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3 August 1995
The Social Organisation of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States 
by Edward Laumann, John Gagnon, Robert Michael and Stuart Michaels.
Chicago, 742 pp., £39.95, October 1994, 0 226 46957 3
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Sex in America: A Definitive Survey 
by Robert Michael, John Gagnon, Edward Laumann and Gina Kolata.
Little, Brown, 289 pp., £16.99, November 1994, 0 316 91191 7
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Sexual Behaviour in Britain: The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Life-Styles 
by Kaye Wellings, Julia Field, A.M. Johnson and Jane Wadsworth.
Penguin, 464 pp., £15, January 1994, 0 14 015814 6
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... In the early Eighties, Western governments, notably those of America, Britain and France, were anxious to assess the probable rate of growth and pathways of infection of Aids. They sponsored extensive sex surveys in order to find out, for example, the number of sexual partners an average male had in his lifetime and how many used safe sex. The British survey was carried out by four women, primarily ...


James Meek: Bobos for Boris?

26 April 2012
... buses; then spending taxpayers’ money to create an expensive new version of an obsolete vehicle is exactly what a post-Thatcherite Conservative mayor of London would not do. And it is what Boris Johnson, the post-Thatcherite Conservative mayor of London since he succeeded Livingstone in 2008, did. As he runs for re-election on 3 May, he can say he did what he promised, sort of. Within three years of ...

Fox and Crow

David Craig: The Moors

30 July 2014
The Moor: Lives, Landscape, Literature 
by William Atkins.
Faber, 371 pp., £18.99, May 2014, 978 0 571 29004 8
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... The Moor is that it sees our shaggy and stony uplands as wholly entangled in human life, not as weird lunar nowherelands. In 1681 Charles Cotton dismissed them as ‘Nature’s pudenda’; in 1775 Dr Johnson was ‘astonished and repelled’ by their ‘wide extent of hopeless sterility’ (though he at least had the hardihood to go and see them for himself); in 1826 Noel Thomas Carrington accused them ...

Through Plate-Glass

Ian Sansom: Jonathan Coe

10 May 2001
The Rotters’ Club 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 405 pp., £14.99, April 2001, 0 670 89252 1
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... He is a craftsman and designer rather than a poet. All that is usually introverted, implosive and dull in the experimental novel Coe turns into entertainment. He is writing a biography of B.S. Johnson – whom he admires – but he writes more like Pamela Hansford Johnson. He has established for himself a set of stylistic conventions – conversational smooth prose, non-sequential narrative, the ...

Rut after Rut after Rut

Thomas Jones: Denis Johnson’s Vietnam

29 November 2007
Tree of Smoke 
by Denis Johnson.
Picador, 614 pp., £16.99, November 2007, 978 0 330 44920 5
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... as well as by UN forces in Korea and French troops in Indochina during the 1950s. But it was the Americans in Vietnam who made napalm famous. Napalm is one of the first things that the title of Denis Johnson’s new novel brings to mind. Think of the opening of Apocalypse Now, the paradisal grove of palm trees against a clear sky, gradually obscured by clouds of dust whipped up by helicopter rotor blades ...

A Skeleton My Cat

Norma Clarke: ‘Poor Goldsmith’

21 February 2019
The Letters of Oliver Goldsmith 
edited by Michael Griffin and David O’Shaughnessy.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £64.99, July 2018, 978 1 107 09353 9
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... has tended to accompany Goldsmith’s name, so that Adam Sisman in his book on Boswell could describe Goldsmith as ‘an awkward, improvident and slightly ridiculous Irishman … whose genius [Johnson] nevertheless acknowledged and championed’ – though in fact almost every reference to Goldsmith in the Life of Samuel Johnson itself belittles him. Boswell was not alone. After Goldsmith’s ...

Short Cuts

Christopher Tayler: King Charles the Martyr

21 February 2019
... On 23 January,​ Jacob Rees-Mogg reintroduced the country to the concept of prorogation – the suspension of Parliament by the monarch. Like Boris Johnson, Rees-Mogg is fond of bogus erudition – the Brexit white paper was, he said, ‘the greatest vassalage since King John paid homage to Philip II at Le Goulet in 1200’ – and he must have enjoyed ...

