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Blips on the Screen

Andrew Cockburn: Risk-Free Assassinations, 3 December 2020

The Drone Age: How Drone Technology Will Change War and Peace 
by Michael Boyle.
Oxford, 336 pp., £22.99, September, 978 0 19 063586 2
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Drone Art: The Everywhere War as Medium 
by Thomas Stubblefield.
California, 218 pp., £70, February, 978 0 520 33961 3
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Hellfire from Paradise Ranch: On the Front Lines of Drone Warfare 
by Joseba Zulaika.
California, 289 pp., £25, June, 978 0 520 32974 4
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The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare 
by Christian Brose.
Hachette, 288 pp., £21, April, 978 0 316 53353 9
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... popular faith in drones, and are hardly challenged in the books that have been written about them. Michael Boyle describes Gorgon Stare, an array of video cameras designed for the Predator B drone, a large-wingspan aircraft that operates at an altitude of 25,000 feet, as offering ‘persistent, wide-area surveillance of small towns’, enabling ...

The Man without Predicates

Michael Wood: Goethe, 20 July 2000

Goethe: The Poet and the Age. Volume II: Revolution and Reunciation, 1790-1803 
by Nicholas Boyle.
Oxford, 964 pp., £30, February 2000, 0 19 815869 6
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Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy 
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, translated by John Williams.
Wordsworth, 226 pp., £2.99, November 1999, 1 84022 115 1
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... from paradise. The words I have just quoted are the last words of the first volume of Nicholas Boyle’s biography of Goethe. The date is June 1790, and other things have been happening in Europe, to which Boyle immediately turns in his new book. Germany at this time was far from a nation state – it was a ...

Brought to book

Gordon Williams, 7 May 1981

Ronnie Biggs: His Own Story 
by Michael Joseph.
Sphere, 238 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 9780718119720
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A Sense of Freedom 
by Jimmy Boyle.
Pan, 264 pp., £1.25, September 1977, 0 330 25303 4
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... Train-robber Biggs and murderer Boyle present in their testaments a challenge to our moral reflexes. Both authors have appalling records: South Londoner Biggs with countless petty interviews, conspiracy to commit biography, and now brazen autobiography executed in ruthlessly-priced hard-back, plus indecent exposure on a Sex Pistols waxing: Glaswegian Boyle with an audaciously publicised apologia here compounded in paperback, cold-blooded participation before the fact in a television film witnessed by millions of law-abiding citizens, and flagrant indulgence in the plastic arts (to wit, sculpture with a sharp instrument) under the very noses of the prison authorities ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, 12 February 2009

Slumdog Millionaire 
directed by Danny Boyle.
January 2009
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... choreographed. Even the trains look as if they want to get in on the act. The movie is Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, now playing nearly everywhere and sporting ten Academy Award nominations. It’s a brittle and clever movie, often uncertain about its intentions, and sometimes, it seems, embarrassed about them, but the end is sheer pleasure ...

His Little Game

Andrew Boyle, 27 July 1989

The Blake Escape: How we freed George Blake – and why 
by Michael Randle and Pat Pottle.
Harrap, 298 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 245 54781 9
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... Blake’s father was Albert Behar, whose Sephardic Jewish family cut him off with less than the proverbial shilling because of his marriage to a Dutch Christian woman called Catherine Beijdedvellen. Behar Senior then became a British citizen, having served in the French Foreign Legion and the British Army. On his death in 1936 – a bad period not only in England but throughout Europe – he left a widow and the young George in somewhat reduced circumstances ...

Locke rules

Ian Hacking, 21 November 1991

Locke. Vol. I: Epistemology 
by Michael Ayers.
Routledge, 341 pp., £90, September 1991, 0 415 06406 6
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Locke. Vol. II: Ontology 
by Michael Ayers.
Routledge, 341 pp., £90, September 1991, 0 415 06407 4
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... I imagine, formed our several ideas of what an argument is. But Locke – Locke plods. Aside from Michael Ayers, how many contributors to this issue of the Review, reviewers or reviewees, have read Locke’s Essay, word for word, from beginning to end? Fewer, perhaps, than would like to admit it. But Locke rules. No matter how briefly he is skimmed or how ...

Triples

Michael Neve, 8 November 1990

The Double in 19th-Century Fiction 
by John Herdman.
Macmillan, 174 pp., £35, August 1990, 9780333490242
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Romanticism and the Sciences 
edited by Andrew Cunningham and Nicholas Jardine.
Cambridge, 345 pp., £40, June 1990, 0 521 35602 4
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Schizophrenia: A Scientific Delusion? 
by Mary Boyle.
Routledge, 248 pp., £35, September 1990, 0 415 04096 5
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... precisely in their having expunged ‘Romantic’ ideas from their psychology. Part of Mary Boyle’s study of schizophrenia consists in examining quite why the category is used in the way it is: as a taxonomic catch-all that cannot hold, in any useful scientific sense, the varieties of behaviour it is asked to hold at the moment. If the Romantic legacy ...

