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Good Books

Marghanita Laski, 1 October 1981

The Promise of Happiness 
by Fred Inglis.
Cambridge, 333 pp., £17.50, March 1981, 0 521 23142 6
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The Child and the Book 
by Nicholas Tucker.
Cambridge, 259 pp., £15, March 1981, 0 521 23251 1
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The Impact of Victorian Children’s Fiction 
by J.S. Bratton.
Croom Helm, 230 pp., £11.95, July 1981, 0 07 099777 2
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Children’s Literature. Vol. IX 
edited by Francelia Butler, Samuel Pickering, Milla Riggio and Barbara Rosen.
Yale, 241 pp., £17.35, March 1981, 0 300 02623 4
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The ‘Signal’ Approach to Children’s Books 
edited by Nancy Chambers.
Kestrel, 352 pp., £12.50, September 1980, 0 7226 5641 6
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... The easy truism, that a good children’s book is a book that’s good for children too, has enough truth in it to ensure that most fiction reviewers are at least open to the genre. But unless we specialise in children’s fiction, the current literary theory about it is likely to interest only some and only at specific times: those of parenthood and of grandparenthood ...


Elaine Showalter: Even Lolita must have read Nancy Drew, 7 September 1995

... rereading her favourite childhood books: series fiction about daring girl detectives, especially Nancy Drew. Admitting to such low tastes in the Seventies was like confessing a fondness for Hello! magazine today. Graduate schools regarded an interest in popular culture as a sign of intellectual frivolity, and demanded Leavisite vows (or appearances) of ...


Stephen Sedley: Judges’ Lodgings, 11 November 1999

... last winter. The lodgings, a terraced dwelling of colossal proportions on the Hoe, was once Nancy Astor’s town house. She left it to the nation, and it is now let out to visitors in all its glory by the city council; though I can’t believe that the ensuite bathroom, where the bidet has a jet resembling Lake Geneva’s, is as it was in her day. A ...

Short Cuts

Mike Davis: Rio Grande Valley Republicans, 19 November 2020

... by the House should have been the basis for an aggressive campaign, but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, allowed the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to take it hostage and Biden, mumbling through the two presidential debates, never really crusaded to free it. Meanwhile, the third-quarter employment figures, however misleading, gave Trump an ...

God, what a victory!

Jeremy Harding, 10 February 1994

Martyr’s Day: Chronicle of Small War 
by Michael Kelly.
Macmillan, 354 pp., £16.99, October 1993, 0 333 60496 2
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Battling for News: The Rise of the Woman Reporter 
by Anne Sebba.
Hodder, 301 pp., £19.99, January 1994, 0 340 55599 8
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Women’s Letters in Wartime 
edited by Eva Figes.
Pandora, 304 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 04 440755 6
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The War at Sixteen: Autobiography, Vol. II 
by Julien Green, translated by Euan Cameron.
Marion Boyars, 207 pp., £19.95, November 1993, 0 7145 2969 9
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... no excessive enthusiasm for the darker side of his material, either in the abandoned Iraqi torture chambers of Kuwait City or on the road to Basra. Michael Kelly is a remarkable war artist, however. His reports have an artist’s sense of occasion, and even of genre: portrait, landscape with figures, life class and so on. Drafting and sketching at enviable ...

Short Cuts

Adam Shatz: The Four-Year Assault, 21 January 2021

... notably the ‘QAnon shaman’, Jake Angeli, a tattooed, shirtless man who strutted through the chambers of the Capitol with horns on his head and red, white and blue paint on his face. And then there were the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and militia members, the ‘fine people’ of Charlottesville. For all their shouts of ‘USA, USA,’ they represented ...


Philip French, 6 June 1996

The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives 
by Sebastian Faulks.
Hutchinson, 309 pp., £16.99, April 1996, 0 09 179211 8
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... Isaiah Berlin’s 1953 book to characterise the world’s thinkers as hedgehogs or foxes; from Nancy Mitford two years later to distinguish between U and non-U. From across the Atlantic came David Reisman’s The Lonely Crowd, which taught us to separate modern man into the two camps of the inner directed and the other-directed. This way of observing the ...

In a Frozen Crouch

Colin Kidd: Democracy’s Ends, 13 September 2018

How Democracy Ends 
by David Runciman.
Profile, 249 pp., £14.99, May 2018, 978 1 78125 974 0
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Edge of Chaos: Why Democracy Is Failing to Deliver Economic Growth – And How to Fix It 
by Dambisa Moyo.
Little, Brown, 296 pp., £20, April 2018, 978 1 4087 1089 0
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How Democracies Die 
by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt.
Viking, 311 pp., £16.99, January 2018, 978 0 241 31798 3
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Anti-Pluralism: The Populist Threat to Liberal Democracy 
by William Galston.
Yale, 158 pp., £25, June 2018, 978 0 300 22892 2
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... Making reference to the rich variety of coup-like phenomena identified by the political scientist Nancy Bermeo, Runciman notes how many of them involve the payment of ‘lip service’ to democracy, or at least to its simulacrum, whether by way of ‘election-day vote fraud’, ‘promissory coups’ by groups that then use elections retroactively to justify ...

The Sound of Voices Intoning Names

Thomas Laqueur, 5 June 1997

French Children of the Holocaust: A Memorial 
by Serge Klarsfeld.
New York, 1881 pp., $95, November 1996, 0 8147 2662 3
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... children and all women with children were sent to the right, to a truck that took them to the gas chambers. The story of Ida Fensterszab is set out in two pages, between the picture of a plump, well-dressed girl of ten or 11, barely pubescent, standing with her well-dressed, stolidly bourgeois parents in 1939 or 1940, and that of the more knowing ...

How to die

John Sutherland, 13 February 1992

Final Exit: The Practicalities of Self-Deliverance and Assisted Suicide for the Dying 
by Derek Humphry.
Hemlock Society, 192 pp., $16.95, April 1991, 0 9606030 3 4
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... a pang of anxiety about some errant bubble getting into a vein and circulating fatally into the chambers of the heart. Humphry, having taken medical advice, is sceptical about air injection, as either efficient or productive of the ‘gentle death’ he favours. Much more is required than the bubble of suicide folklore. In fact, so much air is needed to ...

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