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Spying made easy

M.F. Perutz, 25 June 1987

Klaus Fuchs: The man who stole the atom bomb 
by Norman Moss.
Grafton, 216 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 246 13158 6
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... information here (lest the Russians get to know of it?), but the British told the Americans and Norman Moss found full details in their FBI files. Klaus Fuchs was born in 1911, the son of a German pastor with left-wing sympathies who taught his children the Lutheran precept of acting according to their own consciences rather than obeying established ...

After George W. Bush, the Deluge

Murray Sayle: Back to the Carboniferous, 21 June 2001

Draft Report of the 17th Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Nairobi, 4-6 April 2001 
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Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability 
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The Collapse of the Kyoto Protocol and the Struggle to Slow Global Warming 
by David Victor.
Princeton, 192 pp., £12.95, April 2001, 0 691 08870 5
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Managing the Planet: The Politics of the New Millennium 
by Norman Moss.
Earthscan, 232 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 1 85383 644 3
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... Worldwide, CFC production should be phased out by 2010. With a journalist’s disenchantment, Norman Moss reports in Managing the Planet that bootleg CFC is still being made in Russia and China and smuggled into wealthier countries, but, since CFC is bulky and cannot be sniffed with any pleasure, the trade is gradually dying out. The hole in the ...

Carré on spying

John Sutherland, 3 April 1986

A Perfect Spy 
by John le Carré.
Hodder, 463 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 9780340387849
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The Novels of John le Carré 
by David Monaghan.
Blackwell, 207 pp., £12.50, September 1985, 0 631 14283 5
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Taking sides: The Fiction of John le Carré 
by Tony Barley.
Open University, 175 pp., £20, March 1986, 0 335 15251 1
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John le Carré 
by Peter Lewis.
Ungar, 228 pp., £10.95, August 1985, 0 8044 2243 5
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A Servant’s Tale 
by Paula Fox.
Virago, 321 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 86068 702 3
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A State of Independence 
by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 158 pp., £8.95, February 1986, 0 571 13910 8
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... in their own kind of espionage) soon turned up interesting privacies. An article by Norman Moss in the Sunday Telegraph, for instance, disclosed that the little drummer girl Charlie was at least in part based on le Carré’s half-sister Charlotte Cornwell. A Perfect Spy doubles back to unfold more of le Carré’s private world than any of ...


Donald Davie, 2 February 1984

A World of Difference 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 64 pp., £3.95, June 1983, 0 7011 2693 0
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... has lately written an exceptionally searching essay about British poetry since 1945,* in which Norman MacCaig is named just once in passing. There is nothing wrong with that; Crozier isn’t attempting one of those limp ‘surveys’ in which everyone who deserves mention gets it. All the same I have the impression that a nod in passing – usually, it’s ...


Dinah Birch, 21 December 1989

The Temple of my Familiar 
by Alice Walker.
Women’s Press, 405 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 7043 5041 6
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The Fog Line 
by Carol Birch.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £13.95, September 1989, 0 7475 0453 9
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Home Life Four 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 169 pp., £9.95, November 1989, 0 7156 2297 8
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The Fly in the Ointment 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £10.95, October 1989, 9780715622964
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Words of Love 
by Philip Norman.
Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp., £11.95, October 1989, 0 241 12586 3
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... She rides around on a gentle moose, whose tremendous prehistoric antlers, lined with flowers and moss, form a wide bowl that sways majestically ahead through the forest ways. Sometimes she climbs into the fragrant bowls and lies down and sleeps under blankets of moss.’ Gloria can hardly hope to preserve that nurturing ...

At the V&A 2

Rosemary Hill: Wedding Dresses, 1775-2014, 9 October 2014

... probably not the only wedding dress to have helped end the marriage it was supposed to start. Norman Hartnell’s dress for Margaret Whigham, not yet the Duchess of Argyll (1933). By comparison with the farragos of the later 20th century the earliest exhibits, from the 18th and 19th centuries, are models of practical good sense. Gold and silver thread ...

Nice Thoughts

Francis Gooding: Beaks and Talons, 21 February 2019

The Wonderful Mr Willughby: The First True Ornithologist 
by Tim Birkhead.
Bloomsbury, 353 pp., £25, May 2018, 978 1 4088 7848 4
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Mrs Moreau’s Warbler: How Birds Got Their Names 
by Stephen Moss.
Faber, 357 pp., £16.99, February 2018, 978 1 78335 090 2
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... and the green woodpecker a woodspite. The history of bird names is the subject of Stephen Moss’s Mrs Moreau’s Warbler. It seems that some common bird names are very ancient indeed. The cuckoo is recorded in England by that name as far back as the 13th century, in the medieval round known as ‘Sumer Is Icumen In’, where it appears in the first ...

