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A slower kind of bang

Steve Jones, 22 April 1993

The Diversity of Life 
by Edward O. Wilson.
Allen Lane, 424 pp., £22.50, February 1993, 0 7139 9094 5
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... conservationist goal they should change their rules. The first statute ought to oblige all members of the club never to go into the wilderness again, and to devote their time to persuading as many other people as possible to stay at home. By so doing they would preserve nature more effectively than could any conceivable Green initiative. My own contribution to ...

Bits

Catherine Caufield, 18 May 1989

Three Scientists and their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information 
by Robert Wright.
Times, 324 pp., $18.95, April 1988, 0 8129 1328 0
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Coming of Age in the Milky Way 
by Timothy Ferris.
Bodley Head, 495 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 370 31332 1
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Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St John 
by Isaac Newton.
Modus Vivendi, 323 pp., £800
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What do you care what other people think? Further Adventures of a Curious Character 
by Richard Feynman.
Unwin Hyman, 255 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 04 440341 0
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... you ready for digital physics? Physics that says that the universe is a huge computer? For those of us who never quite mastered the old physics, the idea of tackling a new version may not be terribly tempting. But Ed Fredkin, the controversial scientist whose brain-child it is, insists that digital physics is simpler than ...

Look!

Jerry Fodor, 29 October 1998

Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge 
by Edward O. Wilson.
Little, Brown, 374 pp., £18.99, September 1998, 0 316 64569 9
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... Milky Way, for example, that’s exactly counterpart to ours, and arrange the very same number of stars in the very same relative locations. There would have to be the same number of planets circling these stars as circle ours; and the same number of moons circling the planets … and ...

Life in the Colonies

Steven Rose, 20 July 1995

Naturalist 
by Edward O.Wilson.
Allen Lane, 380 pp., £20, August 1995, 0 7139 9141 0
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Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration 
by Bert Hölldobler and Edward O.Wilson.
Harvard, 228 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 674 48525 4
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... Arriving at university from the shelter of a London suburban home, I was soon introduced to curry. Unaware that Indian cuisine is built around a wide range of spices, my ambition was simple: I would prove my sophistication by eating without flinching the hottest Madras or Vindaloo ...

At Miss Whitehead’s

Edward Said, 7 July 1994

The Sixties: The Last Journal, 1960-1972 
by Edmund Wilson, edited by Lewis Dabney.
Farrar, Straus, 968 pp., $35, July 1993, 0 374 26554 2
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... Among major 20th-century critics who wrote in English, Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) is still by far the most readable – readable anywhere and at any time. Only professionals are likely to find his style, and even his methods, entirely too informal and amateurish – absence of footnotes, personal tone etc ...

I fret and fret

Adam Phillips: Edward Thomas, 5 November 2015

Edward Thomas: From Adelstrop to Arras 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 480 pp., £25, May 2015, 978 1 4081 8713 5
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... Edward Thomas​ believed that up to about the age of four what he called ‘a sweet darkness’ enfolded him ‘with a faint blessing’. It was, though, a darkness and the blessing was faint. ‘From an early age’, Jean Moorcroft Wilson writes, Thomas ‘felt cursed by a self-consciousness he believed the chief cause of his later problems and depression ...

Prisoners

David Saunders-Wilson, 23 November 1989

Inside Out 
by Rosie Johnston.
Joseph, 226 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 7181 3115 0
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Life on Death Row: One Man’s Fight against Racism and the Death Penalty 
by Merrilyn Thomas.
Piatkus, 160 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 86188 879 0
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... Rosie Johnston, white and privileged; Edward Johnson, black and poor. For several months between 1986-1987 they shared the experience of imprisonment. Rosie Johnston was to emerge from HMP East Sutton Park in June 1987, having been sentenced to nine months for the possession of heroin and for supplying it to her friends at Oxford University (including a Cabinet Minister’s daughter ...

Doers of Mischief on Earth

Robert Fisk, 19 January 1989

The Shah’s Last Ride: The Story of the Exile, Misadventures and Death of the Emperor 
by William Shawcross.
Chatto, 463 pp., £15.95, January 1989, 9780701132545
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... The fall of the Shah was an epic. His downfall had about it something of the Medieval morality play, even something of a Greek tragedy. It might have qualified as Shakespearian tragedy if the Shah had been a truly great man who fell from grace through a single flaw ...
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... Paul Foot has a shocking story to tell, the story of Colin Wallace. It is, quite literally, a story of gunpowder, treason and plot. The fact that Foot’s publishers have had to rush the book out in weeks in order to beat the deadline of the new Official Secrets Act, and have deliberately forsaken all advance publicity for fear of pre-emptive action against the book, says something rather disgraceful about the difficulty of getting a fair hearing in this country ...

Wilsonia

Paul Foot, 2 March 1989

The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 
by David Leigh.
Heinemann, 271 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 434 41340 2
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A Price too High 
by Peter Rawlinson.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 297 79431 0
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... Many years ago, I was one of many journalists who set sail with high hopes in search of an undiscovered country called Wilsonia. It beckoned from afar across mighty oceans of investigations and tip-offs. The lucky journalist to reach it first would be rewarded with arguably the greatest political scoop of our time: he or she would finally reveal why Harold Wilson, to the astonishment of the entire political and journalistic world, suddenly took himself off to obscurity ...

Swiftly Encircling Gloom

Tim Radford, 8 May 1997

Promising The Earth 
by Robert Lamb.
Routledge, 204 pp., £35, September 1996, 0 415 14443 4
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... On the first day of Christmas, more bishops will be thinking about global warming than adultery, or so a survey by the Church of England General Synod reported in January … Strange, then, that we hear so little from the Church about the desecration of God’s earth ...

Chronicities

Christopher Ricks, 21 November 1985

Gentlemen in England 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 02 411165 1
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... A.N. Wilson is something of an anachronism, and it was timely of him to make anachronism the nub of his new novel about the old days, Gentlemen in England. The title itself, in the England of 1985 where the new right spits even more zealously than the old left on the grave of the gentlemanly ideal, pushes anachronism and dislocation to the point of oxymoron ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Looking Ahead, 18 May 2000

... A special 25th anniversary edition of Edward O. Wilson’s Sociobiology: The New Consensus was published in March. Harvard University Press are advertising it together with Richard Lewontin’s new book, The Triple Helix: Gene, Organism, Environment, presumably to let everyone know they’re not taking sides ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Who’s Afraid of the Library of America?, 19 June 2008

... A plop on the doormat and Volume 177 in the Library of America is in the house: Edmund Wilson’s writings from the 1930s and 1940s, including Classics and Commercials, The Triple Thinkers and The Wound and the Bow. There is something appropriate and even – without wanting to be corny about it – moving about seeing Wilson take his place in the Library of America ...

Whitehall Farce

Paul Foot, 12 October 1989

The Intelligence Game: Illusions and Delusions of International Espionage 
by James Rusbridger.
Bodley Head, 320 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 370 31242 2
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The Truth about Hollis 
by W.J. West.
Duckworth, 230 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7156 2286 2
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... Hardly a week goes by without the enemies of official secrecy having good cause to sing the praises of James Rusbridger. From his Cornish retreat he sprays the correspondence columns of newspapers with volleys of good sense and good humour ...

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