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Teeter-Totters

Jeremy Harding: Teeter-Tottering on the Border, 20 April 2017

Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the US-Mexico Boundary 
by Ronald Rael.
California, 184 pp., £24.95, May 2017, 978 0 520 28394 7
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... a point of brandishing his US passport to exhilarated crowds in Tijuana before he slid into the cannon that lofted him back into his own country. Rael uses the story to tell a larger one, about the dispatch of packaged marijuana and cocaine from Mexico by trebuchet and pressurised air cannon, powered like survival packs ...

Nothing They Wouldn’t Do

Richard J. Evans: Krupp, 21 June 2012

Krupp: A History of the Legendary German Firm 
by Harold James.
Princeton, 360 pp., £24.95, March 2012, 978 0 691 15340 7
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... by William Manchester, better known for his account of the assassination of his wartime friend, John F. Kennedy, Death of a President. Written in a racy, sometimes sensational style, the book was full of sweeping generalisations about Germany and the Germans, whom Manchester, not least because of his war experiences, clearly did not like. The Krupp...

Reduced to Ashes and Rubbage

Jessie Childs: Civil War Traumas, 3 January 2019

Battle-Scarred: Mortality, Medical Care and Military Welfare in the British Civil Wars 
edited by David Appleby and Andrew Hopper.
Manchester, 247 pp., £80, July 2018, 978 1 5261 2480 7
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... and a date: 1633. This was the year a local gentleman, Sir John Reresby of Thrybergh Hall, began to note the contents of his garden. Every peach, pear and plum is catalogued, as are herbs, shrubs, bulbs – ‘Kentish Codlings’, ‘the Granado Gilliflower’, ‘Melincholly Munkes hoode’ – and attempts at grafting ...

Redesigning Cambridge

Sheldon Rothblatt, 5 March 1981

Cambridge before Darwin: The Ideal of a Liberal Education 1800-1860 
by Martha McMackin Garland.
Cambridge, 196 pp., £14.50, November 1980, 0 521 23319 4
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... expedition has been hacking through textbook surveys for several decades. Robert Butts and Walter Cannon have called attention to the scientific and philosophical contributions of the ‘Cambridge Network’ – men like William Whewell, Adam Sedgwick, Charles Babbage, George Airy, John Herschel and ...

Aromatic Splinters

John Bayley, 7 September 1995

The Poems of John Dryden: Vol. I, 1649-1681; Vol. II, 1682-1685 
edited by Paul Hammond.
Longman, 551 pp., £75, February 1995, 0 582 49213 0
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... led to an attack on Dryden in Rose Alley by hired thugs of Buckingham, the Zimri of the poem, was John Sheffield, Earl of Mulgrave, a moderate royalist who did rather well out of the whole imbroglio. He was the author of An Essay upon Satire and An Essay upon Poetry, in the first of which Dryden almost certainly had a hand. Together with his own essays and ...

Strange Little Woman

Ferdinand Mount: First and Only Empress, 22 November 2018

Empress: Queen Victoria and India 
by Miles Taylor.
Yale, 388 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 0 300 11809 4
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Eastern Encounters: Four Centuries of Paintings and Manuscripts from the Indian Subcontinent 
by Emily Hannam.
Royal Collections Trust, 256 pp., £45, June 2018, 978 1 909741 45 4
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Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India 1875-76 
by Kajal Meghani.
Royal Collections Trust, 216 pp., £29.95, March 2017, 978 1 909741 42 3
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... the Queen’s Gallery. Nasir-al-Din Haider had got clearance from the resident in Lucknow, Colonel John Low, and from the governor-general in Calcutta, Lord William Bentinck, to dispatch the offerings: two elephants, two superb horses with jewelled harnesses, sundry necklaces, bracelets and Indian manuscripts galore, together with a bedstead studded with ...

Gilded Drainpipes

E.S. Turner: London, 10 June 1999

The London Rich: The Creation of a Great City from 1666 to the Present 
by Peter Thorold.
Viking, 374 pp., £25, June 1999, 0 670 87480 9
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The Rise of the Nouveaux Riches: Style and Status in Victorian and Edwardian Architecture 
by Mordaunt Crook.
Murray, 354 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 7195 6040 3
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... Nearby was Portman Square, another highly-sought rectangle, the contractor for which was John Elwes, scion of a family of congenital and pathological misers, himself one of the London rich. For a long period these proud squares stood incongruously on the edge of open country, highwayman-haunted. There was much to be said for a mansion in Grosvenor ...

