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Linda Colley: The origins of the British Empire

19 July 2001
The Ideological Origins of the British Empire 
by David Armitage.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £35, September 2000, 0 521 59081 7
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... ideas had attracted a broad following, especially among opposition politicians in Britain and Anglo settlers in North America, Ireland and the Caribbean. But he takes issue with scholars such as JackGreene who have interpreted all this as evidence of the emergence of an imperial identity. Rather, he suggests, these notions constituted an ideology, and as such were always contested and unstable ...
4 May 1989
The Blackwell Dictionary of Historians 
edited by John Cannon, R.H.C. Davis, William Doyle and Jack Greene.
Blackwell, 480 pp., £39.95, September 1988, 9780631147084
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Edward Gibbon, Luminous Historian, 1772-1794 
by Patricia Craddock.
Johns Hopkins, 432 pp., £19, February 1989, 0 8018 3720 0
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Gibbon: Making History 
by Roy Porter.
Palgrave, 187 pp., £14.95, February 1989, 0 312 02728 1
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Macaulay 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Trafalgar Square, 160 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 9780297794684
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Acton 
by Hugh Tulloch.
Trafalgar Square, 144 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 297 79470 1
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... We live in reactionary times. One indication of this is the growing trend among both politicians and academics to prescribe what historical study should be: how it should be organised and conducted, what it should be about, why it should be pursued at all. Such prescriptions can sometimes stem from genuine scholarly or cultural concern. But they can also betoken a dangerously closed mind. I was reminded ...
3 December 1981
The Mosquito Coast 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 392 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 241 10688 5
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... t given a distinct image of Theroux as a novelist. He has set them in Kenya, Malawi, Singapore, London, Dorset, Cape Cod, and now in Honduras; and produced as many different kinds of novel. Graham Greene ranges as widely, but the Greene themes and style impose them selves; and Theroux has written on V.S. Naipaul’s themes. Apparently his own work doesn’t have the same sort of continuities. But we ...

Timo of Corinth

Julian Symons

6 August 1992
A Choice of Murder 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 216 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 7206 0832 5
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Portrait of the Artist’s Wife 
by Barbara Anderson.
Secker, 309 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 9780436200977
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Turtle Moon 
by Alice Hoffman.
Macmillan, 255 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 333 57867 8
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Double Down 
by Tom Kakonis.
Macmillan, 308 pp., £14.99, April 1992, 0 333 57492 3
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... a novel than a highly intelligent study in power politics. Portrait of the Artist’s Wife begins with the funeral of what a ministerial encomium calls ‘New Zealand’s most venerated writer’, Jack Macalister. Present is wife Sarah, who urges those present to read his books, the Macalister girls Dora and Emily, twenty years apart in age, and Jack’s friend and first publisher Charles Bremner ...
30 October 1997
Secret and Sanctioned: Covert Operations and the American Presidency 
by Stephen Knott.
Oxford, 258 pp., £19.50, November 1996, 0 19 510098 0
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The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 367 pp., £25, December 1996, 1 85619 637 2
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American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson 
by Joseph Ellis.
Knopf, 365 pp., $26, February 1997, 0 679 44490 4
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Slave Laws in Virginia 
by Philip Schwarz.
Georgia, 253 pp., $40, November 1996, 0 8203 1831 0
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... first and foremost. This is insufficient. Raised as a colonial Englishman, Jefferson remained imperfectly Americanised to the end. An influential cohort of historians, including John Murrin, JackGreene and T.H. Breen, has established that anglicisation, the dominant trend in 18th-century colonial life, was a vital precondition of the American Revolution. Only in the 1770s did the notion that a ...

Death for Elsie

Christopher Ricks

7 August 1986
Found in the Street 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 277 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 9780434335244
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Private Papers 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 214 pp., £8.95, February 1986, 0 7011 2987 5
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... Patricia Highsmith has been praised by Graham Greene in the good old way as ‘a writer who has created a world of her own’. She can be even better than that – when she takes a world and makes it not only her own but ours. She lurks in the murk ...

Poetry to Thrill an Oyster

Gregory Woods: Fitz-Greene​ Halleck

16 November 2000
The American Byron: Homosexuality and the Fall of Fitz-Greene​ Halleck 
by John W.M. Hallock.
Wisconsin, 226 pp., £14.95, April 2000, 0 299 16804 2
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... When the American poet Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790-1867) travelled to Europe in 1822 he was carrying letters of introduction to Byron, Scott, Southey, Wordsworth, Lafayette and Talleyrand, though he never actually met any of them – ...

