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Unfrozen Sea

Michael Byers: The Arctic Grail, 22 March 2007

... usually freezes over by early October, enabling the Inuit to travel across to Baffin Island to hunt caribou. This winter, the local council in Igloolik was considering chartering a plane to take the hunters across the unfrozen sea. A few hours before I spoke with Immaroitok, I’d sailed through Fury and Hecla Strait on board the Amundsen, Canada’s ...


A.J.P. Taylor: Living with Prime Ministers, 2 December 1982

... defected to the so-called SDP. Before the leaders of the Labour Party embark on yet another witch-hunt they might consider the witch-hunts of the past and reflect where they led. There was a witch-hunt in 1939 – I cannot remember why – which had the astonishing result that when the war against Germany broke out the ...


Linda Colley: Global History, 26 September 2013

The French Revolution in Global Perspective 
edited by Suzanne Desan, Lynn Hunt and William Max Nelson.
Cornell, 240 pp., £16.50, April 2013, 978 0 8014 7868 0
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... the galleys between 1685 and 1791 were incarcerated for participating in the underground economy. Hunt also touches on extra-European commerce, and on French traders’ conspicuous success in it immediately before and after the outbreak of the revolution. Between 1787 and 1792, the French had more ships in the Indian Ocean than both the Dutch and the ...

Tortoises with Zips

David Craig: The Snow Geese by William Fiennes, 4 April 2002

The Snow Geese 
by William Fiennes.
Picador, 250 pp., £14.99, March 2002, 0 330 37578 4
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... William Fiennes has a deep-seated sense of home and what it means to be distant from it. Birth-house, parents, migrant birds: these fuse in his passage on swifts, for example, which ‘come back each year, in the last week of May’ to his old home somewhere in the south country – a fact which interested me, because I have recorded their arrival since the 1950s in Aberdeen on 11 May and in Cumbria on 6 May ...

The Magic Trousers

Matt Foot: Police Racism, 7 February 2019

Behind the Blue Line: My Fight against Racism and Discrimination in the Police 
by Gurpal Virdi.
Biteback, 299 pp., £20, March 2018, 978 1 78590 321 2
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... hadn’t been treated as a hate crime. Soon afterwards he decided to make a submission to Sir William Macpherson’s inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. It was this inquiry that led to the charge that there was ‘institutional racism’ in the Met. After Virdi’s reinstatement in 2000, he was unsurprisingly overlooked for promotion until ...

Fundamental Brainwork

Jerome McGann, 30 March 2000

Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Collected Writings 
edited by Jan Marsh.
Dent, 531 pp., £25, November 1999, 0 460 87875 1
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Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Painter and Poet 
by Jan Marsh.
Weidenfeld, 592 pp., £25, November 1999, 0 297 81703 5
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... ideas and personality, which everyone at the time – even those, like Ford Madox Brown and Holman Hunt, who were teaching him how to paint – could not stay or resist. The Germ was his brainchild, and he placed in its first number one of his most remarkable writings (and one of the signal aesthetic documents of the century), his artistic manifesto ‘Hand ...

Bigger Peaches

Rosemary Hill: Haydon, 22 February 2001

The Immortal Dinner: A Famous Evening of Genius and Laughter in Literary London, 1817 
by Penelope Hughes-Hallett.
Viking, 336 pp., £15.99, September 2000, 0 670 87999 1
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... where high thinking went with ramshackle living. Haydon’s friends, Charles and Mary Lamb, Leigh Hunt, Hazlitt and the young Keats were all, like him, mostly self-educated and chronically short of money. Haydon had also come to know Wordsworth, who was in London in December 1817. On the 28th Haydon invited him to dinner to meet Keats. Charles Lamb was ...

Public Enemy

R.W. Johnson, 26 November 1987

Secrecy and Power: The Life of J. Edgar Hoover 
by Richard Gid Powers.
Hutchinson, 624 pp., £16.95, August 1987, 0 02 925060 9
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... to do with it. When he came under strong Congressional and White House pressure to start a new Red hunt in 1930, he argued that such a thing was strictly illegal – and since the agitators were mainly in the unions, wouldn’t it be better to hand the whole thing over to the Department of Labor? The project quietly died. Herbert Hoover’s Administration ...

