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800 Napkins, 47 Finger Bowls

Zachary Leader, 16 March 2000

MorganAmerican Financier 
by Jean Strouse.
Harvill, 816 pp., £25, June 1999, 9781860463556
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... of wealth and power was alarming. In 1912, officials from five New York banks – J.P. Morgan and Co, National City, the First National, Bankers Trust and Guaranty Trust – held 341 directorships in 112 US companies, including other banks, public utilities, and companies involved in insurance, transportation, manufacturing and trade. The ...


Iain Sinclair: Ferlinghetti, 17 December 2015

I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–97 
edited by Bill Morgan.
City Lights, 284 pp., £11.83, July 2015, 978 0 87286 678 2
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Writing across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1960-2010 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson.
Liveright, 464 pp., £22.99, October 2015, 978 1 63149 001 9
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... This​ was a 42-year marriage of convenience between forgiving but frequently exasperated business partners and poetry rivals. It was launched with a seize-the-day telegram, after a one-night, earth-shuddering, world-tilting performance in a jazzed-up garage. Before moving on to occasional meetings and decades of dutiful, near conjugal correspondence from all parts of the globe ...

All Those Arrows

Donald MacKenzie: A Major Cause of the Financial Crisis, 25 June 2009

Fool’s Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe 
by Gillian Tett.
Little, Brown, 338 pp., £18.99, April 2009, 978 1 4087 0164 5
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... the ceremony were – those up on the conference hall’s stage. ‘They used to all work at J.P. Morgan,’ he answered. ‘It’s like this Morgan mafia thing. They sort of created the credit derivatives market.’ The answer surprised her. J.P. Morgan was not Goldman Sachs; it wasn’t ...

C.K. Stead writes about Christina Stead

C.K. Stead, 4 September 1986

Ocean of Story: The Uncollected Stories of Christina Stead 
edited by R.G. Geering.
Viking, 552 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 670 80996 9
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The Salzburg Tales 
by Christina Stead.
498 pp., £4.95, September 1986, 0 86068 691 4
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... the other night, when someone said: ‘What was Australia like?’ ‘It’s the wonderful light, Bill,’ I said to the Texan next to me. ‘Yes,’ he affirmed; and the Indian lady murmured: ‘Yes.’ Three exiles. No more was said; and the others, Londoners, did not even know what we had understood ... When people ask, I feel like saying ‘It’s a ...

Born Again

Phillip Whitehead, 19 February 1981

Face the future 
by David Owen.
Cape, 552 pp., £12.50, January 1981, 0 224 01956 2
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... book. It is written by a socialist, and for socialists. This is its first fascination. The sage of Morgan Grenfell will wince over its strictures on public expenditure and the role of government intervention. Shirley Williams, who has brought to the cause of Europe the passion which her mother gave to pacifism, will find Dr Owen’s advocacy of a tough line ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The United States v. Billie Holiday’, 18 March 2021

... at the beginning of the film telling us that in 1937 the US Senate failed to pass an anti-lynching bill, and then another at the end stating that a similar bill considered in 2020 ‘has yet to pass’, Holiday’s repeated singing of ‘Strange Fruit’ feels like a political rather than a musical event, and we are clearly ...


David Bromwich: The Establishment President, 13 May 2010

... On Sunday 21 March the House of Representatives passed a healthcare bill that had been promoted for a year and brokered in many particulars by Barack Obama. This marked a victory for a substantial piece of social legislation, the first of its kind in more than three decades; and the result appears to have given the president and his party fresh confidence in their efforts at comprehensive reform ...

Anti-Party Party

Ben Jackson: The Greens, 7 May 2015

Honourable Friends? Parliament and the Fight for Change 
by Caroline Lucas.
Portobello, 281 pp., £14.99, March 2015, 978 1 84627 593 7
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... Lucas aide called Alex Phillips, contacted the leader of the Labour group on the council, Warren Morgan, to ask if he would support a move to replace the Green leader of the council, Jason Kitcat. Morgan chose to go public instead. The Green Party has gathered support as the feeling grows that traditional politics in ...