Faking the Canon

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Forging the Bible, 6 February 2014

Forgery and Counter-Forgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics 
by Bart Ehrman.
Oxford, 628 pp., £27.50, January 2013, 978 0 19 992803 3
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... and 12th-century industry of forgery carried out in the major Benedictine monasteries of Anglo-Norman England, which created brand-new ancient charters recording grants of large estates from long-dead Anglo-Saxon notables. And here is a clue to an element of the process on which Ehrman might have looked more charitably than he does, in his admirable ...

Even Uglier

Terry Eagleton: Music Hall, 20 December 2012

My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall 
by John Major.
Harper, 363 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 00 745013 8
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... like Major. (There are photos of his father, Tom, looking like a cross between George Formby and Norman Wisdom, in the book.) What his parents did bequeath him, however, was a consuming interest in popular entertainment, which this lucid, erudite study distils to excellent effect. An impressive amount of research underpins the volume, though Major conceals ...

Damp Souls

Tom Vanderbilt, 3 October 1996

Snow Falling on Cedars 
by David Guterson.
Bloomsbury, 316 pp., £5.99, September 1996, 0 7475 2266 9
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The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind 
by David Guterson.
Bloomsbury, 181 pp., £5.99, January 1996, 0 7475 2561 7
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... settings; and turning to the past, either historical or familial’ – what Ian Jack calls the ‘Norman Rockwellisation of the novel’. With most of America living in cities or densely populated suburbs, the turn to small towns in so much recent fiction is striking. What happened to the suburban novel of a generation ago? John Updike’s Rabbit tetralogy ...

Does one flare or cling?

Alice Spawls, 5 May 2016

‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
by Robin Muir.
National Portrait Gallery, 304 pp., £40, February 2016, 978 1 85514 561 0
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‘Vogue’ 100: A Century of Style 
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... sequence (every decade has a room); to the right is an eclectic group of images: Kate Moss’s silhouetted profile on gold (the millennium cover), two Corinne Day photographs (one of Kate again) and some earlier monochrome prints, including George Hoyningen-Huene’s 1930 Modern Mariners Put out to Sea, of two androgynous swimmers on a diving ...


James Wolcott: Updike should stay at home, 1 January 2009

The Widows of Eastwick 
by John Updike.
Hamish Hamilton, 308 pp., £18.99, October 2008, 978 0 241 14427 5
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... life was other than a negative-positive mosquito buzzing in the ear of a total vacuum.’ Where Norman Mailer set out to bend the future with his telepathic powers and the Beats sought to hot-wire the American psyche (at the risk of frying their own circuits), Updike wrote as if he were doing fine draftsmanship under a cone of light, honouring creation and ...

Veni, vidi, video

D.A.N. Jones, 18 August 1983

Dangerous Pursuits 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Secker, 192 pp., £7.50, June 1983, 0 436 44086 5
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by Robert Moss.
Weidenfeld, 384 pp., £7.95, August 1983, 0 297 78166 9
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The Last Supper 
by Charles McCarry.
Hutchinson, 427 pp., £8.96, May 1983, 0 09 151420 7
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by Nora Ephron.
Heinemann, 179 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 434 23700 0
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August 1988 
by David Fraser.
Collins, 235 pp., £8.50, July 1983, 0 00 222725 8
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The Cure 
by Peter Kocan.
Angus and Robertson, 137 pp., £5.95, July 1983, 9780207145896
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... people into her fiction more naturally than Monimbo manages with, for instance, Castro and Norman Mailer. Her good American English is laced with wisecracks, sad-funny like Woody Allen’s, clever-naive like Salinger’s. The English dialogue of Monimbo is very poor, by comparison. At one point, the Mossgrave Partnership attempts to create a ...

Seriously Uncool

Jenny Diski: Susan Sontag, 22 March 2007

At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches 
edited by Paolo Dilonardo and Anne Jump, preface by David Rieff.
Hamish Hamilton, 235 pp., £18.99, April 2007, 978 0 241 14371 1
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A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005 
by Annie Leibovitz.
Cape, 480 pp., £60, October 2006, 0 224 08063 6
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... subjects, too, were precisely of the period: Godard and Resnais, the Marat/Sade, Genet, Pavese, Norman O. Brown and Happenings. In this posthumous collection written four decades later, the literary pieces have hardly changed, the writers she applauds are still largely European, though of the past rather than the present, and her wholehearted admiration for ...

What’s this?

Ian Sansom: A. Alvarez, 24 August 2000

Where Did It All Go Right? 
by A. Alvarez.
Richard Cohen, 344 pp., £20, September 1999, 1 86066 173 4
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... about, Alvarez puts one in mind not so much of a reckless slugger and controversialist like Norman Mailer, as of a more genteel tradition of eccentric but robust writing; of a writer like A.J. Liebling, say, a man of legendary appetites, who found in boxing, as in eating and friendship, a source of pleasure, not merely an excuse for braggadocio and ...

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