Who Knows?

Meehan Crist: The Voynich Manuscript, 27 July 2017

The Voynich Manuscript 
edited by Raymond Clemens.
Yale, 336 pp., £35, November 2016, 978 0 300 21723 0
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... and was the leader of the anti-tsarist opposition abroad. In his essay for the new edition Arnold Hunt writes that Stepniak made Voynich the business manager of the Russian Free Press Fund, which printed revolutionary propaganda for distribution in Russia. Voynich became well known in London’s revolutionary and intellectual social circles and was thought a ...


Thomas Keymer: The Girondin Wordsworth, 18 June 2020

Radical Wordsworth: The Poet who Changed the World 
by Jonathan Bate.
William Collins, 608 pp., £25, April, 978 0 00 816742 4
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William Wordsworth: A Life 
by Stephen Gill.
Oxford, new edition, 688 pp., £25, April, 978 0 19 881711 6
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... now cheerfully knocking out loyal odes in his role as poet laureate. Southey was consistent, as William Hazlitt neatly observed, only in that he was always an extremist and always wrong: then, he had been an ‘Ultra-Jacobin’ and ‘frantic demagogue’ who ‘did not stop short of general anarchy’; now, he was an ‘Ultra-Royalist’ and ‘servile ...

Wild Words

Stuart Hampshire, 18 August 1983

A History of the Modern World: From 1917 to the 1980s 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 832 pp., £16.50, April 1983, 0 297 78226 6
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... he had few equals and he had an enviable knack of turning problems into solutions.’ About William Temple he writes: ‘a jovial, Oliver Hardy figure, with an appetite not merely for carbohydrates, but for social martyrdom’. About the Bloomsbury group: ‘the influence of Bloomsbury had reached upwards and downwards by the 1930s to embrace almost the ...

Let the cork out

John Bayley, 26 October 1989

Foucault’s Pendulum 
by Umberto Eco, translated by William Weaver.
Secker, 641 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 436 14096 9
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The Open Work 
by Umberto Eco, translated by Anna Cancogni.
Radius, 285 pp., £9.95, October 1989, 0 09 175896 3
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... the founding fathers of the socialist state were anxious, too, to get in the act, join the secret hunt for the Plan, the mystic knowledge, the buried secret. Coming on top of all this, Foucault’s pendulum itself is a trifle supererogatory, but let’s have it for good measure. It was demonstrated at the Observatoire in 1851, and afterwards at the ...

Short Cuts

David Bromwich: Mueller Time, 18 April 2019

... in the 2016 election and its possible connection with the Trump campaign, submitted his report to William Barr, the US attorney general. Two days later, Barr sent a letter to Congress summarising the two main conclusions of the report. First, he quoted Mueller’s conclusion that the inquiry ‘did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or ...

Thus were the British defeated

Colin Munro: ‘Tipu’s Tiger’, 4 January 2018

... of a ship at anchor’, four passengers, among them a young man called Munro, went ashore to hunt deer on Saugor Island. Another member of the party, Captain Henry Conran, described what followed in a letter to a friend: About half past three we sat down on the edge of the jungle, to eat some cold meat sent us from the ship, and had just commenced our ...

Falklands Title Deeds

Malcolm Deas, 19 August 1982

The Struggle for the Falkland Islands 
by Julius Goebel, introduced by J.C.J. Metford.
Yale, 482 pp., £10, June 1982, 0 300 02943 8
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The Falklands Islands Dispute: International Dimensions 
edited by Joan Pearce.
Chatham House, 47 pp., £2.75, April 1982, 0 905031 25 3
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The Falkland Islands: The Facts 
HMSO, 12 pp., £50, May 1982, 0 11 701029 4Show More
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... The British reappear in the strange voyage of the Batchelors’ Delight, 1683-5, captained by William Ambrosia Cowley and controlled by the more piratical William Dampier. A storm blew them to the Falklands – they had been ‘discoursing of the intrigues of women’, which brings bad weather – and they saw ‘foul ...

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