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Escape the bear trap

Josie Mitchell: ‘Family Meal’, 21 March 2024

Family Meal 
by Bryan Washington.
Atlantic, 306 pp., £17.99, October 2023, 978 1 83895 444 4
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... Early​ in Bryan Washington’s novel Family Meal, Cam, a young Black man, gets a notification on his phone while walking home from his bar job. A stranger has shared his location on a hook-up app; there’s no photograph of his face, just a dick pic, but Cam eventually finds him, sitting on a park bench in the dark ...


John Sutherland, 19 August 1982

A Prodigal Child 
by David Storey.
Cape, 319 pp., £7.50, June 1982, 0 224 02027 7
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The Prodigal Daughter 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 447 pp., £7.95, July 1982, 0 340 27687 8
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by John Stonehouse.
Cape, 318 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 224 02019 6
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The Man from St Petersburg 
by Ken Follett.
Hamish Hamilton, 292 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 241 10783 0
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The Patriot Game 
by George Higgins.
Secker, 237 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 0 436 19589 5
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... They have two children. Alan inherits his father’s energies and stupidities; the other son, Bryan, is gifted and has talents which he apparently owes to neither parent. Through visits to the farm where his father works (other Lawrentian echoes here), Bryan meets Fay Corrigan, the coquettish younger wife of a ...

They were expendable

Joost Hiltermann: Iraq and the Kurds, 17 November 2016

Sold Out? US Foreign Policy, Iraq, the Kurds and the Cold War 
by Bryan Gibson.
Palgrave, 256 pp., £65, May 2015, 978 1 349 69552 2
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... goal of establishing a majority Kurdish region it controls. This, of course, isn’t the same as Washington’s goal; it is also opposed by Assad as well as by Turkey and Iran. Washington has warned the PYD that the Kurds’ future status in Syria should be established by post-conflict peace negotiations between Damascus ...

The Lie that Empire Tells Itself

Eric Foner: America’s bad wars, 19 May 2005

The Dominion of War: Empire and conflict in North America 1500-2000 
by Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton.
Atlantic, 520 pp., £19.99, July 2005, 1 903809 73 8
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... wars’, like the Revolution and World War Two, which seem to fit this model, are memorialised in Washington, Hollywood films and national bestsellers. Anderson and Cayton, by contrast, devote extended attention to wars for which no public monuments exist and of which most Americans remain ignorant. These include the war against Britain of 1812, motivated in ...

Too Proud to Fight

David Reynolds: The ‘Lusitania’ Effect, 28 November 2002

Wilful Murder: The Sinking of the ‘Lusitania’ 
by Diana Preston.
Doubleday, 543 pp., £18.99, May 2002, 0 385 60173 5
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Lusitania: Saga and Myth 
by David Ramsay.
Chatham, 319 pp., £20, September 2001, 1 86176 170 8
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Woodrow Wilson 
by John Thompson.
Longman, 288 pp., £15.99, August 2002, 0 582 24737 3
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... But in 1914-15 this was no longer possible. That certainly was the view of William Jennings Bryan, the populist Democrat and former Presidential candidate whom Wilson had been obliged to appoint as Secretary of State in 1913. In the new era of undersea warfare, Bryan wanted Wilson to curtail American neutral rights in ...

Taking back America

Anatol Lieven: The right-wing backlash, 2 December 2004

What’s the Matter with America? The Resistible Rise of the American Right 
by Thomas Frank.
Secker, 306 pp., £12, September 2004, 0 436 20539 4
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... Republicans winning even in upstate New York and throughout the interior of California, Oregon and Washington. With the exception of the big cities, the only areas to remain solidly Democrat are most of New England, the black-majority counties of the South, the Latino-majority areas near the Mexican border and the old Scandinavian, progressive regions of ...

Blackberry Apocalypse

Nicholas Guyatt: Evangelical Disarray, 15 November 2007

American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America 
by Chris Hedges.
Cape, 254 pp., £12.99, February 2007, 978 0 224 07820 7
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... of a rickety economy and the disastrous invasion of Iraq. They had waged a successful campaign in Washington to restrict access to late-term abortion. They had launched a series of ballot initiatives intended to prevent states or judges legalising gay marriage. And they had encouraged the Bush administration to appoint sympathetic justices to the Supreme ...

