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The Savage Life

Frank Kermode: The Adventures of William Empson, 19 May 2005

William Empson: Vol. I: Among the Mandarins 
by John Haffenden.
Oxford, 695 pp., £30, April 2005, 0 19 927659 5
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... offers detailed information about life at Winchester, where Empson’s companions included Richard Crossman, William Hayter, John Sparrow and other future grandees. It was, as he later remarked, ‘a ripping education’, a first-class ticket for life. The next stop was Cambridge, by means of a scholarship to Magdalene. At this optimum moment of ...

Somewhat Divine

Simon Schaffer: Isaac Newton, 16 November 2000

Isaac Newton: The ‘Principia’ Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy 
translated by I. Bernard Cohen.
California, 974 pp., £22, September 1999, 0 520 08817 4
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... of 1726. This was all but ready in 1984, when Whitman died. Meanwhile, a definitive biography by Richard Westfall, publication of Newton’s correspondence and, decisively, a Cambridge edition of his mathematical papers were all completed. The new translation makes use of this scholarship. It opens with another introduction by Cohen, occupying more than a ...

No Cheating!

James Romm: Olympia, 26 May 2022

Olympia: A Cultural History 
by Judith M. Barringer.
Princeton, 281 pp., £28, January, 978 0 691 21047 6
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... and the Cladeus, buried the stones in silt. Very little was visible when the English antiquarian Richard Chandler rediscovered the site in 1766; recovery efforts began in the next century. Since the 1870s, the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut has supervised excavation, assisted more recently by the local Greek ephorate. New finds still come to light: an ...

A Blizzard of Prescriptions

Emily Witt: The Pain Lobby, 4 April 2019

by Beth Macy.
Head of Zeus, 376 pp., £9.99, March 2019, 978 1 78854 942 4
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American Overdose: The Opioid Tragedy in Three Acts 
by Chris McGreal.
Faber, 316 pp., £12.99, November 2018, 978 1 78335 168 8
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Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic 
by Sam Quinones.
Bloomsbury, 400 pp., £12.99, June 2016, 978 1 62040 252 8
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... a new opiate painkiller called OxyContin. At a party celebrating its release to the public, Richard Sackler, a scion of the family that owns the company and its senior vice president of sales, made exuberant predictions about its success. ‘The launch of OxyContin tablets will be followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the ...

Exit Sartre

Fredric Jameson, 7 July 1994

Past Imperfect: French Intellectuals, 1944-1956 
by Tony Judt.
California, 348 pp., £11.95, February 1994, 0 520 08650 3
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Arguing Revolution: The Intellectual Left in Post-War France 
by Sunil Khilnani.
Yale, 264 pp., £19.95, December 1993, 0 300 05745 8
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... which the form demands that you ‘stalk imaginary beasts like “Existential Marxism” ’). Richard Rorty (in Judt’s book, an embodiment of relativism and nihilism second only to Sartre himself) is appealed to by Khilnani for a more principled repudiation of the history of philosophy itself: a fictive narrative in which ad hoc positions are ...


Theodore Marmor, 21 May 1987

The Emergence of the Welfare States 
by Douglas Ashford.
Blackwell, 352 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 631 15211 3
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... outlays, preventing a proper balance between investment and consumption. Some critics, such as Richard Rose and Guy Peters in Can governments go bankrupt? (1978), insist that this imbalance is ‘bankrupting’ the state. The second form of this argument stresses that many social programmes indirectly impede the mobility of capital and labour. It is ...

