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Drink hard, pray hard and simply vanish

Jack Rakove: The history of the American revolution, 5 April 2001

Becoming America: The Revolution Before 1776 
by Jon Butler.
Harvard, 324 pp., £19.50, May 2000, 0 674 00091 9
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Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans 
by Joyce Appleby.
Harvard, 322 pp., £17.95, May 2000, 0 674 00236 9
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... therefore to be found in its colonial past, or are they better located in the break with Britain? Jon Butler argues the former, Joyce Appleby the latter. Butler also wants to argue, however, that although a recognisably modern society took shape in America during the ‘provincial decades’ following initial ...

What did Cook want?

Jon Lawrence: Both ‘on message’ and off, 19 February 2004

The Point of Departure 
by Robin Cook.
Simon and Schuster, 368 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 7432 5255 1
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... more fundamental charge of duplicity that Cook feels demands closer investigation. Perhaps Lord Butler may yet resolve such issues, but the signs are hardly promising. No doubt most people will read Point of Departure to learn about the run up to war, but it is the sorry tale of Cook’s ministerial frustrations as leader of the House, particularly over the ...

After Hartlepool

James Butler, 3 June 2021

... cheery about its gradual evaporation and slide into irrelevance. The left-wing Labour MP Jon Trickett argued that the Greens’ success reflects a squeeze on Labour’s vote from the middle class (93,000 voters registered a Green first preference in London before backing Khan). But the story is more complex: Green wins in Tynedale, Alnwick, Stockport ...

Doomed to Draw

Ben Jackson: Magnus Carlsen v. AI, 6 June 2019

The Grandmaster: Magnus Carlsen and the Match that Made Chess Great Again 
by Brin-Jonathan Butler.
Simon and Schuster, 211 pp., £12.99, November 2018, 978 1 9821 0728 4
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Game Changer: AlphaZero’s Groundbreaking Chess Strategies and the Promise of AI 
by Matthew Sadler and Natasha Regan.
New in Chess, 416 pp., £19.95, January 2019, 978 90 5691 818 7
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... a chess app on your phone that can handily defeat a grandmaster). In the documentary Magnus, Jon Ludvig Hammer, who assisted Carlsen during the 2013 Anand match, suggests that his style depends on getting players away from prepared moves, ‘so that it’s a battle of the mind, rather than a battle of who can use the computer best’. This has continued ...

Failed Vocation

James Butler: The Corbyn Project, 3 December 2020

Left Out: The Inside Story of Labour under Corbyn 
by Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire.
Bodley Head, 376 pp., £18.99, September, 978 1 84792 645 6
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This Land: The Story of a Movement 
by Owen Jones.
Allen Lane, 336 pp., £20, September, 978 0 241 47094 7
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... The antisemitism crisis cannot be explained away, and the statement by Momentum’s founder, Jon Lansman, that he felt ‘used as a Jew’ to defend the party, but was left without support afterwards, should be a source of shame.Pogrund and Maguire chronicle the repeated attempts to head off disaster in the early phases of the crisis. Not every proposal ...

Chianti in Khartoum

Nick Laird: Louis MacNeice, 3 March 2011

Letters of Louis MacNeice 
edited by Jonathan Allison.
Faber, 768 pp., £35, May 2010, 978 0 571 22441 8
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... but even a MacNeice failure is more interesting than many poets’ successes. According to Samuel Butler, the true test of the imagination is the ability to name a cat, and in his last year at Marlborough, Louis had some suggestions for his stepmother: Re kittens, one must be called Old Foss after Mr Lear’s famous cat. The other two might perhaps be called ...

Across the Tellyverse

Jenny Turner: Daleks v. Cybermen, 22 June 2006

Doctor Who 
BBC1Show More
Doctor Who: A Critical Reading of the Series 
by Kim Newman.
BFI, 138 pp., £12, December 2005, 1 84457 090 8
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... problem, and the visual similarity of the Doctor’s second-best adversaries to C3PO, the trite butler-robot. Which is why Cybermen no longer impress us. The metaphorical connections no longer lead adults, at least, to things we find exciting – unlike priests, Nazis, our shabby 1960s and 1970s childhoods. Or so it might appear. Like everyone else of my ...

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