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Fraynwaves

Hugh Barnes, 2 May 1985

Towards the End of the Morning 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 255 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221822 4
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Sweet Dreams 
by Michael Frayn.
Harvill, 223 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 00 221884 4
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The Fall of Kelvin Walker 
by Alasdair Gray.
Canongate, 144 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780862410728
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Lean Tales 
by James Kelman, Agnes Owens and Alasdair Gray.
Cape, 286 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 224 02262 8
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Stones for Ibarra 
by Harriet Doerr.
Deutsch, 214 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 9780233977522
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Family Dancing 
by David Leavitt.
Viking, 206 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 670 80263 8
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The Whitbread Stories: One 
by Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson.
Hamish Hamilton, 184 pp., £4.95, April 1985, 0 241 11544 2
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... recalls it in The Fall of Kelvin Walker, subtitled ‘A Fable of the Sixties’). It occurs to John Dyson, Frayn’s downtrodden hero, that ‘failure was the secular equivalent of sin.’ But even his failure now seems like success. He and Bob Bell work out of the same office collating ‘Years Gone By’ or ‘The Country Day by Day’, duelling ...

Doom Sooner or Later

John Leslie, 5 June 1997

Imagined Worlds 
by Freeman Dyson.
Harvard, 216 pp., £14.50, May 1997, 0 674 53908 7
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... Freeman Dyson warns us in Imagined Worlds that he is now ‘an old scientist pretending to be a sage’ and that ‘we learn from science and from history that the future is unpredictable.’ As well as diagnosing our present ills, however, Dyson offers strong hopes that our descendants will colonise not just their own galaxy in its entirety, but others too ...

The Ugly Revolution

Michael Rogin: Martin Luther King Jr, 10 May 2001

I May Not Get there with You: The True Martin Luther King Jr 
by Michael Eric Dyson.
Free Press, 404 pp., £15.99, May 2000, 0 684 86776 1
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The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr. Vol. IV: Symbol of the Movement January 1957-December 1958 
edited by Clayborne Carson et al.
California, 637 pp., £31.50, May 2000, 0 520 22231 8
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... in the freedom struggle. The four political assassinations that define the 1960s – those of John and Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X and King – stand in for the very large numbers (almost all black and lost to national public memory) martyred to racial justice. It is now a commonplace that, instead of protecting Southern civil rights workers, the FBI (with ...

Reasons of State

R.W. Johnson, 5 June 1986

The ‘Rainbow Warrior’ Affair 
by Richard Shears and Isobelle Gidley.
Allen and Unwin, 215 pp., £2.95, January 1986, 0 04 900041 1
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Sink the ‘Rainbow’: An Inquiry into the Greenpeace Affair 
by John Dyson.
Gollancz, 192 pp., £8.95, February 1986, 9780575038561
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La Piscine: Les Services Secrets Français 1944-1984 
by R. Faligot and P. Krop.
Seuil, 431 pp., March 1985, 9782020087438
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... by the Greenpeace affair. The main facts are well enough known – of the books under review Dyson is by far the surer, better-written guide – and they suggest that little has really changed. The DGSE and its predecessors have never, after all, had principled objections to committing acts of violence in other people’s countries. Once again, the ...

Full of Glory

John Mullan: The Inklings, 19 November 2015

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings 
by Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski.
Farrar, Straus, 644 pp., £11.20, June 2015, 978 0 374 15409 7
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... that keen. ‘Oh God, not another fucking elf!’ the English lecturer and long-time Inkling Hugo Dyson cried. John Wain, an attendee at meetings in the late 1940s, described his heart sinking as Tolkien appeared at Lewis’s door with a bulging jacket pocket, yet again. Tolkien looked down on Lewis’s Narnia, which he ...

Anyone for Eternity?

John Leslie, 23 March 1995

The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead 
by Frank Tipler.
Macmillan, 528 pp., £20, January 1995, 0 333 61864 5
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... he argues, and hence (a step sure to raise many eyebrows) unlikely to be good physics. Freeman Dyson, he notes, has shown how life and thought might continue for ever in an endlessly expanding universe despite the constantly increasing cold, or rather because of it. Dyson explains that as temperatures fell more and ...

Boiling Electrons

David Kaiser, 27 September 2012

Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe 
by George Dyson.
Allen Lane, 401 pp., £25, March 2012, 978 0 7139 9750 7
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... would change for ever. The unlikely setting for the transformation – as detailed in George Dyson’s engaging history – was the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. The institute had been founded in 1930 with funding from the department-store magnate Louis Bamberger and his sister, Caroline Bamberger Fuld. Advised by the education reformer ...

