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Nerds, Rabbits and a General Lack of Testosterone

R.W. Johnson: Major and Lamont, 9 December 1999

The Autobiography 
by John Major.
HarperCollins, 774 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 00 257004 1
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In Office 
by Norman Lamont.
Little, Brown, 567 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 316 64707 1
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... to join was from me. It seemed to belong to a different era, but in fact it occurred only eight weeks before I became Chancellor. Our hero evidently doesn’t realise how ridiculous this sounds. Perhaps the memory was so painful it had to be denied – that at least is the charitable interpretation. (Anything less charitable would run into legal ...

Living the Life

Andrew O’Hagan, 6 October 2016

Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency 
by James Andrew Miller.
Custom House, 703 pp., £20, August 2016, 978 0 06 244137 9
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... a bass and a saxophone player. Jerry tries to persuade Poliakoff to give them the job – three weeks in Florida with Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators – but Poliakoff tells them to beat it, they require female musicians. ‘Look, if William Morris doesn’t come through …’ Jerry says, as Joe drags him out the door. More recently, in ...

Putin in Syria

Jonathan Steele, 21 April 2016

... of the withdrawal just a few hours before the announcement). Yet on 12 October last year, two weeks after Putin’s aircraft started bombing Syrian targets, Russia’s Channel One broadcast an interview with him in which he clearly stated that Russia’s military intervention would be short-lived. ‘Our task is to stabilise the legitimate ...

An Escalation of Reasonableness

Conor Gearty: Northern Ireland, 6 September 2001

To Raise up a New Northern Ireland: Articles and Speeches 1998-2000 
by David Trimble.
Belfast Press, 166 pp., £5.99, July 2001, 0 9539287 1 3
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... maximum public confidence’. As part of this process, the IRA ‘agreed to put in place within weeks a confidence-building measure to confirm that our weapons remain secure’. What this entailed was that the contents of a number of arms dumps would be inspected by agreed third parties who would report to the Commission. These dumps would then be ...

Contemplating adultery

Lotte Hamburger and Joseph Hamburger, 22 January 1987

... of men and women of the intellectual calibre of Bentham, the young John Stuart Mill, Francis Jeffrey, until recently editor of the Edinburgh Review, the Grotes, the Romillys, the Carlyles. A more weighty anchor to conventionality was her ten-year-old daughter Lucy. All this was now put in jeopardy by these dangerous letters. Inadvertent or intentional ...

Dark and Deep

Helen Vendler, 4 July 1996

Robert Frost: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Constable, 424 pp., £20, May 1996, 0 09 476130 2
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Collected Poems, Prose and Plays 
by Robert Frost, edited by Richard Poirier and Mark Richardson.
Library of America, 1036 pp., $35, October 1995, 9781883011062
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... the biographical facts, and then centre attention on the poetry, giving Frost’s art its due. Now Jeffrey Meyers has appeared, crowing that ‘the heart of Thompson’s biography was based on [a] lie.’ He proposes to reveal the truth – to wit, that when Frost was 64, after the death of his wife, he had a long affair with his ‘secretary’, Kathleen ...

Why do white people like what I write?

Pankaj Mishra: Ta-Nehisi Coates, 22 February 2018

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Hamish Hamilton, 367 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 32523 0
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... and Make America Great Again’. ‘It’s time to think of torture,’ Newsweek declared a few weeks after 9/11. ‘Focused brutality’, Time recommended. Vanity Fair praised Rumsfeld for his ‘oddly reassuring ruthlessness’. As the invasion of Iraq got underway, the Atlantic, described as ‘prestigious’ by Coates in his new book, walked its readers ...

One Long Scream

Jacqueline Rose: Trauma and Justice in South Africa, 23 May 2019

... of the murders; his older sister, Dorothy, was ten; his younger sister, Tumani, was born a few weeks after the funeral. Lukhanyo grew up with no conscious memory of his father. At the end of My Father Died for This, the remarkable book he has produced with his wife, Abigail Calata (they took it in turns to write different sections), he can offer only an ...