Next Door to War

Tariq Ali: After Benazir, 17 July 2008

Descent into Chaos: How the War against Islamic Extremism Is Being Lost in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia 
by Ahmed Rashid.
Allen Lane, 484 pp., £25, July 2008, 978 0 7139 9843 6
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Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars within 
by Shuja Nawaz.
Oxford, 655 pp., £16.99, May 2008, 978 0 19 547660 6
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... widely, but wrongly, interpreted as a prelude to their reinstatement. Musharraf and his backers in Washington panicked and the US ambassador summoned Zardari. The message from Washington was clear. The State Department was determined to keep Musharraf in power as long as Bush was in the White House. If the chief justice and ...

Unarmed Combat

Richard Usborne, 21 April 1988

The Anglo-French Clash in Lebanon and Syria, 1940-1945 
by A.B. Gaunson.
Macmillan, 233 pp., £29.50, March 1987, 0 333 40221 9
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Personal Patchwork 1939-1945 
by Bryan Guinness.
Cygnet, 260 pp., £9.50, March 1987, 0 907435 06 8
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Staff Officer: The Diaries of Lord Moyne 1914-1918 
edited by Brian Bond.
Leo Cooper, 256 pp., £17.50, October 1987, 0 85052 053 3
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... to be holding the wrong end of the stick simply through inattention. Second Lieutenant the Hon. Bryan Guinness of the Royal Sussex Regiment, novelist, poet, farmer, son and heir of Lord Moyne, was posted to the Spears Mission in Brazzaville in February 1941. He served there, and in Cairo, Jerusalem, Damascus and Beirut, and was for a period stand-in ADC to ...


Jackson Lears: Ralph Nader’s novel, 8 April 2010

Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 
by Ralph Nader.
Seven Stories, 733 pp., $27.50, September 2009, 978 1 58322 903 3
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... tale of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company, as well as politicians such as William Jennings Bryan, Robert La Follette and even (for a while) Woodrow Wilson, whose New Freedom campaign of 1912 proposed to renew entrepreneurial opportunities through anti-trust and regulatory policies. He recalls a certain kind of populist progressive: distrustful of big ...


Christopher Hitchens, 19 October 1995

Palimpsest: A Memoir 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 432 pp., £17.99, October 1995, 0 233 98891 2
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... a solemn and respectful visit to Gore Vidal’s grave. It is to be found in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington. You take a few paces down the slope from the graveyard’s centrepiece, which is the lachrymose and androgynous Mourning Figure sculpted by August St Guldens for Henry Adams’s unhappy wife Clover (whose name always puts me in mind of an overworked ...
... American South between 1877 and 1950. For almost two decades the EJI and its executive director, Bryan Stevenson, have been fighting against the racial inequities of the American criminal justice system, and their legal trench warfare has met with considerable success in the Supreme Court. This legal work continues. But in 2012 the organisation decided to ...

It’s Been a Lot of Fun

David Runciman: Hitchens’s Hitchens, 24 June 2010

Hitch-22: A Memoir 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Atlantic, 435 pp., £20, June 2010, 978 1 84354 921 5
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... their audience had been anticipating. A few days earlier, Christopher had cooked Peter supper in Washington, ‘a domesticated action so unexpected that I still haven’t got over it … If he is going to take up roasting legs of lamb at this stage of his life, then what else might be possible?’ Christopher, it seems, no longer makes Peter angry. He just ...


Michael Rogin, 20 August 1998

Celebrity Caricature in America 
by Wendy Wick Reaves.
Yale, 320 pp., £29.95, April 1998, 0 300 07463 8
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... book Celebrity Caricature in America, the catalogue for an exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington DC until 23 August, and you will also learn unmistakably to recognise the artist, Miguel Covarrubias. There’s Covarrubias again, putting Jean Harlow on the couch below an elongated, brooding Freud; she appears to be dreaming of cacti, shown outside ...

Poor Hitler

Andrew O’Hagan: Toff Humour, 15 November 2007

The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Fourth Estate, 834 pp., £25, September 2007, 978 1 84115 790 0
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... amusing if one keeps one’s head. Here’s Diana writing to Nancy while trying to get away from Bryan Guinness: The detectives are extraordinary and just like one would imagine. It is really rather heavenly to feel that they are around – no pickpockets can approach etc. Isn’t it all extremely amusing in a way. I mean there is such a great army of them ...

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