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On Trying to Be Portugal

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Zionist Terrorism, 6 August 2009

‘A Senseless, Squalid War’: Voices from Palestine 1945-48 
by Norman Rose.
Bodley Head, 278 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 0 224 07938 9
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Major Farran’s Hat: Murder, Scandal and Britain’s War against Jewish Terrorism 1945-48 
by David Cesarani.
Heinemann, 290 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 0 434 01844 4
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... books deal with the last years of the Mandate, when the rightist nationalists of the Irgun and the Stern Gang waged a fierce campaign against British forces and the Arab population, provoking an increasingly harsh and sometimes criminal British response. After the defeat and collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, the British took control of two new adjacent ...

A Magazine of Wisdom

Linda Colley, 4 September 1997

Edmund Burke: A Life in Caricature 
by Nicholas Robinson.
Yale, 214 pp., £30, October 1996, 0 300 06801 8
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The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke. Vol. III: Party, Parliament and the American War 1774-80 
edited by Warren Elofson and John Woods.
Oxford, 713 pp., £75, September 1996, 0 19 822414 1
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Edmund Burke and India: Political Morality and Empire 
by Frederick Whelan.
Pittsburgh, 384 pp., £39.95, December 1996, 0 8229 3927 4
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... do violence to his actual variety and contradictions. There is the conservatives’ Burke, stern exponent, in Philippe Raynaud’s words, of those ‘limits which the limited nature of man sets to political action’. There is the liberals’ Burke, staunch critic of religious intolerance, the slave trade and capital punishment. There is even, among ...

Man on a Bicycle

Gillian Darley: Le Corbusier, 9 April 2009

Le Corbusier: A Life 
by Nicholas Fox Weber.
Knopf, 823 pp., $45, November 2008, 978 0 375 41043 7
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... age of 70, we learn from the intimate and largely unpublished letters that are the raw material of Nicholas Fox Weber’s biography, Le Corbusier was still justifying his work, his name and his fame to his mother, by then in her late nineties. As always, he was trying to gain her favour over his (only just) older brother, the gentle but troubled Albert, a ...

Diary

Gabriele Annan: Trouble at Pyramids Street, 3 April 1986

... contempt for the Egyptians. I felt high. I had just been reading War and Peace and recognised Nicholas Rostov’s exhilaration before the battle of Austerlitz. The bus crept downhill into the unpaved lanes south of Pyramids Street. They were choked with vehicles coming off the main road where the action was. There was a lot of backing, advancing and ...

Diary

Giles Gordon: Experimental Sideshows, 7 October 1993

... but it will be, it will be. Instead, poor Carmen took delivery of my recently published ‘stern account of literary, publishing and theatrical folk’. I was given a surprise party at, inevitably, Soho’s Groucho Club. Among the sixty-odd faces present was one I didn’t recognise. ‘We haven’t met,’ the smiling proprietor of the face, bearded ...

Awkward Bow

Jeremy Noel-Tod: Geoffrey Hill, 6 March 2003

The Orchards of Syon 
by Geoffrey Hill.
Penguin, 72 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 0 14 100991 8
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... Many critics cannot credit this. Stanza 56 of Speech! Speech! was singled out as evidence, by Nicholas Lezard in the Guardian: Flanders poppy no trial variant. Does my bad breath offend you? Pick a name of the unknown ypres master l as alias. Abandoned mark iv tanks, rostered by sex, Marlbrough s’en va-t-en . . . frozen mud wrestlers entertaining the ...

Evil Days

Ian Hamilton, 23 July 1992

The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice among the Literary Intelligentsia 
by John Carey.
Faber, 246 pp., £14.99, July 1992, 0 571 16273 8
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... Brave New World so as to learn how things might work out if we did not read Brave New World. And Nicholas Monsarrat’s The Cruel Sea (a best-seller) was held up for massive ridicule: we asked if we could take this item home with us so that we might the more thoroughly acquaint ourselves with its gross failures of sensibility and moral courage. And this was ...

Inspector of the Sad Parade

Nicholas Spice, 4 August 1994

A Way in the World 
by V.S. Naipaul.
Heinemann, 369 pp., £14.99, May 1994, 0 434 51029 7
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... never meant, or thought they were never meant, to end up. The inspector of this sad parade, its stern adjudicator, is well placed to show where each unhappy man fell short, for he is himself a kind of failure, a rare kind: the failed failure, the exception that proves the rule. ‘It was that I had no gift. I had no natural talent,’ he tells Stephen ...

