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Hans Keller, 1 May 1980

Michael Tippett: An Introductory Study 
by David Matthews.
Faber, 112 pp., £5.95, December 1979, 0 571 10954 3
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Tippett and his Operas 
by Eric WalterWhite.
Barrie and Jenkins, 142 pp., £7.97, January 1980, 0 214 20573 8
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... are not always the best quartet circles. Both musically and biographically, David Matthews and Eric WalterWhite are quite exceptionally well informed, and never get their facts wrong – even though they are not beyond getting their right facts mixed up. As we know from the recently published second edition of ...

State Aid

Denis Arnold, 22 December 1983

A History of English Opera 
by Eric WalterWhite.
Faber, 472 pp., £30, July 1983, 0 571 10788 5
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... and composers. It is an obvious example of Hamlet without the Prince: in this case, music. Mr White is clearly more at home with literary sources than with musical style, and on the few occasions when he does embark on comment about the music, he shows no great grasp (his comments about Handel’s operas on page 169 are crashingly beside the ...


Frank Kermode: What Went On at the Arts Council, 4 December 1986

... Even then we don’t really find out how it happened – just a whim, it seems, of the late Eric WalterWhite. But Osborne had an important qualification for the job: his certainty that he knew the best when he saw it and, even more important, could smell the worst – indispensable qualities in an arts ...

Big Fish

Frank Kermode, 9 September 1993

Tell Them I’m on my Way 
by Arnold Goodman.
Chapmans, 464 pp., £20, August 1993, 1 85592 636 9
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Not an Englishman: Conversations with Lord Goodman 
by David Selbourne.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 237 pp., £17.99, August 1993, 1 85619 365 9
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... grounds. I was surprised to come upon a sustained and in my view immoderate onslaught on the late Eric WalterWhite, who, during Goodman’s chairmanship, was Literature Director at the Arts Council and its much admired organiser of festivals. I worked with White for some years, and ...

Gloomy Sunday Afternoons

Caroline Maclean: Modernists at the Movies, 10 September 2009

The Tenth Muse: Writing about Cinema in the Modernist Period 
by Laura Marcus.
Oxford, 562 pp., £39, December 2007, 978 0 19 923027 3
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... on cinema in the 1920s; the Hogarth Press published two pamphlets on film by the music critic Eric WalterWhite; and Roger Fry, in ‘An Essay in Aesthetics’ (1909), mentioned that it was only when he watched a ‘cinematograph’ that he noticed the bizarre habit people have of turning a full circle when they ...

On the Beaches

Richard White: In Indian Country, 21 March 2002

Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America 
by Daniel Richter.
Harvard, 317 pp., £17.95, January 2002, 0 674 00638 0
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... called You Are There. The pretence was that a reporter, who in my mistaken memory was always Walter Cronkite, would be on hand as a historical event unfolded. No matter what the century, the reporters were from the 1950s, with notepads or microphone in hand. ‘General Washington, General Washington,’ Mr Cronkite would call to George Washington, who ...

Freddie Gray

Adam Shatz, 21 May 2015

... between the end of Reconstruction and the 1960s, often for such crimes as daring to look at a white woman. Black bodies no longer swing in the Southern breeze, as Billie Holiday sang. Instead, they are victims of chokeholds, bullets and other ‘restraining’ measures inflicted by the police, and not only below the Mason-Dixon line. Police killings of ...

What are you willing to do?

James Meek: On the case for civil war, 26 May 2022

How Civil Wars Start – And How to Stop Them 
by Barbara F. Walter.
Viking, 289 pp., £18.99, January, 978 0 241 42975 4
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... Though​ Barbara Walter frames her book as a warning to America, her staccato forays into recent civil wars in dozens of countries only gradually accustom the reader to her habit, after recounting a number of fratricidal horrors, of pointing a dreadful finger at the United States. Beware! You too may one day poke your cellphone through the curtains to film shaky clips of fires and explosions on the horizon of your suburb, it may be your feet crunching on the bloodied glass of a bombed café, it may be your loved one taken away by masked good old boys with customised AR-15s, death’s head armbands and Ford F-150 technicals ...


