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As the Lock Rattles

John Lanchester, 16 December 2021

Breathtaking: Inside the NHS in a Time of Pandemic 
by Rachel Clarke.
Abacus, 228 pp., £9.99, September 2021, 978 0 349 14456 6
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Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World’s Economy 
by Adam Tooze.
Allen Lane, 354 pp., £25, September 2021, 978 0 241 48587 3
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Failures of State: The Inside Story of Britain’s Battle with Coronavirus 
by Jonathan Calvert and George Arbuthnott.
Mudlark, 432 pp., £20, March 2021, 978 0 00 843052 8
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Covid by Numbers: Making Sense of the Pandemic with Data 
by David Spiegelhalter and Anthony Masters.
Pelican, 320 pp., £10.99, October 2021, 978 0 241 54773 1
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The Covid Consensus: The New Politics of Global Inequality 
by Toby Green.
Hurst, 294 pp., £14.99, April 2021, 978 1 78738 522 1
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... are in the story. The books written by frontline medics after the first wave of the pandemic – Rachel Clarke’s Breathtaking, Gavin Francis’s Intensive Care and Jim Down’s Life Support – are vivid accounts of what the battle against the disease was like for doctors, but they are very painful to read now, because we know what they ...

Mutual Friend

Richard Altick, 22 December 1983

Lewis and Lewis 
by John Juxon.
Collins, 320 pp., £10.95, May 1983, 0 00 216476 0
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... wealthy, foolish widow who got herself trapped in the spider’s web spun by the plausible Madame Rachel, whose fashionable beauty-parlour in New Bond Street was a front for a house of equally fashionable daytime assignation. And he repeatedly advised his friend the journalist-politician Henry Labouchère, whose exposés in his weekly paper Truth embroiled ...

To Die One’s Own Death

Jacqueline Rose, 19 November 2020

... loss. ‘When the statistics threaten to throw me off balance,’ the palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke wrote of her struggle to restore dignity to those dying in hospital, ‘I try to keep things as small as I can.’Even harder, perhaps, in such moments, is the idea of allowing ourselves to admit our emotional ambivalence towards the dead as ...

Clytemnestra in Brighton

Joanna Biggs: Rachel Cusk, 22 March 2012

Aftermath: On Marriage and Separation 
by Rachel Cusk.
Faber, 153 pp., £12.99, March 2012, 978 0 571 27765 0
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... On the cover of Aftermath, Rachel Cusk’s divorce memoir, there’s a drawing of a jigsaw. It’s the classic pattern, the one in which all the pieces – reaching out on two sides and sucked in on the others – are the same, and fit together at right angles. The book begins: ‘Recently my husband and I separated, and over the course of a few weeks the life that we’d made broke apart, like a jigsaw dismantled into a heap of broken-edged pieces ...

Mockney Rebels

Thomas Jones: Lindsay Anderson, 20 July 2000

Mainly about Linsay Anderson 
by Gavin Lambert.
Faber, 302 pp., £18.99, May 2000, 0 571 17775 1
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... is a prison governor; teetering on a windowsill in a failed attempt to talk a working-class woman (Rachel Roberts) out of committing suicide, Travis reads her a poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon, Cheltenham College’s favourite alumnus, after whom Lindsay Gordon Anderson was named by his mother. One of the many anti-naturalistic devices of the movie is that several ...

Barely under Control

Jenny Turner: Who’s in charge?, 7 May 2015

... and that was only ‘the tip of the iceberg’, according to the report’s author, Peter Clarke. Last summer, when he was still secretary of state for education, Michael Gove floated the idea of requiring schools to teach British values. In November, the DfE issued what it called ‘strengthened guidance’ on ‘promoting British values in ...

Our Cyborg Progeny

Meehan Crist: Gaia will save us. Sort of, 7 January 2021

Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence 
by James Lovelock.
Allen Lane, 160 pp., £9.99, July 2020, 978 0 14 199079 8
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... claims cooked up by anti-environmentalists that a ‘ban’ on DDT after the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 resulted in a massive increase in deaths from malaria around the world. It did not. In fact, the US specifically allowed companies to manufacture DDT for export and facilitated its continued use in disease control. Malaria ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell v. Proust, 19 July 2018

Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... posthumous saviour of his compositions; Saint-Loup, long the impassioned lover of the actress Rachel, overnight a brutish pursuer of men. Most ubiquitous of all is the pattern of which Saint-Loup is the type: the unstoppable revelation of such a high proportion of the dramatis personae of the novel, men and women alike, as addicts of their own ...

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