When the Jaw-Jaw Failed

Miles Taylor: Company Rule in India, 3 March 2016

The Tears of the Rajas: Mutiny, Money and Marriage in India 1805-1905 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Simon & Schuster, 784 pp., £12.99, January 2016, 978 1 4711 2946 9
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... Sir John Low​ finally hung up his helmet seventy years after joining the Madras army in 1804, having served the East India Company as soldier, jailer, agent and councillor. As a rookie lieutenant, his regiment mopped up in Mysore when the British took over the old kingdom of Tipu Sultan. He helped see off the Marathas at the battle of Mahidpur in 1817, and kept their chief minister, Baji Rao, under house arrest on the banks of the Ganges ...

Out of the jiffybag

Frank Kermode, 12 November 1987

For Love and Money: Writing, Reading, Travelling 1969-1987 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins Harvill, 350 pp., £11.50, November 1987, 0 00 272279 8
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Original Copy: Selected Reviews and Journalism 1969-1986 
by John Carey.
Faber, 278 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14879 4
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... Quennell – and he seems to enjoy being generous to other reviewers, as when he justly praises John Updike. He is full of gratitude to literary editors, commemorating Ian Hamilton’s work on the New Review in terms only this side of idolatry. Such writers and editors do the work he wants to help with – they keep going some intelligent conversation about ...

Paddling in the Gravy

E.S. Turner: Bath’s panderer-in-chief, 21 July 2005

The Imaginary Autocrat: Beau Nash and the Invention of Bath 
by John Eglin.
Profile, 292 pp., £20, May 2005, 1 86197 302 0
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... When John Wesley visited Bath in 1739 to inveigh against the follies that flourished at hot springs, he was challenged by a fleshy, domineering figure in a white beaver hat, who demanded to know by what authority he was preaching. Wesley’s retort (or so he claimed) was ‘Pray, sir, are you a justice of the peace, or the mayor of this city? By what authority do you ask me these things?’ Richard (‘Beau’) Nash was at a loss for a ready reply ...

Paradise Lost

Nicholas Everett, 11 July 1991

Omeros 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 325 pp., £17.50, September 1990, 0 571 16070 0
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Collected Poems 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 456 pp., £18, September 1990, 0 7011 3713 4
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The Mail from Anywhere 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 55 pp., £5.95, September 1990, 0 19 282779 0
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An Elegy for the Galosherman: New and Selected Poems 
by Matt Simpson.
Bloodaxe, 128 pp., £6.95, October 1990, 1 85224 103 9
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... avoiding paraphrasable meaning altogether. One need only point to the work of Wallace Stevens or John Ashbery to show how successfully some of it sustains our expectations while ultimately refusing to deliver the semantic goods. Having extracted a poem’s point, runs the usual defence of such teasing evasions, readers will have no further use for the poem ...

Shivering Eyeballs

Jessica Olin: Mary Karr, 1 November 2001

Cherry 
by Mary Karr.
Picador, 276 pp., £14, June 2001, 9780330485753
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... philosophy and painting in her garage. In some circles, Charlie Karr would be called a loose cannon; in Leechfield, she is described as Nervous. At the sound of her voice, Mary’s friends ‘all startled a little the way a herd of antelope on one of those African documentaries will lift their heads from the water hole at the first scent of a ...

Heavenly Cities

Daniel Aaron, 10 October 1991

The Conscience of the Eye: The Design and Social Life of Cities 
by Richard Sennett.
Faber, 266 pp., £17.50, June 1991, 0 571 16192 8
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... the arts. The expository flow is slowed down by authorial excurses: a disquisition on clocks and cannon, a report on what he sees and hears during one of his flâneurial rambles from Greenwich Village to the United Nations, reflections on a John Ashbery poem. Plainly he has read a lot of books. This one abounds with ...

Diary

Jenny Diski: On Meeting the Creatives, 22 February 1996

... are all right: every few hundred yards bright yellow snow-making machines, like small snub-nosed cannon, soak up water from the lakes and shoot it ten metres into the air to do what God can usually be relied on to achieve, and keep what skiers there are on the move. Still, the shopkeepers and hoteliers are not a happy bunch, and there are nothing but ...

Sunshine

David Goldie: Morecambe and Wise, 15 April 1999

Morecambe and Wise 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 416 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 1 85702 735 3
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... their near-contemporaries, Jewel and Warriss and Mike and Bernie Winters, to their successors, Cannon and Ball and Little and Large, is undeviating in its reliance on the sparring partnership of an unctuous straight man and a sly, grotesque clown. This is the mode in which Morecambe and Wise began, mimicking the hard-edged wise-guy contentiousness ...

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