Eric Foner: Deifying King, 5 October 2023

King: The Life of Martin Luther King 
by Jonathan Eig.
Simon & Schuster, 669 pp., £25, May, 978 1 4711 8100 9
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... with an African American population living in a tiny ghetto and working in the homes of local white families. I grew up in Long Beach, but by 1968 had moved to the city. My parents, however, still lived there, and my outspoken mother arranged to see the city manager, a non-partisan administrator who exercised the authority normally enjoyed by an elected ...


David Denby: Deaths on Camera, 8 September 2016

... On 19 July​ 2015, a sullen, hot day with white skies, an unarmed black man was killed in Cincinnati. The incident began when Officer Ray Tensing, a member of the University of Cincinnati campus police, pulled over Samuel DuBose, whose car was missing its front licence plate. Tensing was wearing a body camera, and when the Hamilton County district attorney released the video ten days later, on 29 July, Americans watching the news that night saw about two minutes of what happened ...

Too Close to the Bone

Allon White, 4 May 1989

... marshes in which the malarial mosquitoes breed. For many years I have treasured a quotation from Walter Benjamin which may have helped spawn the character of Arnow or, more likely, contributed something further to a figure already compounded of many memories and unconscious sources: ‘The slightest carelessness in the digging of a ditch or the buttressing ...

Thee, Thou, Twixt

Mark Ford: Walter de la Mare, 24 March 2022

Reading Walter de la Mare 
edited by William Wootten.
Faber, 320 pp., £14.99, June 2021, 978 0 571 34713 1
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... Is there anybody there?’ the Traveller asks in ‘The Listeners’, Walter de la Mare’s poem from 1912. It’s a question that at first seems to go unanswered, for the mysterious silent inhabitants sequestered behind the moonlit door on which he raps refuse to reveal themselves or to respond to him out loud ...
Secret Affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles 
by Irwin Gellman.
Johns Hopkins, 499 pp., $29.95, April 1995, 0 8018 5083 5
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Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley 
edited by Geoffrey Ward.
Houghton Mifflin, 444 pp., $24.95, April 1995, 0 395 66080 7
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No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War Two 
by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Simon and Schuster, 759 pp., £18, June 1995, 0 671 64240 5
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The End of Reform 
by Alan Brinkley.
Knopf, 371 pp., $27.50, March 1995, 0 394 53573 1
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... on what they affectionately call ‘Our Hill’. The President’s secretary, who lives at the White House (and has lived with the President since he was Governor of New York), thinks her boss will be moving into the cottage with her. The President’s wife, another cousin, stays in her own fieldstone cottage on the estate when she is there without her ...

All my eye and Betty Martin

Roy Harris, 1 December 1983

A Dictionary of Mottoes 
by L.G. Pine.
Routledge, 303 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780710093394
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Newspeak: A Dictionary of Jargon 
by Jonathon Green.
Routledge, 263 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9685 2
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The Oxford Miniguide to English Usage 
by E.S.C. Weiner.
Oxford, 412 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 19 869127 0
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The Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English: Volume II 
by A.P. Cowrie, R. Mackin and I.R. McCaig.
Oxford, 685 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 0 19 431150 3
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A Dictionary of the Teenage Revolution and its Aftermath 
by Kenneth Hudson.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £12.95, October 1983, 0 333 28517 4
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A Dictionary of Catch-Phrases 
by Eric Partridge.
Routledge, 278 pp., £5.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9989 4
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... Lexicographical apparatus, as Walter Ong recently reminded us in Orality and Literacy, was ‘a very late accretion to language as language’. It was also quite a profitable accretion for at least two classes of language-user: printers and publishers. It still is, to judge by the way dictionaries continue to proliferate ...

America Explodes

Adam Shatz, 18 June 2020

... he fell down a ravine and lost consciousness (he had a heart condition), but Washington is a very white state, and some of his friends and family suspected racist foul play. At the time I doubted this; now I’m not so sure. One of his friends told a reporter that he hadn’t packed any provisions because he was only ‘going out for a couple hours … sort ...

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