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A Thousand Sharp Edges

Adam Mars-Jones: Antonio Muñoz Molina, 18 June 2015

In the Night of Time 
by Antonio Muñoz Molina, translated by Edith Grossman.
Tuskar Rock, 641 pp., £16.99, April 2015, 978 1 78125 463 9
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... the children … were picked up by their grandfather, the maiden aunts, Abel’s brother-in-law Victor, and the uncle who was a priest, and scrutinised as they discussed to which of the two lines a nose or a type of hair or dimples belonged, from which Ponce or Cañizares or Salcedo the baby had inherited the tendency to cry so loudly – those strong ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams, 8 September 2016

Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... and Norman Nicholson, and on the undergraduate Philip Larkin, who admired his lecturer’s novels. Victor Gollancz and L.H. Myers, both given to occult speculations, were fans of the thrillers; Dylan Thomas attended his lectures. There was a harried quality about his later years. Between 1936 and his death in the last days of the Second World War, as well as ...

Her Boy

R.W. Johnson: Mark Thatcher, 16 November 2006

Thatcher’s Fortunes: The Life and Times of Mark Thatcher 
by Mark Hollingsworth and Paul Halloran.
Mainstream, 415 pp., £7.99, July 2006, 1 84596 118 8
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The Wonga Coup: The British Mercenary Plot to Seize Oil Billions in Africa 
by Adam Roberts.
Profile, 304 pp., £9.99, June 2006, 1 86197 934 7
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... a new edition has been rushed out with some added material. For the real story one must turn to Adam Roberts’s gripping, well-researched and – given the ludicrous ease with which African tyrants have been able to milk the English libel laws – legally very bold book. Equatorial Guinea had the bad luck to come to independence under Macias Nguema, whose ...

Notes from an Outpost

Kenneth White, 6 July 1989

... rot set in? Way back in the 18th century, analysing the socio-economic situation that was coming, Adam Smith, professor of philosophy in the university at which I had graduated, concluded that the writer would henceforth have to present his books on the market in the same way as socks. And what if you didn’t like ‘knitted literature’ or stink-sock ...

Up the avenue

Peter Clarke, 11 June 1992

Election Rides 
by Edward Pearce.
Faber, 198 pp., £5.99, April 1992, 0 571 16657 1
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... the snows of yesteryear were never quite what they are cracked up to be, and that there is, as Adam Smith would no doubt be saying if he had sat through the saga of Jennifer’s Ear, a deal of ruin in electioneering. The Grand Old Man was actually no slouch at the game of media manipulation. It was he, above all, who succeeded in using the new technology ...

Under the Loincloth

Frank Kermode, 3 April 1997

The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion 
by Leo Steinberg.
Chicago, 417 pp., £23.95, January 1997, 0 226 77187 3
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... full humanity, with the reservation that the sexuality of Jesus was not like ours but like that of Adam and Eve before the Fall. He was ‘like us in all things except sin’. His genitalia could therefore only with much impropriety be called pudenda. These pictures dwell on that paradox or oxymoron, the sinless generative organ. Despite much bowdlerising by ...

On the Sofa

Alice Spawls: ‘Killing Eve’, 8 November 2018

... foreign visitors. She’s bored, though she doesn’t entirely know it. The girlfriend of Victor Kedrin, a Russian sex trafficker murdered in Vienna, is put in her charge. Eve arrives at the briefing late, hungover, trying to eat a croissant from a paper bag without making a noise. She blurts out that the killer, who sliced Kedrin’s femoral artery ...

Into the Net

Neal Ascherson: Records of the Spanish Civil War, 15 December 2016

Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-39 
by Adam Hochschild.
Macmillan, 438 pp., £25, April 2016, 978 1 5098 1054 3
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¡No Pasarán! Writings from the Spanish Civil War 
edited by Pete Ayrton.
Serpent’s Tail, 393 pp., £20, April 2016, 978 1 84668 997 0
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The Last Days of the Spanish Republic 
by Paul Preston.
William Collins, 390 pp., £25, February 2016, 978 0 00 816340 2
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A Distant Heartbeat: A War, a Disappearance and a Family’s Secrets 
by Eunice Lipton.
New Mexico, 165 pp., £18.50, April 2016, 978 0 8263 5658 1
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... in tragedy and a viciously disputed memory and made little difference to the war’s outcome. Adam Hochschild, in Spain in Our Hearts, suggests that the foreign journalists covering the war were so obsessed with the military struggle and the Republican leadership in Madrid that they hardly noticed the revolution going on outside their hotels. And yet ...

Jottings, Scraps and Doodles

Adam Shatz: Lévi-Strauss, 3 November 2011

Claude Levi-Strauss: The Poet in the Laboratory 
by Patrick Wilcken.
Bloomsbury, 375 pp., £30, November 2011, 978 0 7475 8362 2
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... 1941, he boarded the Capitaine Paul-Lemerle along with 350 other ‘undesirables’, among them Victor Serge, who described the ship as ‘a kind of floating concentration camp’. Lévi-Strauss found the ascetic Serge unapproachable, but while docked in Casablanca he struck up a lasting friendship with André Breton, with whom, Wilcken writes, he shared ...

