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Doctor No

John Sturrock, 2 February 1989

Journey to the end of the night 
by Louis Ferdinand Céline, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Calder, 448 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 7145 3800 0
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La Vie de Céline 
by Frédéric Vitoux.
Grasset, 597 pp., frs 190, May 1988, 2 246 35171 5
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... in Paris carried a curiously vehement piece on the treatment of bleeding gums. It was signed Dr Louis F. Destouches and it took issue, in a blizzard of exclamation-marks, with the medicine of the schools, asking what good the professoriat and the textbooks were to a confused general practitioner, who wanted to do something simply therapeutic for his ...

Into Your Enemy’s Stomach

Alexander Murray: Louis IX, 8 April 2010

Saint Louis 
by Jacques Le Goff, translated by Gareth Evan Gollrad.
Notre Dame, 947 pp., £61.95, February 2009, 978 0 268 03381 1
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... bishops, then by other categories, including those kings who may or may not have been saintly. Louis IX of France was the first major king to be made a saint. His reign, from 1226 to 1270, forms the middle episode in an unbroken success story for the French monarchy, a story which had begun in 1180 with his grandfather Philip Augustus, and would reach a ...

Back to Runnymede

Ferdinand Mount: Magna Carta, 23 April 2015

Magna Carta 
by David Carpenter.
Penguin, 594 pp., £10.99, January 2015, 978 0 241 95337 2
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Magna Carta Uncovered 
by Anthony Arlidge and Igor Judge.
Hart, 222 pp., £25, October 2014, 978 1 84946 556 4
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Magna Carta 
by J.C. Holt.
Cambridge, 488 pp., £21.99, May 2015, 978 1 107 47157 3
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Magna Carta: The Foundation of Freedom 1215-2015 
by Nicholas Vincent.
Third Millennium, 192 pp., £44.95, January 2015, 978 1 908990 28 0
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Magna Carta: The Making and Legacy of the Great Charter 
by Dan Jones.
Head of Zeus, 192 pp., £14.99, December 2014, 978 1 78185 885 1
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... or early September, the barons in turn had decided on the extraordinary step of electing Prince Louis of France, the eldest son of Philip Augustus, as king in John’s place. What followed was one of the most bizarre forgotten episodes in English history. Louis crossed the Channel, landed at Thanet on 21 May 1216 and ...


E.S. Turner, 15 September 1988

Memories of Times Past 
by Louis Heren.
Hamish Hamilton, 313 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 241 12427 1
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Chances: An Autobiography 
by Mervyn Jones.
Verso, 311 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 0 86091 167 5
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... Louis Heren, the veteran foreign correspondent, had hoped to become editor of the Times in succession to William ReesMogg, when Rupert Murdoch bought the newspaper. Heren was told that, at 61, he was too old. Under Harold Evans he failed to flourish (‘Evans trashes me, to use the US Army expression, and most of my former colleagues in his book Good Times, Bad Times’), so he took his redundancy money and settled for writing books ...

Parcelled Out

Ferdinand Mount: The League of Nations, 22 October 2015

The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire 
by Susan Pedersen.
Oxford, 571 pp., £22.99, June 2015, 978 0 19 957048 5
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... his audience in tears. He spoke to enormous crowds across the American heartland – Columbus, St Louis, Kansas City, Des Moines, Omaha – then on to California, to San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, declaring memorably: ‘Sometimes people call me an idealist. Well, that is the way I know I am an American.’ On his fourth day back in the White ...

Lord Cardigan’s Cherry Pants

Ferdinand Mount: The benefits of the Crimean War, 20 May 2004

The Crimean War: The Truth behind the Myth 
by Clive Ponting.
Chatto, 379 pp., £20, March 2004, 0 7011 7390 4
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... of his numerous aliases, before popping up in Paris in time to assist in the coup which brought Louis Napoleon to power. As these two accomplished linguists cruised across the Black Sea towards the Crimea, initial contact between them was hampered by the fact that Saint-Arnaud was too ill to leave his cabin and Lord Raglan with his one arm was unable to ...

Easy-Going Procrastinators

Ferdinand Mount: Margot Asquith’s War, 8 January 2015

Margot Asquith’s Great War Diary 1914-16: The View from Downing Street 
edited by Michael Brock and Eleanor Brock, selected by Eleanor Brock.
Oxford, 566 pp., £30, June 2014, 978 0 19 822977 3
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Margot at War: Love And Betrayal In Downing Street, 1912-16 
by Anne de Courcy.
Weidenfeld, 376 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 0 297 86983 2
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The Darkest Days: The Truth Behind Britain’s Rush To War, 1914 
by Douglas Newton.
Verso, 386 pp., £20, July 2014, 978 1 78168 350 7
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... warmonger. But his actions could not be erased from the record. It was the First Sea Lord, Prince Louis of Battenberg, acting on the wide discretion Churchill had given him, who had on 26 July ordered the fleet not to disperse after its exercises off Portland; and it was Churchill and Battenberg’s orders (not brought before cabinet) on 28 July to take up ...

