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That Corrupting Country

Thomas Keymer: Orientalist Jones, 9 May 2013

Orientalist Jones: Sir William Jones, Poet, Lawyer and Linguist, 1746-94 
by Michael Franklin.
Oxford, 396 pp., £35, September 2011, 978 0 19 953200 1
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... to meritocratic independence – indeed, it was often alleged, to outright republicanism. As Michael Franklin suggests in his excellent biography, Jones must have relished upending the patron-client hierarchy when he got Althorp elected to Samuel Johnson’s Turk’s Head Club, where Jones had mingled with Burke and Gibbon before even Boswell was ...

So Much for Staying Single

Maya Jasanoff: 18th-Century Calcutta, 20 March 2008

Hartly House, Calcutta 
by Phebe Gibbes.
Oxford, 222 pp., £13.99, April 2007, 978 0 19 568564 0
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... make it tremendously intriguing. This new edition, introduced and heavily annotated by Michael Franklin, should be welcomed by both literary scholars and historians. A 1908 reprinting gave Hartly House the very apt subtitle ‘A Novel of the Days of Warren Hastings’. When the book originally appeared in 1789, Hastings’s defence team was ...
Secret Affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles 
by Irwin Gellman.
Johns Hopkins, 499 pp., $29.95, April 1995, 0 8018 5083 5
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Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley 
edited by Geoffrey Ward.
Houghton Mifflin, 444 pp., $24.95, April 1995, 0 395 66080 7
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No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War Two 
by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Simon and Schuster, 759 pp., £18, June 1995, 0 671 64240 5
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The End of Reform 
by Alan Brinkley.
Knopf, 371 pp., $27.50, March 1995, 0 394 53573 1
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... On a drive through the family estate in 1935, the married President, Franklin Roosevelt, starts up a romance with his cousin. The two imagine moving after he leaves office into a cottage he is planning to build on what they affectionately call ‘Our Hill’. The President’s secretary, who lives at the White House (and has lived with the President since he was Governor of New York), thinks her boss will be moving into the cottage with her ...

Franklin D, listen to me

J. Hoberman: Popular (Front) Songs, 17 September 1998

Songs for Political Action: Folk Music, Topical Songs and the American Left, 1926-53 
edited by Ronald Cohen and Dave Samuelson.
Bear Family Records, DM 390, June 1996
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... manufactured mythology even as it built itself on the ruins of the Communist counter-culture. Michael Denning, in his long interpretative history The Cultural Front, has questioned this disdain. His notion of the culture of the Popular Front embraces sturdy proletarian sagas like Mike Gold’s Jews without Money and Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath ...

Unfrozen Sea

Michael Byers: The Arctic Grail, 22 March 2007

... of the Northwest Passage, the so-called ‘Arctic Grail’. From Martin Frobisher in 1576 to John Franklin in 1845, generations of European explorers searched for a navigable route through the Arctic islands to Asia. Many of them – including Franklin and his men – died in the attempt. Their greatest challenge was ...

Dangerous Liaison

Michael Howard, 27 January 1994

Beacons in the Night: With the OSS and Tito’s Partisans in Wartime Yugoslavia 
by Franklin Lindsay.
Stanford, 383 pp., £19.95, October 1993, 0 8047 2123 8
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... may today recoil from such brutal triage, but at the time it made a great deal of sense. Franklin Lindsay was one of the first Americans to be sent into a region where the British had hitherto made most of the running. He arrived in May 1944, when aid was becoming plentiful and the Allies had no objective other than to supply the Partisans with ...


Peter Craven: On the Demidenko Affair, 16 November 1995

... Jill Kitson and her fellow judges elected to give it Australia’s major fiction prize, the Miles Franklin Award. It was a decision that bewildered those few members of the literary world who had read the book, and which had the far more important effect of commanding the attention of a nation that takes its big books seriously. The upshot was that a ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Innocents’, 9 January 2014

The Innocents 
directed by Jack Clayton.
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... opens, as the tale does not, with a stress on the imagination. ‘Do you have an imagination?’ Michael Redgrave asks, as the feckless playboy uncle who wants the children off his hands. But he’s not glancing at the development of the story, he merely wants to know if Miss Giddens (the character is unnamed in the tale) can see herself in the job he wants ...