Gaol Fever

David Saunders-Wilson, 24 July 1986

Prisons and the Process of Justice 
by Andrew Rutherford.
Oxford, 217 pp., £5.95, June 1986, 0 19 281932 1
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Growing out of Crime: Society and Young People in Trouble 
by Andrew Rutherford.
Penguin, 189 pp., £3.95, January 1986, 0 14 022383 5
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... as villains. The star of London Weekend Television’s new Once a thief? is 22-year-old Michael Baillie, who began his criminal career as a burglar at the age of eight, and served his first borstal sentence at the age of 15. According to the Sunday Times, he originally wanted to play football for Aston Villa, but now he’s thinking of taking acting ...

Hellmouth

Michael André Bernstein: Norman Rush, 22 January 2004

Mortals 
by Norman Rush.
Cape, 715 pp., £18.99, July 2003, 0 224 03709 9
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... Agency’s station chief to crush Kerekang. (Ray’s boss, the paranoid and bloodthirsty Chester Boyle, who sees a Marxist conspiracy every time someone mentions reform, is a crude assemblage of loathsome traits.) Ray, stark naked and half-crazed, with his dead brother’s manuscript wrapped round his stomach to look like a bomb, single-handedly turns the ...

Fiction and Failure

Adrian Poole, 15 April 1982

Blind Understanding 
by Stanley Middleton.
Hutchinson, 159 pp., £7.50, March 1982, 0 09 146990 2
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Fifty Stories 
by Kay Boyle.
Penguin, 648 pp., £2.95, February 1982, 0 14 005922 9
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Unsolicited Gift 
by Jacqueline Simms.
Chatto, 151 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 7011 2616 7
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Nellie without Hugo 
by Janet Hobhouse.
Cape, 192 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 224 01969 4
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Levitation: Five Fictions 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Secker, 157 pp., £6.95, March 1982, 0 436 25482 4
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... collective slaughter. The war figures prominently in the collection of Fifty Stories by Kay Boyle, most directly in the stories of wartime Occupied France, but also in the ominous atmosphere of pre-war Austria and in the desolate, poisonous recriminations and distrusts of post-war France and Occupied Germany. Yet in many ways the best of these stories ...

Deliverance

Daniel Johnson, 20 June 1996

The Dear Purchase: A Theme in German Modernism 
by J.P. Stern.
Cambridge, 445 pp., £40, February 1995, 0 521 43330 4
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... intelligence, from a conceptual currency debased by moral idiocy. According to Nicholas Boyle in his Foreword to The Dear Purchase, when this monograph appeared one of Stern’s older colleagues told him: ‘If you want to get on, do not write this sort of thing again.’ Stern, Boyle adds, ‘was ...

Bratpackers

Richard Lloyd Parry: Alex Garland, 15 October 1998

The Beach 
by Alex Garland.
Penguin, 439 pp., £5.99, June 1997, 0 14 025841 8
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The Tesseract 
by Alex Garland.
Viking, 215 pp., £9.99, September 1998, 0 670 87016 1
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... first novel, The Beach, one of cinema’s most fashionable young directors (Danny Boyle) and its most adored male star (Leonardo Di Caprio) are about to make a film version of it, a remarkable achievement for an author of 28, but in other ways an inevitable one. Few novels are so influenced by film as this one, in its subject-matter, its ...

Prince of the Track

James Ward: Jane Smiley, 19 October 2000

Horse Heaven 
by Jane Smiley.
Faber, 561 pp., £17.99, June 2000, 0 571 20540 2
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... been left there over the years. ‘Louis L’Amour, Danielle Steel … Guy Davenport, T. Something Boyle. There was also a copy of Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale.’ What inspiration could a nervy jockey – or a confident novelist – hope to get from The Winter’s Tale? The closest thing to a horse in the play is that notorious bear. Acevedo sticks to Dick ...

Almost Zero

Ian Hacking: Ideas of Nature, 10 May 2007

The Veil of Isis: An Essay on the History of the Idea of Nature 
by Pierre Hadot, translated by Michael Chase.
Harvard, 399 pp., £19.95, November 2006, 0 674 02316 1
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... and admire, and upon occasion celebrate, but do not call in question or discuss.’ Thus Robert Boyle, progenitor of English science, in A Free Inquiry into the Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature, 1686. Boyle found eight meanings for the word, and pretty much suggested we scrap the lot. No one paid him any heed. Nature is ...

My Granny

Patrick Wall, 20 May 1982

The Monkey Puzzle 
by John Gribbin and Jeremy Cherfas.
Bodley Head, 279 pp., £8.50, April 1982, 0 370 30469 1
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Darwinism Defended: A Guide to the Evolution Controversies 
by Michael Ruse.
Addison-Wesley, 356 pp., £6.95, April 1982, 0 201 06273 9
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The Aquatic Ape: A Theory of Human Evolution 
by Elaine Morgan.
Souvenir, 168 pp., £7.95, March 1982, 0 285 62509 8
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The Neck of the Giraffe, or Where Darwin went wrong 
by Francis Hitching.
Pan, 288 pp., £2.50, April 1982, 0 330 26643 8
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... of healthy tissue to replace sick tissue. When blood transfusion was first tried by Boyle in 1660, he used lambs’ blood, chosen with disastrous consequences because of the lamb of God. Now molecular biology has discovered quite a lot about how our bodies recognise even very subtle differences. This allows a search to be made for compatible ...

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