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12 May 1994
The Frankfurt School 
by Rolf Wiggershaus, translated by Michael Robertson.
Polity, 787 pp., £45, January 1994, 0 7456 0534 6
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... on traditional philosophy. Wiggershaus’s scholarly nose is too close to his materials to allow for much speculation of this kind, but his Teutonic thoroughness, rendered into lucid English by MichaelRobertson, does marvellous justice to his materials. He has even dug out Erich Fromm’s great-grandfather, who would sit in his shop all day deep in the Talmud, and when a customer entered ask him ...

Farewell Sovereignty

Stephen Sedley: The Case for the Regicides

9 February 2006
The Tyrannicide Brief: The Story of the Man who Sent Charles I to the Scaffold 
by Geoffrey Robertson.
Chatto, 429 pp., £20, October 2005, 0 7011 7602 4
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... and efficient process John Cooke, the barrister who prosecuted Charles I, has been airbrushed from history, save by a handful of historians of the trial who have written him off as a hack. Geoffrey Robertson has set out to rescue him from the enormous disregard of posterity, and from the ignominy of his death in 1660 by hanging, drawing and quartering. Robertson is a practising barrister and has served ...

Three Poems

Michael​ Hofmann

22 June 1995
... at a table and talk. Some things you talk around. Then you are on the same side of the table. He has some Durex, you let him fuck you. – He was kind of lonesome, as the words go. Litany For Robin Robertson Dear god,         let me remember these months of transition in a room on the Harrow Road, the traffic muffled by a plastic sheet, the facing ziggurats with their satellite dishes and tea ...

The Great War Revisited

Michael​ Howard

23 April 1987
The Myriad Faces of War: Britain and the Great War 1914-1918 
by Trevor Wilson.
Polity, 864 pp., £35, September 1986, 9780745600932
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British Strategy and War Aims 1914-1916 
by David French.
Allen and Unwin, 274 pp., £25, September 1986, 0 04 942197 2
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The Old Lie: The Great War and the Public School Ethos 
by Peter Parker.
Constable, 319 pp., £15, March 1987, 0 09 466980 5
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... a more original and challenging thesis. The real division over British strategy, he argues, came, not between ‘Westerners’ and ‘Easterners’ – between those who believed with Haig and Robertson that the war could only be won on the Western Front and those, like Lloyd George and Churchill, who believed in ‘knocking away the props’ – but between those who believed in a traditional ...
21 May 1998
One Train 
by Kenneth Koch.
Carcanet, 74 pp., £7.95, March 1997, 9781857542691
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A World where News Travelled slowly 
by Lavinia Greenlaw.
Faber, 53 pp., £6.99, January 1997, 0 571 19160 6
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A Painted Field 
by Robin Robertson.
Picador, 98 pp., £6.99, February 1997, 0 330 35059 5
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... a sober, distanced tone such as we might expect a scientist to use. Although this follow-up collection is looser in style and the tone is now more personal, there is a lingering coolness. Like Michael Hofmann, Greenlaw has a fondness for paired, unexpected adjectives delivered in a clipped prose-like manner: ‘This privacy is teenage,/collective’; ‘The hill has its nightlife, amiable, averted ...

Hink Tank

Nicholas Penny

19 July 1984
The Gymnasium of the Mind: The Journals of Roger Hinks 1933-1963 
edited by John Goldsmith.
Michael​ Russell, 287 pp., £10.95, May 1984, 0 85955 096 6
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... by P.G. Wodehouse’ but is in fact a ‘bachelor with intellectual tastes’, wearing ‘enormous, totally non-conducting tortoise-shell glasses’ and accompanied by ‘a friend, inevitably called Michael, who said not a single word and contented himself with selections from his repertoire of ravishing smiles, which ranged from a slow, dreamy unfolding of the subconscious to brilliant flashes of ...

Hoo-Hooing in the Birch

Michael​ Hofmann: Tomas Tranströmer

15 June 2016
Bright Scythe: Selected Poems 
by Tomas Tranströmer, translated by Patty Crane.
Sarabande, 207 pp., £13, November 2015, 978 1 941411 21 6
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... drawn to translate him too: fellow Northerners like Robin Fulton (for a long time now a resident of Norway, though 48 years ago for small reward he was teaching me geography in Edinburgh) and Robin Robertson, or the Irishman John F. Deane, or now the American Patty Crane. They were drawn by the small vocabulary, the short sentences, the largely transferable word-order, the language that seems to pay ...

