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How We Got to Where We Are

Peter Ghosh, 28 November 1996

Hope and Glory: Britain 1900-1990 
by Peter Clarke.
Allen Lane, 454 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 7139 9071 6
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... of England (1949-55) – we see the first fruits of the appointment. It goes without saying that Peter Clarke’s volume is all his own, but it stands nonetheless in the shadow of the General Editor. Not only has Cannadine issued a prospectus to go with the new series, re-stating those views which supply the criteria by which it is to be measured, but ...

The Way of the Wobble

Peter Campbell: Ove Arup, 5 April 2007

Ove Arup: Masterbuilder of the 20th Century 
by Peter Jones.
Yale, 364 pp., £25, November 2006, 0 300 11296 3
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... the collapse in 1940, owing to wind-induced oscillations, of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington State. There is no reason to think that engineers make more mistakes than professionals in other fields, but they cannot bury them and are not allowed to forget them. A structure on which the safety of a trainload of passengers depends is a public ...

Fallen Idols

David A. Bell, 23 July 1992

The Fabrication of Louis XIV 
by Peter Burke.
Yale, 242 pp., £19.95, May 1992, 0 300 05153 0
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... anything like the adoration from their countrymen that Americans give to the secular canon of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and Kennedy? Napoleon himself is today remembered as a vainglorious tyrant who squandered his achievements. The last president or king who still excites unstinting positive emotions is Henri IV, assassinated in 1610. Even ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Dodgy Latin, 20 February 2003

... killing me.’ The Education Secretary was, unsurprisingly, sharply criticised; not least by Peter Jones, a Spectator columnist, who told the BBC that ‘a calm, reasoned and balanced judgment would put it down to pig ignorance and blind prejudice’ – open-eyed prejudice being, I suppose, more to his taste. This is too harsh. What Clarke said was that ...


Christopher Andrew, 22 January 1987

Sword and Shield: Soviet Intelligence and Security Apparatus 
by Jeffrey Richelson.
Harper and Row, 279 pp., £11.95, February 1986, 0 88730 035 9
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The Red and the Blue: Intelligence, Treason and the University 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.95, June 1986, 0 297 78866 3
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Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics 1936-39 
by Robert Conquest.
Macmillan, 222 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 333 39260 4
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Conspiracy of Silence: The Secret Life of Anthony Blunt 
by Barrie Penrose and Simon Freeman.
Grafton, 588 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 246 12200 5
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... by covert means in the East is freely available through open sources in the West. A KGB officer in Washington might begin an average day by reading articles on defence and defence contractors in the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal, then move on to more detailed scrutiny of Aviation Week and Space ...
... formed by such challenges and responses. London’s experience is not unique. A few years ago the Washington Post reported problems, recognisable to Londoners, which were affecting the Washington Metro:When the Metro was built moving staircases got preference over regular staircases because, engineers figured, they would ...

Don’t do what Allende did

Greg Grandin: Allende, 19 July 2012

Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War 
by Tanya Harmer.
North Carolina, 375 pp., £38.95, October 2011, 978 0 8078 3495 4
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... democracy in Chile meant socialism. Allende’s domestic programme alone was enough to trouble Washington, but it was his foreign policy that most alarmed Kissinger, then Nixon’s national security adviser. Poor, remote, sparsely populated and oddly shaped, Chile, Kissinger once quipped, was a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica. With Allende’s ...

It’s Been a Lot of Fun

David Runciman: Hitchens’s Hitchens, 24 June 2010

Hitch-22: A Memoir 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Atlantic, 435 pp., £20, June 2010, 978 1 84354 921 5
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... In his book about religion, Peter Hitchens has a lot more to say about his brother Christopher than Christopher has to say about Peter in his book about himself.* ‘Some brothers get on,’ Peter writes mournfully, ‘some do not. We were the sort that just didn’t ...

