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Susan Pedersen

6 October 2011
Structures and Transformations in Modern British History 
edited by David Feldman and Jon Lawrence.
Cambridge, 331 pp., £50, January 2011, 978 0 521 51882 6
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The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain 
edited by Simon Gunn and James Vernon.
California, 271 pp., £20.95, May 2011, 978 0 9845909 5 7
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Classes, Cultures and Politics: Essays on British History for Ross McKibbin 
edited by Clare Griffiths, John Nott and William Whyte.
Oxford, 320 pp., £65, April 2011, 978 0 19 957988 4
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... to emphasise instead how available rhetorical tropes or habits of mind constrained political options. A layman might be forgiven for assuming that those two at least were on the same side. But when David Mayfield and Susan Thorne, two young American scholars, cited Stedman Jones and Joyce as exemplars of social history’s ‘linguistic turn’ in an essay published in Social History in 1992, a ...


Christopher Hadley: The Lake Taupo Stamp

18 September 1997
... with the Bridger and Kay auction and that he has got his fingers burnt: the stamp has kept re-appearing of late but it never sells. On 6 November 1992 it was estimated at 75,000 Swiss francs for the DavidFeldman Rarities of the World auction in Zurich. On 11 December 1993 it was back in New Zealand again, as Lot 237 at John Mowbray’s Stanley Gibbons auction and again it didn’t sell. It is not ...


Antony Lerman: The Aliens Act

7 November 2013
Literature, Immigration and Diaspora in Fin-de-Siècle England: A Cultural History of the 1905 Aliens Act 
by David​ Glover.
Cambridge, 229 pp., £55, November 2012, 978 1 107 02281 2
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... I never thought of my paternal grandfather, a penniless, devout Jew without a trade from the small town of Korosten in Ukraine, who arrived in Britain in 1901, as having sought asylum. But he did. David Glover wants to find out how ‘a law restricting immigration [could] be passed in a country that had prided itself on offering asylum to refugees and had virtually made the right to freedom of ...


Colm Tóibín: Sex Lives of the Castrati

7 October 2015
The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds 
by Martha Feldman.
California, 454 pp., £40, March 2015, 978 0 520 27949 0
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Portrait of a Castrato: Politics, Patronage and Music in the Life of Atto Melani 
by Roger Freitas.
Cambridge, 452 pp., £22.99, May 2014, 978 1 107 69610 5
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... out that the hideous old man had once been La Zambinella, and that the fortune of the household in which the party was held came from La Zambinella’s earnings as a castrato much in demand. Martha Feldman’s The Castrato, rich in scholarship and filled with subtle analysis, is one of several books that have appeared on the subject of castrati in recent years. In The Queen’s Throat, published in ...
18 August 1983
Dangerous Pursuits 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Secker, 192 pp., £7.50, June 1983, 0 436 44086 5
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by Robert Moss.
Weidenfeld, 384 pp., £7.95, August 1983, 0 297 78166 9
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The Last Supper 
by Charles McCarry.
Hutchinson, 427 pp., £8.96, May 1983, 0 09 151420 7
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by Nora Ephron.
Heinemann, 179 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 434 23700 0
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August 1988 
by David​ Fraser.
Collins, 235 pp., £8.50, July 1983, 0 00 222725 8
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The Cure 
by Peter Kocan.
Angus and Robertson, 137 pp., £5.95, July 1983, 9780207145896
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... The frustrated victim moans: ‘Not to reporters, you mean. You’re afraid of the bastards.’ The narrator of Heartburn (a much better novel, never unintentionally funny) is Rachel Samstat Feldman, a Washington hostess married to a Press Corps hero. While Mrs Feldman is expecting their baby, Mr Feldman leaves her, in order to steal a wife from some cowed diplomat. This example of Washington ...

Degrees of Not Knowing

Rory Stewart: Does anyone know how to govern Iraq?

31 March 2005
What We Owe Iraq: War and the Ethics of Nation Building 
by Noah Feldman.
Princeton, 154 pp., £12.95, November 2004, 0 691 12179 6
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Blinded by the Sunlight: Surviving Abu Ghraib and Saddam’s Iraq 
by Matthew McAllester.
Harper Perennial, 304 pp., $13.95, February 2005, 0 06 058820 9
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The Fall of Baghdad 
by Jon Lee Anderson.
Little, Brown, 389 pp., £20, February 2005, 0 316 72990 6
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The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq 
by Christian Parenti.
New Press, 211 pp., £12.99, December 2004, 1 56584 948 5
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... is an expert. It is hard to turn from the daily experience of Iraq to the discourse that surrounds it. Probably the most sophisticated account of what the Coalition thinks it is doing is Noah Feldman’s What We Owe Iraq. Since billions of dollars are being spent with little clear idea of what we are trying to achieve, Feldman’s project is important. He speaks fluent Arabic, knows his history ...

