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Wormwood

Walter Patterson

29 October 1987
Sarcophagus 
by Vladimir Gubaryev, translated by Michael Glenny.
Penguin, 81 pp., £3.50, April 1987, 0 14 048214 8
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The Star Chernobyl 
by Julia Voznesenskaya.
Quartet, 181 pp., £10.95, August 1987, 0 7043 2631 0
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Chernobyl: A Novel 
by Frederick Pohl.
Bantam, 355 pp., £4.95, September 1987, 0 553 05210 1
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Mayday at Chernobyl 
by Henry Hamman and Stuart Parrott.
Hodder, 278 pp., £2.95, April 1987, 0 450 40858 2
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State of the World 1987: A Worldwatch Institute Report on Progress toward a Sustainable Society 
by Lester Brown.
Norton, 268 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 393 02399 0
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... 1987 report. Like its three precursors, this is a vade-mecum for anyone wishing to know just how serious the said ‘state’ has become, and what is being done to improve it. The Institute director LesterBrown and his colleagues lead off with an overall assessment of key issues, including energy, environment, material resources and planetary limits, underlining the human role in determining where we ...

Why We Should Preserve the Spotted Owl

Amartya Sen: Sustainability

5 February 2004
... reduce harmful emissions and other sources of planetary pollution. The signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987, now ratified by 186 countries, can be seen, LesterBrown has suggested, as ‘one of the finest hours of the United Nations’.1 The idea of sustainable development has inspired many large international gatherings – from the Earth Summit in Rio de ...

British Facts

Rosalind Mitchison

19 September 1985
Social Trends 15 
edited by Deo Ramprakash.
HMSO, 208 pp., £19.95, January 1985, 0 11 620102 9
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State of the World 1984: A Worldwatch Institute Report on Progress toward a Sustainable Society 
by Lester Brown.
Norton, 252 pp., £7.95, December 1984, 0 393 30176 1
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The Facts of Everyday Life 
by Tony Osman.
Faber, 160 pp., £6.95, April 1985, 0 571 13513 7
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The State of the Nation: An Atlas of Britain in the Eighties 
by Stephen Fothergill and Jill Vincent, edited by Michael Kidron.
Heinemann/Pan, 128 pp., £12.50, May 1985, 0 435 35288 1
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British Social Attitudes: The 1985 Report 
edited by Roger Jowell and Sharon Witherspoon.
Gower, 260 pp., £18.50, July 1985, 9780566007385
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... These books all set out to tell us about ourselves, and to do it by quantification. Their statements are based on economic statistics, demography, official and unofficial measurements, including the measurement of opinion. Some of their conclusions will surprise, for no one reader can expect to have covered the full range of social activity. Their quality must depend on the quality of the ‘facts ...

Judges and Ministers

Anthony Lester

18 April 1996
... then inevitably die. Underlying their decision was the need to weigh the public interest in preserving the sanctity of life against competing interests in human dignity and privacy. One issue in the Brown case was whether it would be an invasion of personal privacy to reject a defence of consent to charges of assault and unlawful wounding arising out of actions performed in private during ...

Policing the Police

Fredrick Harris: The Black Panthers

20 June 2013
Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party 
by Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin.
California, 539 pp., £24.95, January 2013, 978 0 520 27185 2
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... the comrades of the struggle who gained international notoriety, mostly through celebrated trials: Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, David Hilliard, Eldridge Cleaver, Kathleen Cleaver, Ericka Huggins, Elaine Brown. But rather than focusing on the sensationalist and salacious aspects of the party’s history – the confrontations, violence, criminality – Bloom and Martin choose to recount its history through ...

Terms of Art

Conor Gearty: Human Rights Law

11 March 2010
The Law of Human Rights 
by Richard Clayton and Hugh Tomlinson.
Oxford, 2443 pp., £295, March 2009, 978 0 19 926357 8
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Human Rights Law and Practice 
edited by Anthony Lester, David Pannick and Javan Herberg.
Lexis Nexis, 974 pp., £237, April 2009, 978 1 4057 3686 2
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Human Rights: Judicial Protection in the United Kingdom 
by Jack Beatson, Stephen Grosz, Tom Hickman, Rabinder Singh and Stephanie Palmer.
Sweet and Maxwell, 905 pp., £124, September 2008, 978 0 421 90250 3
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... behind the act, to expose the lies that have been told about it and to support the real (rather than fantasy tabloid) decisions concerning human rights that have emerged from the courts. Under Gordon Brown, Labour has even shown a tentative interest in extending protection into the realm of social and economic rights: its discussion paper on a bill of rights and responsibilities was widely mocked when ...

