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Diary

David Kaiser: Aliens

8 July 2010
... Morrison assumed that life led inexorably to science. Drake took the next step: science led inexorably to nukes. The assumptions governing the thinking of the SETI pioneers are clearly explained by PaulDavies in his new book, The Eerie Silence: Are We Alone in the Universe?* Davies works in cosmology and astrobiology and heads a unit at Arizona State University called the Beyond Center for ...
6 August 1992
Murther and Walking Spirits 
by Robertson Davies.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 357 pp., £14.95, October 1991, 1 85619 078 1
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... I have been sometimes praised, sometimes mocked, for my way of pointing out the mythical elements that seem to me to underlie our apparently ordinary lives.’ Dunstan Ramsay, the hero of Robertson Davies’s Fifth Business, says this; but one can assume that Davies is also talking about the reception of his own novels. To reduce character and incident to their ‘mythical elements’ can be ...
6 April 1995
The Davies​ Report: The ‘Great Battle’ in Swansea 
by Michael Davies.
Thoemmes, 139 pp., £3.99, October 1994, 1 85506 366 2
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... students, and by some of their colleagues, including Colwyn Williamson, who had been lecturing in philosophy in Swansea since 1967, and Michael Cohen, a former Tory voter described by Sir Michael Davies as a ‘careful and reasonable sort of person’. In early 1990, all four lecturers, Hunt, Maclean, Williamson and Cohen, formally complained to the Academic Secretary of the University, Mr Jeffrey ...
18 December 1986
Between the Woods and the Water 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor et al.
Murray, 248 pp., £13.95, October 1986, 0 7195 4264 2
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Coasting 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins, 301 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 00 272119 8
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The Grand Tour 
by Hunter Davies.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11907 3
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... I am assuming,’ Paul Fussell said in Abroad: British Literary Travelling Between the Wars (1980), ‘that travel is now impossible and that tourism is all we have left.’ To be a traveller, you have to move about alone ...

Encyclopedias

Theodore Zeldin

26 October 1989
Pan Encyclopedia 
edited by Judith Hannam.
Pan, 608 pp., £8.99, August 1989, 9780330309202
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Longman Encyclopedia 
edited by Asa Briggs.
Longman, 1179 pp., £24.95, September 1989, 0 582 91620 8
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International Encyclopedia of Communications: Vols I-IV 
edited by Erik Barnouw.
Oxford, 1913 pp., £250, April 1989, 0 19 504994 2
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The Cambridge Encyclopedia of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives 
edited by Francis Robinson.
Cambridge, 520 pp., £30, September 1989, 0 521 33451 9
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Concise Encyclopedia of Islam 
by Cyril Glass.
Stacey International, 472 pp., £35, February 1989, 0 905743 52 0
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The World’s Religions 
by Ninian Smart.
Cambridge, 576 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 521 34005 5
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The New Physics 
edited by Paul Davies.
Cambridge, 516 pp., £30, March 1989, 0 521 30420 2
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The Middle Ages: A Concise Encyclopedia 
by H.R. Loyn.
Thames and Hudson, 352 pp., £24, May 1989, 0 500 25103 7
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China in World History 
by S.A.M. Adshead.
Macmillan, 432 pp., £35, June 1988, 0 333 43405 6
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... civilisations; and they cannot do it as the sage Mahavira, born in 599 BC, did, who renounced the world at the age of 30, plucked out all his hair, and after 12 years of fasting, gained omniscience. PaulDavies’s exhilarating book, The New Physics, contains another of the elements which a modern encyclopedia needs. It has unhurried, meditative and occasionally even humorous articles by the people ...

Even the stones spoke German

Brendan Simms: Wrotizla, Breslau, Wroclaw

28 November 2002
Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City 
by Norman Davies and Roger Moorhouse.
Cape, 585 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 224 06243 3
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... comment. He seemed happy enough when I met him; and his Polish neighbours appeared remarkably incurious about and benevolent towards one of the last living links with their earlier history. Norman Davies and Roger Moorhouse probably never met Schiller, but he could be a character in their stimulating book, which recounts the history of his home town. The name of the town itself does not appear in the ...

In Memoriam

Paul​ Sieghart

19 March 1981
Mandy 
by Mandy Rice-Davies and Shirley Flack.
Joseph, 224 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 7181 1974 6
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... For those too young – or too old – to remember, Mandy Rice-Davies had a walk-on part in the Great Profumo Scandal of 1963. Now she has published a racily ghosted autobiography. It says nothing of much interest about anything or anybody that matters, and paints the ...

