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An Endless Progression of Whirlwinds

Robert Irwin: Asian empire, 21 June 2001

Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Asia 
by Karl Meyer and Shareen Brysac.
Little, Brown, 646 pp., £25, January 2001, 0 316 85589 8
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Tibet: The Great Game and Tsarist Russia 
by Tatiana Shaumian.
Oxford, 223 pp., £16, October 2000, 0 19 565056 5
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... Motion Picture Bureau banned it, deeming it to be pro-British propaganda.) Major Francis Yeats-Brown’s book, whose title the film borrowed, was a memoir of life as an officer in the 17th Cavalry on the North-West Frontier, before the outbreak of the Great War. He detailed the routines of life in the Indian Army: the management and grooming of horses, the ...

Diary

Andrew O’Hagan: Grief and the Cameras, 3 December 2009

... a lot of ads for an album called Coming Home by The Soldiers. The singers are Sergeant Major Gary Chilton, Lance Corporal Ryan Idzi and Sergeant Richie Maddocks, three servicemen who have fought in Afghanistan and in Iraq. One of them, Lance Corporal Idzi, was a contestant on The X Factor two years ago but he is enjoying much greater success with The ...

How do you spell Shakespeare?

Frank Kermode, 21 May 1987

William Shakespeare. The Complete Works: Original-Spelling Edition 
edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 1456 pp., £75, February 1987, 9780198129196
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William Shakespeare: The Complete Works 
edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor.
Oxford, 1432 pp., £25, October 1986, 0 19 812926 2
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... the greatest novelty. In some respects it is a very odd compilation. Back in 1960 John Russell Brown wrote an article, celebrated in the trade, in which he argued against the value of old-spelling Shakespeare, saying among other things that the amount of ‘silent alteration’ an editor would have to introduce would make such a text almost useless for ...

Hooyah!!

James Meek: The Rise of the Private Army, 2 August 2007

Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army 
by Jeremy Scahill.
Serpent’s Tail, 452 pp., £12.99, August 2007, 978 1 84668 630 6
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... team was supposed to protect a delivery Eurest was contracted to make on behalf of Kellogg Brown Root (which belonged to Halliburton then, but doesn’t now) to the US military. After Blackwater was sued, Kellogg Brown Root said they’d never hired Blackwater for the delivery; that they hadn’t had anything to do ...

This beats me

Stephen Sedley: The Drafter’s Contract, 2 April 1998

Statutory Interpretation 
by Francis Bennion.
Butterworth, 1092 pp., £187, December 1997, 0 406 02126 0
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Law and Interpretation 
edited by Andrei Marmor.
Oxford, 463 pp., £18.99, October 1997, 0 19 826487 9
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Equality before the Law: Deaf People’s Access to Justice 
by Mary Brennan and Richard Brown.
Deaf Studies Research Unit, University of Durham, 189 pp., £17.50, October 1997, 0 9531779 0 4
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... So, then,’ says a founding father, quill poised, to the founding fathers around him in Gary Larson’s cartoon, ‘Would that be “Us the people” or “We the people”?’ If deciding what to write is tough, interpreting what gets written is tougher. Turgid texts need unravelling; obscure provisions need deciphering; occasional nonsense needs correcting; perfectly clear texts may be impossible to apply to novel situations ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 1995, 4 January 1996

... believe them either. 16 January. Listening to Michael Heseltine justifying the £ 475,000 of Mr Brown, the chairman of British Gas, I remember Joe Fitton. During the war Dad was a warden in the ARP, his companion on patrol a neighbour, Joe Fitton. Somebody aroused Joe’s ire (a persistent failure to draw their blackout curtains perhaps) and one ...

Ikonography

Keith Kyle, 4 July 1985

Eisenhower. Vol. I: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect 1890-1952 Vol. II: The President 1952-1969 
by Stephen Ambrose.
Allen and Unwin, 637 pp., £12.50, February 1984, 0 04 923073 5
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Ike’s Letters to a Friend: 1941-1958 
edited by Robert Griffith.
Kansas, 211 pp., $19.95, October 1984, 0 7006 0257 7
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... in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes.’ His respect for the Court’s decision in the Brown v. Topeka case was quite genuine, as he showed in his frank discussion of it in one of the letters which he used to write to his boyhood friend Swede Hazlett and which have been collected by Robert Griffith: he just thought the Southern states should have ...

