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Six Bombs

Jeremy Bernstein: South Africa’s Nukes, 9 January 2014

... Nelson Mandela was released from prison on 2 February 1990. On 26 February F.W. de Klerk ordered the dismantling of a South African nuclear weapons programme which very few people knew existed. At the time the country had six uranium bombs and one more under construction. De Klerk had looked into abandoning the programme a year earlier, but Mandela’s release was plainly instrumental in making it happen ...


Jeremy Bernstein, 31 July 2014

... Their aim​ is that we accept a capacity of ten thousand separative work units which is equivalent to ten thousand centrifuges of the older type that we already have,’ Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, said on 4 June. ‘Our officials say we need 190,000 SWU. Perhaps this is not a need this year or in two years or five years, but this is the country’s absolute need ...


Jeremy Bernstein: Newton’s Rings, 1 April 1999

... wanted some desert. He said to one of his daughters: ‘Is there a stale cookie around to give to Jeremy?’ A Clockwork Orange had just opened in France and there was a review Kubrick asked me to translate. Words like ‘genius’ flowed through it. When I finished he remarked: ‘I could have used a few more ...

At Los Alamos

Jeremy Bernstein, 20 December 2012

... I graduated from Harvard with a degree in mathematics in 1951 and got my PhD in physics in 1955. I needed a job and a friend made a suggestion: on the Harvard campus there was a relatively modest cyclotron, simple enough for graduate students to operate. There was a position open for a ‘house theorist’. My friend recommended me and I got the job ...

A Cheat, a Sharper and a Swindler

Brian Young: Warren Hastings, 24 May 2001

Dawning of the Raj: The Life and Trials of Warren Hastings 
by Jeremy Bernstein.
Aurum, 319 pp., £19.99, March 2001, 1 85410 753 4
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... he considered himself to be from recognisably the same world as Hastings. His latest biographer, Jeremy Bernstein, on the other hand, writes very much as an outsider, though one with a long journalistic interest in India and Tibet. It’s clear that he and his publishers take a distinctly distant attitude to older, predominantly British perspectives on ...


Thomas Jones: The Bomb in My Head, 5 April 2018

... from Greenham Common, around Aldermaston to ROF Burghfield. As Eckart Conze, Martin Klimke and Jeremy Varon write in Nuclear Threats, Nuclear Fear and the Cold War of the 1980s, in the autumn of 1983 five million people across Western Europe demonstrated against the deployment of Nato’s cruise missiles.2 On 12 June 1982, more than a million people ...

Pale Ghosts

Jeremy Harding, 12 January 1995

The Electronic Elephant: A Southern African Journey 
by Dan Jacobson.
Hamish Hamilton, 373 pp., £17.99, June 1994, 0 241 13355 6
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Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela 
Little, Brown, 630 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 316 90965 3Show More
None to Accompany Me 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 324 pp., £15.99, September 1994, 0 7475 1821 1
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The Rift: The Exile Experience of South Africans 
by Hilda Bernstein.
Cape, 516 pp., £25, February 1994, 0 224 03546 0
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... palpable kind) an ‘unhealable rift between a human being and a native place’, and Hilda Bernstein has chosen the title of her book with this in mind. It contains roughly a hundred testimonies by South African exiles. From the end of the Fifties to 1990, large numbers of people (‘30,000? 60,000? – nobody knew exactly’) were outside the country ...


Jenny Diski, 28 April 1994

Roald Dahl: A Biography 
by Jeremy Treglown.
Faber, 307 pp., £17.50, March 1994, 0 571 16573 7
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... are no more than pious mouthings; who, really, wants to read an authorised biography? So take Jeremy Treglown’s apologia at the beginning of his Dahl biography with a pinch of salt. Ophelia Dahl plans to write the authorised version of her father’s life, with the approval of his second wife, Felicity, who asked friends and relatives not to co-operate ...

All There Needs to Be Said

August Kleinzahler: Louis Zukofsky, 22 May 2008

The Poem of a Life: A Biography of Louis Zukofsky 
by Mark Scroggins.
Shoemaker and Hoard, 555 pp., $30, December 2007, 978 1 59376 158 5
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... and cerebral quality of much of Zukofsky’s own poetry. Zukofsky, like Charles Olson and Jeremy Prynne, is a monstre sacré: his reputation precludes any serious discussion of individual pieces of work. The project is the thing, not a particular piece of writing. How we feel about Zukofsky is affected by how we feel about difficulty, a quality ...

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