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Glen Newey: Murdoch

28 July 2011
... are used as commercial platforms to hawk other products, and that these media safeguard their power by a code of omertà that buries news of their own felonies. It’s also that, as Noam Chomsky and EdwardHerman pointed out long ago, the attempt to reach the ‘demographic’ sought by the advertisers who form the media’s staple revenue base means that content – including ‘news’ – is skewed ...

Rising Moon

R.W. Johnson

18 December 1986
L’Empire Moon 
by Jean-Francois Boyer.
La Découverte, 419 pp., August 1986, 2 7071 1604 1
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The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection 
by Edward Herman and Frank Brodhead.
Sheridan Square, 255 pp., $19.95, May 1986, 0 940380 07 2
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... And there is no doubt that links between Le Pen and the Moonies go back a long way and that relations are close: in November 1986 Le Pen made a special trip to visit the Moonie leader in Japan. Herman and Brodhead’s The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection has more to do with this strange and luxuriant world of right-wing extremism than one might at first suspect. It is at once the best and ...
3 September 1987
Red Storm Rising 
by Tom Clancy.
Collins Harvill, 652 pp., £10.95, January 1987, 9780002230780
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... specialist publishing company called the Naval Institute Press. Unexpectedly, the book became an enormous best-seller in the United States. Elaborated in the hypertrophied, omniscient manner of Herman Wouk’s vastly popular ‘novelisations’ (the Hollywood term is, alone, appropriate) of the Second World War, The Winds of War, this is the story of the captain and crew of the eponymous nuclear ...

Poetry to Thrill an Oyster

Gregory Woods: Fitz-Greene Halleck

16 November 2000
The American Byron: Homosexuality and the Fall of Fitz-Greene Halleck 
by John W.M. Hallock.
Wisconsin, 226 pp., £14.95, April 2000, 0 299 16804 2
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... if the march of mind had penetrated the dominions of conchology.’ As if all this were not enough, Halleck gained a kind of afterlife in other men’s books. He is apparently present as Marko in Herman Melville’s Mardi (1849) and he and Drake reappear posthumously, living and working together under their own names, in Gore Vidal’s Burr (1973). So why is he now forgotten? It is the aim of ...

On Darwin’s Trouble with the Finches

Andrew Berry: The genius of Charles Darwin

7 March 2002
Evolution’s Workshop: God and Science on the Galapagos Islands 
by Edward​ Larson.
Penguin, 320 pp., £8.99, February 2002, 0 14 100503 3
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... chain had been produced by continental drift of the earth’s crust over a sporadically active volcanic ‘hot spot’. The islands’ blasted aspect, however, made them unpopular with visitors. Herman Melville, who visited in 1841, had the usual reaction: ‘Take five-and-twenty heaps of cinders dumped here and there in an outsize city lot, imagine some of them magnified into mountains, and the ...

How to be Green

Mary Douglas

13 September 1990
A Green Manifesto for the 1990s 
by Penny Kemp and Derek Wall.
Penguin, 212 pp., £4.99, July 1990, 0 14 013272 4
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Social Philosophy and Ecological Scarcity 
by Keekok Lee.
Routledge, 425 pp., £40, September 1989, 0 415 03220 2
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Mother Country 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Faber, 261 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15453 0
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Blueprint for a Green Economy 
by David Pearce, Anil Markandya and Edward​ Barbier.
Earthscan, 192 pp., £6.95, September 1989, 1 85383 066 6
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TheFate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon 
by Susanna Hecht and Alexander Cockburn.
Verso, 366 pp., £16.95, November 1989, 0 86091 261 2
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Thinking Green: An Anthology of Essential Ecological Writing 
edited by Michael Allaby.
Barrie and Jenkins, 250 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 7126 3489 4
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... a public which wants to spend, how can a public decide to postpone its satisfactions, become patient and make room for the future? Blueprint for a Green Economy, by David Pearce, Anil Markandya and Edward Barbier, is a report drawn up by the London Environment Centre for the UK Department of the Environment. It is a state-of-the-art review of ‘Sustainable Development, Resource Accounting and Project ...

The Method of Drifting

Ian Patterson: John Craske

9 September 2015
Threads: The Delicate Life of John Craske 
by Julia Blackburn.
Cape, 344 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 0 224 09776 5
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... information about the Glandford Shell Museum, the Little Auk, Gilbert White, sea fishing, the Elephant Man, Edwardian Sheringham, Valentine Ackland and Sylvia Townsend Warner, embroidery technique, Edward Meyerstein, Walt Disney, the Norfolk Giant, the pituitary gland, diabetes, MI5, and Einstein, who stayed at a (not very) ‘secret location’ on Roughton Heath, near Cromer, for some weeks in 1933 ...
23 March 1995
Telling the Truth about History 
by Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt and Margaret Jacob.
Norton, 322 pp., £19.95, August 1994, 0 393 03615 4
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... dating back over the centuries: ours rested on a common future – the putative destiny of spreading the blessings of liberty to all mankind. ‘The past is the textbook of tyrants,’ wrote Herman Melville, ‘the future is the Bible of the free.’ Even today, despite the widespread popularity of historical novels and televised representations of the past, polls consistently show that few ...