Mental Arithmetic

Nicholas Wade, 7 January 1993

Genius: Richard Feynman and Modern Physics 
by James Gleick.
Little, Brown, 532 pp., £18.99, October 1992, 0 316 90316 7
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... water, Feynman had visibly put his finger on the reason for the catastrophe. As his friend Freeman Dyson later remarked, ‘the public saw with their own eyes how science is done, how a great scientist thinks with his hands, how nature gives a clear answer when a scientist asks her a clear question.’ In a dissenting report, which witheringly contrasted the ...

Thinking

Peter Campbell, 4 August 1988

Who got Einstein’s office? Eccentricity and Genius at the Institute for Advanced Study 
by Ed Regis.
Simon and Schuster, 316 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 671 69923 7
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Chaos 
by James Gleick.
Heinemann, 354 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 9780434295548
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The School of Genius 
by Anthony Storr.
Deutsch, 216 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 233 98010 5
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... the camaraderie of the laboratory, for there is no experimental work. Which is why the career of John von Neumann, who did do new work, and is the nearest thing the book has to a hero, is not typical. When he wanted to build a computer at the Institute he met resistance: Harold Cherniss, a specialist in ancient Greek philosophy, became an Institute ...

Thanks to the Fels-Naptha Soap King

Miles Taylor: George Lansbury, 22 May 2003

George Lansbury: At the Heart of Old Labour 
by John Shepherd.
Oxford, 407 pp., £35, September 2002, 0 19 820164 8
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... their families to the coast. The inspiration behind the scheme was George Lansbury, the subject of John Shepherd’s biography, a book as meticulous as it is generous. It is nonetheless timely: just as the prison service has brown-filled this pleasant site, so, too, New Labour has trampled on the radical socialism of which Lansbury was one of the finest ...

Who wouldn’t buy it?

Colin Burrow: Speculating about Shakespeare, 20 January 2005

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare 
by Stephen Greenblatt.
Cape, 430 pp., £20, October 2004, 9780224062763
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... instead to provide scraps of gossip that might give insights into his character and conversation. John Aubrey related that Shakespeare was the son of a butcher who ‘when he killed a calf would do it in high style, and make a speech’. By the early 18th century, Shakespearean biography was turning into something of an industry, with an indiscriminate ...

Dropping Their Eggs

Patrick Wright: The history of bombing, 23 August 2001

A History of Bombing 
by Sven Lindqvist, translated by Linda Haverty Rugg.
Granta, 233 pp., £14.99, May 2001, 1 86207 415 1
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The Bomber War: Arthur Harris and the Allied Bomber Offensive 1939-45 
by Robin Niellands.
Murray, 448 pp., £25, February 2001, 0 7195 5637 6
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Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War 
by Frances FitzGerald.
Touchstone, 592 pp., $17, March 2001, 0 7432 0023 3
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... religion’, in which America is a ‘shining city’ where the sacred fire of freedom is kept. John Keegan recently announced, in the course of a television debate in which I also took part, that to allow ‘cultural history’ onto the protected turf of war studies is to issue a chaotic licence to mavericks who will write about ‘anything at all’. Yet ...

Milk and Lemon

Steven Shapin: The Excesses of Richard Feynman, 7 July 2005

Don’t You Have Time to Think? The Letters of Richard Feynman 
edited by Michelle Feynman.
Allen Lane, 486 pp., £20, June 2005, 0 7139 9847 4
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... their visual idiom was gibberish to other theoretical physicists – but, with the help of Freeman Dyson at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, the diagrams soon became the lingua franca of QED physicists and their use was extended to several other sorts of physics. The diagrams have acquired iconographic status: Feynman decorated his camper van with ...

Where are the space arks?

Tom Stevenson: Space Forces, 4 March 2021

War in Space 
by Bleddyn Bowen.
Edinburgh, 356 pp., £85, July 2020, 978 1 4744 5048 5
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Dark Skies: Space Expansionism, Planetary Geopolitics and the Ends of Humanity 
by Daniel Deudney.
Oxford, 443 pp., £22.99, June 2020, 978 0 19 090334 3
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... operators to space warfighters’. But the vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, John E. Hyten, has described space war as ‘inevitable’.The American strategeion sees itself as waging a constant battle against complacency. To ward this off, the political class periodically conjures up imminent threats to US superiority. In the 1990s the ...

Todd Almighty

Peter Medawar, 16 February 1984

A Time to Remember: The Autobiography of a Chemist 
by Alexander Todd.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £15, November 1983, 0 521 25593 7
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... in lawn tennis helped him to become integrated into the student body. Compared to Frankfurt, the Dyson Perrins Laboratory at Oxford, where he worked, was rather primitive and ill-equipped with instruments, and it was a handicap that no microanalysis was laid on as a service until an unintended benefaction of Adolph Hitler’s brought the arrival of two ...

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