Doing something

Ahdaf Soueif, 1 October 1987

Persian Nights 
by Diane Johnson.
Chatto, 352 pp., £10.95, July 1987, 0 7011 3234 5
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Smile, and Other Stories 
by Deborah Moggach.
Viking, 175 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 0 670 81658 2
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Fast Lanes 
by Jayne Anne Phillips.
Faber, 148 pp., £8.95, August 1987, 0 571 14924 3
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... design? – finds herself alone (that is, without husband or children) in Iran for a few weeks. She is a pretty, good-natured, scatty, conventional doctor’s wife, ‘more given to idle reflections than to purposive thought’, susceptible to attacks of guilt about her children: ‘sometimes she caught herself thinking of nothing at all and would ...

Charmed Lives

Patrick Parrinder, 23 April 1987

Memoirs of a Fortunate Jew: An Italian Story 
by Dan Vittorio Segre.
Peter Halban, 273 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 1 870015 00 2
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To the Land of the Reeds 
by Aharon Appelfeld, translated by Jeffrey Green.
Weidenfeld, 148 pp., £9.95, February 1987, 0 297 78972 4
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by Daphne Merkin.
Hamish Hamilton, 288 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 241 12113 2
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by Umberto Saba, translated by Mark Thompson.
Carcanet, 166 pp., £9.95, March 1987, 0 85635 559 3
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... endless pastoral landscape. Time slows down to the point where even a few miles can take weeks or even months to cover. The journey is punctuated by the wayside inns at which, Don Quixote-like, they put up after each day’s journey. With eloquent simplicity Appelfeld evokes the experiences of these archetypal travellers, whose high hopes gradually ...

Big G and Little G

Paul Laity, 6 February 1997

The British Electricity Experiment 
edited by John Surrey.
Earthscan, 329 pp., £40, July 1996, 1 85383 370 3
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... between the interests of shareholders, customers and employees’. Last November, Tim Eggar, only weeks after resigning his post as Energy Minister in charge of regulation, called for a radical overhaul of utility regulation. A more democratic alternative to the present system, suggested in Surrey’s volume, would be a Select Committee overseeing regulation ...

The Browse Function

John Sutherland, 27 November 1997

Webonomics: Nine Essential Principles for Growing Your Business on the World Wide Web 
by Evan Schwartz.
Penguin, 244 pp., £11.99, October 1997, 9780140264067
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... in a garage three years ago. The garage-owning founder (now chief executive officer), Jeff (now Jeffrey) Bezos, was just 30. Apparently, in the early days, he would drive down to the local post office to dispatch orders by hand. Bezos is no tweedy ‘bookman’. He originally had 20 product categories in mind, but settled on books as the most appropriate ...

National Treasure

Christopher Hitchens, 14 November 1996

Jacqueline Bouvier: An Intimate Memoir 
by John Davis.
Wiley, 256 pp., £14.99, October 1996, 0 471 12945 3
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... A bit of ladylike publishing on the side: not many people know that Jackie could have aborted Jeffrey Archer’s second career if she had objected to Viking’s 1977 issue of Shall We Tell the President?, which nauseated the reviewers twice. (The first heave was at the prose, the second at the thought of a ‘novel’ about the assassination of Teddy ...

Mockney Rebels

Thomas Jones: Lindsay Anderson, 20 July 2000

Mainly about Linsay Anderson 
by Gavin Lambert.
Faber, 302 pp., £18.99, May 2000, 0 571 17775 1
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... strikingly reminiscent of the end of If ... The movie is riddled with intertextual jokes: Peter Jeffrey, who plays the headmaster in If ..., is a prison governor; teetering on a windowsill in a failed attempt to talk a working-class woman (Rachel Roberts) out of committing suicide, Travis reads her a poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon, Cheltenham College’s ...

Utterly in Awe

Jenny Turner: Lynn Barber, 5 June 2014

A Curious Career 
by Lynn Barber.
Bloomsbury, 224 pp., £16.99, May 2014, 978 1 4088 3719 1
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... have emerged. Her very best interviews are with men, the puffed-up sort – Bragg, Jimmy Savile, Jeffrey Archer and, more recently, Sir Alan Sugar. She likes artists, especially the erstwhile Young British Artists, and above all, Tracey Emin, who knows how to lay on a juicy spread: the offerings for their first encounter in 2001 included a used condom left ...

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