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No Longer Merely the Man Who Ate His Boots

Thomas Jones: The Northwest Passage

27 May 2010
Arctic Labyrinth: The Quest for the Northwest Passage 
by Glyn Williams.
Allen Lane, 440 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 1 84614 138 6
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Franklin: Tragic Hero of Polar Navigation 
by Andrew Lambert.
Faber, 428 pp., £20, July 2009, 978 0 571 23160 7
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... courage and willpower as he refused to give up what seemed a hopeless quest to reach safety, but his inflexibility and his unfamiliarity with conditions in the far north were serious handicaps.’ AndrewLambert, in his new biography of Franklin, an attempt to reclaim the explorer from both Victorian hagiography and subsequent disparagement, is less even-handed: ‘Whatever else had been achieved ...
22 May 1986
The Lamberts: George, Constant and Kit 
by Andrew​ Motion.
Chatto, 388 pp., £13.95, April 1986, 0 7011 2731 7
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... Andrew Motion’s book is intended to portray a family’s rich self-destructiveness. He begins with Larkin’s famous quatrain: Man hands on misery to man.   It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as ...

Powered by Fear

Linda Colley: Putting the navy in its place

3 February 2005
The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain 1649-1815 
by N.A.M. Rodger.
Allen Lane, 907 pp., £30, September 2004, 0 7139 9411 8
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... Glyndwr Williams’s wonderful book on Lord Anson’s circumnavigation of the world, a significant new biography of Captain Cook by Nicholas Thomas, and many other substantial works. John Sugden and AndrewLambert have just produced biographies of Horatio Nelson, and a further biography by R.J.B. Knight is eagerly awaited. The Royal Navy is doing very well, thank you. Moreover, all kinds of scholar ...

Everything Must Go!

Andrew​ O’Hagan: American Beauties

13 December 2001
The Corrections 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Fourth Estate, 568 pp., £17.99, November 2001, 1 84115 672 8
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Ghost World 
directed by Terry Zwigoff.
August 2001
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Storytelling 
directed by Todd Solondz.
November 2001
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... divine, something inherently democratic about markets. A better term for the ‘New Economy’ might simply be ‘consensus’. Though it’s not a word that appears in The Corrections, the Lambert family might be understood to be a common skin blistered with the lies of ‘consensus’. The novel opens with a rather screechy throat-clearing exercise in which Chip’s mother and father, Enid ...

Queening It

Jenny Diski: Nina Simone

25 June 2009
Nina Simone: The Biography 
by David Brun-Lambert.
Aurum, 346 pp., £20, February 2009, 978 1 84513 430 3
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... resistance of Simone’s daughter, who doesn’t want to talk about her mother, and many former friends and colleagues who refused to be interviewed or give on-the-record information. But David Brun-Lambert, seeing a perfect subject with a classically imperfect life, didn’t let a lack of new primary sources stop him. He had a story ‘of inconsolable solitude, of an artist wracked and torn by ...

The Immortal Coil

Richard Barnett: Faraday’s Letters

21 March 2013
The Correspondence of Michael Faraday Vol. VI, 1860-67 
by Frank James.
IET, 919 pp., £85, December 2011, 978 0 86341 957 7
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... 1830, he had dined with Sir John Franklin, as a member of the Admiralty committee, and in a note thirty years later lamented the loss of Franklin’s 1845 expedition – a ‘sad subject’ which, as AndrewLambert has shown, owed as much to Sabine’s magnetic crusade as it did to the quest for the Northwest Passage. By 1860, Faraday was coming, as these letters reveal and as he baldly acknowledged, to ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations

20 October 1994
... 13 January. Having supper in the National Theatre restaurant are Lindsay Anderson and Gavin Lambert. ‘I suppose you like this place,’ says Lindsay. I do, actually, as the food is now very good. I say so and Lindsay, who judges all restaurants by the standard of the Cosmo in Finchley Road ...

