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Greg Afinogenov: Russia in Central Asia, 25 April 2024

The Russian Conquest of Central Asia: A Study in Imperial Expansion, 1814-1914 
by Alexander Morrison.
Cambridge, 613 pp., £35.99, August 2022, 978 1 107 03030 5
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Iran at War: Interactions with the Modern World and the Struggle with Imperial Russia 
by Maziar Behrooz.
I.B. Tauris, 214 pp., £21.99, May 2023, 978 0 7556 3737 9
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... as ‘the stans’. Though in retrospect the conquest appears rapid and almost inevitable, Alexander Morrison’s study shows that it was in fact the result of a long series of contingent decisions both by central authorities and actors on the ground, driven by a logic of Russian civilisational supremacy.The justification for the conquest most ...

The Bedroom of a Sorcerer

Simon Morrison: Marius Petipa, 2 April 2020

Marius Petipa: The Emperor’s Ballet Master 
by Nadine Meisner.
Oxford, 514 pp., £22.99, July 2019, 978 0 19 065929 5
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... in the system of notation devised by the dancer Vladimir Stepanov and refined by the choreographer Alexander Gorsky, thanks to the efforts of Nikolai Sergeyev, the régisseur of the Imperial Theatres of St Petersburg, who embarked on a Petipa preservation project in 1900. Sergeyev notated the ballets he knew, meaning those from Petipa’s immensely productive ...

Many Promises

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Prokofiev in Russia, 14 May 2009

The People’s Artist: Prokofiev’s Soviet Years 
by Simon Morrison.
Oxford, 491 pp., £18.99, November 2008, 978 0 19 518167 8
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... this was bad for their music, though a few hold the contrary. Now comes the shocker from Simon Morrison, a Princeton musicologist: Prokofiev wanted to write simple, life-affirming music because he was a Christian Scientist. Sergei Prokofiev, born in 1891 and schooled in St Petersburg, left Russia in 1918 after graduating from the Conservatory. In the ...

Mythic Elements

Stephen Bann, 30 December 1982

Queen of Stones 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 160 pp., £6.95, November 1982, 0 224 02601 1
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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 
by William Kotzwinkle, based on a screenplay by Melissa Mathison.
Arthur Barker, 246 pp., £6.95, November 1982, 0 213 16848 0
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Tales of Afghanistan 
by Amina Shah.
Octagon Press, 128 pp., £6.50, November 1982, 0 900860 94 4
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The Masque of St Eadmundsburg 
by Humphrey Morrison.
Blond and Briggs, 228 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 85634 127 4
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A Villa in France 
by J.I.M. Stewart.
Gollancz, 206 pp., £6.95, October 1982, 0 575 03103 4
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Collected Stories: Vol. III 
by Sean O’Faolain.
Constable, 422 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 09 463920 5
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Work Suspended and Other Stories 
by Evelyn Waugh.
Penguin, 318 pp., £2.75, November 1982, 0 14 006518 0
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... but how can we avoid wishing to interpret further the lingering myth of the world-conquering Alexander among these frontier peoples? This is to say nothing of the fact that these folk-tales abound, like all folk-tales, in more or less formulaic elements whose structural role is important, though their literal sense is baffling. Afghan kings seem to have ...

Year One

John Lloyd, 30 January 1992

Boris Yeltsin 
by John Morrison.
Penguin, 303 pp., £8.99, November 1991, 0 14 017062 6
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The August Coup: The Truth and its Lessons 
by Mikhail Gorbachev.
HarperCollins, 127 pp., £13.99, October 1991, 9780002550444
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The future belongs to freedom 
by Eduard Shevardnadze.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 256 pp., £15, September 1991, 1 85619 105 2
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Bear-Hunting with the Politburo 
by A. Craig Copetas.
Simon and Schuster, 271 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 671 70313 7
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The Accidental Proletariat: Workers, Politics and Crisis in Gorbachev’s Russia 
by Walter Connor.
Princeton, 374 pp., £25, November 1991, 0 691 07787 8
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... the tensions and problems are simply too great for anyone. This is in part the theme of John Morrison’s efficient and often thoughtful biography, which sets out to show that, contrary to the view held (at least until recently) by many observers and politicians in the West, Yeltsin is ‘squarely in the democrats’ camp’. He reminds us that, as ...

