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Colin Kidd: The Dark Side of American Liberalism, 25 September 2003

Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History 
by James Morone.
Yale, 575 pp., £25, April 2003, 0 300 09484 1
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... science – the American Political Science Association has some ten thousand members. However, as James Morone, a professor of political science at Brown University, reassures us, his colleagues in the discipline have themselves a very defective grasp of American political culture. In particular, Morone believes that political scientists are in thrall to the ...

‘My God was bigger than his’

Colin Kidd: The Republicans, 4 November 2004

The Right Nation: Why America Is Different 
by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.
Allen Lane, 450 pp., £14.99, August 2004, 0 7139 9738 9
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Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet 
by James Mann.
Penguin, 448 pp., $16, September 2004, 0 14 303489 8
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Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image 
by David Greenberg.
Norton, 496 pp., £9.99, November 2004, 0 393 32616 0
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America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism 
by Anatol Lieven.
HarperCollins, 274 pp., £18.99, October 2004, 0 00 716456 4
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... libertarian, Ayn Rand atheist – ‘a tiny contrapuntal campus movement’, in the words of James Mann in Rise of the Vulcans, whose members were as defiantly countercultural as hippies and peaceniks. Together, white Southern Democrats and self-confessed conservatives shaped the social agenda of conservative Republicanism. The aggressive ...

What Nanny Didn’t Tell Me

Bernard Porter: Simon Mann, 26 January 2012

Cry Havoc 
by Simon Mann.
John Blake, 351 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 84358 403 2
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... In Frederick Forsyth’s The Dogs of War, Sir James Manson hires a mercenary called ‘Cat’ Shannon to stage a coup in the tiny West African state of Zangaro – Equatorial Guinea thinly disguised – and replace its tyrannical president with one who will, perhaps, be less tyrannical, and will definitely grant Sir James the highly profitable platinum-mining concession he wants ...

What does a chicken know of bombs?

David Thomson: A Key to Brando, 5 December 2019

The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando 
by William J. Mann.
HarperCollins, 718 pp., £22, November 2019, 978 0 06 242764 9
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... not to mention a pain in the neck. Imagine what it’s like for the writer. Or for Marlon.William Mann does not have the field to himself. There are at least a dozen biographies of Brando, or memoirs that depend on his presence. The weightiest of these is Peter Manso’s, published in 1994, when Brando still had ten years to live. (...
... He had a mind so fine that no idea could violate it’: T.S. Eliot writing of Henry James in the Little Review of August 1918. I want to take exception, not to the truth of Eliot’s pronouncement (he was right about James), but to the set of lofty assumptions calmly towering behind it ...

Philip Roth’s House of Fiction

Michael Mason, 6 December 1979

The Ghost Writer 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 180 pp., £4.95
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... yet’ implies a future of prosperous activity which may be barmecidal. The novelist-hero of Henry James’s story ‘The Middle Years’ is amused by the view that his latest novel is ‘the best thing he has done yet’: it ‘made such a grand avenue of the future’. This story is alluded to in detail in The Ghost Writer and is structurally as well ...

Diary

Mary-Kay Wilmers: Putting in the Commas, 15 September 1988

... In December 1947 the American writer Susan Sontag was invited to have tea with Thomas Mann. She was 14, a high-minded schoolgirl full of literature and the seriousness of life. She had one friend, and this boy, her disciple, had written to Thomas Mann, who was then living in California, telling him that they had been reading his books and admired them above all others ...

Her Boy

R.W. Johnson: Mark Thatcher, 16 November 2006

Thatcher’s Fortunes: The Life and Times of Mark Thatcher 
by Mark Hollingsworth and Paul Halloran.
Mainstream, 415 pp., £7.99, July 2006, 1 84596 118 8
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The Wonga Coup: The British Mercenary Plot to Seize Oil Billions in Africa 
by Adam Roberts.
Profile, 304 pp., £9.99, June 2006, 1 86197 934 7
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... palatial style here but so did Spencer’s ex-friend the convicted fraudster Darius Guppy; Simon Mann, the leader of the attempted mercenary coup in Equatorial Guinea in 2004; and Teodorin Nguema, the playboy son of the Equatoguinean dictator, Obiang Nguema, whom Mann was trying to overthrow. It was Thatcher’s ...

