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Flying Colours

Nicholas Best, 17 April 1986

Lester: The Official Biography 
by Dick Francis.
Joseph, 338 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 7181 1255 5
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Born Lucky 
by John Francome.
Pelham, 157 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 7207 1635 7
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... the flat or over the sticks there is no quarter given in racing, none expected. Jockeys may be the best of friends in the weighing-room – though the most successful are often loners – but once under starter’s orders it is every man for himself. No room for the amateur, no room for any but the most hardened, mentally and ...

Nuclear Fiction

D.A.N. Jones, 8 May 1986

The Nuclear Age 
by Tim O’Brien.
Collins, 312 pp., £10.95, March 1986, 0 00 223015 1
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Acts of Faith 
by Hans Koning.
Gollancz, 182 pp., £8.95, February 1986, 9780575037441
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A Funny Dirty Little War 
by Osvaldo Soriano, translated by Nick Caistor.
Readers International, 108 pp., £7.95, March 1986, 0 930523 17 2
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by Nuruddin Farah.
Picador, 246 pp., £3.50, March 1986, 0 330 28710 9
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Tennis and the Masai 
by Nicholas Best.
Hutchinson, 176 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 09 163770 8
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Dear Shadows 
by Max Egremont.
Secker, 310 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 436 14160 4
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... exercises we turn to the merry snobberies of Kenya in Tennis and the Masai. In this farce-novel, Nicholas Best deliberately imitates Evelyn Waugh, but he is less serious, more racist in an unthinking, harmless way. Most of the action is set in Haggard Hall, a gruesome Kenya-British prep-school, multi-racial in intent – for the houses are called ...

On Nicholas Moore

Peter Howarth: Nicholas Moore, 24 September 2015

... In the manuscript of her lecture, a cancelled sentence names the missing; first on her list is Nicholas Moore. Not just the publishers, but pretty much everything else had failed for Moore. The son of the Cambridge philosopher G.E. Moore, he had begun to publish poems in his teens. Though his father had sounded out the Hogarth Press, ...

Best of British

Nicholas Penny, 2 December 1993

by John McEwen and John Haddington.
Canongate, 96 pp., £20, November 1993, 0 08 624324 1
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Henry Moore: An Interpretation 
by Peter Fuller, edited by Anthony O’Hear.
Methuen, 98 pp., £16, September 1993, 9780413676207
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... Henry Moore was attracted by the idea of monumentality. He tried hard, but with limited success, to find ways of incorporating his sculpture into modern buildings. He also had the attractive idea of locating some of his statues in remote settings, following the example of his friend the late Sir William Keswick, who placed four of Moore’s sculptures, as well as one by Rodin and one by Epstein, in the wild landscape of the estate he owned in south-west Scotland ...


Nicholas Spice: Dreaming of Vikram Seth, 29 April 1999

An Equal Music 
by Vikram Seth.
Phoenix House, 381 pp., £16.99, April 1999, 1 86159 117 9
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... if I should tell him. He might find it interesting. This would depend on whether he’d had Nicholas Spice in mind when he invented Nicholas Spare, an odious music critic whom the nice characters in An Equal Music loathe. I decided to avoid the subject of Nicholas Spare. Instead we ...

Surrealism à la Courbet

Nicholas Penny: Balthus, 24 May 2001

Balthus: Catalogue raisonné of the Complete Works 
by Jean Clair and Virginie Monnier.
Abrams, 576 pp., £140, January 2000, 0 8109 6394 9
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by Nicholas Fox Weber.
Weidenfeld, 650 pp., £30, May 2000, 0 297 64323 1
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... perspective and some kind of narrative content into avant-garde Parisian painting, and in the best of his pictures of this time perspective can even be said to become part of the narrative. In The Window a young woman, perched on a window seat, stares in terror at someone – at us – entering the room, that is, looking into the picture. The lines of the ...

