox before leaving for France, he ...

The sea is the same sea

Adam Shatz: Bibi goes to Washington, 30 August 2018

Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu 
by Anshel Pfeffer.
Hurst, 423 pp., £20, May 2018, 978 1 84904 988 7
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... at the Regency Hotel until the apartment was ready, and courted wealthy Jewish New Yorkers like Ronald Lauder, who introduced him to other millionaires, among them Donald Trump. Although not religious himself, he forged an alliance with the Lubavitcher leader Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who welcomed him at his Brooklyn residence and commanded him to ...

War is noise

Jonathan Raban: Letters from My Father, 17 December 2020

... There was almost no answering fire.LST 301 was among the first vessels to go ashore, its massive steel doors wide open and its landing ramp fully extended beyond the bow. Major Bill Kerr, commander of 265 Battery and my father’s friend, stood on the lip of the ramp. When he felt the ship’s stern shudder as it scraped the bottom, he stepped forward into ...

The Killing of Osama bin Laden

Seymour M. Hersh, 21 May 2015

... to rescue the American hostages in Tehran. That failure was a factor in Jimmy Carter’s loss to Ronald Reagan. Obama’s worries were realistic, the retired official said. ‘Was bin Laden ever there? Was the whole story a product of Pakistani deception? What about political blowback in case of failure?’ After all, as the retired official said, ‘If the ...
... of a revolutionary dreamer. As the mainstream right talked warily of selling off parts of the steel industry, Littlechild jumped ahead to what few others imagined could be the future: to the privatisation of the railways and the Post Office. ‘What the Post Office needs,’ he wrote, ‘is an imaginative asset stripper.’ His most extreme ideas, by the ...

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