Love and Crime

Theodore Zeldin, 6 March 1980

Recollections and Reflections of a Country Policeman 
by W.C. May.
A.H. Stockwell (Ilfracombe), 342 pp., £6.60, July 1979, 0 7223 1199 0
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The Police in Society 
by Ben Whitaker.
Eyre Methuen, 351 pp., £6.95, March 1979, 9780413342003
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... disliked: they are pigs, flics. Just how bewildered this animosity is making them is revealed in Nicholas Alex’s vivid book, New York Cops Talk Back: A Study of a Beleaguered Minority.1 They used to derive their self-esteem from the belief that they were the guardians of society, the embodiment of its values: they represented right. The police ...

Can there be such a thing as music criticism?

John Deathridge, 20 February 1986

Music and Civilisation: Essays in Honour of Paul Henry Lang 
edited by Edmond Strainchamps, Maria Rika Maniates and Christopher Hatch.
Norton, 499 pp., £35, March 1985, 0 393 01677 3
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The Farthest North of Humanness: Letters of Percy Grainger 1901-1914 
edited by Kay Dreyfus.
Macmillan, 542 pp., £25, December 1985, 0 333 38085 1
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Musicology 
by Joseph Kerman.
Collins/Fontana, 255 pp., £10.95, March 1985, 0 00 197170 0
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... than purely musical. In various autobiographical statements Stravinsky dismissed the help of Nicholas Roerich in the elaboration of the scenario: Taruskin redresses the balance by describing in detail Roerich’s contribution and four Russian sources he probably used for elaborating the ballet’s striking visual imagery. Stravinsky shaped events to make ...

Sex is best when you lose your head

James Meek, 16 November 2000

Promiscuity: An Evolutionary History of Sperm Competition and Sexual Conflict 
by Tim Birkhead.
Faber, 272 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 571 19360 9
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... lax morals. The female dunnock often takes not one but two males as partners. The best a stern man of religion could say about dunnocks is that there’s no superfluous bump and grind when they mate – it’s strictly fertilisation business, over in 0.1 seconds. Fast enough to do it while your mother’s back is turned. Tim Birkhead and his fellow ...

Raskolnikov into Pnin

Tony Wood: Betraying the People’s Will in Tsarist Russia, 4 December 2003

The Degaev Affair: Terror and Treason in Tsarist Russia 
by Richard Pipes.
Yale, 153 pp., £16.95, April 2003, 0 300 09848 0
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... of informants, but his interrogation technique was even more innovatory. Where others delivered stern paternal lectures, Sudeikin tried to convince captive revolutionaries that he was on their side – hence the dropping of Marx’s name – and that elements within the regime were keen to adopt a progressive agenda; their common cause, he would say, was ...

Resurrecting the Tudors

John Pemble: James Anthony Froude, 23 May 2013

James Anthony Froude: An Intellectual Biography of a Victorian Prophet 
by Ciaran Brady.
Oxford, 500 pp., £45, May 2013, 978 0 19 966803 8
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... crowded churches, when every breath was held to hear; that calm grey eye; those features, so stern, and yet so gentle! Was it the spirit of Frederick Mornington? Mornington was John Henry Newman; and Froude wrote his History in order to save himself and England from the fate of his fictional hero, who’s lured by Mornington into a monastery – clearly ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2004, 6 January 2005

... by the prime minister. Our fearless leader is a democrat only as and when it suits him. 20 March. Nicholas Hytner has shown the script of The History Boys to one of his former teachers at Manchester Grammar School, who says that teaching these days is so circumscribed that many traditional tools of the trade are now impermissible. Sarcasm, for instance, is ...

Rescuing the bishops

Blair Worden, 21 April 1983

The Religion of Protestants: The Church in English Society 1559-1625 
by Patrick Collinson.
Oxford, 297 pp., £17.50, January 1983, 0 19 822685 3
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Reactions to the English Civil War 1642-1649 
by John Morrill.
Macmillan, 257 pp., £14, November 1982, 0 333 27565 9
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The World of the Muggletonians 
by Christopher Hill, Barry Reay and William Lamont.
Temple Smith, 195 pp., £12.50, February 1983, 0 85117 226 1
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The Life of John Milton 
by A.N. Wilson.
Oxford, 278 pp., £9.95, January 1983, 0 19 211776 9
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Complete Prose Works of John Milton. Vol. 8: 1666-1682 
edited by Maurice Kelley.
Yale, 625 pp., £55, January 1983, 0 300 02561 0
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The Poet’s Time: Politics and Religion in the Works of Andrew Marvell 
by Warren Chernaik.
Cambridge, 249 pp., £19.50, February 1983, 9780521247733
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... across his book. But his argument shifts the main burden of explanation, as William Lamont and Nicholas Tyacke have shifted it, onto the reign of Charles I and the regime of Archbishop Laud, ‘the greatest calamity ever visited upon the English Church’. Although that verdict is unlikely to go unchallenged, even those who question it should welcome ...

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