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Alan Brinkley, 7 January 1988

Armed Truce 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 667 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 241 11843 3
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The Wise Men 
by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas.
Faber, 853 pp., £15.95, January 1987, 0 571 14606 6
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by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 478 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 436 06813 3
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by Michael Beschloss.
Faber, 494 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 571 14593 0
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... effect on how the larger public views the recent past. Neither the length nor the argument of Hugh Thomas’s exhaustive history of the beginnings of the Cold War (the first of several volumes, he promises) will surprise anyone familiar with the author’s previous career. Best known for his enormous histories of the Spanish Civil War, the Cuban ...

Big Six v. Little Boy

Andrew Cockburn: The Unnecessary Bomb, 16 November 2023

Road to Surrender: Three Men and the Countdown to the End of World War Two 
by Evan Thomas.
Elliot & Thompson, 296 pp., £20, June, 978 1 78396 729 2
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... pointless when it came to the defeat of Japan but had marked the starting point of the Cold War.Evan Thomas, author of several respectful works on various pillars of the Washington establishment, will have none of that. Summarising a selection of critiques of the bombing, he declares that ‘the facts are otherwise.’ His consideration of the Soviet ...

Kay Demarest’s War

Penelope Fitzgerald, 17 September 1987

The Other Garden 
by Francis Wyndham.
Cape, 106 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 224 02475 2
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The Engine of Owl-Light 
by Sebastian Barry.
Carcanet, 390 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 85635 704 9
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A Singular Attraction 
by Ita Daly.
Cape, 144 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 224 02438 8
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Cold Spring Harbor 
by Richard Yates.
Methuen, 182 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 413 14420 8
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The Changeling 
by Catharine Arnold.
Hodder, 223 pp., £9.95, July 1987, 0 340 40542 2
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... me shins. Your hand is too cold for all and aught.’ According to the book’s epigraph from Sir Thomas Browne, the considering man ‘may conceive himself in some manner to have lived from the beginning of the world’, so that the relationship between tale and teller appears in different styles and places. In this way we get, appropriately, some familiar ...

Sent East

James Wood: Sebald’s ‘Austerlitz’, 6 October 2011

... in the early summer of 1933 …’ Sebald borrowed this habit of repetitive attribution from Thomas Bernhard, who also influenced Sebald’s diction of extremism. Almost every sentence in this book is a cunning combination of the quiet and the loud: ‘As usual when I go down to London on my own,’ the narrator tells us in a fairly typical passage, ‘a ...

The Statistical Gaze

Helen McCarthy: The British Census, 29 June 2017

The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick-Maker: The Story of Britain through Its Census, since 1801 
by Roger Hutchinson.
Little, Brown, 352 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 4087 0701 2
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... that Britain’s population was shrinking fast, with dire consequences for national wellbeing. Thomas Malthus was equally convinced that the opposite was true, making that case in his Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798. Malthus was disturbed by the possibility of unchecked growth because he believed it was a natural tendency for population to ...


J.I.M. Stewart, 5 April 1984

Edmund Gosse: A Literary Landscape 1849-1928 
by Ann Thwaite.
Secker, 567 pp., £15, April 1984, 0 436 52146 6
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... aristocrats in stately halls. His last public appearance is in January 1928 as a pall-bearer at Thomas Hardy’s funeral in Westminster Abbey along with the Prime Minister, Kipling, Shaw, Housman, Barrie, Galsworthy, and the Masters of the Queen’s College, Oxford and Magdalene College, Cambridge – all of whom (with the exception of the dons) I recall as ...

A Great Deaf Bear

James Wood: Beethoven gets going, 7 January 2021

Beethoven: A Life in Nine Pieces 
by Laura Tunbridge.
Penguin, 276 pp., £16.99, June 2020, 978 0 241 41427 9
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The Beethoven Syndrome: Hearing Music as Autobiography 
by Mark Evan Bonds.
Oxford, 325 pp., £22.99, January 2020, 978 0 19 006847 9
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Beethoven: Variations on a Life 
by Mark Evan Bonds.
Oxford, 147 pp., £14.99, September 2020, 978 0 19 005408 3
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Beethoven: The New Complete Edition 
Deutsche Grammophon, 123 discs, November 2019Show More
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... alongside which later Viennese classicism appeared a bland retreat. When you hear William Byrd and Thomas Tallis for the first time, you don’t know where things are going; there are weird harmonies and tonal shifts, curious crooked cadences that loom suddenly from unlit verges. And such dissonances! In the cathedral, we loved to squeeze out those acute ...

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