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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 ...

Welcome Home

Sukhdev Sandhu: Memories of Michael X, 4 February 1999

Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain 
by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips.
HarperCollins, 422 pp., £16.99, May 1998, 0 00 255909 9
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... black businesses were owned by West Indians. In 1952, however, when Congress passed the McCarran Walter Act restricting migration, prospective migrants to the US were obliged to reconsider. The United Kingdom, where some of their kin had already settled, was an obvious choice. Officially, 492 West Indians, the majority of them Jamaican men with an average ...

Fill it with fish

Helen Cooper: The trail of the Grail, 6 June 2002

Parzival and the Stone from Heaven: A Grail Romance Retold for Our Time 
by Lindsay Clarke.
HarperCollins, 239 pp., £14.99, September 2001, 0 00 710813 3
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Merlin and the Grail: ‘Joseph of Arimathea’, ‘Merlin’, ‘Perceval’ The Trilogy of Arthurian Romances Attributed to Robert de Boron 
translated by Nigel Bryant.
Boydell and Brewer, 172 pp., £30, May 2001, 0 85991 616 2
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Le Livre du Graal. Tome I: ‘Joseph D’Arimathie’, ‘Merlin’, ‘Les Premiers Faits du Roi Arthur’ 
edited by Daniel Poirion and Philippe Walter.
Gallimard, 1993 pp., £50.95, April 2001, 2 07 011342 6
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... appropriate dish for a pike or lamprey or salmon. Chrétien had previously written romances called Eric and Enide and The Knight with the Lion; others had written a Romance of Troy, a Romance of Eneas, and love stories called such things as Floris and Blauncheflour and Tristan. But The Story of the Serving-Dish? How can a serving-dish be a plausible subject of ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: At Bluewater, 3 January 2002

... for this collision of ribbed domes and curved windows. The American architectural consultant Eric Kuhne, invited to talk the site up, spoke of a ‘new kind of city’, a ‘resort’. A form of petrol-guzzling tourism has evolved: Bluewater is a Ballardian resort (Vermilion Sands), shopping is secondary, punters come here to be part of the ...

Cameron’s Crank

Jonathan Raban: ‘Red Tory’, 22 April 2010

Red Tory: How Left and Right Have Broken Britain and How We Can Fix it 
by Phillip Blond.
Faber, 309 pp., £12.99, April 2010, 978 0 571 25167 4
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... him, died recently, but is Jill still around? Where’s Shula? What’s with Eddie Grundy? Old Walter Gabriel must be long gone, but what happened to his scapegrace son, Nelson? Are the village shop and post office still open, or does everyone in Ambridge have to drive to Borchester to shop at Tesco? Is The Bull now part of the portfolio of Punch Taverns ...

Britain is Your Friend

Rosemary Hill: British WW2 Propaganda, 15 December 2016

Persuading the People: British Propaganda in World War Two 
by David Welch.
British Library, 224 pp., £25, September 2016, 978 0 7123 5654 1
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... and, they went so far as to suggest, the secret of the RAF’s success in night-time raids. Walter Spradbery’s image of Temple Church for the ‘Proud City’ posters The carrot campaign was one of hundreds waged in Britain and the empire with posters, leaflets and films throughout the war. By turns advisory, exhortatory or simply informative they ...

The Hagiography Factory

Thomas Meaney: Arthur Schlesinger Jr, 8 February 2018

Schlesinger: The Imperial Historian 
by Richard Aldous.
Norton, 486 pp., £23.99, November 2017, 978 0 393 24470 0
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... went on to make several friends and acquaintances on the left, including Eric Hobsbawm. His early work focused squarely on class conflict. In his first academic article, written while he was an undergraduate, he presented the New England Transcendentalist Orestes Brownson as a ‘Marxist before Marx’, claiming that any other theory ...

