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David Runciman: How the coalition was formed, 16 December 2010

22 Days in May: The Birth of the Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition 
by David Laws.
Biteback, 335 pp., £9.99, November 2010, 978 1 84954 080 3
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... Australians), they seem to have been unembarrassable. Yet that’s not how it worked over here. David Laws’s 22 Days in May, which recounts the negotiations that preceded the formation of the coalition government from the inside, explains how it happened that in our case the winners actually ended up winning. Hardly surprisingly, it’s not that ...

Ariel the Unlucky

David Gilmour, 5 April 1990

Warrior: The Autobiography of Ariel Sharon 
by Ariel Sharon and David Chanoff.
Macdonald, 571 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 356 17960 5
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The Slopes of Lebanon 
by Amos Oz, translated by Maurie Goldberg-Bartura.
Chatto, 246 pp., £13.95, January 1990, 0 7011 3444 5
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From Beirut to Jerusalem 
by Thomas Friedman.
Collins, 541 pp., £15, March 1990, 0 00 215096 4
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Pity the nation: Lebanon at War 
by Robert Fisk.
Deutsch, 622 pp., £17.95, February 1990, 0 233 98516 6
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... produced ‘something of a personal crisis’ and tore away ‘every illusion’ he had ‘ever held about the Jewish state’. And for Robert Fisk, who no longer had illusions about that or anything else, it was a year in which he escaped death a score of times and lived to produce some of the most memorable journalism of the decade. Sharon’s book is a ...

Four Poems

David Harsent, 12 March 2009

... though maybe it’s a failing to stand at one remove, to watch, to want everything stalled and held on an indrawn breath. The house, the woman, the window, the lamplight falling short of everything except bare earth – can you see how it seems, can you tell why you happen to be just here, where the garden path runs off to black, still watching as she ...

More Reconciliation than Truth

David Blackbourn: Germany’s Postwar Amnesties, 31 October 2002

Adenauer’s Germany and the Nazi Past: The Politics of Amnesty and Integration 
by Norbert Frei, translated by Joel Golb.
Columbia, 479 pp., £24.50, September 2002, 0 231 11882 1
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... examines the mounting West German obsession – Frei’s term – with the release of those held by the Allies as war criminals. Among them were the men convicted at Nuremberg. A larger number were soldiers who had contravened the rules of war by executing POWs or hostages. Most were SS men, party, police and other officials or concentration camp ...

Perfectly Mobile, Perfectly Still

David Craig: Land Artists, 14 December 2000

Time 
by Andy Goldsworthy.
Thames and Hudson, 203 pp., £35, August 2000, 0 500 51026 1
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... in the winter of 1987, consisted of icicles ‘with their thick ends dipped in snow then water, held until frozen together’. He rearranged the ice daggers – that is all. Their ribbing, their smoothness or roughness, are as the freezing of the water moulded them. All that is left of the natural material used by Picasso or Michelangelo is some salient ...

Diary

David Gilmour: In Spain, 5 January 1989

... support for his application to join the socialists. During that same campaign I went to a meeting held by the Government party (UCD) in Lebrija, an Andalusian town with a large Gypsy population. The UCD, which knew that it was going to be destroyed in the election, realised that it could not fill the hall by itself, so it had hired an excellent local ...

Sisi’s Way

Tom Stevenson: In Sisi’s Prisons, 19 February 2015

... abuses, let alone the Rabaa massacre or the mass imprisonment and torture of dissidents. When David Cameron held a meeting with Sisi in New York in September he spoke of ‘Egypt’s pivotal role in the region’ and its importance to British policy. ‘Both economically and in the fight against Islamist ...

Princes, Counts and Racists

David Blackbourn: Weimar, 19 May 2016

Weimar: From Enlightenment to the Present 
by Michael Kater.
Yale, 463 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 0 300 17056 6
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... womanising, still extraordinarily generous to his students, he gave few public performances and held no official position: this was no reprise. He stayed until shortly before his death in 1886. Liszt’s first stay seemed to raise, then dash, the possibility of Weimar’s revival. This would be a recurring pattern. Franz von Lenbach and Arnold ...

