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Simon Schaffer: Isaac Newton

16 November 2000
Isaac Newton: The ‘Princip ia’ Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy 
translated by I. BernardCohen.
California, 974 pp., £22, September 1999, 0 520 08817 4
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... This incomparable author having at length been prevailed upon to appear in public, has in this treatise given a most notable instance of the extent of the powers of the min...
21 March 1985
The 2024 Report: A Concise History of the Future 1974-2024 
by Norman Macrae.
Sidgwick, 198 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 283 99113 5
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The Resourceful Earth: A Response to ‘Global 2000’ 
edited by Julian Simon and Herman Kahn.
Blackwell, 585 pp., £14.95, September 1984, 0 631 13467 0
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... For some years, 2000 has been rivalling 1984 as a golden number in the calendar of futurologists. It has now taken over. And while Europeans have been casting economic horoscopes for their continent at the dawn of the next millennium, nothing is good enough for their American cousins but a forecast for the great globe itself – hence Global 2000: Report to the President, the establishment of the Global Tomorrow Commission, and Global Future: Time to Act, with its list of a hundred recommendations ...

The kind of dog he likes

W.G. Runciman: Realistic Utopias

18 December 2014
Justice for Earthlings: Essays in Polit ical Philosophy 
by David Miller.
Cambridge, 254 pp., £18.99, January 2013, 978 1 107 61375 1
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... Why ‘earthlings’​ ? David Miller isn’t drawing a contrast with justice for creatures from outer space ...
22 October 1992
Nuclear Ambiguity: The Vanunu Affair 
by Yoel Cohen.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 297 pp., £10.99, July 1992, 1 85619 150 8
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... Mordecai Vanunu is starting his seventh year in solitary confinement in an Israeli jail ...
30 March 2000
Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser 
by Harriet Vyner.
Faber, 317 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 571 19627 6
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... Art dealers are promis ing subjects for biographies. They buy and sell portable objects that can easily cost more than a castle or two. They survive by outwitting some of the world’s most cunning and ruthless manipulators of wealth, and they also know how to charm the old rich, key sources of supply ...
25 July 1991
Isaiah BerlinA Celebratio
by Edna Margalit and Avishai Margalit.
Hogarth, 224 pp., £25, June 1991, 0 7012 0925 9
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... There are writers and artists who dislike themselves – who attempt through their work to unearth, refine and then extrude something better than they are, something detached, pure and free-standin...

Quiet Sinners

Bernard Porter: Imperial Spooks

21 March 2013
Empire of Secrets: Brit ish Intelligence, the Cold War and the Twil ight of Empir
by Calder Walton.
Harper, 411 pp., £25, February 2013, 978 0 00 745796 0
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... It’s pretty obvious why Brit ish governments have been anxious to keep the history of their secret service secret for so long ...
18 September 1980
The Private Diaries of Sir H. Rider Haggard, 1914-1925 
edited by D.S. Higgins.
Cassell, 299 pp., £14.95, May 1980, 0 304 30611 8
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... The large university library I use contains few books which the undergraduates have read virtually to pulp ...

Capital Folly

Avi Shlaim: The Jerusalem Syndrome

21 March 2002
Div ided Jerusalem: The Struggle for the Holy Cit
by Bernard Wasserstein.
Profile, 420 pp., £9.99, March 2002, 1 86197 333 0
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... More than any other capital city, Jerusalem demonstrates the power of symbols in international polit ics. The conflict between Israel and the Palestin ians is one of the most bitter and protracted of modern times, and the Jerusalem question, a compound of relig ious zealotry and secular jingoism, lies at its heart ...

Is everybody’s life like this?

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Amy Levy

16 November 2000
Amy Levy: Her Life and Letters 
by Linda Hunt Beckman.
Ohio, 331 pp., £49, May 2000, 0 8214 1329 5
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... Had Amy Levy (1861-89) never existed, contemporary crit icism would have thought her up. We have been recovering women writers for three decades now, but Levy was also a Jew and probably a lesbian, as well as a femin ist; and at a time like ours when ‘margins’ are central, she can be singled out for having inhabited several at once ...

Nobbled or Not

Bernard Porter: The Central African Federation

25 May 2006
Brit ish Documents on the End of Empire Series B Vol. 9: Central Africa: Part I: Closer Association 1945-58 
by Phil ip Murphy.
Stationery Office, 448 pp., £150, November 2005, 0 11 290586 2
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Brit ish Documents on the End of Empire Series B Vol. 9: Central Africa: Part II</span>: Cris is and Dissolution 1959-65 
by Phil ip Murphy.
Stationery Office, 602 pp., £150, November 2005, 0 11 290587 0
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... The Central African Federation was one of the most bizarre creations of late Brit ish imperialis...
7 June 2001
One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the Brit ish Mandate 
by Tom Segev, translated by Haim Watzman.
Little, Brown, 612 pp., £25, January 2001, 0 316 64859 0
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Ploughing Sand: Brit ish Rule in Palestine 1917-48 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Murray, 290 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 7195 6322 4
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... The Brit ish Army occupied Jerusalem on Sunday, 9 December 1917, and withdrew on 14 May 1948. During its brief imperium in the Promised Land, Britain kept the promise made in 1917 by its Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, in the Declaration that bears his name, ‘to favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people ...

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