Christopher Hitchens: In Washington, 20 August 1992

... were, I found, unusually easy to determine. High indeed was the sight and sound of Aretha Franklin singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, and giving it a variation that provided one of those only-in-America moments which do in fact only occur in America. Lower, both in scale and register, was the experience of seeing Roy Hattersley cruising the upper ...

Sock it to me

Elizabeth Spelman: Richard Sennett, 9 October 2003

Respect: The Formation of Character in an Age of Inequality 
by Richard Sennett.
Allen Lane, 288 pp., £20, January 2003, 9780713996173
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... of our fellow human beings is that they treat us with respect. ‘Just a little bit’, as Aretha Franklin sang and sang again, seems to go a long way. Few exchanges among people appear to cost those who offer it so little and benefit those who receive it so much. ‘Why, then,’ Richard Sennett asks, ‘should it be in short supply?’ Though Sennett ...

Pink Elephants

Alex Oliver, 2 November 2000

Articulating Reasons: An Introduction to Inferentialism 
by Robert Brandom.
Harvard, 230 pp., £21.95, June 2000, 0 674 00158 3
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... business. Life is short and it’s publish or perish; so a lot is written and little is read. Michael Dummett, one of the very few contemporary philosophers who, like Brandom, have dared to write books of more than seven hundred pages, has even declared that the merit of a publication ‘must be great enough to outweigh the disservice done by its being ...

Patriotic Gore

Michael Wood, 19 May 1983

by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 203 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 434 83076 3
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Pink Triangle and Yellow Star and Other Essays 1976-1982 
by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 278 pp., £10, July 1982, 0 434 83075 5
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... ridiculous word,’ Vidal says, ‘to use as a common denominator for Frederick the Great, Franklin Pangborn and Eleanor Roosevelt’), gay liberation is a genuine cause, since all forms of freedom matter. On the other hand, the Jews in Vidal’s essay are plainly red herrings, or sitting Manhattan ducks. The analogy between Jews and ...

A Preference for Strenuous Ghosts

Michael Kammen: Theodore Roosevelt, 6 June 2002

Theodore Rex 
by Edmund Morris.
HarperCollins, 772 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 00 217708 0
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... integrity and rectitude as an exemplar of what was wanting in the Clinton White House. Books about Franklin D. Roosevelt and, above all, Abraham Lincoln have long since become a cottage industry. FDR’s elder cousin, Theodore, who occupied the White House from 1901 to 1909, has not exactly been neglected, but Nathan Miller’s 1992 biography was the first ...

Homo Sexualis

Michael Ignatieff, 4 March 1982

Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality since 1800 
by Jeffrey Weeks.
Longman, 306 pp., £11, October 1981, 0 582 48333 6
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Sexual Preference: Its Development in Men and Women 
by Alan Bell, Martin Weinberg and Sue Kiefer Hammersmith.
Indiana, 242 pp., £9, October 1981, 9780253166739
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Pornography and Silence 
by Susan Griffin.
Women’s Press, 277 pp., £4.75, October 1981, 0 7043 3877 7
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The History of Sexuality. Vol. 1 
by Michel Foucault, translated by Robert Hurley.
Penguin, 176 pp., £2.25, May 1981, 0 14 022299 5
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... to us anyway? Given the heritage of Aristotle’s homo civis, Augustine’s homo sanctus, Benjamin Franklin and Marx’s homo faber, Gradgrind’s homo economicus, why has the late 20th-century culture of narcissism embraced homo sexualis as its definition of human essence? Why, as Jeffrey Weeks asks, have sex and our gender identities become the central part ...

Among the quilters

Peter Campbell, 21 March 1991

by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 313 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 7011 3509 3
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Health and Happiness 
by Diane Johnson.
Chatto, 260 pp., £13.99, January 1991, 0 7011 3597 2
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by Carol Shields.
Fourth Estate, 388 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 1 872180 08 6
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... Asya, the heroine of Michael Ignatieff’s novel of revolution and exile, is born into an aristocratic Russian family in 1900. As a child, she nearly drowns walking out over the thawing ice beneath which the River Vasousa roars. She has a vision there of a great skater. Her brush with death changes her and leaves her with a belief ‘even when fear had her in its clasp ...

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