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The Irreplaceable

Bee Wilson: Palm Oil Dependency, 23 June 2022

Planet Palm: How Palm Oil Ended Up in Everything – and Endangered the World 
by Jocelyn C. Zuckerman.
Hurst, 337 pp., £20, May 2021, 978 1 78738 378 4
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Oil Palm: A Global History 
by Jonathan E. Robins.
North Carolina, 418 pp., £32.95, July 2021, 978 1 4696 6289 3
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... oil as a foodstuff was its use as a coating to stop the tin used for canned food oxidising. As Jonathan Robins notes in Oil Palm: A Global History, ‘few people in the industrialised world ate much palm oil until the 1920s.’ In the United States, it wasn’t officially recognised as a food until 1930 (dairy farmers had fought hard against the new ...

They saw him coming

Neal Ascherson: The Lockhart Plot, 5 November 2020

The Lockhart Plot: Love, Betrayal, Assassination and Counter-­Revolution in Lenin’s Russia 
by Jonathan Schneer.
Oxford, 331 pp., £25, July 2020, 978 0 19 885298 8
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... London or Paris, they came to assume that silence meant approval. That wasn’t always the case.To Jonathan Schneer, who has taught modern history in several American universities, ‘the Lockhart Plot seemed … an important subject; also, dramatic, romantic, intrinsically gripping.’ Dramatic and romantic it certainly was, and Schneer has made not one but ...

Who will get legal aid now?

Joanna Biggs: Legal Aid, 20 October 2011

... advice – and the phones aren’t always manned by solicitors. So someone accused of pushing an ex-girlfriend during an argument (common assault, carrying a maximum punishment of six months in prison) would only be allowed to speak over the phone to some sort of legal adviser. The government also plans to move the financial goalposts: at the moment, legal ...

A Strange Blight

Meehan Crist: Rachel Carson’s Forebodings, 6 June 2019

‘Silent Spring’ and Other Writings on the Environment 
by Rachel Carson, edited by Sandra Steingraber.
Library of America, 546 pp., £29.99, March 2018, 978 1 59853 560 0
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... former density, and their absence in turn damages the ecosystems in which they once thrived. As Jonathan Watts, the Guardian’s environment editor, wrote after the release of the UN global assessment, it ‘paints a picture of a suffocating human-caused sameness spreading across the planet, as a small range of cash crops and high-value livestock are ...

Love in a Dark Time

Colm Tóibín: Oscar Wilde, 19 April 2001

The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde 
edited by Merlin Holland and Rupert Hart-Davis.
Fourth Estate, 1270 pp., £35, November 2000, 1 85702 781 7
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... is the abyss of the theatre.’ On the night his play closed James wrote to the actress Elizabeth Robins: ‘It has been a great relief to feel that one of the most detestable incidents of my life has closed.’ On 22 February he wrote to his brother: ‘Oscar Wilde’s farce which followed Guy Domville is, I believe, a great success – and with his two ...

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