Promises, Promises

David Carpenter: The Peasants’ Revolt, 2 June 2016

England, Arise: The People, the King and the Great Revolt of 1381 
by Juliet Barker.
Abacus, 506 pp., £10.99, September 2015, 978 0 349 12382 0
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... beastly Bishop Despenser of Norwich, who, having heard the confession of one of the rebels, held up his head as he was being dragged to the gallows to stop it knocking on the ground. There are fine descriptions of Shoreditch and the view from the top of Blackheath, although the rebels would have been hard pressed to see in the distance ‘the ...

Eden and Suez

David Gilmour, 18 December 1986

Anthony Eden 
by Robert Rhodes James.
Weidenfeld, 665 pp., £16.95, October 1986, 0 297 78989 9
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Descent to Suez: Diaries 1951-56 
by Evelyn Shuckburgh, edited by John Charmley.
Weidenfeld, 380 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 297 78993 7
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Cutting the Lion’s Tail: Suez through Egyptian Eyes 
by Mohamed Heikal.
Deutsch, 242 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 233 97967 0
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The Suez Affair 
by Hugh Thomas.
Weidenfeld, 255 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 297 78953 8
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... skilfully handling diplomatic problems with the support of the Foreign Office, but it was widely held that in politics he was a bit of a lightweight, a ‘natural number two’ who should never have become prime minister. John Grigg wrote of him before the Suez crisis: ‘Popularity means much more to him than it ever should mean to a statesman. Since the ...

In bed with the Surrealists

David Sylvester, 6 January 1994

Investigating Sex: Surrealist Research 1928-1932 
edited by José Pierre, translated by Malcolm Imrie.
Verso, 215 pp., £17.95, November 1992, 0 86091 378 3
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... members of the Surrealist group in Paris and some of their acquaintances. Seven meetings were held between January and early May 1928, five between November 1930 and August 1932. The first two reports were published at the time in La Révolution surréaliste; the other ten were unknown until a French edition edited by José Pierre appeared three years ...

The Politics of Now

David Runciman: The Last World Cup, 21 June 2018

The Fall of the House of Fifa 
by David Conn.
Yellow Jersey, 336 pp., £9.99, June 2017, 978 0 224 10045 8
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... power, some moments now look like straws in the wind. In late November 2010 the English FA sent David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham to Fifa headquarters in Zurich to lobby on its behalf before the vote for the right to host the 2018 World Cup. Two old Etonians and an alumnus of Chingford County High ...

Notes on the Election

David Runciman, 5 March 2015

... and delivered without notes. What made it appear a triumph was the speech given the next day by David Davis, Cameron’s main rival for the Tory Party leadership and the man long considered the favourite to succeed Michael Howard. Davis flopped. He spoke woodenly from behind a lectern without any of Cameron’s natural ease, looking and sounding like ...

Short Cuts

David Bromwich: Stirrers Up of Strife, 17 March 2016

... House by officials whose provenance or destination was the firm of Goldman Sachs. This pattern has held true from the Bill Clinton to the George W. Bush to the Obama presidency, and it explains why radical critics like Cornel West have resorted to the old word ‘plutocracy’, from the era of Progressive reforms. ‘Oligarchy’ is a word Sanders deploys ...

This Charming Man

Frank Kermode, 24 February 1994

The Collected and Recollected Marc 
Fourth Estate, 51 pp., £25, November 1993, 1 85702 164 9Show More
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... an upper-class socialist. He liked cricket, bridge (with, among others, the ‘Machiavellian’ David Sylvester), chess (with Martin Amis, who felt humbly as if he always had, or anyway always ought to have, the black pieces). Women found him instantly attractive. And he rode a motor bike. The illustrations here are more than adequate reminders of his dash ...

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