The Vulgarity of Success

Murray Sayle: Everest and Empire

7 May 1998
Eric Shipton: Everest and Beyond 
by Peter Steele.
Constable, 290 pp., £18.99, March 1998, 0 09 478300 4
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... of the snows’), nor the Nepali Sagarmatha, preferred by Sir George Everest, Surveyor-General of India 1830-43, has caught on. At least we have been spared the name of Sir George’s successor, Andrew Waugh, who calculated that Everest, at 29,028 feet and still putting on an inch or so a year, is by a good margin the world’s highest mountain. On that rainy night in New York, however, something ...

Karel Reisz Remembered

LRB Contributors

12 December 2002
... served in the RAF, before studying natural sciences at Cambridge. He later became a teacher and a writer for film journals, one of which, Sequence, he co-founded with Lindsay Anderson and Gavin Lambert. Along with Anderson and Tony Richardson, Reisz aimed to bring a version of auteurism to British film, and they did as much with the documentary movement Free Cinema. In 1959, Reisz directed We Are ...

Losers

Conrad Russell

4 October 1984
The Experience of Defeat: Milton and Some Contemporaries 
by Christopher Hill.
Faber, 342 pp., £12.50, July 1984, 0 571 13237 5
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... analysis would suggest that the cause failed because its leaders, like Oscar Wilde, could resist anything except temptation. No doubt this line of explanation was valid in some cases: Major General Lambert, for example, is a figure whose ambition cannot easily be denied. Yet the truth in this type of explanation is surely limited: ‘the world’s mistake in Oliver Cromwell’ was surely largely a case ...

Taking it up again

Margaret Anne Doody

21 March 1991
Henry James and Revision 
by Philip Horne.
Oxford, 373 pp., £40, December 1990, 0 19 812871 1
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... Horne believes offers ‘an increase in ironic consciousness of relation’. But the reader may object that these niceties slow the narrative to little purpose, that Newman is not and need not be Lambert Strether, and that the Master is too adjectival. That is a simple example of elaboration, but we get some more tremendous ones. In The American again, the first version of a simple declarative ...

Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair

23 January 1997
Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... perfect recall of an autistic savant. Names, faces, addresses. Street numbers. This book must have made a lot of people nervous. Oxford contacts who went on to higher things. Old mates, such as Rick Lambert (future editor of the Financial Times) and Chris Patten (dog-fancier and last governor of Hong Kong). They needn’t have worried. Marks’s memories are doctored like Hansard. He reveals nothing ...

Shoot them to be sure

Richard Gott: The Oxford History of the British Empire

25 April 2002
The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. I: The Origins of Empire 
edited by William Roger Louis and Nicholas Canny.
Oxford, 533 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924676 9
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. II: The 18th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and P.J. Marshall.
Oxford, 639 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924677 7
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. III: The 19th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Andrew​ Porter.
Oxford, 774 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924678 5
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. IV: The 20th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Judith Brown.
Oxford, 773 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924679 3
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. V: Historiography 
edited by William Roger Louis and Robin Winks.
Oxford, 731 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924680 7
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... the gun was fired, his severed head and arms would fly away, while the amputated body fell to the ground. The ceremony was used for the execution of Indians following the Mutiny in 1857, and in 1872 Lambert Cowan, deputy commissioner of a town in the Punjab, ordered 50 Sikh zealots to be blown from guns. The late Philip Mason, like many old India hands, used to argue that the sepoys preferred this ...

Putting Religion in Its Place

Colm Tóibín: Marilynne Robinson

22 October 2014
Lila 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Virago, 261 pp., £16.99, October 2014, 978 1 84408 880 5
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... in a novel without making a dog’s dinner out of the book? Some people, such as Graham Greene, Flannery O’Connor, Chinua Achebe, Georges Bernanos, Kate O’Brien, Maurice Gee, Brian Moore and Andrew O’Hagan, have made a big effort. Others, such as James Joyce, have managed to weave religion into a larger fabric, with all the sheer drama of faith and doubt, and have managed also to include the ...

NHS SOS

James Meek

5 April 2018
... have encouraged; and the inept restructuring carried out under David Cameron in the early 2010s, sometimes called the Lansley reforms after their patron, the erstwhile Conservative health secretary Andrew Lansley. The Lansley reforms left seven local organisations responsible for healthcare in Leicestershire. Five are part of the NHS and two aren’t. There are three consortia of GPs called Clinical ...

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