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Let him be Caesar!

Michael Dobson: The Astor Place Riot, 2 August 2007

The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama and Death in 19th-Century America 
by Nigel Cliff.
Random House, 312 pp., $26.95, April 2007, 978 0 345 48694 3
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... had been recognised more pragmatically on the frontier itself, where in 1764 the explorer Thomas Morris, venturing into what is now Illinois, discovered to his surprise not only that he was not the first anglophone to have got so far west but that the locals already knew exactly how much the crown jewels of his culture were worth: ‘An Indian . . . called ...

A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter, 3 November 2016

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... my boys’: Mark Pearce, her second husband, and Alexander, the couple’s son, born in 1983. As Edmund Gordon says towards the beginning of his biography, Carter was never so widely acclaimed in life as she would be in the weeks and years after her death. The tributes were long, sometimes fulsome, always affectionate, and full of great table talk and funny ...

Balfour, Weizmann and the Creation of Israel

Charles Glass: Palestine, 7 June 2001

One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate 
by Tom Segev, translated by Haim Watzman.
Little, Brown, 612 pp., £25, January 2001, 0 316 64859 0
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Ploughing Sand: British Rule in Palestine 1917-48 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Murray, 290 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 7195 6322 4
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... Zionism by a new generation of Israeli historians – among them Ilan Pappe, Avi Shlaim and Benny Morris – whose work is now entering the mainstream. In a sense, by focusing on the Mandate, Ploughing Sand and One Palestine, Complete are considerations of Israel’s debt to the British and Britain’s injury to the Arabs. Shepherd writes that ‘British rule ...

A Generous Quantity of Fat

Paul Henley: Yes, People Were Cooked, 2 September 1999

Man Corn: Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American South-West 
by Christy Turner and Jacqueline Turner.
Utah, 512 pp., $60, January 1999, 9780874805666
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Cannibalism and the Colonial World 
edited by Francis Barker and Peter Hulme.
Cambridge, 309 pp., £13.95, August 1998, 0 521 62118 6
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Cannibals: The Discovery and Representation of the Cannibal from Columbus to Jules Verne 
by Frank Lestringant, translated by Rosemary Morris.
Polity, 256 pp., £39.50, April 1997, 0 7456 1697 6
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Chronicles of the Guayakí Indians 
by Pierre Clastres, translated by Paul Auster.
Faber, 256 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 571 19398 6
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... critics. The title of his chapter, ‘Rethinking Anthropophagy’, is an ironic reference to Edmund Leach’s famous paper called ‘Rethinking Anthropology’ (Leach described Arens’s original argument as ‘absurd’). It is also ironic in that this turns out to be no rethink at all. Unrepentant, Arens declares that he stands entirely by his original ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters, 24 January 2013

Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... happens between judicious sips of bottled water. Friends of the playwright Lillian Hellman, whom Edmund Wilson would describe in his journals as the queen bee of the Martha’s Vineyard ‘cocktail belt’, Styron and Rose would become champion party-throwers themselves up in Roxbury, Connecticut, between work-slogs. But by the year of Kazin’s Christmas ...

Pipe down back there!

Terry Castle: The Willa Cather Wars, 14 December 2000

Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism 
by Joan Acocella.
Nebraska, 127 pp., £13.50, August 2000, 0 8032 1046 9
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... field. Perhaps because of her background in dance – she has written a wonderful book on Mark Morris and edited an unexpurgated version of Nijinsky’s diaries* – Acocella locates herself, figuratively speaking, at a kind of middle distance from her subjects: as if she were watching them from a well-placed seat (perhaps thirty or forty feet away?) in a ...

Places Never Explained

Colm Tóibín: Anthony Hecht, 8 August 2013

The Selected Letters of Anthony Hecht 
edited by Jonathan Post.
Johns Hopkins, 365 pp., £18, November 2012, 978 1 4214 0730 2
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... deep in Texas.’ He started training as a pilot. ‘Flying is pretty dull,’ he wrote to Edmund Wilson, ‘and I’m bad at it.’ At the beginning of 1943 he was moved to an air force training base near Wichita Falls, where, as Swift writes, ‘he worked in the mail room and was later transferred to the Interviewing and Classification Department. It ...

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