Making sentences

Philip Horne

21 November 1991
The Jameses: A Family Narrative 
by R.W.B. Lewis.
Deutsch, 696 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 233 98748 7
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Meaning in Henry James 
by Millicent Bell.
Harvard, 384 pp., £35.95, October 1991, 9780674557628
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... William James (1984); Gerald Myers in William James: His Life and Thought (1986); Jane Maher in Biography of Broken Fortunes: Wilky and Bob, Brothers of William, Henry and Alice James (1986); Michael Anesko in ‘Friction with the Market’: Henry James and the Profession of Authorship (1986); Rayburn Moore in Selected Letters of Henry James to Edmund Gosse (1988); and Lyall Powers in Henry James ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: FUKd

21 May 2014
... making plans to book advertising space. None of this is new: indeed, not even the gurus are entirely new, since the genius behind the Tories in 2015 is Lynton Crosby, who was also the genius behind Michael Howard’s campaign in 2005 (that was the ‘dog-whistle’ campaign, with carefully provocative posters attached to the slogan, ‘Are you thinking what we’re thinking?’). Crosby’s return ...
20 February 1997
Sleaze: The Corruption of Parliament 
by David Leigh and Ed Vulliamy.
Fourth Estate, 263 pp., £9.99, January 1997, 1 85702 694 2
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... was The Cook Report, an investigative programme on commercial television, which in 1994 laid an elaborate trap. Using actors pretending to be businessmen, the programme-makers approached Sir Michael Grylls, long-standing Tory MP for North-West Surrey, and introduced themselves as agents for a firm which wanted to smuggle art treasures out of Russia. As a cover for their enterprise, they ...

Alleged War Criminals

Michael​ Byers: Saddam, Milosevic and Sharon

22 July 2004
... Gbao and Morris Kallon, stand accused of horrendous crimes before a hybrid court made up of national and international judges. Earlier this year, the tribunal ruled that its president, Geoffrey Robertson QC, could not participate in cases concerning the rebels because of condemnations he had published prior to becoming a judge. It is difficult to imagine the Iraqi special tribunal taking similar ...
24 August 1995
A Union for Empire: Political Thought and the Union of 1707 
edited by John Robertson.
Cambridge, 368 pp., £40, April 1995, 0 521 43113 1
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The Autonomy of Modern Scotland 
by Lindsay Paterson.
Edinburgh, 218 pp., £30, September 1994, 0 7486 0525 8
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... puzzle. There is nothing either self-explanatory or standard about the survival of a united kingdom based on England, from Early Modern times until practically the end of the second millennium. John Robertson’s collection of academic studies examines the origins of the Union’s most important axis, the Parliamentary unification of Scotland and England in 1707. Lindsay Paterson’s long polemical essay ...


George Steiner

5 May 1988
Visions and Blueprints: Avant-Garde Culture and Radical Politics in Early 20th-century Europe 
edited by Edward Timms and Peter Collier.
Manchester, 328 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 7190 2260 6
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... the very name of George Orwell! Or how ambiguous are the criteria which impel Peter Collier to cite, with almost breathless admiration, Auden’s commendation of ‘the necessary murder’. Ritchie Robertson is concise and authoritative on the Zionist impulse in Herzl and Roth. The difficulty, however, is this: in its Bismarckian model, in its espousal of 19th-century nationalism, the Zionist blueprint ...

California Noir

Michael​ Rogin: Destroying Los Angeles

19 August 1999
Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster 
by Mike Davis.
Picador, 484 pp., £18.99, June 1999, 9780330372190
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... recover far more easily than the white and coloured poor. Consider as an Armageddonist the Christian Coalition founder (and one-time candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination) Pat Robertson. A giant meteor and a mile-high tsunami destroy Los Angeles in his 1995 The End of the Age, leaving survivalists to battle Satan (now President of the United States) and his billion Third World ...
24 November 1994
The Principle of Duty 
by David Selbourne.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 288 pp., £17.99, June 1994, 1 85619 474 4
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... to liberal individualism. This takes many guises: Alasdair MacIntyre has always been an anti-liberal and an enemy of the Enlightenment, though he has changed his positive allegiances a good deal; Michael Sandel, like Charles Taylor and Pope John Paul II, makes a great thing of ‘identity’. They stress the difference between the way we are ‘constituted’ by our membership in a variety of ...

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