Liberation Music

Richard Gott: In Memory of Cornelius Cardew

12 March 2009
Cornelius Cardew: A Life Unfinished 
by John Tilbury.
Copula, 1069 pp., £45, October 2008, 978 0 9525492 3 9
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... influenced by John Cage, arrived at the annual Darmstadt summer school to sample the European experience – and find it wanting – Cardew was excited by the alternative that they appeared to offer. David Tudor, Cage’s pianist and pupil, was an important new influence, as were other American composers like Morton Feldman, Earle Brown and La Monte Young. He even contemplated emigrating to the United ...

The Khugistic Sandal

Jenny Diski: Jews & Shoes

9 October 2008
Jews and Shoes 
edited by Edna Nahshon.
Berg, 226 pp., £17.99, August 2008, 978 1 84788 050 5
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... Prouser says that the command ‘may simply appear to be about holiness’ when, actually, it defines the nature of the relationship between God and the Israelites. Captives are kept barefoot, and David fled barefooted from his son Absalom. Subjugation and unreadiness, therefore, are signified, and we’re reminded, perhaps, of the prelapsarian honeymoon when Adam and Eve were butt naked in the ...

Successive Applications of Sticking-Plaster

Andrew Saint: The urban history of Britain

1 November 2001
The Cambridge Urban History of Britain. Vol. III: 1840-1950 
edited by Martin Daunton.
Cambridge, 944 pp., £90, January 2001, 0 521 41707 4
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... from statistical evidence to the pattern of everyday experience. Yet though extrapolation can convey the broad picture, it cannot offer the sense and quality of experience. An example comes in DavidFeldman’s elegant chapter on migration. By defining this simply as the crossing of boundaries, he is able to embrace almost a majority of the urban population and juxtapose the longer-distance Victorian ...


Ian Hamilton: Who will blow it?

22 May 1997
... Brian Clough. For a brief period in the mid-Seventies, under Jackie Charlton, the team looked as if it might be going places, but not for very long. Players like Graeme Souness, Bobby Murdoch and David Armstrong got them to the sixth round of the Cup, the semi-finals of the old League Cup, and to seventh in Division One, and this was thought to be a peak achievement. But the upsurge swiftly fizzled ...


Paul Driver

19 August 1993
Shining Brow 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 86 pp., £5.99, February 1993, 0 571 16789 6
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... pieces Bow Down and Yan Tan Tethera) with Tony Harrison, another poet avid for theatrical and operatic activity; and his most recent full-length opera, Gawain, has an ambitious verse libretto by David Harsent. Ted Hughes once wrote a libretto for Gordon Crosse. The Story of Vasco, whose subject-matter involves crows, is an interesting opera by a composer who has now, regrettably, stopped composing ...

Act One, Scene One

David​ Bromwich: Don’t Resist, Oppose

16 February 2017
... creator of The West Wing betray the same stunned bewilderment. By the first week of December, it was hard to recall the mood of a few weeks earlier – a mood in which it had been possible for Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor, to write a column for Bloomberg entitled ‘On November 9, Let’s Forget Donald Trump Happened’. In 2003, six years out of law school, Feldman drafted the constitution ...

Rain, Blow, Rustle

Nick Richardson: John Cage

19 August 2010
No Such Thing As Silence: John Cage’s 4'33" 
by Kyle Gann.
Yale, 255 pp., £16.99, April 2010, 978 0 300 13699 9
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... On the evening of 29 August 1952 a crowd of avant-garde aficionados and local music enthusiasts filed into the Maverick Concert Hall near Woodstock to hear a piano recital by the young virtuoso David Tudor. That they should be here, tucked away in the Catskills, was already extraordinary. The Maverick is more hermitage than concert hall: a wooden, barn-like structure, set – in 1952 at least ...


Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman

15 July 2015
... storm. Ravi Coltrane, John Coltrane’s son, gave a stately reading on soprano saxophone of Coleman’s 1959 composition ‘Peace’, with Geri Allen on piano. The tenor saxophonists Joe Lovano and David Murray howled their way through Coleman’s most famous tune, ‘Lonely Woman’. There was a haunting duet between Henry Threadgill, on alto flute, and Jason Moran, on piano, and an electric ...


Corey Robin: Careerism and Hannah Arendt

4 January 2007
Why Arendt Matters 
by Elisabeth Young-Bruehl.
Yale, 232 pp., £14.99, October 2006, 0 300 12044 3
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Hannah Arendt: The Jewish Writings 
edited by Jerome Kohn and Ron Feldman.
Schocken, 640 pp., $35, January 2007, 978 0 8052 4238 6
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Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil 
by Hannah Arendt.
Penguin, 336 pp., £10.99, December 2006, 0 14 303988 1
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... Rather than build a liberal society, the Iraqis ‘preferred to indulge in old hatreds, confessional violence, ethnic bigotry and a culture of corruption’. According to the New York Times columnist David Brooks, after the fall of Saddam the Iraqis succumbed to their native ‘demons: greed, blood lust and a mind-boggling unwillingness to compromise … even in the face of self-immolation’. Liberal ...

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