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2 August 2018
The World as It Is: Inside the Obama White House 
by Ben Rhodes.
Bodley Head, 450 pp., £20, June 2018, 978 1 84792 517 6
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... W. Bush, loved the game but felt he ought to give it up after 9/11, in case it seemed frivolous to be on the golf course when he was sending soldiers into battle. Obama was not so self-denying. BenRhodes describes what happened when news came through in August 2014 that the journalist Jim Foley had been beheaded by Isis. Video footage of this ghastly event arrived while Obama was holidaying on Martha ...

A prince, too, can do his bit

K.D. Reynolds: King Edward VII and George VI

27 April 2000
Power and Place: The Political Consequences of King Edward VII 
by Simon Heffer.
Weidenfeld, 342 pp., £20, August 1998, 9780297842200
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A Spirit Undaunted: The Political Role of George VI 
by Robert Rhodes​ James.
Little, Brown, 368 pp., £22.50, November 1998, 0 316 64765 9
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... mean a decline in the power of the throne? There are those who assert that the monarchy is, and has been for more than a century, politically impotent and irrelevant. Simon Heffer and the late Robert Rhodes James have thought differently, and rightly so. Recent indignation over the ‘co-option’ of royal events by Tony Blair highlights the uses to which politicians can put the monarchy; it is hard to ...

Poets and Pretenders

John Sutherland

2 April 1987
The Great Pretender 
by James Atlas.
Viking, 239 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 9780670814619
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The Position of the Body 
by Richard Stern.
Northwestern, 207 pp., $21.95, November 1986, 0 8101 0730 9
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The Setting Sun and the Rolling World 
by Charles Mungoshi.
Heinemann, 202 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 434 48166 1
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Conversations with Lord Byron on Perversion, 162 Years after his Lordship’s Death 
by Amanda Prantera.
Cape, 174 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 9780224024235
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... framed literary lives from Keats onwards. Richard Helgerson’s Self-Crowned Laureates (1983) does the same for the English Renaissance. The title of The Great Pretender is triple-loaded: the hero Ben Janis is a claimant for poetic fame, a laureate hoping to crown himself. His claims, he suspects with some justice, are a pretence. He is not much of a poet. And finally, the hit record (‘Oh yes, I ...


Lawrence Hogben: The Most Important Weather Forecast in the History of the World

26 May 1994
... but necessary allies. None of us proved to have a monopoly on rightness or wrongness. Our two West Coast Americans from the California Institute of Technology were used to forecasting for Hollywood. Ben Holzman was full of liberal optimism and Irv Krick, a salesman to his fingertips, had total faith in his own five-day forecasts. C.K.M. Douglas, the senior Met Office forecaster, was a good ...

Sins of the Three Pashas

Edward Luttwak: The Armenian Genocide

3 June 2015
‘They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else’: A History of the Armenian Genocide 
by Ronald Grigor Suny.
Princeton, 520 pp., £24.95, March 2015, 978 0 691 14730 7
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... army and serves bravely as an artillery officer in the 1912 Balkan War, as many Armenians may have done in reality: quite a few young non-Muslims believed in the Young Turks promise, including David Ben-Gurion, who went to Istanbul University to study law in 1912, envisaging a future as a community leader-cum-loyal official; in 1914 he personally raised a militia of forty Jews to serve the empire ...
27 July 2016
... personal and corporate taxes. Born Piyush Jindal, a Hindu, he converted to Catholicism and renamed himself after a character on the 1970s television comedy The Brady Bunch. A graduate of Brown and a Rhodes scholar, he cut state funding for higher education by 80 per cent and instituted a law allowing the teaching of Creationism in science classes. Although Louisiana is one of the poorest states, Jindal ...

