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Bonds of Indebtedness

Lawrence Rosen: How not to look at Islamic cultures, 7 September 2006

On the Road to Kandahar: Travels through Conflict in the Islamic World 
by Jason Burke.
Allen Lane, 297 pp., £20, May 2006, 0 7139 9896 2
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... The death toll in Iraq continues to rise: more than 2600 American soldiers, 113 British troops, 130 from other countries, perhaps 40,000 Iraqi civilians. And more than 70 journalists, outnumbering the 69 killed in World War Two, the 63 in Vietnam and the 17 in Korea. The risks involved mean that it is hard to ask whether journalists do a good enough job in telling us what we need to know ...

Isn’t the opposite equally true?

Lawrence Rosen: Between Sunni and Shi’a, 19 November 2020

Sunnis and Shi’a: A Political History 
by Laurence Louër.
Princeton, 227 pp., £25, February, 978 0 691 18661 0
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Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Rivalry that Unravelled the Middle East 
by Kim Ghattas.
Wildfire, 337 pp., £20, January, 978 1 4722 7109 9
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... Of all​ the world’s trouble spots few are more susceptible than the Middle East to being seen in terms of binary oppositions. One particularly murky dichotomy is between Sunni and Shi’a, the one accounting for 90 per cent of the world’s Muslims, the other constituting the majority in Iran and a large minority in many parts of the Gulf. Analogies we may want to reach for – Protestant/Catholic, northerner/southerner, conservative/liberal – aren’t always helpful on such slippery terrain ...

Because It’s Ugly

Jonathan Rosen: Double-Crested Cormorants, 9 October 2014

The Double-Crested Cormorant: Plight of a Feathered Pariah 
by Linda Wires.
Yale, 349 pp., £20, June 2014, 978 0 300 18711 3
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... I fell​ in love with double-crested cormorants twenty years ago, partly out of gratitude. I had just started watching birds, I was terrible at it, and the big black creatures – two and a half feet tall, with a wingspan of more than four feet – were easy to find, even in my field guide. Unlike the variegated wood warblers flitting from page to page deep inside the book, the cormorants lived at the front with the pelicans, and like them had rubbery skin stretching from their lower mandibles ...

Trouble with a Dead Mule

Lawrence Rosen: Pashas, 5 August 2010

Pashas: Traders and Travellers in the Islamic World 
by James Mather.
Yale, 302 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 0 300 12639 6
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... Somehow, the traders seem to get there first. Before the armies, before the missionaries or travellers or bureaucrats or busybodies, they arrive, in search of furs and spices, rare textiles and strange foods. To prehistoric groups whose burial sites contain items brought from a continent away, or woodsmen in pursuit of goods lying just beyond the frontier, the trader brought many other things: stories of the exotic, knowledge of the unknown, foreign songs and dress, religion, disease, inventions and slaves ...

Homesick Everywhere

Lawrence Rosen: Misreading Muslim Extremism, 4 August 2005

Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Ummah 
by Olivier Roy.
Hurst, 349 pp., £16.95, November 2004, 1 85065 598 7
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The War for Muslim Minds: Islam and the West 
by Gilles Kepel, translated by Pascale Ghazaleh.
Harvard, 327 pp., £15.95, September 2004, 0 674 01575 4
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... True or false? 1. Suicide bombers suffer not from a sense of having lost their place in a community but from a sense that they have failed in their quest to find a new, Westernised form of individuality. 2. Muslim fundamentalists – and born-again Muslims in families living in the West – owe their new-found religiosity more to the process of Western secularisation than to the culture they inherited from their parents ...

Among the Alawites

Nir Rosen, 27 September 2012

... Syria’s Alawite heartland is defined by its funerals. In Qirdaha in the mountainous Latakia province, hometown of the Assad dynasty, I watched as two police motorcycles drove up the hill, pictures of Bashar mounted on their windshields. An ambulance followed, carrying the body of a dead lieutenant colonel from state security. As the convoy passed, the men around me let off bursts of automatic fire ...
The Romantic Generation 
by Charles Rosen.
HarperCollins, 723 pp., £30, November 1995, 0 00 255627 8
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... Charles Rosen’s new book is about the group of composers who succeeded the great Viennese Classicists Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn, and the aesthetic movement they represented. The Post-Classicists emerged for the most part during the period from the death of Beethoven (1827) to the death of Chopin (1849). A substantially expanded version of the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures given at Harvard during 1980-1, The Romantic Generation, which follows in the path of its distinguished predecessor The Classical Style, is a remarkable amalgam of precise, brilliantly illuminating analysis, audacious generalisation, and not always satisfying – but always interesting – synthesis scattered over more than seven hundred pages of serviceable but occasionally patronising prose that takes Rosen through a generous amount of mainly instrumental and vocal music at very close range indeed ...