Accidents

Paul​ Foot

4 August 1988
Britain’s Nuclear Nightmare 
by James Cutler and Rob Edwards.
Sphere, 200 pp., £3.99, April 1988, 0 7221 2759 6
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... no inquiry of any kind into this strange death. As in the Murrell case, the very idea of a conspiracy connected with the nuclear power movement seemed grotesque. But then there is the story of Pat Davies of Slough. She was married to a sailor on the Resolution, a nuclear submarine, based at Faslane in Scotland. When her friend, whose husband also sailed on Resolution, had a baby, Pat Davies went to ...

Vitality

John Cannon

10 May 1990
A Polite and Commercial People: England 1727-1783 
by Paul​ Langford.
Oxford, 803 pp., £25, September 1989, 0 19 822828 7
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Voters, Patrons and Parties: The Unreformed Electorate of Hanoverian England, 1734-1832 
by Frank O’Gorman.
Oxford, 445 pp., £40, August 1989, 0 19 820056 0
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... History of England series, under the general editorship of J.M. Roberts, is something of an awesome event. Generations of schoolchildren and students thumbed their way through their predecessors, Davies and Clark, Woodward and Ensor, and it must be an agreeable thought to the new authors that their books will be selling deep into the 21st century. Paul Langford’s volume invites comparison with ...
6 December 1990
Stick it up your punter! The Rise and Fall of the ‘Sun’ 
by Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 434 12624 1
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All played out: The True Story of Italia ’90 
by Pete Davies.
Heinemann, 471 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 434 17908 6
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Gazza! A Biography 
by Robin McGibbon.
Penguin, 204 pp., £3.99, October 1990, 9780140148688
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... a two-vote swing from Mrs Thatcher to her opponent? What a wonderful piece of thematic symmetry, if the paper that did so much to help her finally and inadvertently helped do her in. Pete Davies’s lively book, All played out, shows part of the high price our polity is paying for the behaviour of newspapers like the Sun. The book tells the story of the England football team’s campaign to ...

Chinaberry Pie

D.A.N. Jones

1 March 1984
Modern Baptists 
by James Wilcox.
Secker, 239 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 9780436570988
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Speranza 
by Sven Delblanc, translated by Paul​ Britten Austin.
Secker, 153 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 9780436126802
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High Spirits 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 198 pp., £2.50, January 1984, 0 14 006505 9
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Hanabeke 
by Dudley St John Magnus.
Angus and Robertson, 133 pp., £6.95, January 1984, 0 207 14565 2
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Train to Hell 
by Alexei Sayle.
Methuen, 152 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 413 52460 4
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The English Way of Doing Things 
by William Donaldson.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £7.95, January 1984, 0 297 78345 9
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... we may think of Dag Hammarskjöld floundering in a ‘United Nations’ organisation dominated by evil dictators with savage police forces. This is a strong ship-of-fools story, translated by Paul Britten Austin into good English which may have made Malte Moritz a touch more naively self-parodic than Sven Delblanc intended. From Canada comes a beautifully contrived set of parodies of ...

He’s Bad, She’s Mad

Mary Hannity: HMP Holloway

9 May 2019
Bad Girls: The Rebels and Renegades of Holloway Prison 
by Caitlin Davies.
John Murray, 373 pp., £10.99, February 2019, 978 1 4736 4776 3
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... argument for reform, however, conflicted with ideas of female depravity. Were women truly accountable for their actions? Were they redeemable? Did they have ‘higher susceptibilities’? As Caitlin Davies notes in Bad Girls, her history of Holloway and its inmates, incarcerated women were considered far more difficult to manage than men. Misconduct in Holloway, the prison inspector Arthur Griffiths ...

Lennon’s Confessions

Russell Davies

5 February 1981
... by turns – well, this represented a doomier start to the decade than we felt we deserved. Besides, the allusion to songs about people in concrete flats seemed an unnecessarily explicit rejection of Paul McCartney, whose favoured vein that had sometimes been, in songs like ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Penny Lane’. McCartney’s compassionate tableaux and jaunty ballads, to be sure, were usually light ...

Medes and Persians

Paul​ Foot: The Government’s Favourite Accountants

2 November 2000
... taken over responsibility for the computer contract, and Lis Astall, a partner in Andersen Consulting. The most searching questions came from the mild-mannered Labour MP for Croydon Central, Geraint Davies. Ms Astall told Mr Davies flatly: ‘The intellectual property rights are with us and we run the service.’ The exchange continued: Q. Could we keep on using your intellectual property rights for ...

They Supped with the King

Bee Wilson: Mistresses

6 January 2011
Mistresses: A History of the Other Woman 
by Elizabeth Abbott.
Duckworth, 510 pp., £20, 0 7156 3946 3
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... sexual passions. Certainly, for the mistress who aspires to be a wife, it’s not such a liberating life. You’re unlikely to get public acknowledgment; your offspring are bastards; or, like Marion Davies, the blonde movie-star mistress of William Randolph Hearst, you have ‘to settle for dachshunds instead of children’. For 32 years, Davies, a former Ziegfeld Girl and a big star in silent pictures ...

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