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British Worthies

David Cannadine

3 December 1981
The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... wifely protest combined with ill-health forced Stephen to relinquish the editorship to Sidney Lee, who had been his assistant since 1883, and it was under his equally indefatigable auspices that the original scheme was completed along with the first two supplements. Their combined labours produced an enduring monument to national greatness and national ...

His Dark Example

Colin Burrow: ‘The Book of Dust’

4 January 2018
The Book of Dust, Vol. I: La Belle Sauvage 
by Philip Pullman.
David Fickling, 546 pp., £20, October 2017, 978 0 385 60441 3
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Daemon Voices: Essays on Storytelling 
by Philip Pullman.
David Fickling, 480 pp., £20, October 2017, 978 1 910200 96 4
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... warmth (they are non-identical twins). There were some books, it’s true, over which I fell asleep. Reading The Hobbit aloud enabled me to acquire the skill of slicing out three unnecessary subordinate clauses from a sentence without making it look as though I was skipping anything at all. Reading the Alex Rider series made me long to break free of the ...

Uneasy Guest

Hermione Lee: Coetzee in London

11 July 2002
Youth 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 169 pp., £14.99, May 2002, 0 436 20582 3
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... to a five-page written question about Foe from the South African critic (and Sartre specialist) Philip Wood: ‘I have always resisted being nudged into the role of interpreter of my own books. In this case, moreover, you do it more fluently and convincingly than I can imagine myself doing.’ No surprise, then, that in Boyhood, Coetzee distanced himself ...
19 February 1987
The Beet Queen 
by Louise Erdrich.
Hamish Hamilton, 338 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 241 12044 6
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Marya: A Life 
by Joyce Carol Oates.
Cape, 310 pp., £10.95, January 1987, 0 224 02420 5
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The Lost Language of Cranes 
by David Leavitt.
Viking, 319 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 670 81290 0
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... whores, and abandons her children; Marya must submit to the sexual experimentation of her cousin Lee when she is eight, nine and ten years old, and is the victim of an attempted gang rape the night before she leaves home to go to the State University. But she does succeed, is a successful undergraduate and graduate student, a college teacher and, when we ...

Tall, Slender, Straight and Intelligent

Philip Kitcher: Cloning and reprogenetics

5 March 1998
Clone: The Road to Dolly and the Path Ahead 
by Gina Kolata.
Allen Lane, 218 pp., £15.99, November 1997, 0 7139 9221 2
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Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World 
by Lee Silver.
Weidenfeld, 315 pp., £20, January 1998, 0 297 84135 1
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... gestures. Under what circumstances, if any, should the cloning of human beings be permitted? Lee Silver in his admirable book understands that the most important issue doesn’t centre on cloning but on the possibilities opened up by a field he calls ‘reprogenetics’. Reprogenetics draws on knowledge derived from developing techniques of assisted ...

Whistle-Blowers

Frank Honigsbaum

4 October 1984
Roche versus Adams 
by Stanley Adams.
Cape, 236 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 9780224021807
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Prescriptions for Death: The Drugging of the Third World 
by Milton Silverman, Philip Lee and Mia Lydecker.
California, 186 pp., £13.55, November 1982, 0 520 04721 4
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The Pharmaceutical Industry and Dependency in the Third World 
by Gary Gereffi.
Princeton, 291 pp., £21.60, November 1983, 0 691 07645 6
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Corporate Crime in the Pharmaceutical Industry 
by John Braithwaite.
Routledge, 440 pp., £25, March 1984, 0 7102 0049 8
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... crimes in developing countries, he notes that in at least two such countries (Indonesia and the Philippines), as well as Switzerland itself, the company has adopted many of the safety standards set in America. Nonetheless, monopolistic tendencies are deeply rooted in Roche’s behaviour, as they are in the rest of the pharmaceutical industry. Only its ...

Who, me?

Philip Purser

3 December 1992
The Sieve of Time: Memoirs 
by Leni Riefenstahl.
Quartet, 669 pp., £30, September 1992, 0 7043 7021 2
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... encores and eventually (p.22) Papa gives in. On page 28 Leni comes second (to a film star called Lee Parry) in a beauty contest. By page 35 she is choreographing her own dances to music from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Schubert’s Unfinished. Then waiting for a train one day, she spies a poster for one of the ‘mountain’ films that were so popular ...
4 April 1991
Jackson Pollock: An American Saga 
by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith.
Barrie and Jenkins, 934 pp., £19.95, March 1990, 0 7126 3866 0
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Abstract Expressionism 
by David Anfam.
Thames and Hudson, 216 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 500 20243 5
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Night Studio: A Memoir of Philip Guston 
by Musa Mayer.
Thames and Hudson, 256 pp., £8.95, February 1991, 0 500 27633 1
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... and his wife Arloie, Reuben Kadish, Roger Wilcox, Rita Benton. They write with respect about Lee Krasner and without parti pris. My impression is that the book is written with justice. Many of their witnesses are still very much alive. The book – which in certain passages could be mistaken for a compendium of old gossip – has aroused controversy of ...

Rose’s Rex

David Cannadine

15 September 1983
King George V 
by Kenneth Rose.
Weidenfeld, 514 pp., £12.95, July 1983, 0 297 78245 2
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... Theodore Martin lavished on the Prince Consort; still less the ‘feline skill’ of Sidney Lee who, disregarding the advice of Edward VII, ‘Stick to Shakespeare, Mr Lee, there’s money in Shakespeare,’ produced a double-decker biography of his late majesty; least of all the flippant irreverences of Lytton ...

Principal Boy

Nigel Hamilton

21 March 1985
Mountbatten 
by Philip Ziegler.
Collins, 786 pp., £15, March 1985, 0 00 216543 0
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... Sir Gerald Templer, in a ‘Templerism’ openly addressed to Lord Louis Mountbatten. It is one of Philip Ziegler’s virtues as an official biographer that he is willing to quote the unkind as well as the kind remarks about his hero. Another is his readability: a seven-hundred-page opus that crackles with interest, intelligence and good judgment from the ...

Turncoats and Opportunists

Alexandra Walsham: Francis Walsingham

5 July 2012
The Queen’s Agent: Francis Walsingham at the Court of Elizabeth I 
by John Cooper.
Faber, 400 pp., £9.99, July 2012, 978 0 571 21827 1
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... Wolsey to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada (1856-70), his early 20th-century biographers, Sidney Lee and Conyers Read, presented him as an astute and distinguished patriot who laid the foundations for the modern security services. But then Read’s three-volume study of 1925 reflected his own political preoccupations and professional activities, particularly ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: The Party Conferences

18 October 2017
... that have held out against the global trend to market economies and rising living standards,’ Philip Hammond, the chancellor of the Exchequer, noted during his speech in Manchester, ‘but it is only a few. Like Cuba, which I visited last year as foreign secretary, where, curiously, I found cows in the fields but no milk in the shops … That’s what ...

Spying on Writers

Christian Lorentzen

11 October 2018
... hung out with Angela Davis in the early 1970s, and surely Don DeLillo’s speculations on Lee Harvey Oswald in Libra merited attention. There is at least one known case. In 2013 William Vollmann wrote about getting hold of his own FBI file and discovering that during the 1990s, following an anonymous tip, he was suspected of being the ...

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