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Brute Nature

Rosemary Dinnage, 6 March 1997

Masters of Bedlam: The Transformation of the Mad-Doctoring Trade 
by Andrew Scull, Charlotte Mackenzie and Nicholas Hervey.
Princeton, 363 pp., £23, February 1997, 0 691 03411 7
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... to bear. The brief biographies of 19th-century alienists through which Andrew Scull, Charlotte MacKenzie and Nicholas Hervey tell the story of the century’s dealings with the mad make it clear that Morison’s haunted expression could have been that of any of the seven ‘mad-doctors’ described here. The first of them was born in 1764, the last died in ...

‘The Sun Says’

Paul Laity, 20 June 1996

... it wasn’t long before he was replaced by the private-school educated, wannabe barrow-boy Kelvin MacKenzie.) Now that Murdoch has 131 other media enterprises to take care of, his personal impact must be negligible, but the old Murdochian personality of the paper remains. To some extent its self-proclaimed ‘radical’ championing of ‘the people’ against ...

Fear in the Markets

Donald MacKenzie: The ways in which ‘finance theory’ becomes part of what it examines, 13 April 2000

... The investment partnership Long-Term Capital Management was set up in 1993 by John Meriwether, previously a successful bond trader and then senior manager at the US investment bank, Salomon Brothers. Meriwether recruited to LTCM, from Salomon and elsewhere, an impressive team of experienced traders and specialists in mathematical finance ...

The Imagined Market

Donald MacKenzie: Money Games, 31 October 2002

Machine Dreams: Economics Becomes a Cyborg Science 
by Philip Mirowski.
Cambridge, 670 pp., £24.95, February 2002, 0 521 77526 4
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... albeit with some cyborg features, rather than taking forward what Mirowski reads as the vision of John von Neumann (mathematician, polymath, weaponeer, Cold War hawk, pioneer computer scientist, game theorist) of a fully cyborg economics, one which ‘appreciated the significance of the computer as an information processor for a reconceptualisation of the ...

‘Bye Bye Baghdad’

Paul Foot, 7 February 1991

... IN BRITAIN. This would normally be a joke, a fantastic flight of fancy to prove that editor Kelvin Mackenzie had at last gone mad. But when, the next morning, the Sun devotes its entire front page to the Union Jack with a good old British Tommy in its centre, and the rubric up above SUPPORT OUR BOYS AND PUT THIS FLAG IN YOUR WINDOW, thousands of people do ...

How to Solve the Puzzle

Donald MacKenzie: On Short Selling, 5 April 2018

... of short selling. In 2008 Rowan Williams spoke out against it, and his fellow archbishop John Sentamu compared short sellers to ‘bank robbers’. (In the event it transpired that the Church of England’s pension fund had been earning fees for lending out its holdings of shares to short sellers.) Being denounced by an archbishop isn’t the worst ...

Cookies, Pixels and Fingerprints

Donald MacKenzie, 1 April 2021

... money I spend on advertising is wasted,’ the 19th-century Philadelphia department store pioneer John Wanamaker supposedly said. ‘The trouble is, I don’t know which half.’ Today’s huge volumes of data don’t necessarily bring as much clarity as one might imagine. Everyone in the business would agree that the effects of what they call ...

Are we having fun yet?

John Lanchester: The Biggest Scandal of All, 4 July 2013

... the London Interbank Offered Rate, was explained with pellucid clarity in these pages by Donald MacKenzie in 2008.2 Libor is the single most important number in international financial markets, used as a reference point throughout the global financial system. It is a range of interbank lending rates, set after consultation between the British ...

The Blindfolded Archer

Donald MacKenzie: The stochastic dynamics of market prices, 4 August 2005

The (Mis)behaviour of Markets: A Fractal View of Risk, Ruin and Reward 
by Benoit Mandelbrot and Richard Hudson.
Profile, 328 pp., £9.99, September 2005, 1 86197 790 5
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... is an imbalance) had almost exhausted their capital and feared bankruptcy. The exchange’s chair, John Phelan, later told the Wall Street Journal that he feared that if the exchange closed, ‘we would never open it.’ The crash of October 1987 had no clear-cut external cause: no oil shock, no massive government default, no Twin Towers. It ...