The Partisan Coffee House

Nicholas Faith, 1 June 2017

... was not helped by the ‘modernist’ decor. The architects, Hobsbawm wrote, ‘did their level best to make the stark interior resemble a station waiting room’, although its severity was relieved by paintings, drawings, etchings – and chessboards. To make matters worse the menus, also designed by Samuel, were eclectic, part East End Jewish, part ...

At the Musée du Luxembourg

Nicholas Penny: Botticelli, 20 November 2003

... organised by the president of the French Senate. Three paintings in this last room – perhaps the best ones there – are by Piero di Cosimo and in subject, style and technique are unrelated to anything by Botticelli. We can only suspect that the Italian institutions which felt unable to yield the Botticellis that had been requested offered these paintings ...

A Topic Best Avoided

Nicholas Guyatt: Abraham Lincoln, 1 December 2011

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery 
by Eric Foner.
Norton, 426 pp., £21, February 2011, 978 0 393 06618 0
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... when Lincoln began his political career in the Illinois state legislature, slavery was a topic best avoided. Between 1790 and 1830, even as the Northern states embraced gradual abolition, the number of slaves in the United States increased from 700,000 to two million. The old consensus, on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, that slavery was an unfortunate ...

Hallo Dad

Christopher Ricks, 2 October 1980

Mr Nicholas Sir Henry and Sons Daymare 
by Thomas Hinde.
Macmillan, 271 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 0 333 29539 0
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... The last word of the reissue of Mr Nicholas, Thomas Hinde’s exquisitely glum and fearingly funny novel of 1952, is probably a misprint. At least, it is minutely different from the last word in the Penguin book in 1962, the issue which brought Hinde’s consummate first novel to an even more widely appreciative public ...


Ian Buruma, 9 March 1995

The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War 
by Lynn Nicholas.
Macmillan, 498 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 333 62652 4
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... the Japanese Imperial Army in 1937. And the third, described by William Shirer, and quoted by Lynn Nicholas, is about the Germans in Vienna after the Anschluss in 1938. It is probably right to conclude from these and many other examples that looting is as natural to human beings as raping and killing. In the state of nature, people show their strength by ...
Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature 
by Linda Lear.
Allen Lane, 634 pp., £25, March 1998, 0 7139 9236 0
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... she published. Carson began writing very early. At the age of ten she wrote war stories for St Nicholas, the best children’s magazine of its day; later, she won a scholarship to read English at Pennsylvania College for Women. There, however, she switched to science, under the influence of a brilliant biology ...

Russian hearts are strange

Andrew Solomon, 20 June 1996

The Romanovs: The Final Chapter 
by Robert Massie.
Cape, 308 pp., £17.99, November 1995, 0 224 04192 4
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The Fall of the Romanovs: Political Dreams and Personal Struggles in a Time of Revolution 
by Mark Steinberg and Vladimir Khrustalev.
Yale, 444 pp., £18.50, November 1995, 0 300 06557 4
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... and determined to do as much good for Russia as they were capable of. But their deification – Nicholas will probably be canonised before the year is out – is also absurd: the Romanovs were in general inept, remote, narrow-minded, anti-semitic, intolerant, repressive and irresponsible. While Russian revisionist history of the last decade has finally ...

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny, 23 January 2020

... paintings in the National Gallery, The Virgin and Child with Two Angels (c.1476), which may be the best preserved of all of the paintings attributed to Verrocchio, is regarded by Andrea De Marchi, a co-curator of the Palazzo Strozzi exhibition, as ‘probably one of the five most important paintings produced in Florence in the 15th century’. He baptises it ...

Attila the Hus

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 4 November 1982

Rules of the Game: Sir Oswald and Lady Cynthia Mosley 1896-1933 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 274 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 436 28849 4
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... Nicholas Mosley’s parents, Cynthia Curzon and Oswald Mosley, were married in the Chapel Royal, St James’s on 11 May 1920: ‘Cimmie’s wedding dress had a design of green leaves in it, in defiance of a superstition that green at a wedding was unlucky: there was also a superstition that it was unlucky to be married in May ...

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