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The Embryo Caesar

Eric Foner: After Hamilton, 14 December 2017

The Burr Conspiracy: Uncovering The Story of an Early American Crisis 
by James E. Lewis Jr..
Princeton, 715 pp., £27.95, November 2017, 978 0 691 17716 8
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... that Burr commanded 12,000 armed men (an early instance of fake news). Others claimed that General James Wilkinson, the governor of the Louisiana Territory, was in league with Burr. (The duplicitous Wilkinson was later discovered to have been in the pay of Spain while plotting his own invasion of Spanish territory.) The ...

La Grande Sartreuse

Douglas Johnson, 15 October 1981

Simone de Beauvoir and the Limits of Commitment 
by Anne Whitmarsh.
Cambridge, 212 pp., £14.50, June 1981, 9780521236690
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Un Fils Rebelle 
by Olivier Todd.
Grasset, 293 pp., £5.50, June 1981, 2 246 21231 6
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The Intellectual Resistance in Europe 
by James Wilkinson.
Harvard, 358 pp., £14, July 1981, 0 674 45775 7
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... reaction of European intellectuals to war, to Fascism and to the responsibilities of victory. James Wilkinson gives the two of them a large role in his informative survey of this period of cultural history, and it is salutary to be reminded that confrontation with the reality which had shattered their much-enjoyed freedom of the 1930s was an ...

Black, White and Female

Betty Wood, 2 May 1985

The Limits of Liberty: American History 1607-1980 
by Maldwyn Jones.
Oxford, 696 pp., £22.50, November 1983, 0 19 913074 4
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America: A Narrative History 
by Charles Brown Tindall.
Norton, 1425 pp., £16.95, July 1984, 0 393 95435 8
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The Longman History of the United States 
by Hugh Brogan.
Longman, 740 pp., £19.95, March 1985, 0 582 35385 8
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American Tough: The Tough-Guy Tradition and American Character 
by Rupert Wilkinson.
Greenwood, 221 pp., £27.95, March 1984, 0 313 23797 2
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... as in the past, few are without an opinion, if not their own pet theory, on the subject. Rupert Wilkinson claims, not unreasonably, that an essential ingredient of the American character, and one which owes as much to the mythologising as to the reality of the American past, is ‘toughness’. This quality, or set of qualities and values, ...

Terrorism

Ian Gilmour, 23 October 1986

Britain’s Civil Wars: Counter-Insurgency in the 20th Century 
by Charles Townshend.
Faber, 220 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 0 571 13802 0
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Terrorism and the Liberal State 
by Paul Wilkinson.
Macmillan, 322 pp., £25, May 1986, 0 333 39490 9
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Terrorism: How the West can win 
edited by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Weidenfeld, 254 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 79025 0
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Political Murder: From Tyrannicide to Terrorism 
by Franklin Ford.
Harvard, 440 pp., £24.95, November 1985, 0 674 68635 7
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The Financing of Terror 
by James Adams.
New English Library, 294 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 0 450 06086 1
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They dare to speak out: People and institutions confront Israel’s lobby 
by Paul Findley.
Lawrence Hill (Connecticut), 362 pp., $16.95, May 1985, 0 88208 179 9
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... In this country sensible discussion of terrorism is still possible. Charles Townshend, Paul Wilkinson and James Adams are immune to the hysteria that has afflicted Reagan’s America. Performing a miracle of compression, Mr Townshend tells the story of British ‘counter-insurgency’ in Ireland, the Middle ...

Diary

Rupert Wilkinson: Harvard '61, 20 November 1986

... and the need to pause, to look back but also ahead – ‘waiting on the Lord’. In the words of James Thurber, ‘all men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.’ The blessing was more disjointed: alternating English and Hebrew by an Episcopalian and a rabbi ... After lunch at Leverett House, I squeezed in to ...

Elective Outsiders

Jeremy Harding, 3 July 1997

Conductors of Chaos: A Poetry Anthology 
edited by Iain Sinclair.
Picador, 488 pp., £9.99, June 1996, 0 330 33135 3
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Nearly Too Much: The Poetry of J.H. Prynne 
by N.H. Reeve and Richard Kerridge.
Liverpool, 196 pp., £25, April 1996, 0 85323 840 5
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Carl Rakosi: Poems 1923-41 
edited by Andrew Crozier.
Sun & Moon, 209 pp., $12.99, August 1995, 1 55713 185 6
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The Objectivists 
edited by Andrew McAllister.
Bloodaxe, 156 pp., £8.95, May 1996, 1 85224 341 4
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... who rather enjoy it.’ Twenty-five, thirty years after the best of them began to publish – John James, Chris Torrance, Lee Harwood, Andrew Crozier, Peter Riley, J.H. Prynne, Michael Haslam, Douglas Oliver, Barry MacSweeney, Denise Riley – they must nonetheless wonder, from time to time, whether theirs is a case of having missed the boat which would only ...

He, She, One, They, Ho, Hus, Hum, Ita

Amia Srinivasan: How Should I Refer to You?, 2 July 2020

What’s Your Pronoun? Beyond He and She 
by Dennis Baron.
Liveright, 304 pp., £16.99, February, 978 1 63149 604 2
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... or, in the view of people with dogs or cats, for dogs or cats. In 1792 the Scottish philosopher James Anderson noted that ‘it’ indicated ‘a high degree of contempt’, suggesting instead the gender-neutral pronoun ou, then common in Gloucestershire dialect. Kentucky’s 1850 Constitution declared: ‘The right of the owner of a slave to such ...