The Political Economy of Carbon Trading

Donald MacKenzie: A Ratchet, 5 April 2007

... globally – a big if – we will before long be able to trade carbon anywhere in the world. As John Lanchester noted in the last issue of the LRB, the science of global warming is not straightforward. The basic physics has been clear since the 19th century. What’s been harder to understand in detail are matters such as the many feedback loops by which a ...

Blessed, Beastly Place

Douglas Dunn, 5 March 1981

Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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Gillespie 
by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... with authors of all kinds, from Gavin Douglas to James Boswell to Annie S. Swan, Sir Compton Mackenzie and a thousand others: the subject is God’s own gift to the sifter of anecdotes and the historian of large-scale cultural change. Trevor Royle tackles it with affection and enthusiasm. Admirable as these qualities are, the reader might expect ...

Bloody

Michael Church, 9 October 1986

The Children of the Souls: A Tragedy of the First World War 
by Jeanne Mackenzie.
Chatto, 276 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 9780701128470
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Voices from the Spanish Civil War: Personal Recollections of Scottish Volunteers in Republican Spain 1936-39 
edited by Ian MacDougall, by Victor Kiernan.
Polygon, 369 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 948275 19 7
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The Shallow Grave: A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War 
by Walter Gregory, edited by David Morris and Anthony Peters.
Gollancz, 183 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 575 03790 3
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Spanish Front: Writers on the Civil War 
edited by Valentine Cunningham.
Oxford, 388 pp., £15, July 1986, 0 19 212258 4
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The Spanish Cockpit 
by Franz Borkenau.
Pluto, 303 pp., £4.95, July 1986, 0 7453 0188 6
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The Spanish Civil War 1936-39 
by Paul Preston.
Weidenfeld, 184 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 297 78891 4
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Images of the Spanish Civil War 
by Raymond Carr.
Allen and Unwin, 192 pp., £14.95, July 1986, 0 04 940089 4
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... and very satisfactory’, one of the chief pleasures being ‘getting back into male society’. John Cornford fought in Spain as a zealous young Communist, but his letters to Margot Heinemann reflect the same first-term-in-a-new-school excitement, the same all-male exhilaration. ‘I did quite well that day,’ he said of his success in rescuing a gun from ...

Bravo l’artiste

John Lanchester: What is Murdoch after?, 5 February 2004

The Murdoch Archipelago 
by Bruce Page.
Simon and Schuster, 580 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 7432 3936 9
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Rupert Murdoch: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Media Wizard 
by Neil Chenoweth.
Crown Business, 416 pp., $27.50, December 2002, 0 609 61038 4
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Autumn of the Moguls: My Misadventures with the Titans, Poseurs and Money Guys who Mastered and Messed up Big Media 
by Michael Wolff.
Flamingo, 381 pp., £18.99, January 2004, 0 00 717881 6
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... published on the first news of the sinking of the Belgrano, is hard to beat. Even Kelvin MacKenzie, the Sun’s carnivorous editor, had second thoughts about that one, and changed it in later editions to ‘DID 1200 ARGIES DROWN?’ ‘I wouldn’t have pulled it if I was you,’ Murdoch told MacKenzie, according ...

Bright Old Thing

D.A.N. Jones, 23 July 1987

Letters of Conrad Russell: 1897-1947 
edited by Georgiana Blakiston.
Murray, 278 pp., £16.95, May 1987, 0 7195 4382 7
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... not free to marry him, thereby furnishing protection from decisive action.’ Lord Byron (also on John Murray’s list) once remarked: Think you, if Laura had been Petrarch’s wife, He would have written sonnets all his life? Russell never married. He was of that company called ‘the lost generation’, as described by Jeanne ...

An Address in Mayfair

Donald MacKenzie: How to Start a Hedge Fund, 4 December 2008

... magazine Alpha publishes estimates of top individual earnings. The 2007 list was headed by John Paulson of Paulson & Co., who earned $3.7 billion by betting that the value of securities backed by US sub-prime mortgages would collapse. He was followed by George Soros ($2.9 billion) and James Simons ($2.8 billion). These are figures far beyond even the ...

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