Gravel in Jakarta’s Shoes

Benedict Anderson, 2 November 1995

Generations of Resistance 
by Steve Cox and Peter Carey.
Cassell, 120 pp., £55, November 1995, 9780304332502
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... war’ endured by Mozambique was orchestrated and financed by South Africa. Pretoria and Washington bear most of the blame for the 20-year conflict in Angola. But the holocaust in Portuguese East Timor, half a small island off the northern coast of Australia, was the doing of the Indonesian dictatorship of former general Suharto – with crucial ...

What does Fluffy think?

Amia Srinivasan: Pets with Benefits, 7 October 2021

Loving Animals: On Bestiality, Zoophilia and Post-Human Love 
by Joanna Bourke.
Reaktion, 184 pp., £18, October 2020, 978 1 78914 310 2
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... be non-violent. In the 1960s Margaret Lovatt lived for six months with a young male dolphin called Peter as part of a Nasa project to teach dolphins to speak. The pair grew extremely close. Peter would often get sexually aroused and rub himself against Lovatt, disrupting their language lessons. Eventually Lovatt started to ...

Young Marvin

Frank Kermode, 24 January 1991

A Tenured Professor 
by John Kenneth Galbraith.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 197 pp., £12.95, November 1990, 1 85619 018 8
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Shade those laurels 
by Cyril Connolly and Peter Levi.
Bellew, 174 pp., £12.95, October 1990, 0 947792 37 6
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... to the challenges of high politics, or low politicians, and how Harvard and, even more important, Washington respond to Marvin, is the remainder of the story. There is some genial padding, and the whole thing is good fun, stylishly written and altogether civilised. Cyril Connolly is famous for having wanted to be the author of a totally civilised stylish ...


Peter Burke, 16 September 1982

Le Roi-Machine: Spectacle et Politique au Temps de Louis XIV 
by Jean-Marie Apostolidès.
Les Editions de Minuit, 164 pp., £4.50
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Le Portrait du Roi 
by Louis Marin.
Les Editions de Minuit, 300 pp., £5.60
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... What was Racine’s strategy here? It is perhaps a pity that Marin did not follow the lead of Peter France and discuss the tension in Racine (or Boileau) between loyalty and independence, the strategies of criticism or self-defence as well as the strategies of praise. Such an approach would free him from the danger of reductionism. There remains the ...

Who ruins Britain?

Peter Clarke, 22 November 1990

Friends in High Places: Who runs Britain? 
by Jeremy Paxman.
Joseph, 370 pp., £16.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3154 1
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The Sunday Times Book of the Rich 
by Philip Beresford.
Weidenfeld, 336 pp., £18.95, October 1990, 0 297 81115 0
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... revealing section on the social frisson provoked by the intrusion of arriviste Thatcherism. Peter Jay, with his impeccable pedigree in the aristocracy of Labour, appointed by his father-in-law to the Washington Embassy in the era that closed in 1979, speaks with peerless assurance about the lower middle class who were ...

Every Club in the Bag

R.W. Johnson: Whitehall and Moscow, 8 August 2002

The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War 
by Peter Hennessy.
Allen Lane, 234 pp., £16.99, March 2002, 0 7139 9626 9
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Know Your Enemy: How the Joint Intelligence Committee Saw the World 
by Percy Cradock.
Murray, 351 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 7195 6048 9
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... and one’s first hatreds.’ The nuclear age transformed the worlds of strategy and Intelligence. Peter Hennessy describes step by step how Britain got the bomb and what it was then used for. From 1945 on, the Chiefs of Staff took it for granted that Britain had to have ‘every club in the bag’, and the RAF began adapting the V-bomber force to deliver the ...

Sucking up

Michael Rogin, 12 May 1994

Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War 
by John MacArthur.
California, 274 pp., £10, January 1994, 0 520 08398 9
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Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad – 35 Years in the World’s War Zones 
by Peter Arnett.
Bloomsbury, 463 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 7475 1680 4
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... orchestrated, can make Americans feel good again, however briefly, about their country: ‘Washington is not the backwater that it seemed to some when the action was in the streets to Prague or at the Berlin Wall,’ New York Times reporter R.W. Apple wrote during the Gulf War; ‘Is making a superior Walkman a better index of technological ...

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