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23 July 1992
by Fred Voss.
Bloodaxe, 180 pp., £7.95, November 1991, 1 85224 198 5
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... The first collection from the West Coast poet Fred Voss takes its title from the mythical aircraft company which is an amalgam of all the Californian machine shops that Voss has sweated in for the past 15 years. From his inconspicuous position as a machinist on the factory floor, Voss describes the conflicts and frustrations which daily beset the American blue-collar worker. He does so in a voice so ...

Heavy Lifting

John Palattella: John Ashbery

7 June 2001
Other Traditions 
by John Ashbery.
Harvard, 168 pp., £15.50, October 2000, 0 674 00315 2
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John Ashbery and American Poetry 
by David Herd.
Manchester, 245 pp., £45, September 2000, 0 7190 5597 0
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... an eclectic group of 19th and 20th-century poets who for the most part have endured long periods of neglect: John Clare, Thomas Lovell Beddoes, Raymond Roussel, John Wheelwright, Laura Riding and David Schubert. ‘I myself value Schubert more than Pound or Eliot,’ Ashbery says, and one can imagine some members of his audience gasping. In the introduction to his 1966 anthology, 19th-Century ...

Like a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader

John Lloyd: Globalisation

2 September 1999
The Lexus and the Olive Tree 
by Thomas Friedman.
HarperCollins, 394 pp., £19.99, May 1999, 0 00 257014 9
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Global Transformation 
by David​ Held and Anthony McGrew.
Polity, 515 pp., £59.50, March 1999, 0 7456 1498 1
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... it, but he does so most vividly and with the greatest insistence that contemporary political leaders in any country, including America, are ultimately helpless before what he calls the ‘electronic herd’ of stockbrokers, bond and currency dealers, mutual and pension fund executives, merchant bankers, individual investors and the financial advisers, analysts and journalists who swarm about them ...

Everyone, Then No One

David​ Nasaw: Where have all the bowler hats gone?

23 February 2006
Hatless Jack: The President, the Fedora and the Death of the Hat 
by Neil Steinberg.
Granta, 342 pp., £12, August 2005, 1 86207 782 7
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... enormous variations. Wearing a bowler in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a fedora in mid-century, or a baseball cap today did not and does not signify that one is a member of some faceless herd. Hats can and do reveal, disguise or parody social status, while at the same time highlighting aspects of individual personality. Why, then, if men’s hats have been such a multivariate sign of ...

Agents of Their Own Abuse

Jacqueline Rose: The Treatment of Migrant Women

10 October 2019
... dispute – seems not to register. Before the law, trauma is a troublemaker, like a stubborn, wilful child. Before the law, or outside it? ‘How is the institution of the removal centre legal?’ DavidHerd asks in his afterword to Refugee Tales (2016), a collection of stories gathered from refugees by campaigners. ‘Since, in conventional terms, it plainly offends legal principles, what relation ...
8 March 1990
Alan Moorehead 
by Tom Pocock.
Bodley Head, 311 pp., £16.95, February 1990, 0 370 31261 9
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Loyalties: A Son’s Memoir 
by Carl Bernstein.
Macmillan, 254 pp., £15.95, January 1990, 0 333 52135 8
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by Brian Inglis.
Chatto, 298 pp., £15.95, January 1990, 0 7011 3390 2
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... hotel bars with squatters’ rights established – is one proof of that. Never mind that they tend to be drab places: their defiant survival into the age of the Amex Gold Card is evidence of the herd instinct of the newspaper trade. That instinct remains, in some respects, surprising. Journalists, after all, come in all shapes and sizes, with an especially strong line in outsize egos ...
5 February 1981
Malcolm Muggeridge: A Life 
by Ian Hunter.
Collins, 270 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 00 216538 4
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... than make him uncomfortable. On page 109 a passage of French has gone wrong and on page 138 ‘exultation’ should be ‘exaltation’, although it is hard to be sure. Referring to ‘the historian David Irving’ is like referring to the metallurgist Uri Geller. There were, I think, few ballpoint pens in 1940. On page 160 the idea that the USA passed straight from barbarism to decadence is praised ...