Non-Party Man

Ross McKibbin: Stafford Cripps, 19 September 2002

The Cripps Version: The Life of Sir Stafford Cripps 
by Peter Clarke.
Allen Lane, 574 pp., £25, April 2002, 0 7139 9390 1
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... published long before. Of the big five of the 1945 Labour Government – Attlee, Morrison, Bevin, Dalton and Cripps – four have had heavyweight biographies, the most recent of which, Ben Pimlott’s biography of Dalton, is already 17 years old. Furthermore, Dalton’s own more than readable autobiography was completed 40 years ago, and his ...

Stamford Hill to Aldgate

Daniel Trilling, 16 November 2023

Chapters of Accidents: A Writer’s Memoir 
by Alexander Baron.
Vallentine Mitchell, 363 pp., £16.96, September 2022, 978 1 80371 029 7
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... up the road. Hackney isn’t in the East End – to believe otherwise is, as Harryboy Boas says in Alexander Baron’s novel The Lowlife (1963), ‘the mark of the outsider’. Rather, Hackney is the first step out, geographically and socially, ‘a Victorian-Edwardian suburb swallowed up by London, broad streets, little villas and big tradesmen’s ...

A Bloody Stupid Idea

James Butler: Landlord’s Paradise, 6 May 2021

Red Metropolis: Socialism and the Government of London 
by Owen Hatherley.
Repeater, 264 pp., £10.99, November 2020, 978 1 913462 20 8
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... Such questions of distributional justice in London can only sharpen over the coming years.Herbert Morrison, the spiritual father of the Labour right, who led the LCC in the 1930s, is an awkward figure in all this. Hatherley has not come to praise Morrison, but admits that the left’s loathing for him has sometimes led it ...

Rainy Nights

Sylvia Clayton, 1 March 1984

Sidney Bernstein 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Cape, 329 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 0 224 01934 1
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... way.’ From the age of 15, when he left school and a few months later persuaded his father, Alexander Bernstein, to employ him on the film side of his small group of London music halls, Sidney Bernstein has been in the entertainment business. When he was made a life peer in 1969, he took as his motto ‘If I rest, I rust.’ He came from a close-knit ...

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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... at Hugh Gaitskell for not having any medals to wear on Remembrance Day and he loathed Herbert Morrison, his first boss in the wartime coalition, for having been a conscientious objector in the First World War, calling him ‘a dirty little cockney guttersnipe’. Macmillan’s diary is spattered with abuse of other public figures, often tinged with ...

From Progress to Catastrophe

Perry Anderson: The Historical Novel, 28 July 2011

... of the passage of historical time: that is, of any disconcerting contrast between the epoch of Alexander I, in which it is set, and of Alexander II, in which it was written. At most, the use of French among aristocrats acts as a generic signifier of difference. Otherwise, we are in a kind of continuous present, a more or ...

The Raging Peloton

Iain Sinclair: Boris Bikes, 20 January 2011

... Louis XIV for French television. Triggered by an archive clip of his maternal grandfather, Herbert Morrison, another ennobled socialist cabinet minister, Mandelson launched into a memoir of cycling around Hendon, committee room to polling station, bearing leaflets, carrying messages as proudly as the freshly baked loaves in Ridley Scott’s celebrated ...

Jungle Joys

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

... groans, and Cootie’s muffled ‘Why?’ speak African-American volumes – the ones that Toni Morrison, among others, is striving to write. But the shortcomings of Ellington’s verbal narratives for My People and the Second Sacred Concert (1968) demonstrate that his instincts were sounder in 1928, and that bigger is not necessarily better. The toilet ...

Day 5, Day 9, Day 16

LRB Contributors: On Ukraine, 24 March 2022

... before moving straight on to the Covid pandemic.From the standpoint of the prime minister, Scott Morrison, perhaps looking for a national security scare to lift his approval ratings in the run-up to the elections in May, Russia was unquestionably part of an ‘arc of autocracy’ (an alliterative echo of the ‘evil empire’) of which ...

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