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And after we’ve struck Cuba?

Thomas Powers, 13 November 1997

The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis 
edited by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow.
Harvard, 728 pp., £23.50, October 1997, 0 674 17926 9
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‘One Hell of a Gamble’: The Secret History of the Cuban Missile Crisis 
by Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali.
Murray, 420 pp., £25, September 1997, 0 7195 5518 3
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... October 1962 was not August 1914 because John Kennedy had learned the lessons of Munich, which may be summarised as follows: get angry in private, think before you speak, say what you want, make clear what you’re prepared to do, ignore bluster, repeat yourself as often as necessary and keep the pressure on. Where Kennedy learned the mixture of forbearance and resolution which lies at the heart of international peace and good marriages is a mystery; his mother and father were no better at solving problems than Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler ...

The Unimportance of Being Ernest

Adam Phillips, 5 August 1993

The Complete Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Ernest Jones 1908-1939 
edited by Andrew Paskauskas, introduced by Riccardo Steiner.
Harvard, 836 pp., £29.95, May 1993, 0 674 15423 1
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... The first chapter of Ernest Jones’s misleadingly entitled autobiography, Free Associations, ends with a bemusing paragraph about the Welsh ‘servant who acted also as a nurse’ during Jones’s early childhood: ‘One of my memories of this nurse was that she taught me two words to designate the male organ, one for it in a flaccid state, the other in an erect ...

The Forty Years’ Peace

Keith Kyle, 21 October 1993

The United States and the End of the Cold War: Implications, Reconsiderations and Provocations 
by John Lewis Gaddis.
Oxford, 301 pp., £19.50, July 1992, 0 19 505201 3
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Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years, 1953-71 
by Douglas Brinkley.
Yale, 429 pp., £22, February 1993, 0 300 04773 8
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The Quest for Stability: Problems of West European Security 1918-1957 
edited by Rolf Ahmann, A.M. Birke and Michael Howard.
Oxford, 546 pp., £50, June 1993, 0 19 920503 5
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... or quasi-coalition regimes beholden to Moscow.’ If that was indeed the intention – and it may well have been – there would have been little objection to it on the part of Russia’s wartime allies, who in 1945 were in no mood to peer too closely behind a semi-respectable democratic façade. A policy of ‘Finlandisation’ in East and Central Europe ...

Live Entertainment

D.J. Enright, 6 December 1979

The Storyteller 
by Alan Sillitoe.
W.H. Allen, 285 pp., £5.95
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... It isn’t easy to talk about storytelling … Explanations only mystify. Sophisticated people may be able to explain their way out of mystification, and good luck to them, but a storyteller may well succeed in explaining his way into it which, believe me, ladies and gentlemen, is bad luck for him ...

No Haute Cuisine in Africa

Ernest Gellner, 2 September 1982

Cooking, Cuisine and Class: A Study in Comparative Sociology 
by Jack Goody.
Cambridge, 253 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 24455 2
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... version, we go from a first stage when you must screw your cousins, to a second stage when you may not do so, and on to a final free-for-all when you do everybody. The present volume makes another major contribution to an overall theoretical issue in the discipline. There is a piquancy about this subject-matter of food. An outsider, at any rate if of ...

Accepting Freud

Stuart Hampshire, 4 December 1980

Freud 
by Ronald Clark.
Weidenfeld, 652 pp., £9.95, July 1980, 0 297 77661 4
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... to the suspicion, and he has, in fact, made use of some useful sources which were not available to Ernest Jones. The most important are the original series of letters to Wilhelm Fliess without the excisions which had apparently been intended to protect Freud’s posthumous reputation. So far, the suspicions have proved not to be unfounded. Other letters have ...

Spurning at the High

Edward Pearce: A poet of Chartism, 6 November 2003

Ernest Jones, Chartism and the Romance of Politics 1819-69 
by Miles Taylor.
Oxford, 290 pp., £45, January 2003, 0 19 820729 8
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... checked in our days’ speaks the caution of 1867 as against the enthusiasm of 1832. But Ernest Jones could have done with Will Ladislaw’s luck. If Ladislaw’s connections with a ‘good family’ had been hopelessly vitiated by a parentage involving foreign and thus dubious, blood, Jones was well connected and wholly English, although born and ...

Seventy Years in a Filthy Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: E.S. Turner, 15 October 1998

... Parsons of Grub Street I would like to point out that this is not my third, but my 19th book. May I also express a fogeyish surprise at seeing myself described as ‘Ernest’ in the headline. I first started writing headlines 70 years ago, but in my time we did not indulge in first-name familiarities on the lines of ...

The Undertaking

Thomas Lynch, 22 December 1994

... in Chevrolets and nursing homes, in bathtubs, on the interstates, in ERs, ORs, BMWs. And while it may be that we assign more equipment or more importance to deaths that create themselves in places marked by initials – ICU being somehow better than Greenbriar Convalescent Home – it is also true that the dead don’t care. In this way, the dead I bury and ...