Best Remain Seated

Jeremy Harding: Travel guides, 1 January 1998

by Hugh Finlay and Geoff Crowther.
Lonely Planet, 376 pp., £11.99, April 1997, 0 86442 460 4
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by Robert Pelton Young.
Fielding, 632 pp., £13.95, December 1995, 1 56952 026 7
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Asia's Top Dive Sites 
edited by Fiona Nichols and Michael Stachels.
Fielding, 228 pp., £13.95, December 1996, 1 56952 129 8
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South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland 
by Jon Murray et al.
Lonely Planet, 658 pp., £13.99, January 1998, 0 86442 508 2
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Southern Africa 
by Richard Cox.
Thornton Cox, 474 pp., £11.95, July 1995, 0 7818 0388 8
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The World's Most Dangerous Places 
by Robert Pelton Young.
Fielding, 1048 pp., £13.95, December 1997, 1 56952 104 2
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South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland 
by Barbara McCrea et al.
Rough Guides, 697 pp., £12.99, October 1997, 1 85828 238 1
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The Good Honeymoon Guide 
by Lucy Horne.
Trailblazer, 320 pp., £11.95, March 1997, 1 873756 12 7
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Amnesty International Report 1997 
Amnesty International, 378 pp., £18, June 1997, 0 86210 267 7Show More
by Barnaby Rogerson.
Cadogan, 596 pp., £12.99, December 1997, 1 86011 043 6
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... up to and beyond the 1994 election. Mandela’s South Africa is now a place where you can bolster the tourist trade and see the animals with very few qualms. One of the pleasures of dramatic political change is the renaming of places, which has been modest in South Africa – but most British guide books now refer to Mafeking, where Baden-Powell was ...

Grumpy in October

Jonathan Parry: The Anglo-French Project, 21 April 2022

Entente Imperial: British and French Power in the Age of Empire 
by Edward J. Gillin.
Amberley, 288 pp., £20, February, 978 1 3981 0289 7
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... defined by reference to the Earth’s dimensions. When Britain obstructed these strange notions, Richard Cobden lamented his countrymen’s ‘Chinese conservatism’. On the whole, however, co-operation outweighed controversy. The French dominated the natural sciences and mathematics, but admired the British steam engine and its manifold applications. At ...

What Happened?

James Butler: Autopsy of an Election, 6 February 2020

... The tension between party members and elected representatives, however, is congenital in Labour: Richard Crossman observed in 1968 that the nominal sovereignty given to the party conference was vitiated in practice by the freedom given to MPs in matters of political judgment. Perversely, the unremitting attacks from his own MPs made it more difficult, not ...

Against Whales

Paul Keegan, 20 July 1995

The Moon by Whale Light 
by Diane Ackerman.
Phoenix, 260 pp., £6.99, May 1994, 1 85799 087 0
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The Last Panda 
by George Schaller.
Chicago, 292 pp., $13.95, May 1993, 0 226 73629 6
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The Great Ape Project 
edited by Paola Cavalieri and Peter Singer.
Fourth Estate, 312 pp., £9.99, June 1993, 1 85702 126 6
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... since captive specimens rarely breed naturally. Yet China removes pandas from the wild to bolster a population of entertainers which dies faster than it can reproduce. International zoo-demand for pandas has meant that the wild population is in effect being used to augment the captive population – the parodic inverse of a captive breeding ...

Whose sarin?

Seymour M. Hersh, 19 December 2013

... by the intelligence community. The document laid out what was essentially a political argument to bolster the administration’s case against the Assad government. It was, however, more specific than Obama would be later, in his speech on 10 September: American intelligence, it stated, knew that Syria had begun ‘preparing chemical munitions’ three days ...

Wedded to the Absolute

Ferdinand Mount: Enoch Powell, 26 September 2019

Enoch Powell: Politics and Ideas in Modern Britain 
by Paul Corthorn.
Oxford, 233 pp., £20, August 2019, 978 0 19 874714 7
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... at least until Peaky Blinders came along? In my experience, nobody, not even Oswald Mosley or Richard Nixon, was capable of radiating such unease in company. Harold Macmillan couldn’t stand having Powell opposite him in cabinet looking ‘like Savonarola eyeing one of the more disreputable popes’. So he relocated Enoch way down the table where he ...


Stephen Holmes: Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia by Stephen Cohen, 19 April 2001

Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia 
by Stephen Cohen.
Norton, 305 pp., £15.95, November 2000, 0 393 04964 7
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... it just as forcefully. How could he consistently associate himself with Russophobes such as Richard Pipes, who want us to believe that Russians have authoritarianism stitched into their genetic code? Deep contextual insight is ostensibly what leads Cohen to dismiss foreign blueprints and game plans. Russia should develop ‘an indigenous economic ...

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