Putting Religion in Its Place

Colm Tóibín: Marilynne Robinson

22 October 2014
Lila 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Virago, 261 pp., £16.99, October 2014, 978 1 84408 880 5
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... itself, however, it’s simply a technical one: how do you create a religious or a non-secular protagonist in a novel without making a dog’s dinner out of the book? Some people, such as Graham Greene, Flannery O’Connor, Chinua Achebe, Georges Bernanos, Kate O’Brien, Maurice Gee, Brian Moore and Andrew O’Hagan, have made a big effort. Others, such as James Joyce, have managed to weave ...

Bernie’s War

Philip Purser

23 May 1991
A German Requiem 
by Philip Kerr.
Viking, 306 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 0 670 83516 1
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... choice of a private-eye hero makes clear, he is nearer to the acrostic or detective-story end of the spectrum than he is to the relatively straightforward adventure (Ian Fleming, Geoffrey Household, Jack Higgins), in which the difficulties and dangers of the mission are more important than its secrets. He still needs to send his hero into danger, he still needs an active climax, but he has also got ...

Think Tiny

Mark Ford: Nancification

17 July 2008
The Nancy Book 
by Joe Brainard.
Siglio, 144 pp., $39.50, April 2008, 978 0 9799562 0 1
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... eclectic nature of his output that had saved him from developing into a brand name: I don’t have a definite commodity … I’ve had oil-painting shows that were very realistic, then I’ve done jack-off collages, cut-outs one year and drawings … it’s all been different … People want to buy a Warhol or a person instead of a work. My work’s never become ‘a Brainard’. Or even a Jainard ...
28 September 1989
The Vision of Elena Silves 
by Nicholas Shakespeare.
Collins, 263 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 00 271031 5
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Billy Bathgate 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, £11.95, September 1989, 0 333 51376 2
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Buffalo Afternoon 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 535 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 241 12634 7
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The Message to the Planet 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 563 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 7011 3479 8
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... the mixture of Catholic mysticism and revolutionary rationalism which Shakespeare discerns at the core of the Senderista cult. One might have expected Shakespeare to draw on the examples of Conrad, Greene or Paul Theroux for his fantasia on violence and evil at the headwaters of the Amazonian jungle. Instead he borrows the fluid, elliptic techniques of Latin Americans such as Fuentes, Marquez and – ...

Diary

Blake Morrison: On the Independent on Sunday 

27 May 1993
... move. The last books pages I’d worked on at the Observer lay beside me (Ian Hamilton and Ted Hughes on the life of Sylvia Plath, Alison Lurie’s obituary of Mary McCarthy, Salman Rushdie on Graham Greene, Claire Tomalin on Coleridge, Anthony Burgess on Fielding, other reviews by Anita Brookner, Peter Conrad, Roy Foster and Hilary Mantel), and as the limits on the new paper’s resources became ...

Diary

John Lanchester: Online Goodies

25 April 2002
... At the Grammy awards the other week, an unusual note was struck by Michael Greene, a record industry bigwig. The only real point of interest at most award ceremonies is the frocks (and sometimes, admittedly, the hair), so it was a break with tradition when Greene and his tuxedo ...

Unaccommodated Man

Christopher Tayler: Adventures with Robert Stone

18 March 2004
Bay of Souls 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 250 pp., £16.99, February 2004, 0 330 41894 7
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... US military-industrial zombies,’ to everyone’s satisfaction. Because hacks and spooks and alcoholic or heterodox priests appear in some of his books, Stone has frequently been compared to Graham Greene – a writer he thinks entirely ‘phony’. (The most sinister character in A Flag for Sunrise is a loud Englishman.) Like Greene, though, he is much concerned with faith, or the lack of it, and his ...

Carré on spying

John Sutherland

3 April 1986
A Perfect Spy 
by John le Carré.
Hodder, 463 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 9780340387849
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The Novels of John le Carré 
by David Monaghan.
Blackwell, 207 pp., £12.50, September 1985, 0 631 14283 5
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Taking sides: The Fiction of John le Carré 
by Tony Barley.
Open University, 175 pp., £20, March 1986, 0 335 15251 1
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John le Carré 
by Peter Lewis.
Ungar, 228 pp., £10.95, August 1985, 0 8044 2243 5
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A Servant’s Tale 
by Paula Fox.
Virago, 321 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 86068 702 3
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A State of Independence 
by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 158 pp., £8.95, February 1986, 0 571 13910 8
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... pro-Palestinism of le Carré’s subsequent 1982-83 articles in the Observer on Sharon’s invasion of the Lebanon, suggested he had become a more publicly engaged writer in his maturity (like Graham Greene). But ingenious le Carré watchers (specialists in their own kind of espionage) soon turned up interesting privacies. An article by Norman Moss in the Sunday Telegraph, for instance, disclosed that ...

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