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Glen Newey: Murdoch, 28 July 2011

... by a code of omertà that buries news of their own felonies. It’s also that, as Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman 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 towards the bland, upscale, aspirational. They ...

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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... 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 most careful analysis of the ‘Bulgarian plot to kill ...

As read by Ronald Reagan

David Rieff, 3 September 1987

Red Storm Rising 
by Tom Clancy.
Collins Harvill, 652 pp., £10.95, January 1987, 9780002230780
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... 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 attack submarine, pride of the Soviet fleet, as it ...

More Pasts Than One

Eric Foner, 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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... 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 Americans possess a significant store of accurate knowledge ...

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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... 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 Hallock’s book to restore Halleck’s reputation. (As their ...

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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... 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 vacant lot the sea; and you will have a fit idea of 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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... 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 Development’. Starting with the idea of sustainable ...

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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... 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. In each case, the reader follows the author following a ...

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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... 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 want to admit that the 16-year-old still had the ...

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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... 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 miracle. The appropriate response is awe, wonder, a ...

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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... 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, advised them to drop the project, the treatment was sold to ...

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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... 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 Dick as a . . . hideous and intolerable allegory’ – he ...

Tantrums

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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... 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 adventure with Byron, she told Silsbee rather glibly, ‘Mrs ...

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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... 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 curve to the big nose and power in the square lines of the ...

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