Bourgeois Reveries

Julian Bell: Farmer Eliot, 3 February 2011

Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper 
by Alexandra Harris.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £19.95, October 2010, 978 0 500 25171 3
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... about abstraction. He joined a London exhibiting group headed by Ben Nicholson, whose pure white reliefs were the nearest indigenous parallel to the work of Continental avantgardists such as Mondrian, and devised his own handsomely workmanlike ‘Constructions’. In 1935 Piper’s girlfriend Myfanwy Evans launched Axis, a review of ...

Frameworks of Comparison

Benedict Anderson, 21 January 2016

... of political theory. My favourite Indonesian fellow student in the mid-1960s was a middle-aged, white-haired historian called Soemarsaid Moertono, whom we all affectionately called ‘Mas Moer’. Mas is a Javanese term of address, a little more formal than ‘big brother’ but close to its meaning. He showed me the drafts of his MA thesis on aspects of ...

Divinely Ordained

Jackson Lears: God loves America, 19 May 2011

A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided 
by Amanda Foreman.
Penguin, 988 pp., £12.99, June 2011, 978 0 14 104058 5
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... heroic narrative. Guided at times by Gramsci’s concept of cultural hegemony, Eugene Genovese, Eric Foner and David Brion Davis conceived slavery as a mode of organising labour, as well as a system of racial domination. This led to the recognition that advocates of ‘free labour’ had economic as well as humanitarian reasons for opposing slavery, and ...

Umpteens

Christopher Ricks, 22 November 1990

Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... to Shakespeare, may be applied here, by one whose sole privilege is in a grateful admiration, to Walter Savage Landor. A reader would do well to trade in Room’s thumbnail-Landor (‘colourful’, ‘apparently ungovernable temper’, ‘irascible’) and ask instead please for what Room does not supply, a simple identification of the praiser of ...

Absolutely Bleedin’ Obvious

Ian Sansom: Will Self, 6 July 2006

The Book of Dave 
by Will Self.
Viking, 496 pp., £17.99, June 2006, 0 670 91443 6
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... and would they mind hanging on until the social worker arrived for a psychiatric assessment? Walter Brueggemann in The Message of the Psalms (1984) distinguishes three categories of psalm – psalms of ‘orientation’, ‘disorientation’ and ‘reorientation’ – and in Spirituality of the Psalms (2002), he claims that the attacks of 11 September ...
Northern Antiquity: The Post-Medieval Reception of Edda and Saga 
edited by Andrew Wawn.
Hisarlik, 342 pp., £35, October 1994, 1 874312 18 4
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Heritage and Prophecy: Grundtvig and the English-Speaking World 
edited by A.M. Allchin.
Canterbury, 330 pp., £25, January 1994, 9781853110856
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... pioneering Thesaurus of the Northern languages, but again did not pick up popularity till after Walter Scott. ‘Valkyries’ were introduced to English by Gray in 1768, closely followed by Percy’s translation of the Swiss professor Paul-Henri Mallet’s Monuments de la mythologie et de la poésie des Celtes et particulièrement des anciens ...

The God Squad

Andrew O’Hagan: Bushland, 23 September 2004

... steam prising its way under collars and cuffs, hot like it was in the summer of 1949 when E.B. White holed himself up in a hotel without air-conditioning to sweat out the paragraphs of his book, Here Is New York. White began scanning the skies in the hope of raindrops, but all he saw was endless blue, and he began to ...

Lectures about Heaven

Thomas Laqueur: Forgiving Germany, 7 June 2007

Five Germanys I Have Known 
by Fritz Stern.
Farrar, Straus, 560 pp., £11.25, July 2007, 978 0 374 53086 0
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... both grandfathers and his father were successful, well-regarded doctors. The physician’s white coat, as Stern writes, ‘was the one uniform of dignity to which Jews could aspire and in which they could feel a measure of authority and grateful acceptance’. Although medicine was in the 19th century, as it is today, far from a pure science, it held ...

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