Elisa Segrave: On the Pier at Key West, 18 April 1996

... at seven. An old lady is already in their sitting-room, looking very composed. She is called Helen Rosen – she knew Lillian Hellman and Dashiel Hammett and stood out against McCarthy. She is the widow of a doctor who made a break-through with an operation for the deaf. She assisted her husband in his lab for thirty years, she told us, as she wasn’t allowed ...

Adipose Tumorous Growths and All

Kevin Kopelson, 18 May 2000

Franz Liszt. Vol. III: The Final Years, 1861-86 
by Alan Walker.
Faber, 594 pp., £45, February 1998, 0 571 19034 0
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The Romantic Generation 
by Charles Rosen.
HarperCollins, 720 pp., £14.99, March 1999, 0 00 255712 6
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Franz Liszt: Selected Letters 
edited by Adrian Williams.
Oxford, 1063 pp., £70, January 1999, 0 19 816688 5
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... Don Ottavio than Don Giovanni – although he did play the latter on stage. According to Charles Rosen: ‘With his international reputation for erotic conquest already set’, Liszt must have known that the public would take Réminiscences de Don Juan (1841) ‘as a self-portrait in sound, just as everyone had assumed that Byron’s Don Juan was an ...

Household Sounds

Michael Irwin, 22 November 1979

The Old Jest 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Hamish Hamilton, 167 pp., £4.95
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The Goosefeather Bed 
by Diana Melly.
Duckworth, 139 pp., £5.95
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The Snow Man 
by Valerie Kershaw.
Duckworth, 159 pp., £5.95
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Spring Sonata 
by Bernice Rubens.
W.H. Allen, 215 pp., £4.94
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... I glimpse the potentialities of the idea. The hero, Buster, is an embryo in the womb of Sheila Rosen, a pianist. He can hear a good deal of what takes place outside the stomach-wall, and having led a number of previous lives can understand and interpret what he hears. He soon gathers that he is to be born into an unhappy family: Mrs ...

The Lobby Falters

John Mearsheimer: Charles Freeman speaks out, 26 March 2009

... that he would either quit or be fired by Obama. The opening salvo came in a blog posting by Steven Rosen, a former official of Aipac, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, now under indictment for passing secrets to Israel. Freeman’s views of the Middle East, he said, ‘are what you would expect in the Saudi Foreign Ministry, with which he maintains ...

A, E♭, C, B

Paul Driver: Robert Schumann, 21 February 2008

Robert Schumann: Life and Death of a Musician 
by John Worthen.
Yale, 496 pp., £25, July 2007, 978 0 300 11160 6
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The Cambridge Companion to Schumann 
edited by Beate Perrey.
Cambridge, 302 pp., £19.99, June 2007, 978 0 521 78950 9
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Schumann’s Late Style 
by Laura Tunbridge.
Cambridge, 246 pp., £50, October 2007, 978 0 521 87168 6
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... chorale, seems to have become emblematic of Schumann’s troublesome later style. Charles Rosen in The Romantic Generation singles it out as among the ‘few rare undeniable masterly successes’ of this period. Daverio, while regretting that our knowledge of Schumann’s final illness has had a negative influence on the reception of these works ...

Warhol’s Respectability

Nicholas Penny, 19 March 1987

The Revenge of the Philistines 
by Hilton Kramer.
Secker, 445 pp., £12.50, July 1986, 0 436 23687 7
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Gilbert and George 
by Carter Ratcliff.
Thames and Hudson, 271 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 500 27443 6
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British Art in the 20th Century 
edited by Susan Compton.
Prestel-Verlag (Munich), 460 pp., £16.90, January 1987, 3 7913 0798 3
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... When pressed, people who believe in this ‘modern tradition’ will refer, as Charles Rosen and Henri Zerner do, in a discussion of the new Musée d’Orsay in a recent issue of the New York Review of Books, to successive battles against ‘authority’, and will try to persuade us that Gericault (whose masterpiece was praised in the highest terms ...

A Feeling for Ice

Jenny Diski, 2 January 1997

... his office, I noticed a board on the wall with the names of the occupiers of each flat. The names Rosen and Levine jumped out at me.It was a couple of weeks before I looked up their names in the phone book and found their numbers, and a while after that before I picked up the phone.I introduced myself as Jenny Diski and explained who my parents were and which ...

Plato’s Friend

Ian Hacking, 17 December 1992

Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 520 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 7011 3998 6
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... uniquely in the book, Murdoch calls in an ally a few years younger than herself. She uses Stanley Rosen’s essay ‘Heidegger’s Interpretation of Plato’. (Rosen, who styles himself a ‘humanities educator’, studied in Chicago during the heydey of Leo Strauss.) Other critics might happily locate Heidegger’s ...

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