What’s in a Number?

Donald MacKenzie: The $300 Trillion Question

25 September 2008
... borrow and accept deposits in US dollars (‘eurodollars’, as they came to be called). The Bank of England overcame its initial anxieties and came tacitly to support the eurodollar market, and the Johnsonadministration inadvertently encouraged it by trying to stem the flow of dollars overseas. Eurodollar operations conducted in London allowed US banks to circumvent the new controls. The result was ...

How Mugabe came to power

R.W. Johnson: Wilfred Mhanda

22 February 2001
... members, while Zapu was backed by Moscow (and close to the ANC); its members were, on the whole, drawn from the Ndebele, the smaller of Rhodesia’s two largest ethnic groups. Kaunda’s long-term aim was to subsume Zanu within Zapu, calculating that one day, using Nkomo as his mouthpiece, he would be in a position to call the shots in Zimbabwe. In Mozambique, after due consideration, Tongogara ...

Find the birch sticks

R.W. Johnson: A spy’s diary

1 September 2005
The Guy Liddell Diaries. Vol. I: 1939-42 
edited by Nigel West.
Frank Cass, 329 pp., £25, February 2005, 0 415 35213 4
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... On 2 February 1940, Guy Liddell, MI5’s director of counter-espionage, wrote in his diary: An elderly statesman with gout When asked what the war was about In a written reply Said ‘My colleagues and I Are doing our best to find out’ A not inapposite comment on the Phoney War (and we learn from Liddell that there was a good deal of hidden last-minute talk between Chamberlain and Goering), the ...

Bad Timing

R.W. Johnson: All about Eden

22 May 2003
Eden: The Life and Times of Anthony Eden, First Earl of Avon 1897-1977 
by D.R. Thorpe.
Chatto, 758 pp., £25, March 2003, 0 7011 6744 0
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The Macmillan Diaries: The Cabinet Years 1950-57 
edited by Peter Catterall.
Macmillan, 676 pp., £25, April 2003, 9780333711675
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... Eden to the point where he could hardly bear to hear Italian spoken. Similarly, an already dicey relationship with John Foster Dulles seems to have been ruined beyond repair by Dulles’s hand-on-arm habits and his halitosis. There were otherwise unexplained enmities towards Eden throughout his career which were surely based on the belief that he was gay, but since homosexuality could not even be ...


R.W. Johnson: World Cup Diary

22 July 2010
... R.W. Johnson’s article in this issue is taken from some of his blog posts during the South Africa 2010 World Cup. More of his posts, and those of some other LRB contributors, can be found at ...

At Los Alamos

Jeremy Bernstein

20 December 2012
... day I rode it to the building where the T-Division – T for Theory – was located. I showed my pass to a series of guards and found my way to my office. I discovered that I was sharing it with Ken Johnson, whom I had known since graduate school. He had written a first-rate thesis and had been kept on as a post doc in the department. He was scheduled to go to the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen in ...


Mike Davis: California Burns

15 November 2007
... and the east was hidden and more yellow clouds came surging through the valley. The trees curved this way and that, losing more leaves with every swoop, and branches were torn away. Later I found arms of eucalyptus trees in the corral, red sap, like blood, at the severed places . . . We seemed to be watching a big fire whose flames were yellow instead of red, and it was consuming our land while ...

Adored Gazelle

Ferdinand Mount: Cherubino at Number Ten

20 March 2008
Balfour: The Last Grandee 
by R.J.Q. Adams.
Murray, 479 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 7195 5424 7
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... there a more forthright and upbeat report, drafted at Balfour’s request by his predecessor Winston Churchill. One may disapprove of spin, but there are limits. Balfour’s teacher at Eton, William Johnson, described him as ‘fearless, resolved and negligently great’. The sting is in the ‘negligently’; Johnson, author of the ‘Eton Boating Song’, was also the author of the famous and equally ...

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