Late Deceiver

Robert Blake

17 September 1981
Anthony Eden 
by David Carlton.
Allen Lane, 528 pp., £20, August 1981, 0 7139 0829 7
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... him. Various possibilities have been canvassed since Eden’s death. The choice for the ‘authorised’ biography is said, though I have never seen any public announcement, to have fallen on Robert Rhodes James. If so, it is an excellent decision. Meanwhile Mr David Carlton has produced a scholarly, well-written work of some five hundred pages. The author admits very fairly that it is in the nature of ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies

26 January 2012
An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... Hoberman thinks, because it exhibits an enemy no longer traceable to a foreign source. A Face in the Crowd tells of the rise of a country singer and cracker-barrel politician, Larry ‘Lonesome’ Rhodes, of his authentic talent and the authenticity merchants who sell him, of his contempt for his audience and the self-contempt that grows with his facility at pleasing the people. A Face in the Crowd ...

Syme’s Revolution

Hugh Lloyd-Jones

24 January 1980
Roman Papers 
by Ronald Syme, edited by E. Badian.
Oxford, 878 pp., £35, November 1980, 0 19 814367 2
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... had published in 1939, at the age of 36, I felt the subject of Last’s course to be a good deal less important than I had thought at first. Born in New Zealand in 1903, Syme came to England as a Rhodes Scholar. He started as a military historian: his first large undertaking was to write for the tenth volume of the Cambridge Ancient History (1934) an admirable account of Rome’s northern frontiers ...

Truffles for Potatoes

Ferdinand Mount: Little Rosebery

22 September 2005
Rosebery: Statesman in Turmoil 
by Leo McKinstry.
Murray, 626 pp., £25, May 2005, 0 7195 5879 4
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... was as diligent a first chairman of the London County Council as he had been a lackadaisical prime minister, attending over three hundred meetings in his first year of office. The dockers’ leader, Ben Tillett, also an LCC councillor, remarked: ‘he really made London government a living thing.’ Tories like F.E. Smith and Austen Chamberlain complained that Rosebery could never make up his mind ...

Next Stop, Reims

Ardis Butterfield: Medieval Literary Itineraries

26 April 2018
Europe: A Literary History, 1348-1418 
by David Wallace.
Oxford, 1591 pp., £180, April 2016, 978 0 19 873535 9
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... were in working use but as scholarly enterprises: the translation of Greek history (among other things) into Aragonese conducted by the Grand Master of the Order of St John, Knights Hospitaller at Rhodes is an example; another is a Dalmatian Life of Alexander the Great that circulated in the coastal town of Zadar. Religious foundations and pilgrimage explain the inclusion of more far-flung places ...
19 February 1987
The Market for Glory: Fleet Street Ownership in the 20th Century 
by Simon Jenkins.
Faber, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 571 14627 9
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The End of the Street 
by Linda Melvern.
Methuen, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 413 14640 5
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... consequences, can only be appraised by reference to his earliest years. Anthony Clare, from his psychiatrist’s chair, would write a far more interesting profile than the average political editor. Ben Pimlott, in his brilliant biography of Hugh Dalton, caught the character of a former Chancellor of the Exchequer with great assurance. And, more recently, Robert Rhodes James discovered the roots of ...
9 January 1992
... the veteran Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann argued that ‘the Jews would be fools not to accept it even if it is the size of a tablecloth.’ At the same time, the Zionist leaders, especially David Ben-Gurion, were adept at presenting the Palestinian position as unreasonable. It is not that they weren’t interested in a compromise solution. But since the claims of the two sides could not be ...

A Country Emptied

Ian Jack: The Highland Clearances

7 March 2019
The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed 1600-1900 
by T.M. Devine.
Allen Lane, 464 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 241 30410 5
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... land in Europe. The countess and her husband were further ennobled to become the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland in 1833. The duke is remembered by a massive statue that still stands on the top of Ben Bhraggie, surviving frequent mutilation: a memorial that was reviled long before anyone thought to take a hammer to Cecil Rhodes. From events like these, a general picture can be constructed of poor ...

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