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Like Frogs around a Pond

Nigel McGilchrist: The Mediterranean, 22 March 2012

The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean 
by David Abulafia.
Allen Lane, 783 pp., £30, May 2011, 978 0 7139 9934 1
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... the North African coast; and the rare and exquisite bianco e nero antico from Aquitaine in the far west. Seneca, in his letters, bemoaned the fact that Rome’s demand and curiosity could never be satiated. The cargoes of marble, already cut into columns or blocks and slung under the surface of the sea between two barges lashed together in the form of a ...

Sweeno’s Beano

Nigel Wheale: MacSweeney, Kinsella and Harrison, 1 October 1998

The Book of Demons 
by Barry MacSweeney.
Bloodaxe, 109 pp., £7.95, September 1997, 1 85224 414 3
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Poems 1980-94 
by John Kinsella.
Bloodaxe, 352 pp., £9.95, April 1999, 1 85224 453 4
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The Silo: A Pastoral Symphony 
by John Kinsella.
Arc, 108 pp., £7.95, January 1997, 1 900072 12 2
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The Kangaroo Farm 
by Martin Harrison.
Paper Bark, 79 pp., £8.95, May 1998, 0 9586482 4 7
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... but he also worked on wheatbelt farms and sheep stations in the Avon Valley area, sixty miles west of the city. His poetry therefore gives a remarkable account of the landscapes, technology and lives led on the agricultural prairies in this ‘region of extractions’ where water springs from an Underworld that ‘has its/limitations and will bleed to ...

A Tale of Three Novels

Michael Holroyd: Violet Trefusis, 11 February 2010

... into my life as she has had in hers,’ Violet wrote in the summer of 1918 to Vita Sackville-West. She had begun to squeeze a very indiscreet romance with Vita into her own life. The girls’ passion for each other was to be the subject of an early novel by Sackville-West called Challenge and secretly dedicated to ...

Black Monday

Graham Ingham, 26 November 1987

... because more investors suddenly wanted to sell than to buy shares. Prices began to fall, and what Nigel Lawson has called the ‘herd’ instinct of the market ensured that the fall, once started, became self-reinforcing. However, this mechanistic explanation throws no light on why there should have been a sudden reversal of sentiment in the market. Because ...

Cromwell’s Coven

John Sutherland, 4 June 1987

Witchcraft 
by Nigel Williams.
Faber, 390 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 571 14823 9
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Without Falling 
by Leslie Dick.
Serpent’s Tail, 153 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 1 85242 005 7
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Outlaws 
by George V. Higgins.
Deutsch, 360 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 233 98110 1
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... with sections he needed for Esmond marked boldly in ink. Nowadays the keeper would have him at West Central Police Station before the offending liquid was dry. Thirty years later, in New Grub Street (1891), there is a scene in which Gissing’s unfortunate Marian Yule sits in the BM Reading Room with a heart full of anything but grateful reverence. The ...

Enemies of All Mankind

Stephen Sedley: Pirates, 24 June 2010

The Treatment of Prisoners under International Law 
by Nigel Rodley, with Matt Pollard.
Oxford, 697 pp., £85, August 2009, 978 0 19 921507 2
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The Enemy of All: Piracy and the Law of Nations 
by Daniel Heller-Roazen.
Zone, 295 pp., £21.95, November 2009, 978 1 890951 94 8
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The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates 
by Peter Leeson.
Princeton, 271 pp., £16.95, May 2009, 978 0 691 13747 6
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... impact of this doctrine on the morality of state conduct can be gauged by the new edition of Nigel Rodley’s classic work on the treatment of prisoners, both lawful and de facto. Rodley, an academic lawyer and a member of the UN Human Rights Committee, accepts that international law has been ‘decidedly ambitious in the limits it sets on the behaviour ...

Nuclear Argument

Keith Kyle, 18 April 1985

Objections to Nuclear Defence: Philosophers on Deterrence 
edited by Nigel Blake and Kay Pole.
Routledge, 187 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 7102 0249 0
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Reagan and the World: Imperial Policy in the New Cold War 
by Jeff McMahan.
Pluto, 214 pp., £3.95, August 1984, 0 86104 602 1
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A future that will work 
by David Owen.
Viking, 192 pp., £12.95, August 1984, 0 670 80564 5
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The Most Dangerous Decade: World Militarism and the New Non-Aligned Peace Movement 
by Ken Coates.
Spokesman, 211 pp., £15, July 1984, 9780851244051
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... Dangers of Deterrence, published in 1983 with the same editors. Both were designed, according to Nigel Blake and Kay Pole, to rescue a debate in which issues were being ‘extremely badly handled’ either because, though philosophical in nature, they were not being treated as such, or because, though they were recognised as philosophical, the treatment was ...