The Story of Joe

Craig Raine, 4 December 1986

The Orton Diaries 
edited by John Lahr.
Methuen, 307 pp., £12.50, November 1986, 0 413 49660 0
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... He nearly had mother out of her coffin ... He was picking her head up. ‘What’s all this brown stuff?’; ‘try and get her rings off.’ I said: ‘I don’t want to.’ He said: ‘I do.’ He wanted to see her feet, he was opening her dressing gown. ‘It’s incredible,’ he said, ‘doesn’t she look bizarre.’ The kids were screaming and I ...

Play Again?

Matthew Reynolds: Douglas Coupland’s ‘JPod’, 3 August 2006

JPod 
by Douglas Coupland.
Bloomsbury, 448 pp., £12.99, June 2006, 9780747582229
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... me absolutely fucking crazy. All you ever talk about is junk.’ I looked over at her – brown hairs Van de Graaffing from her forehead; a pimple she’d been hoping nobody would notice caked in skin product; small, perfect teeth. I was wondering what her kiss would taste like, when she picked up a Clive Cussler novel that everyone in the pod had ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Bennett’s Dissection, 1 January 2009

... at all. And today, 15 June, comes George Bush paying a courtesy call on the Queen and Gordon Brown before having a cheering conscience-free get-together with his old mate Tony Blair. And here are the helicopters flying over Regent’s Park to prove it. 26 June, Espiessac. I sit in the wicker rocking-chair in the shade of the willow by the pool. Except ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... friends saying: ‘This is going to be the best Ramadan yet.’ Next door, Manchester United fan Gary Maunders, a 57-year-old father of four who lived in the area, was spending the evening with Deborah Lamprell, who worked at Holland Park Opera. Yasin El Wahabi went to the mosque to say the prayer that would close his fast. His sister Nur Huda was ...

Birditis

Ian Penman: The Obsession with Charlie Parker, 23 January 2014

Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker 
by Gary Giddins.
Minnesota, revised edition, 195 pp., £15, October 2013, 978 0 8166 9041 1
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Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker 
by Stanley Crouch.
Harper, 365 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 0 06 200559 5
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Bird: The Life and Music of Charlie Parker 
by Chuck Haddix.
Illinois, 188 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 0 252 03791 7
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... Charlie Parker (c.1950). Benny Carter, Barney Kessell, Flip Phillips, Charlie Shavers, Ray Brown, Charlie Parker, Oscar Peterson, J.C. Heard, Ben Webster and Johnny Hodges at a Clef recording session, Hollywood (1952). Charlie Parker at the Clef recording session (1952). Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker at Massey Hall, Toronto (1953). Charlie Parker ...

In the Box

Dale Peck, 6 February 1997

How Stella Got Her Groove Back 
by Terry McMillan.
Viking, 368 pp., £16, September 1996, 0 670 86990 2
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Push 
by Sapphire.
Secker, 142 pp., £7.99, September 1996, 0 436 20291 3
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The Autobiography of My Mother 
by Jamaica Kincaid.
Vintage, 228 pp., £8.99, September 1996, 0 09 973841 4
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... of the first half of this decade, writers as diverse in talent and sensibility as Rebecca Brown, Dennis Cooper, Kathy Acker, Gary Indiana and Sarah Schulman, writers whose main similarity seemed to be that they all started out at small presses before being ‘discovered’ by big houses. By now – by which I ...

Cardenio’s Ghost

Charles Nicholl: The Bits Shakespeare Wrote, 2 December 2010

The Arden Shakespeare: Double Falsehood 
edited by Brean Hammond.
Arden Shakespeare, 443 pp., £16.99, March 2010, 978 1 903436 77 6
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... into the 18th century. Nor, unfortunately, is it likely to turn up now, though a pair of post-Dan Brown novels – J.C. Carrell’s The Shakespeare Secret and Jean Rae Baxter’s Looking for Cardenio – have turned on this possibility, and there has also been an unconvincing attempt by Charles Hamilton to prove that it survives as the anonymous playscript ...
... open pavilion eight hundred steel columns hang from rope-like rods, all the same powdery reddish-brown rusty colour as the shackles in the slavery statue. Each of them bears the names of those murdered in one of eight hundred counties. Outside, eight hundred coffin-like replicas of the columns lie on the ground as if they held the remains of victims of a ...

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