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State Theatre

Peter Burke

22 January 1987
The Rome of Alexander VII: 1655-1667 
by Richard Krautheimer.
Princeton, 199 pp., £16.80, November 1985, 9780691040325
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Firearms and Fortifications: Military Architecture and Siege Warfare in 16th-century Siena 
by Simon Pepper and Nicholas Adams.
Chicago, 245 pp., £21.25, October 1986, 0 226 65534 2
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... of the data. The relation between art and power is also the theme of a new book on 16th-century Siena, but it is viewed from a very different angle, that of the Renaissance bastion. Simon Pepper and NicholasAdams are concerned with military architecture and siege warfare. Like Richard Krautheimer, they are art historians concerned to place art in context. Their study of the bastions designed for Siena ...

Extraordinarily Graceful Exits from Power

Nicholas​ Guyatt: George Washington’s Reticence

17 November 2005
His Excellency George Washington 
by Joseph J. Ellis.
Faber, 320 pp., £20, March 2005, 0 571 21212 3
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... acts, and whose character is shrouded by an almost painful formality? It’s no surprise that Joseph Ellis should now venture an answer to this question, having already produced biographies of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, as well as a book about the 1790s, Founding Brothers, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001. Like many Americans, George Washington took arms against Britain in 1775 resignedly ...

Diary

Stephen Smith: Encounters at Holy Cross

18 November 1993
... emerged from the side door and walked towards us with a frown, a dog collar resolving itself from the blur of his mufti. ‘Are you filming?’ he said. ‘Filming what?’ said the cameraman, James Nicholas. The priest said: ‘Please don’t show this family.’ James reached along the stock of the camera and flicked a switch. Trimming what you film has become second nature in the province. Camera ...

Diary

Julian Girdham: Mansergh v. Arnold

21 June 1984
... What Kind of Country, subtitled ‘Modern Irish Politics 1968-1983’.* This book was the subject of a particularly vitriolic review in the Sunday Tribune by one Martin Mansergh. Mansergh’s father, Nicholas, is the distinguished Cambridge historian, and Mansergh fils (a Protestant) is Head of Research in the opposition Fianna Fail party. ‘Research’ is Fianna Fail code for ‘Northern Ireland’, and ...

The Illiberal Hour

Mark Bonham-Carter

7 March 1985
Black and White Britain: The Third Survey 
by Colin Brown.
PSI/Heinemann, 331 pp., £22.50, September 1984, 0 435 83124 0
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... were for many centuries without an inferiority complex. This ‘complacency’ carried with it a number of unattractive characteristics, but allowed a spirit of self-criticism that was healthy. Henry Adams reports in his autobiography that at a dinner at the American Embassy at which John Bright was the chief British guest, he thumped the table and announced: ‘the English are a nation of brutes 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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... Americans seem to relish Presidential biographies. David McCullough’s Truman (1992) was on the bestseller lists for the better part of a year, and his John Adams (2001) is providing an astonishing repeat performance. Robert Caro’s dramatically detailed look at The Years of Lyndon Johnson has been unfolding since 1982, and large chunks of Volume Three have ...
15 May 1980
Cinema: A Critical Dictionary: The Major Film-Makers 
edited by Richard Roud.
Secker, 1120 pp., £25, February 1980, 9780436428302
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The Dream that Kicks: The Prehistory and Early Years of Cinema in Britain 
by Michael Chanan.
Routledge, 356 pp., £12.50, January 1980, 0 7100 0319 6
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... by familiar mainstream critics, the dictionary includes pieces from the Marxist Noel Burch, the ‘auteur’ theorist Andrew Sarris, the nouveau romancier Claude Ollier and the avant-gardist P. Adams Sitney. And yet, as Roud confesses, ‘this work is less an objective survey than a covert statement, a normative view of the art of the film.’ Roud lists his own ‘pantheon’ of favourite ...
9 July 1987
Speak, Memory 
by Vladimir Nabokov.
Penguin, 242 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 14 008623 4
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The Russian Album 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 191 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3109 8
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The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff 
prepared in association with by Sonja Sinclair.
Toronto, 265 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 8020 2556 0
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A Little of All These: An Estonian Childhood 
by Tania Alexander.
Cape, 165 pp., £12.50, March 1987, 0 224 02400 0
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... titles is an important one in George Ignatieff’s book, as is the family tradition of public service which got the Ignatieffs their estates and their title. His great-grandfather, rewarded by Nicholas I for the support which he gave him in the Decembrist revolt, was commander of the Corps des Pages for twenty-five years, and presided late in life over Alexander II’s Council of Ministers; his ...

