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With Only Passing Reference to the Earth

James Hamilton-Paterson: The Martian Enterprise

22 August 2002
Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination and the Birth of a World 
by Oliver Morton.
Fourth Estate, 351 pp., £18.99, June 2002, 9781841156682
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... In his introduction to this remarkable book, OliverMorton writes that it is ‘about how ideas from our full and complex planet are projected onto the rocks of that simpler, empty one’. Projection, Morton believes, has determined our thinking about Mars ...

The Most Beautiful Icicle

Inigo Thomas: Apollo 11

15 August 2019
Reaching for the Moon: A Short History of the Space Race 
by Roger D. Launius.
Yale, 256 pp., £20, July, 978 0 300 23046 8
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The Moon: A History for the Future 
by Oliver Morton.
Economist Books, 334 pp., £20, May, 978 1 78816 254 8
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... we could have pulled this whole thing off. The Saturn V rocket, designed by Wernher von Braun, the German engineer responsible for the V2 rocket, never had launch troubles – amazingly, given what OliverMorton in The Moon: A History for the Future describes as the ‘ludicrously powerful’ five F-1 engines at its base. At lift-off, the rocket weighed three thousand tonnes. ‘The shell of ice that ...

Boudoir Politics

Bee Wilson: Lola Montez

7 June 2007
Lola Montez: Her Life and Conquests 
by James Morton.
Portrait, 390 pp., £20, January 2007, 978 0 7499 5115 3
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... at once. Her most famous turn was the ‘spider dance’, a tarantella-like affair which varied depending on ‘both the quality or otherwise of the audience and Lola’s mood each night’, as James Morton writes in his entertaining biography. And sometimes ‘it depended on what money was thrown on stage.’ More or fewer parts of Lola’s body might be exposed during the dance, which was in two parts ...

The Third Suitcase

Thomas Jones: Michael Frayn

24 May 2012
Skios 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 278 pp., £15.99, May 2012, 978 0 571 28141 1
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... look at all as she would have expected him to look’: he’s a ‘rumpled young man with muddled, extraordinarily pale blond hair’ and ‘soft rueful eyes’. And he isn’t Norman Wilfred: he’s Oliver Fox, who was meant to be coming to Skios with his girlfriend, Annuka Vos, to spend a week in a borrowed villa, but she’s just dumped him, so he asked a woman he met in a bar to come with him ...
17 October 1985
Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community 
by Christopher Andrew.
Heinemann, 616 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 02110 5
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The Secret Generation 
by John Gardner.
Heinemann, 453 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 434 28250 2
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Two Thyrds 
by Bertie Denham.
Ross Anderson Publications, 292 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 86360 006 9
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The Ultimate Enemy: British Intelligence and Nazi Germany 1933-1939 
by Wesley Wark.
Tauris, 304 pp., £19.50, October 1985, 1 85043 014 4
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... No wonder people think of the secret services as farce or fiction. What is one to make of an organisation whose leaders have names like Dummy Oliver, Blinker Hall, Biffy Dunderdale, Lousy Payne, Buster Milmo, Pay Sykes, Tar Robertson, Barmy Russel and Quex Sinclair (not to be confused with his successor but one, Sinbad Sinclair)? It’s no good ...
10 May 1990
Thomas Starkey and the Commonweal 
by Tom Mayer.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £32.50, April 1989, 0 521 36104 4
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Politics and Literature in the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII 
by Alistair Fox.
Blackwell, 317 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 631 13566 9
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The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Portraits at the Court of Henry VIII 
by Retha Warnicke.
Cambridge, 326 pp., £14.95, November 1989, 0 521 37000 0
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English Travellers Abroad 1604-1667 
by John Stoye.
Yale, 448 pp., £12.95, January 1990, 0 300 04180 2
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... unfinished Richard III soon after mentioning his thoughts of writing on a subject closer to home, the reign of Henry VIII’s father. He concludes by recording a wary conversation in which Cardinal Morton declines to speak freely to the Duke of Buckingham about King Richard because ‘I love not much to talk of princes, as a thing not all out of peril.’ An innocent word, warns Morton, may be taken ...

Dear Miss Boothby

Margaret Anne Doody

5 November 1992
The Letters of Samuel Johnson: Vol. I: 1731-1772, Vol. II: 1773-1776, Vol. III: 1777-1781 
edited by Bruce Redford.
Oxford, 431 pp., £25, February 1992, 0 19 811287 4
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... to Egypt, and to India as well. But Johnson was not the sort of man to set out on a lonely adventure. He could have travelled in his youth had he been willing to put up with great hardship. Young Oliver Goldsmith hiked over the Continent, staying at various universities and earning his way by debating. This was not Johnson’s style: he could endure physical deprivation, certainly, but not the ...

Roaming the Greenwood

Colm Tóibín: A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition by Gregory Woods

21 January 1999
A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition 
by Gregory Woods.
Yale, 448 pp., £24.95, February 1998, 0 300 07201 5
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... Kipling – that represented his own secret dotted line to the past. He could not have done without them. It is easy to argue about the uncertain Irishness of certain writers. Was Sterne Irish? Was Oliver Goldsmith Irish? Was Robert Tressell Irish? Is Iris Murdoch Irish? But the argument about who was gay and who was not and how we know is more difficult. How can someone be gay if, as in the case of ...

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