Wodehouse in America

D.A.N. Jones, 20 May 1982

P.G. Wodehouse: A Literary Biography 
by Benny Green.
Joseph, 256 pp., £8.95, October 1981, 0 907516 04 1
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Wodehouse on Wodehouse: Bring on the girls (with Guy Bolton), Performing Flea, Over Seventy 
Penguin, 655 pp., £2.95, September 1981, 0 14 005245 3Show More
P.G. Wodehouse: An Illustrated Biography 
by Joseph Connolly.
Eel Pie, 160 pp., £3.95, September 1981, 0 906008 44 1
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P.G. Wodehouse: A Centenary Celebration 1881-1981 
edited by James Heineman and Donald Bensen.
Oxford, 197 pp., £40, February 1982, 0 19 520357 7
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The World of P.G. Wodehouse 
by Herbert Warren Wind.
Hutchinson, 256 pp., £5.95, October 1981, 0 09 145670 3
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... paper, the result of a collaboration between the Oxford University Press and the Pierpont Morgan Library. There are also 25 essays, some of them lazily written but four of them, at least, rather good. Three of the four are by Richard Usborne, the king of the traditional Wodehouse buffs. The other is by Benny Green, the new broom. Oxford University and ...

Second World War-Game

Douglas Johnson, 22 May 1980

1943: The victory that never was 
by John Grigg.
Eyre Methuen, 255 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 9780413396105
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... are rapped on the knuckles if they speculate about what might have happened if the first Reform Bill had been defeated, or if they dream about all the possible governmental reactions to the economic crisis which started in 1929, the historians of war are positively encouraged to indulge in a counter-historical world of fantasy. If Napoleon had destroyed the ...

The Story of Thaksin Shinawatra

Richard Lloyd Parry: Class War in Thailand, 19 June 2014

... again. Korn went to Winchester, then to St John’s College, Oxford, then to S.G. Warburg and J.P. Morgan. His great friend and confrère Abhisit Vejjajiva, the leader of Thailand’s Democrat Party, was at Eton (where he was known to contemporaries such as Boris Johnson as Mark Vejj), then at St John’s with Korn. A former Democrat MP from a younger ...


John Lanchester: The Crash, 23 October 2008

... fled, the share price collapsed, and on 16 March the bank was bought by its competitor J.P. Morgan, its market value having declined from $20 billion to $236 million. The US government underwrote the purchase by providing a guarantee of $29 billion against the bank’s mortgage liabilities – basically, the government took on the risk of the dodgy ...

The Greatest Geek

Richard Barnett: Nikola Tesla, 5 February 2015

Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age 
by W. Bernard Carlson.
Princeton, 520 pp., £19.95, April 2015, 978 0 691 05776 7
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... making money from them. Astor and Westinghouse declined to invest, but aid came from John Pierpont Morgan, the financier behind General Electric, who paid $150,000 for a 51 per cent share in Tesla’s new patents. Tesla took out a mortgage to buy two hundred acres of land at Wardenclyffe on the northern shore of Long Island, and commissioned the architect ...

Short Cuts

Peter Geoghegan: On Greensill, 6 May 2021

... the only political insider who joined Greensill: the government’s chief commercial officer, Bill Crothers, who joined the civil service in 2007 after more than twenty years as a senior executive at the consultancy Accenture, became a Greensill adviser in late 2015. Remarkably, he stayed on in Whitehall for two months after he’d started his new ...


John Lanchester, 16 November 1995

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... in it are so troubled, as all Pound criticism has to be. The book’s keynote essay is by Edwin Morgan, who recounts how he spent World War Two ‘sitting in a flyblown tent in the Egyptian desert, waiting for the advance of Axis guns’, and who ‘from that time on ... could never see Pound in an unambiguous light, or think of him as other than the most ...

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