Soldier’s Soldier

Brian Bond, 4 March 1982

Auchinleck: The Lonely Soldier 
by Philip Warner.
Buchan and Enright, 288 pp., £10.50, November 1981, 9780907675006
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Das Reich: Resistance and the March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division through France, June 1944 
by Max Hastings.
Joseph, 264 pp., £9.95, November 1981, 0 7181 2074 4
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... transformation that rapidly followed has, in broad terms, recently received a powerful boost from Nigel Hamilton’s lengthy coverage of these events, buttressed by the recollections of numerous participants. The Auk, however, has always had his own champions: notably, his two previous biographers, John Connell and Roger Parkinson, and Correlli ...

Ambitions

Robert Blake, 18 December 1980

Harold Nicolson: A Biography: Vol. 1, 1886-1929 
by James Lees-Milne.
Chatto, 429 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 7011 2520 9
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Harold Nicolson Diaries 1930-1964 
by Stanley Olson.
Collins, 436 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 00 216304 7
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... be regarded as anything but a disaster in terms of Nicolson’s public career. Vita Sackville-West was the daughter of Lord Sackville. Had she been a boy, she would have inherited Knole, one of the most famous country houses in England, together with the estates entailed in the male line upon her cousin Eddy. She bitterly resented this deprivation, the ...

Man Who Burned

Adam Kuper: James Brooke, 12 December 2002

White Rajah: A Biography of Sir James Brooke 
by Nigel Barley.
Little, Brown, 262 pp., £16.99, October 2002, 0 316 85920 6
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... you cannot have James Brooke with it,’ Sylvia replied. The elusive love interest is the nub of Nigel Barley’s lightweight but entertaining biography, and he devotes a great deal of energy to establishing whether Sylvia was right about Brooke’s incapacity. Brooke suffered his wound in his first week of service in the army of the East India Company while ...

Prolonging her absence

Danny Karlin, 8 March 1990

The Wimbledon Poisoner 
by Nigel Williams.
Faber, 307 pp., £12.99, March 1990, 0 571 14242 7
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The Other Occupant 
by Peter Benson.
Macmillan, 168 pp., £12.95, February 1990, 0 333 52509 4
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Possession 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 511 pp., £13.95, March 1990, 0 7011 3260 4
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... Henry Farr is – or, as it turns out, is not – the ‘Wimbledon Poisoner’ of Nigel Williams’s title. He is a Pooterish solicitor, middling and muddling his way through life; the plot concerns his repeated farcical failure to murder his awful wife, bumping off (he thinks) other innocent people instead. Then, as the plot unravels and a real poisoner shows his hand, Henry discovers that his wife is not so awful after all ...

Short Cuts

Chris Mullin: Anonymous and Abuse, 19 November 2019

... life by a crazed Islamist. Ten years earlier, again while conducting a surgery, the Cheltenham MP Nigel Jones was seriously injured by a sword-wielding constituent. His assistant was killed. All this was long before Brexit poisoned the well of British politics.Has it got worse? Yes, it has. Brexit has released a nasty strain of chauvinism which has always ...

It took a Scot

Colin Kidd: English Nationalism, 29 July 2015

The Formation of the English Kingdom in the Tenth Century 
by George Molyneaux.
Oxford, 302 pp., £65, May 2015, 978 0 19 871791 1
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The English and Their History 
by Robert Tombs.
Allen Lane, 1012 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 103165 1
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Conquests, Catastrophe and Recovery: Britain and Ireland 1066-1485 
by John Gillingham.
Vintage, 345 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 956324 2
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From Restoration to Reform: The British Isles 1660-1832 
by Jonathan Clark.
Vintage, 364 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 956323 5
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Britain since 1900: A Success Story? 
by Robert Skidelsky.
Vintage, 472 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 957239 8
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... in the early tenth century, whose direct rule was limited to the south of England and the west midlands, was recognised as king of Britain. More confusingly still, Molyneaux identifies an ironic precursor of the West Lothian Question: in the eighth century Bede described the church at Abercorn in ...

In Farageland

James Meek, 8 October 2014

... Thanet,​ where Nigel Farage will try to win a Westminster seat at the next election, lies nicely along the axis of his commute between his home in South London and his office at the European Parliament in Brussels. If Kent, cartographically speaking, is England’s right foot, the Isle of Thanet is its big toe, pointing east into the sea towards Belgium ...

I have washed my feet out of it

Hilary Mantel: Growing up in Ghana, 21 October 2004

Hustling Is Not Stealing: Stories of an African Bar Girl 
by John Chernoff.
Chicago, 480 pp., £16, January 2004, 0 226 10352 8
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Exchange Is Not Robbery: More Stories of an African Bar Girl 
by John Chernoff.
Chicago, 425 pp., £16, November 2004, 0 226 10355 2
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Purple Hibiscus 
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Fourth Estate, 307 pp., £12.99, March 2004, 0 00 717611 2
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... punctuated with bursts of laughter. Chernoff heard such laughter everywhere. Travelling through West Africa, ‘a student of society and a musician’, he was amazed by the spirit of the people he met; they seemed cheerful, gregarious, and above all adaptable, meeting misfortunes philosophically. What he saw contrasted with Western ideas about Africa, a ...

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