Ceaseless Anythings

James Wood: Robert Stone, 1 October 1998

Damascus Gate 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 500 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 37058 8
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... meet all his pals. The Frankfurt school. Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse and Thomas Mann.’ Although Adorno helped Mann with Doctor Faustus, Mann had no especial proximity to the Frankfurt School, so Stone is technically wrong. But the little list is wrong because it is so ...

Queen to King Four

Robert Taubman, 19 June 1980

The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 245 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 9780224017909
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No Country For Young Men 
by Julia O’Faolain.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 0 7139 1308 8
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The Girl Green as Elderflower 
by Randolph Stow.
Secker, 150 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 9780436497315
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The Sending 
by Geoffrey Household.
Joseph, 192 pp., £5.95, March 1980, 0 7181 1872 3
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... suggested, too, in the solemn tone of the Zone Three chronicler – to an idea Thomas Mann used in his fable The Transposed Heads. A fable has to match invention to idea, and all with perfect simplicity. It would be easy to conclude that Doris Lessing isn’t as good at this as Thomas Mann. The dynastic ...

Try the other wrist

Lara Feigel: Germany in the 1940s, 23 October 2014

The Temptation of Despair: Tales of the 1940s 
by Werner Sollors.
Harvard, 390 pp., £25.95, April 2014, 978 0 674 05243 7
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... In the spring​ of 1949 Klaus Mann moved from hotel room to hotel room in Amsterdam and Cannes, contemplating suicide. He was isolated and depressed and sure that the situation in postwar Germany was to blame. He was working on a novel which he intended to call The Last Day. He had already made a botched suicide attempt in Los Angeles, described in almost humorous detail by the hero of his novel, Julian: ‘Trying the other wrist ...

Diary

James Lasdun: Salad Days, 9 February 2006

... The alternative career fantasies of writers would make an interesting study: James Joyce dreaming of becoming the agent for Irish tweeds in Trieste, Thomas Mann musing that he would have made a good banker, Samuel Beckett contemplating a career as a pilot. ‘I hope I am not too old to take it up seriously nor too stupid about machines to qualify as a commercial pilot,’ Beckett wrote to Thomas MacGreevy at the age of 29, having just published More Pricks than Kicks ...

She gives me partridges

Bee Wilson: Alma Mahler, 5 November 2015

Malevolent Muse: The Life of Alma Mahler 
by Oliver Hilmes, translated by Donald Arthur.
Northeastern, 360 pp., £29, May 2015, 978 1 55553 789 0
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... writer Franz Werfel, Walter Gropius’s divorced wife and Oscar Kokoshka’s former lover. Thomas Mann, who was one of the guests, offered ‘cordial felicitations on your special day’. Some of Mann’s friends were astonished that he could maintain his friendship with Alma when he had been such a prominent opponent of ...

Too Many Alibis

James Wood: Geoffrey Hill, 1 July 1999

Canaan 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Penguin, 76 pp., £7.99, September 1996, 0 14 058786 1
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The Truth of Love: A Poem 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Penguin, 82 pp., £8.99, January 1997, 0 14 058910 4
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... the intolerable wrestle with words, but, as it were, a further wrestle with the wrestle. Thomas Mann, like Hill, an artist wary of the claims and capacities of art, lamented that his Doctor Faustus was ‘joylessly earnest, not artistically happy’, and Hill’s two new books certainly tread the gravel of the joyless. Yet in the past, Hill has made great ...

What the Organ-Grinder Said

Christopher Beha: Andrés Neuman, 5 April 2012

Traveller of the Century 
by Andrés Neuman, translated by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia.
Pushkin, 584 pp., £12.99, February 2012, 978 1 906548 66 7
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... It’s this kind of suggestive reticence that Eliot was reacting to when he remarked that Henry James had a mind so fine no idea could violate it. Along its outer border, the desire not to state ideas explicitly approaches the desire not to have them, as expressed by Flaubert’s ideal of a book about nothing. The obvious alternative to all this withholding ...

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