May he roar with pain!

John Sturrock, 27 May 1993

Flaubert–Sand: The Correspondence 
translated by Barbara Bray.
HarperCollins, 428 pp., £20, March 1993, 0 00 217625 4
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Correspondence. Tome III: janvier 1859 – décembre 1868 
by Gustave Flaubert, edited by Jean Bruneau.
Gallimard, 1727 pp., frs 20, March 1991, 2 07 010669 1
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Madame Bovary: Patterns of Provincial Life 
by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Francis Steegmuller.
Everyman, 330 pp., £8.99, March 1993, 1 85715 140 2
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Madame Bovary 
by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Geoffrey Wall.
Penguin, 292 pp., £4.99, June 1992, 0 14 044526 9
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... histoire de soldat, in which she worked off her animus against her unbiddable lover (Flaubert to Ernest Feydeau: ‘Since you’ve read Lui, read Une histoire de soldat. I assure you it will amuse you. It’s much better, because I’m in the foreground’), and of an anonymous letter to him years later accusing him of, among other failings, having sucked up ...

What sort of man?

P.N. Furbank, 18 August 1994

The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson. Vol. I: 1854-April 1874 
edited by Bradford Booth and Ernest Mehew.
Yale, 525 pp., £29.95, July 1994, 0 300 05183 2
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The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson. Vol. II: April 1874-July 1879 
edited by Bradford Booth and Ernest Mehew.
Yale, 352 pp., £29.95, July 1994, 0 300 06021 1
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... Fifties by Bradford Booth. Indeed before his death in 1968 Booth had, with some assistance from Ernest Mehew, more or less completed it, but on what appeared to Mehew as faulty principles. Thus the present elaborate and magnificent edition, which is to run to eight volumes, is largely Mehew’s own work. One gets the impression that it could hardly have ...

Anthropologies

Edmund Leach, 2 August 1984

Nomads and the Outside World 
by A.M. Khazanov, translated by Julia Crookenden.
Cambridge, 369 pp., £37.50, February 1984, 0 521 23813 7
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The House of Si Abd Allah: The Oral History of a Moroccan Family 
edited by Henry Munson.
Yale, 320 pp., £17.95, April 1984, 0 300 03084 3
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Ruth Benedict: Patterns of a Life 
by Judith Modell.
Chatto, 255 pp., £15, February 1984, 0 7011 2771 6
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... Khazanov’s global comparative study of pastoral nomadism is unique. The level of erudition may be indicated by the bare statistic that the bibliography runs to 48 closely printed pages of which 23 refer exclusively to works in Russian. For those who are not specialists in the field at this level of intensity, and perhaps even for those who are, the 16 pages of Ernest Gellner’s ‘Foreword’ provide essential reading ...

Dear Sphinx

Penelope Fitzgerald, 1 December 1983

The Little Ottleys 
by Ada Leverson and Sally Beauman.
Virago, 543 pp., £3.95, November 1982, 0 86068 300 1
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The Constant Nymph 
by Margaret Kennedy and Anita Brookner.
Virago, 326 pp., £3.50, August 1983, 0 86068 354 0
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The Constant Novelist: A Study of Margaret Kennedy 1896-1967 
by Violet Powell.
Heinemann, 219 pp., £10.95, June 1983, 0 434 59951 4
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... not warn her that Ada was going to escape, as she did at the age of 18, into a luckless marriage. Ernest Leverson, a diamond merchant’s son, was unfaithful, a gambler, and couldn’t manage the money, although it is true that Ada was extravagant, and notably more so after she met Oscar Wilde. She became Wilde’s fast friend, and for a few golden years was ...

Our Way

John Gray, 22 September 1994

Conditions of Liberty: Civil Society and Its Rivals 
by Ernest Gellner.
Hamish Hamilton, 225 pp., £18.99, August 1994, 0 241 00220 6
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... has interpreted that collapse as an episode in the global spread of civil society – defined by Ernest Gellner as ‘that set of diverse non-governmental institutions which is strong enough to counterbalance the state and, while not preventing the state from fulfilling its role of keeper of the peace and arbitrator among major interests, can nevertheless ...

What’s not to like?

Stefan Collini: Ernest Gellner, 2 June 2011

Ernest Gellner: An Intellectual Biography 
by John Hall.
Verso, 400 pp., £29.99, July 2010, 978 1 84467 602 6
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... When Ernest Gellner was teaching at the Central European University in Prague in 1995, the last year of his life, he cultivated informal social relations with the graduate students there. One student ‘confessed to unease when Gellner sat down to watch television with him – saying it was as if Max Weber had dropped by ...

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