Making sentences

Philip Horne, 21 November 1991

The Jameses: A Family Narrative 
by R.W.B. Lewis.
Deutsch, 696 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 233 98748 7
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Meaning in Henry James 
by Millicent Bell.
Harvard, 384 pp., £35.95, October 1991, 9780674557628
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... Forty-one years after F.O. Matthiessen’s suicide, and 44 after his big book The James Family: A Group Biography, here is R.W.B. Lewis, Matthiessen’s pupil at Harvard, with one on the same subject, nearly as big. Its very title twists a touch awkwardly to avoid repeating that of its precursor, to which Lewis acknowledges a large debt ...

Introspection and the Body

P.N. Johnson-Laird, 5 March 1987

William JamesHis Life and Thought 
by Gerald Myers.
Yale, 628 pp., £30, October 1986, 0 300 03417 2
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... Henry James Sr was a redoubtable patriarch who received a large inheritance from his father – an Irish immigrant who had made a fortune in upstate New York – and spent it on a life of leisure and religiosity. He shuttled back and forth to Europe on a kind of one-man cultural exchange which combined the grand tour with a Continental education for his children ...

Peaches d’antan

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Henry James’s Autobiographies, 10 August 2016

Autobiographies: ‘A Small Boy and Others’; ‘Notes of a Son and Brother’; ‘The Middle Years’ and Other Writings 
by Henry James, edited by Philip Horne.
Library of America, 848 pp., £26.99, January 2016, 978 1 59853 471 9
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... Henry James​ liked to represent himself as hopelessly lagging behind his older brother, but he was also very good at turning childish inadequacy to imaginative account. A year after William’s death in 1910, he set out to edit a selection of William’s letters only to end up producing a remarkable self-portrait ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The International’, ‘Duplicity’, 9 April 2009

The International 
directed by Tom Twyker.
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Duplicity 
directed by Tony Gilroy.
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... the wholesale destruction of posh cars and real estate. The spectre is sorrow. From Batman to James Bond, every hero is grieving, stricken by a loss from which he can’t recover, whether of parents, mistress, wife or daughter. He – it’s always a he, the women in these movies just get to be decorous or evil, much better options – is all twisted ...

Why name a ship after a defeated race?

Thomas Laqueur: New Lives of the ‘Titanic’, 24 January 2013

The Wreck of the ‘Titan’ 
by Morgan Robertson.
Hesperus, 85 pp., £8, March 2012, 978 1 84391 359 7
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Shadow of the ‘Titanic’ 
by Andrew Wilson.
Simon and Schuster, 392 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 1 84739 882 6
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‘Titanic’ 100th Anniversary Edition: A Night Remembered 
by Stephanie Barczewski.
Continuum, 350 pp., £15.99, December 2011, 978 1 4411 6169 7
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The Story of the Unsinkable ‘Titanic’: Day by Day Facsimile Reports 
by Michael Wilkinson and Robert Hamilton.
Transatlantic, 127 pp., £16.99, November 2011, 978 1 907176 83 8
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‘Titanic’ Lives: Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 404 pp., £9.99, September 2012, 978 0 00 732166 7
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Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage 
by Hugh Brewster.
Robson, 338 pp., £20, March 2012, 978 1 84954 179 4
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‘Titanic’ Calling 
edited by Michael Hughes and Katherine Bosworth.
Bodleian, 163 pp., £14.99, April 2012, 978 1 85124 377 8
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... turned out to be an abortive attempt to raise an 11-ton section of the hull. The movie director James Cameron, fascinated with what he called the Everest of wrecks, filmed a dive that became part of his blockbuster 1997 movie (the footage was recently repurposed for a documentary). The new 3D version of the movie released in time for the centenary took its ...

Old Stragers

Pat Rogers, 7 May 1981

The Garrick Stage: Theatres and Audience in the 18th Century 
by Allardyce Nicoll.
Manchester, 192 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 7190 0768 2
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The Kemble Era: John Philip Kemble, Sarah Siddons and the London Stage 
by Linda Kelly.
Bodley Head, 221 pp., £8.50, April 1980, 0 370 10466 8
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Early English Stages 1300 to 1660: Vol. 3: Plays and their Makers to 1576 
by Glynne Wickham.
Routledge, 357 pp., £14.50, April 1981, 0 7100 0218 1
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... line of contact between several of these figures: four of them were the subjects of biographies by James Boaden (1762-1839), who happened also to edit Garrick’s letters. Ms Kelly mentions these lives in her preface, and one might almost suppose that the spur for writing this book came to her from the arrival of a hoard of Boaden volumes from a relative’s ...

The Best Barnet

Jeremy Harding, 20 February 1997

With Chatwin: Portrait of a Writer 
by Susannah Clapp.
Cape, 246 pp., £15.99, January 1997, 0 224 03258 5
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... tree in the south of France, having his hair combed by his wife. The ravenous Francis Wyndham and James Fox spoon up a pitifully notional soufflé made from wild strawberries which they have picked ‘all day’ at Chatwin’s insistence and which he has finicked down to an airy nothing. His host in Shropshire, Martin ...

Wrong Kind of Noise

Marina Warner: Silence is Best, 19 December 2013

Silence: A Christian History 
by Diarmaid MacCulloch.
Allen Lane, 337 pp., £20, April 2013, 978 1 84614 426 4
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... power of the papacy. It does tally, however, with the equally unexpected argument put forward by James Simpson that the vernacular printed Bible imposed uniformity on the faithful to a degree never achieved by medieval Catholic worship, with its heterogeneous local shrines and feast days, miracle stories, rewards and fairies, dances and processions. The Tate ...

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