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Spectacle of the Rats and Owls

Malcolm Deas, 2 June 1988

Against All Hope 
by Armando Valladares, translated by Andrew Harley.
Hamish Hamilton, 381 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 0 241 11806 9
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by Peter Bourne.
Macmillan, 332 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 333 44593 7
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Fidel: A Critical Portrait 
by Tad Szulc.
Hutchinson, 585 pp., £14.95, June 1987, 0 09 172602 6
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Castro and the Cuban Labour Movement: Statecraft and Society in a Revolutionary Period (1959-1961) 
by Efren Cordova.
University Press of America, 354 pp., £24.65, April 1988, 0 8191 5952 2
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Fidel and Religion: Castro talks on revolution and religion with Frei Betto 
translated by the Cuban Centre for Translation.
Simon and Schuster, 314 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 9780671641146
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... Fidel Castro, alas’ one would have to answer if asked what 20th-century Latin American had cut the largest figure in the world. The best short account of the cultural reasons for lamentation is G. Cabrera Infante’s ‘Bites from the Bearded Crocodile’ (LRB, 4-17 June 1981). The economic and social reasons for being less than enthusiastic are set out in the leaden pages of Jorge Dominguez’s Cuba: Order and Revolution of 1970: it is worth bearing in mind that the present state of the Cuban economy can only be sustained by the receipt of something like half of all Soviet aid to the so-called Third World ...

Restless Daniel

John Mullan: Defoe, 20 July 2006

The Life of Daniel Defoe: A Critical Biography 
by John Richetti.
Blackwell, 406 pp., £50, December 2005, 0 631 19529 7
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A Political Biography of Daniel Defoe 
by P.N. Furbank and W.R. Owens.
Pickering & Chatto, 277 pp., £60, January 2006, 1 85196 810 5
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... It attached even to his private writings, notably his surviving letters to Robert Harley, soon to be secretary of state and eventually unofficial prime minister. Harley rescued Defoe from Newgate, after he was convicted of seditious libel. He wanted to use him, and gave him a heady sense of influence over ...

‘It’s the way people like us don’t talk’

Frank Kermode: Andrew Motion’s Boyhood, 7 September 2006

In the Blood: A Memoir of My Childhood 
by Andrew Motion.
Faber, 326 pp., £16.99, September 2006, 0 571 22803 8
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... thus salutes a distinguished predecessor. Yet there is nothing particularly Wordsworthian about Andrew Motion’s book. The only character who uses the expression ‘in the blood’ is the poet’s father, and what he means is that when the time comes Andrew is bound to enjoy hunting. There is little evidence here of ...

Fugitive Crusoe

Tom Paulin: Daniel Defoe, 19 July 2001

Daniel Defoe: Master of Fictions 
by Maximilian Novak.
Oxford, 756 pp., £30, April 2001, 0 19 812686 7
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Political and Economic Writings of Daniel Defoe 
edited by W.R. Owens and P.N. Furbank.
Pickering & Chatto, £595, December 2000, 1 85196 465 7
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... him to various other forms of secrecy’. He was to become a government spy when Robert Harley was Lord High Treasurer (effectively Prime Minister) and he uses the word ‘secret’ obsessively in Crusoe (it occurs five times on one page). Novak sees his experience of prison and the survival strategies to which it led as crucial to his ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: Terror Suspects, 8 May 2008

... it isn’t. On the day in question, the key witness was a shop assistant from a pharmacy near Harley Street where one of the accused, Arafat Waheed Khan, had been caught shopping on CCTV. He appeared to have bought four 500 ml glass jars at £38 a piece. That this wasn’t big news, or particularly illegal, explains why on this occasion the daily PA ...


Patricia Craig, 23 April 1987

A Darkness in the Eye 
by M.S. Power.
Heinemann, 212 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 434 59961 1
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The Stars at Noon 
by Denis Johnson.
Faber, 181 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 571 14607 4
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Like Birds in the Wilderness 
by Agnes Owens.
Fourth Estate, 138 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 947795 51 0
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Fool’s Sanctuary 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Hamish Hamilton, 132 pp., £8.95, April 1987, 0 241 12035 7
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A Fatal Inversion 
by Barbara Vine (Ruth Rendell).
Viking, 317 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 670 80977 2
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Sisters of the Road 
by Barbara Wilson.
Women’s Press, 202 pp., £3.95, March 1987, 0 7043 4073 9
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The price you pay 
by Hannah Wakefield.
Women’s Press, 245 pp., £4.95, March 1987, 0 7043 4072 0
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... expert in land reclamation who cannot grasp the urgency in any other matter. Miranda’s brother Andrew is an officer in the British Army; and Miranda’s heart is given to a young Republican, a student of philosophy and protégé of her father’s, a boy from a social class lower than her own. An old Nanny is about the place to supply comfort and common ...

Jesus Christie

Richard Wollheim, 3 October 1985

J.T. Christie: A Great Teacher 
by Donald Lindsay, Roger Young and Hugh Lloyd-Jones.
Plume, 211 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 947656 00 6
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... There were also in the school boys who were against these principles. The son of a rich Italian Harley Street doctor extolled Mussolini. Leftism and pacifism swelled an organisation called the United Front of Progressive Forces, known all over the school as Uffpuff. There were, I am sure, leftists who were not fellow-travellers, but I wasn’t one of ...

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