Goings-on in the Tivoli Gardens

Christopher Tayler: Marlon James

5 November 2015
A Brief History of Seven Killings 
by Marlon James.
Oneworld, 688 pp., £8.99, June 2015, 978 1 78074 635 7
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... American Tabloid (1995) are built around the Kennedy assassination – turn out, after hundreds of pages, to be modelled on a massacre carried out years later in an American crack house, allegedly by Lester Coke, a Kingston gang boss who burned to death, in unexplained circumstances, in a high-security prison cell in 1992. His son and heir, Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, is the man the Jamaican army and ...
19 December 1991
... convinced a majority of people that our constitution and freedoms have the reality, as well as the splendour, of the emperor’s new clothes. For the handful of liberals – Lord Scarman, Anthony Lester, Michael Zander – who have been arguing for decades that we need to have our rights and the government’s powers written down and invigilated by independent judges, the Nineties are looking like ...

My Heroin Christmas

Terry Castle: Art Pepper and Me

18 December 2003
... leaned up against a eucalyptus tree, in a crisp, open-necked, pinky-white Coronet-style shirt (window-pane check) and a gorgeous pale tweed sports jacket, dotted with tiny delicate flecks of brown and black. He held his alto gently in the crook of one arm. He smiled faintly at me – a low-rent Lucifer – and was humming quietly. You’d be so – o – o – o – nice – to come home to! ...
9 July 1987
Speak, Memory 
by Vladimir Nabokov.
Penguin, 242 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 14 008623 4
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The Russian Album 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 191 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3109 8
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The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff 
prepared in association with by Sonja Sinclair.
Toronto, 265 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 8020 2556 0
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A Little of All These: An Estonian Childhood 
by Tania Alexander.
Cape, 165 pp., £12.50, March 1987, 0 224 02400 0
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... service in June 1940 and retired thirty years later, one of Canada’s most senior diplomats and its leading expert on disarmament. In 1955 he returned to Russia for the first time, accompanying Lester Pearson on an official visit to Moscow. It wasn’t a happy occasion; he felt out of place, there was too much to eat and drink, his Russian was rusty, the talks were unproductive, and he resented ...

Introversion Has Its Limits

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘Essayism’

8 March 2018
Essayism 
by Brian Dillon.
Fitzcarraldo, 138 pp., £10.99, June 2017, 978 1 910695 41 8
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Sound: Stories of Hearing Lost and Found 
by Bella Bathurst.
Wellcome, 224 pp., £8.99, February 2018, 978 1 78125 776 0
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Proxies: A Memoir in Twenty-Four Attempts 
by Brian Blanchfield.
Picador, 181 pp., £9.99, August 2017, 978 1 5098 4785 3
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... of italics and exclamation marks. ‘Was permitted to sit! Behind a screen!’ Then we’re on to the marginal social acceptability of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, whose hand, ‘holding the teacup, was very brown, and very, very wrinkly with the soap-suds; and all through her gown and her cap there were hairpins sticking wrong end out; so that Lucie didn’t like to sit too near her.’ Both these essays show ...

A History of Disappointment

Jackson Lears: Obama’s Parents

5 January 2012
The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father 
by Sally Jacobs.
Public Affairs, 336 pp., £20, July 2011, 978 1 58648 793 5
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A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother 
by Janny Scott.
Riverhead, 384 pp., £18.99, May 2011, 978 1 59448 797 2
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... and historical context, to econometrics, with its reliance on abstract mathematical models. Barack was a crack mathematician and held his own among his formidable classmates, who included Lester Thurow and Samuel Bowles. Remaining aloof from the white mainstream, he hung out with the African students. ‘He spoke very firmly to us about education and what we needed to do,’ said one. ‘He ...

So Ordinary, So Glamorous

Thomas Jones: Eternal Bowie

5 April 2012
Starman: David Bowie, the Definitive Biography 
by Paul Trynka.
Sphere, 440 pp., £9.99, March 2012, 978 0 7515 4293 6
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The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s 
by Peter Doggett.
Bodley Head, 424 pp., £20, September 2011, 978 1 84792 144 4
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... many of the musicians from Philadelphia now on stage, Bowie ditched the elaborate set and changed his costume, performing in his girlfriend Ava Cherry’s father’s gouster suits from the 1940s. Lester Bangs slammed the Detroit show in his review in Creem as ‘a weird and utterly incongruous melange of glitter sentiment, negritudinal trappings, cocaine ecstasy and Vegas schmaltz’ – a view ...

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