Virgin’s Tears

David​ Craig: On nature

10 June 1999
Nature: Western Attitudes since Ancient Times 
by Peter Coates.
Polity, 246 pp., £45, September 1998, 0 7456 1655 0
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... and silent in Canadian literature’. When I was in Manitoba nine years ago, scholars in Winnipeg were arguing vigorously that the journals and other descriptive writings of explorers such as David Thompson, Simon Fraser and Alexander MacKenzie were the first contributions to Canadian literature, and these works teem with a sense of the forests and prairies, lakes and rivers as the ...
1 October 1981
The Oxford Companion to Animal Behaviour 
edited by David​ McFarland.
Oxford, 657 pp., £17.50, July 1981, 0 19 866120 7
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... equivalent.’ The word ‘behaviour’ is indeed rather ambiguous, but surely it isn’t just ‘movement’? It is doing something that affects survival, such as escaping, keeping up with the herd, hunting, migrating. These are the uses of movement. A similar criticism applies to many of the articles. If the book is to be about behaviour, it should surely deal with general activities and with ...

You win, I win

Philip Kitcher: Unselfish behaviour

15 October 1998
Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behaviour 
by Elliott Sober and David​ Sloan Wilson.
Harvard, 400 pp., £18.50, May 1998, 0 674 93046 0
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... of altruism as an important theoretical puzzle, and in past decades, it has become clear that it can’t be solved by vague appeals to the idea that co-operative behaviour is good for the flock, the herd or the species. There are alternatives, however. If altruists direct their helpful behaviour towards relatives, then the genes associated with altruism may spread, because they are present in the ...
1 November 1984
Station Island 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 123 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 571 13301 0
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Sweeney Astray: A Version 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 85 pp., £6.95, October 1984, 0 571 13360 6
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by Craig Raine.
Faber, 109 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 571 13215 4
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... she would sink her heel to the ankle in the nearest cow-dung and fill the hole to the brim with new milk. Then Sweeney would sneak into the deserted corner of the milking yard and lap it up ... [The herd] got up in a sudden fury, seized a spear from a rack in the house, and made for the madman. Sweeney was down swilling the milk out of the cow-dung with his side exposed towards the herd, who let go ...

One Does It Like This

David​ A. Bell: Talleyrand

16 November 2006
Napoleon’s Master: A Life of Prince Talleyrand 
by David​ Lawday.
Cape, 386 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 224 07366 4
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... within its ‘natural boundaries’, and even conspired with the country’s enemies to put it back there. The two most familiar images of the men express the contrast eloquently. First, there is David’s brilliant portrait of Napoleon on his rearing charger in the Alps, seemingly master of the wind, rocks and sky; second, Chateaubriand’s acid description of Talleyrand hobbling into the presence ...

The Exploding Harpoon

Kathleen Jamie: Whales

8 August 2013
The Sea Inside 
by Philip Hoare.
Fourth Estate, 374 pp., £18.99, June 2013, 978 0 00 741211 2
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... curator of the Moby Dick Big Read, an online extravaganza which involved all 135 chapters of Melville’s book being read, a chapter a day, by people as different as Stephen Fry, Tilda Swinton, even David Cameron, as well as ordinary folk. The Sea Inside is most at ease when, again, he is in the company of whales. Companionable and entertaining, the book follows the recent fashion for combining memoir ...

Performing Seals

Christopher Hitchens: The PR Crowd

10 August 2000
Partisans: Marriage, Politics and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals 
by David​ Laskin.
Simon and Schuster, 319 pp., $26, January 2000, 0 684 81565 6
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... obscured by the fog of booze, of their interpersonal ‘doings and undoings’ (expression of Mr Norman Podhoretz). Queenie Leavis of course became an official widow, and it is les veuves on whom David Laskin relies most heavily in this relatively orderly account of sexual and matrimonial chaos. Diana Trilling outlived Lionel by many a book; Mary McCarthy enjoyed the same revenge on Edmund Wilson ...

Bloody Brilliant Banter

Theo Tait: ‘A Natural’

3 May 2017
A Natural 
by Ross Raisin.
Cape, 343 pp., £14.99, March 2017, 978 1 910702 66 6
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... the opposite tendency: for novels that take you somewhere you haven’t been before, that create an enclosed, distinctive world of their own. There are very few good British novels about sport, and, David Peace aside, hardly any about football – despite its place in our culture. In A Natural, Raisin delves into the life of a lower league English football team – a subject never covered before, as ...

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