The Coburg Connection

Richard Shannon, 5 April 1984

Albert, Prince Consort 
by Robert Rhodes James.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £15, November 1983, 0 241 11000 9
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... by this means. One was an Austro-Hungarian connection, founded by Leopold’s elder brother Ferdinand’s marriage to the heiress of a wealthy Hungarian magnate, Prince Kohary. This connection was further built up by Ferdinand’s son August and grandson Philip. Did Philip prime his boon companion, Crown Prince ...

Trouble down there

Ferdinand Mount: Tea with Sassoon, 7 August 2003

Siegfried Sassoon: The Making of a War Poet 1886-1918 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Duckworth, 600 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 0 7156 2894 1
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Siegfried Sassoon: The Journey from the Trenches 1918-67 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Duckworth, 526 pp., £30, April 2003, 0 7156 2971 9
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Sassoon: The Worlds of Philip and Sybil 
by Peter Stansky.
Yale, 295 pp., £25, April 2003, 0 300 09547 3
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... and horticultural farrago he enticed an endless procession of celebrities: Charlie Chaplin, Louis Mountbatten, the boxer Georges Carpentier, Wallis Simpson, Haig, Lytton Strachey, Churchill, Neville Chamberlain, Noël Coward, T.E. Lawrence, who signed the visitors’ book ‘338171 A/C Shaw’ (though it was not at Port Lympne but in a letter that ...


Richard J. Evans: Hitler’s Aristocratic Go-Betweens, 17 March 2016

Go-Betweens for Hitler 
by Karina Urbach.
Oxford, 389 pp., £20, July 2015, 978 0 19 870366 2
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... and their internationalism made it easy for them to move from one country to another: Prince Ferdinand of Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha became the prince regnant of Bulgaria in 1887, Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen the prince regnant of Romania in 1866. Connections with other royal houses helped: Prince Leopold of Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha, who was manoeuvred ...

A Broad Grin and a Handstand

E.S. Turner: ‘the fastest woman in the world’ and the wild early years of motor-racing, 24 June 2004

The Bugatti Queen: In Search of a Motor-Racing Legend 
by Miranda Seymour.
Simon and Schuster, 301 pp., £15.99, February 2004, 0 7432 3146 5
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... crack drivers. She would have been among the villagers of Aunay-sous-Auneau who thronged to see Louis Renault descending a nearby hill at 140 kph. City-to-city road racing was now over. However, the dawn of motoring was still one of those dawns in which it was bliss to be alive. That same decade ushered in the Gabriel horn: ‘Everywhere you are greeted by ...

Having Fun

David Coward: Alexandre Dumas, 17 April 2003

Viva Garibaldi! Une Odyssée en 1860 
by Alexandre Dumas.
Fayard, 610 pp., €23, February 2002, 2 213 61230 7
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... Revolutionary principles; he was sent home. On the way, his ship was detained in Southern Italy by Ferdinand, King of the Two Sicilies, then at war with France. For two years he was left to rot in Brindisi castle. In a neighbouring cell, the geologist Dolomieu, another prisoner of war, applied himself, using soot, a stick and the margins of Bibles, to the ...

Nation of Mutes

Tony Wood: Marquis de Custine, 24 August 2000

A Taste for Freedom: The Life of Astolphe de Custine 
by Anka Muhlstein, translated by Teresa Waugh.
Helen Marx, 393 pp., $16.95, November 1999, 1 885983 41 7
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... by Mémoires et voyages, an account, mainly, of his travels in Italy and England. L’Espagne sous Ferdinand VII (1838) was praised by Balzac, but most of his subsequent writing – including two novels and a play – was received with indifference or outright hostility, and has since disappeared from view. In A Taste for Freedom, an amiable if unsophisticated ...

Left with a Can Opener

Thomas Jones: Homer in Bijelo Polje, 7 October 2021

Hearing Homer’s Song: The Brief Life and Big Idea of Milman Parry 
by Robert Kanigel.
Knopf, 320 pp., £28.95, April 2021, 978 0 525 52094 8
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... King Alexander ​ of Yugoslavia was assassinated in Marseille on 9 October 1934, alongside Louis Barthou, the French foreign minister. When the news reached Dubrovnik, the bells rang ‘all morning long’ according to a ten-year-old American girl staying in the city. ‘Everybody spoke in an undertone except the roosters and my brother ...

How bad can it get?

LRB Contributors: On Johnson’s Britain, 15 August 2019

... Finlayson, Daniel Finn, Katrina Forrester, Jeremy Harding, Daisy Hildyard, Colin Kidd, James Meek, Ferdinand Mount, Jan-Werner Müller, Jonathan Parry, David RuncimanNeal Ascherson‘On​ 17 June poor France fell. That day, as we trudged past Greenwich … a tug skipper yelled gaily across the water: “Now we know where we are! No more bloody ...

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