Cool Brains

Nicholas​ Guyatt: Demythologising the antebellum South

2 June 2005
Conjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South 
by Michael O’Brien.
North Carolina, 1354 pp., £64.95, March 2004, 0 8078 2800 9
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... through its turbulent early decades. The republic was governed by Southern presidents for 40 of its first 48 years, a period of dominance interrupted only by the single-term administrations of John Adams and his son John Quincy. Conversely, 24 years after Andrew Jackson of Tennessee left the White House in 1837, the next generation of Southerners led 11 states out of the Union, founding a Southern ...

Diary

Conor Gearty: Various Forms of Sleaze

24 November 1994
... a moral cloud. Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith are part of a long Tory tradition. If we throw our minds back to the Thatcher age, various forms of sleaze are associated with the names of Cecil Parkinson, Nicholas Fairbairn and Patrick Nicholls. Leaving aside the proper ‘constitutional’ resignations of Lord Carrington, Leon Brittan and Michael Heseltine, and the not so proper ministerial non-resignations ...

Humdrum Selfishness

Nicholas​ Guyatt: Simon Schama’s Chauvinism

6 April 2006
Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution 
by Simon Schama.
BBC, 448 pp., £20, September 2005, 0 563 48709 7
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... campaigners. Schama notes that Sharp and Benezet corresponded but never acknowledges the extent of the American anti-slavery movement and its close links with Britain. Instead, he indicts Jefferson, Adams and Franklin for hypocrisy and their ‘school playground plea’ that the British bore a share of responsibility given their maintenance of the slave trade. Schama fails to mention that Sharp agreed ...
26 November 1987
Ruling Performance: British Governments from Attlee to Thatcher 
edited by Peter Hennessy and Anthony Seldon.
Blackwell, 344 pp., £25, October 1987, 0 631 15645 3
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The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Blackwell, 667 pp., £45, September 1987, 0 631 13841 2
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Judges 
by David Pannick.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 215956 9
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... by the reflection that so long as this decorative but mindless stuff goes down so well with local Labour parties and trade-union activists, we shall continue to be governed by Mrs Thatcher, Nicholas Ridley and John Major. David Marquand insists on a few truisms, but is decently cautious about what they imply. He fears the effects of selfishness and moral anarchy. As he says, a society which ...

Into the Second Term

R.W. Johnson: New Labour

5 April 2001
Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Hamish Hamilton, 434 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 241 14029 3
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Mandelson and the Making of New Labour 
by Donald Macintyre.
HarperCollins, 638 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 00 653062 1
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Mo Mowlam: The Biography 
by Julia Langdon.
Little, Brown, 324 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 316 85304 6
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Ann Widdecombe: Right from the Beginning 
by Nicholas​ Kochan.
Politico’s, 302 pp., September 2000, 1 902301 55 2
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The Paymaster: Geoffrey Robinson, Maxwell and New Labour 
by Tom Bower.
Simon and Schuster, 272 pp., £17.99, March 2001, 0 7432 0689 4
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The Future of Politics 
by Charles Kennedy.
HarperCollins, 235 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 00 710131 7
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... is to preside over a great deal of mayhem while coaxing and cajoling ‘a peaceful solution’ out of a kaleidoscope of groups stretching from Ian Paisley’s branch of the Unionists through to Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness and whoever they officially or unofficially represent. Typically, this ‘peaceful solution’ seems to involve shuffling Northern Ireland into a closer relationship with the ...

O brambles, chain me too

Tom Paulin: Life and Vowels of Andrew Marvell

25 November 1999
World Enough and Time: The Life of Andrew Marvell 
by Nicholas​ Murray.
Little, Brown, 294 pp., £20, September 1999, 0 316 64863 9
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Marvell and Liberty 
edited by Warren Chernaik and Martin Dzelzainis.
Macmillan, 365 pp., £47.50, July 1999, 0 333 72585 9
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Andrew Marvell 
edited by Thomas Healy.
Longman, 212 pp., £12.99, September 1998, 0 582 21910 8
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... trading-house.) When he returned to England in 1647 his political sympathies were apparently royalist. Though he was soon to change his views, the best readings of his poetry are sensitive, as Nicholas Murray points out, to the ‘strangeness of his genius’, and avoid tidy ideological categories. We need to attend to the ‘uncanny tremor of implication’ that makes the lucid surfaces of his ...

Diary

Alan Hollinghurst: In Houston

18 March 1999
... Stephen Fox, a professor at both the large and unlovely University of Houston, where I am teaching, and the élite Rice University, which has a beautiful campus laid out by the Boston architect Ralph Adams Cram just before the Great War; Cram’s original Byzantine-eclectic halls and quadrangles are still being gracefully augmented by sympathetic architects such as Cesar Pelli. Fox is the author of the ...

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