Leave them weeping

Colin Grant: Frederick Douglass

1 August 2019
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom 
by David Blight.
Simon and Schuster, 892 pp., £30, November 2018, 978 1 4165 9031 6
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... new master, Thomas Auld, a mean ‘object of contempt’, believing his authority was being challenged by his insolent teenage slave, handed him over ‘to be broken’ by an overseer called Edward Covey. ‘Mr Covey succeeded in breaking me,’ Douglass wrote, ‘in body, soul and spirit.’ He was reduced to a beastlike stupor – but then one day he fought back, unnerving Covey, who didn’t ...

Nature made the house

William Fiennes: Barry Topez

29 July 1999
Arctic Dreams 
by Barry Lopez.
Harvill, 464 pp., £7.99, January 1999, 1 86046 583 8
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About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory 
by Barry Lopez.
Harvill, 275 pp., £12, January 1999, 9781860465659
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... in either Arctic Dreams or About This Life. Lopez’s sense of the seriousness of the task at hand keeps the prose furrowed and set firm. When, referring to the narwhal’s tusk, he writes that ‘Herman Melville drolly suggested they used it as a letter-opener,’ there is an audible note of disapproval in the ‘drolly’, as though laughter were not quite the appropriate response to such a natural ...

Business as Usual

J. Hoberman: Hitler in Hollywood

19 December 2013
Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-39 
by Thomas Doherty.
Columbia, 429 pp., £24, April 2013, 978 0 231 16392 7
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The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler 
by Ben Urwand.
Harvard, 327 pp., £19.95, August 2013, 978 0 674 72474 7
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... who established a de facto alliance with the Motion Picture Association of America to quash attempts to make films critical of the Reich. The first was already in the works. The screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, who later wrote the script for Citizen Kane, and the producer Sam Jaffe had already announced an anti-Hitler feature, The Mad Dog of Europe. After the then Hollywood censor, Will Hays ...


C.K. Stead

22 February 1996
Letters of Claire Clairmont, Charles Clairmont and Fanny Imlay Godwin 
edited by Marion Kingston Stocking.
Johns Hopkins, 704 pp., £45, May 1995, 0 8018 4633 1
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... most daring action of Claire’s life, her raid on Byron. Mary had bagged a poet; Claire would have one too – that way Mary’s cause for jealousy would be removed. Sixty years later, talking to Edward Silsbee, Claire still put those two elements together. Pale Mary had been jealous of her ‘bright colour’, of the attention Shelley paid her and the hours he spent walking with her. After her ...

Only in the Balkans

Misha Glenny: The Balkans Imagined

29 April 1999
Inventing Ruritania: The Imperialism of the Imagination 
by Vesna Goldsworthy.
Yale, 254 pp., £19.95, May 1998, 0 300 07312 7
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Imagining the Balkans 
by Maria Todorova.
Oxford, 270 pp., £35, June 1997, 9780195087505
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... speaking Serbs, perhaps? The answer is that it doesn’t matter, provided you are writing about the Balkans. In her 1925 novel, The Secret of Chimneys, Agatha Christie depicted the London financier, Herman Isaacstein, in ‘very correct English shooting clothes which nevertheless sat strangely upon him. He had a fat yellow face and black eyes, as impenetrable as those of a cobra. There was a generous ...

Call me Ahab

Jeremy Harding: Moby-Dick

31 October 2002
Moby-Dick, or, The Whale 
by Herman​ Melville, edited by Harrison Hayford and Hershel Parker.
Northwestern, 573 pp., £14.95, September 2001, 0 8101 1911 0
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Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman​ Melville and the World We Live in 
by C.L.R. James.
New England, 245 pp., £17.95, July 2001, 9781584650942
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Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival 
by Clare Spark.
Kent State, 744 pp., £46.50, May 2001, 0 87338 674 4
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Lucchesi and the Whale 
by Frank Lentricchia.
Duke, 104 pp., £14.50, February 2001, 9780822326540
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... for socially proscriptive, leftish-centrist ends. Her tale of scholarly intrigue and Cold War defamation finds a useful counterpoint in Michael Rogin’s Subversive Genealogy: The Politics and Art of Herman Melville (1979). In this account, Moby-Dick is not about what 20th-century scholars thought America should become, but about what it became in any case. Ishmael warns us against ‘scouting at Moby ...

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