Not in the Mood

Adam Shatz: Derrida’s Secrets, 22 November 2012

Derrida: A Biography 
by Benoît Peeters, translated by Andrew Brown.
Polity, 629 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 0 7456 5615 1
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... project. This wasn’t the first time deconstruction had been accused of being soft on Nazism. Victor Farias’s devastating study had shown that Heidegger’s Nazi sympathies were far deeper than had been realised – and less easily disentangled from his work – and put deconstruction in an uncomfortable position. Derrida was not uncritical of ...

The Manners of a Hog

Christopher Tayler: Buchan’s Banter, 20 February 2020

Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan 
by Ursula Buchan.
Bloomsbury, 479 pp., £25, April 2019, 978 1 4088 7081 5
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... made him see red. Jews and the high finance.’Buchan’s biographers, starting with Janet Adam Smith in 1965, tend to hold up this turnaround as evidence that he wasn’t an antisemite. They point to his handful of Jewish friends, to his Zionism – a cause he learned about from his friend Arthur Balfour, who set him on the path of writing thrillers ...

Jungle Joys

Alfred Appel Jr: Wa-Wa-Wa with the Duke, 5 September 2002

... and supposedly moribund Europe. Africanesque wood sculptures by Brancusi didactically entitled Adam and Eve, Socrates, Little French Girl and – shown here – King of Kings (Spirit of Buddha) together define the breadth of the perceived cultural malaise and the role of self-conscious primitivism as plasma: ‘self-conscious’ because it was the product ...

Excellence

Patrick Wright, 21 May 1987

Creating excellence: Managing corporate culture, strategy and change in the New Age 
by Craig Hickman and Michael Silva.
Allen and Unwin, 305 pp., £12.50, April 1985, 0 04 658252 5
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Intrapreneuring: Why you don’t have to leave the corporation to become an entrepreneur 
by Gifford Pinchot.
Harper and Row, 368 pp., £15.95, August 1985, 0 06 015305 9
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The IBM Way: Insights into the World’s Most Successful Marketing Organisation 
by Buck Rodgers.
Harper and Row, 224 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 06 015522 1
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Innovation: The Attacker’s Advantage 
by Richard Foster.
Macmillan, 316 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 333 43511 7
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Ford 
by Robert Lacey.
Heinemann, 778 pp., £15, July 1986, 0 434 40192 7
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Company of Adventurers: The Story of the Hudson’s Bay Company 
by Peter Newman.
Viking, 413 pp., £14.95, March 1986, 0 670 80379 0
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Augustine’s Laws 
by Norman Augustine.
Viking, 380 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 9780670809424
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Peak Performers: The New Heroes in Business 
by Charles Garfield.
Hutchinson, 333 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 09 167391 7
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Going for it: How to Succeed as an Entrepreneur 
by Victor Kiam.
Collins, 223 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 00 217603 3
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Take a chance to be first: The Secrets of Entrepreneurial Success 
by Warren Avis.
Macmillan, 222 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 02 504410 9
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The Winning Streak 
by Walter Goldsmith and David Clutterbuck.
Weidenfeld/Penguin, 224 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 297 78469 2
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The Roots of Excellence 
by Ronnie Lessem.
Fontana, 318 pp., £3.95, December 1985, 0 00 636874 3
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The New Management of Local Government 
by John Stewart.
Allen and Unwin, 208 pp., £20, October 1986, 0 00 435232 7
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... may still be cowboys everywhere, but we will also be seeing the market restored to the purity of Adam Smith’s description, excavated and cleansed of encrustation after a hundred and fifty years in the industrial bureaucratic swamp. In Search of Excellence was an immediate million-seller, and its success unleashed a flurry of like-minded books. Tom Peters ...

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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... Netanyahu has taken a more indulgent attitude towards the antisemitism of his friends. When Victor Orbán launched an antisemitic campaign against George Soros, provoking the ire of Israel’s ambassador to Budapest, Netanyahu came to the defence of his Hungarian ally against Soros, a critic of the occupation. Neither Saudi antisemitism nor Saudi ...

We Are Conquerors

Adam Shatz: Ben-Gurion’s Obsession, 24 October 2019

A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion 
by Tom Segev.
Head of Zeus, 804 pp., £30, August 2019, 978 1 78954 462 6
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... lived in an insular Jewish world and never thought of themselves as Poles. Ben-Gurion’s father, Victor, was an early supporter of Theodor Herzl and nurtured his son’s Zionism; Ben-Gurion claimed that he knew at the age of three that he would eventually live in Palestine. In his teens he joined Po’alei Zion (‘Workers of Zion’) and soon established ...

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