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The wearer as much as the frock

Peter Campbell, 9 April 1992

Building Capitalism 
by Linda Clarke.
Routledge, 316 pp., £65, December 1991, 0 415 01552 9
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The City Shaped 
by Spiro Kostof.
Thames and Hudson, 352 pp., £24, September 1991, 0 500 34118 4
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A New London 
by Richard Rogers and Mark Fisher.
Penguin, 255 pp., £8.99, March 1992, 0 14 015794 8
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... probity with bronze and granite were becoming popular when, with a great piece of salesmanship, Richard Rogers persuaded Lloyd’s to accept a brilliant, unclubbable cousin of the Pompidou Centre for their headquarters. The sense of the passing of architectural time is particularly strong in London now. The Eighties boom found a city of ...

Believing in Unicorns

Walter Benn Michaels: Racecraft, 7 February 2013

Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life 
by Karen Fields and Barbara Fields.
Verso, 302 pp., £20, October 2012, 978 1 84467 994 2
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... University of Michigan in 2003, her complaint was of discrimination against white people. Abigail Fisher, the upper-middle-class daughter of a man who attended the very college that refused to admit her, and who thus belongs to a group that has no problem getting access to good colleges, has lodged exactly the same complaint, and her case is currently before ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford, 20 April 1989

Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... a ‘provincial’ bore, there have been poets around for some time, such as Edwin Morgan and Roy Fisher, who give the lie to that. Home is no longer ‘so sad’. At home few people speak Proper English all the time. Home-based poetry may be in dialect, which is present in nearly all the writers considered here: but it may also fuel itself with a ...

Unction and Slaughter

Simon Walker: Edward IV, 10 July 2003

Arthurian Myths and Alchemy: The Kingship of Edward IV 
by Jonathan Hughes.
Sutton, 354 pp., £30, October 2002, 0 7509 1994 9
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... When Richard, Duke of York, laid claim to the English throne in 1460, he presented himself as a physician, sent to heal the ills of the kingdom. In partnership with his apothecaries, the faithful Commons, he would probe ‘the root and bottom of this long-festered canker’ and separate ‘the clean and pure stuff from the old, corrupt and putrefied dregs ...

Northern Irish Initiatives

Charles Townshend, 5 August 1982

... solution to the Irish problem. From the start they had little patience with what Warren Fisher, Head of the Civil Service between the wars, described as the ‘blackmail and bluff (oddly enough called loyalty)’ consistently deployed by the then Northern Ireland Government. Fisher prescribed a dose of reality for ...

The Coburg Connection

Richard Shannon, 5 April 1984

Albert, Prince Consort 
by Robert Rhodes James.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £15, November 1983, 0 241 11000 9
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... out-of-kilter book about that model. His standard texts appear to be Justin McCarthy and H.A.L. Fisher, historians whose reputations had faded when Mr James was a schoolboy under Sir Roger Fulford. He puts one in mind of those Sloane Rangers who, so it is said, keep to their A-level texts at university to avoid intellectual fatigue. Yet, as against ...

How to Save the City-Dweller

Andrew Saint: Cities, 21 May 1998

Cities for a Small Planet 
by Richard Rogers.
Faber, 180 pp., £9.99, December 1997, 0 571 17993 2
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... Cities that are beautiful, safe and equitable are within our grasp.’ So says Richard Rogers at the end of this reworking of his Reith Lectures of 1995, and we must do our best to believe him. Suppose, however, that the lecturer had pronounced instead on another of the basic building-blocks of society – the family, for instance ...

Contra Galton

Michael Neve, 5 March 1987

In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity 
by Daniel Kevles.
Penguin, 426 pp., £4.95, August 1986, 0 14 022698 2
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... to class interest, or, more important, racial supremacy. If the thing is a genuine mystery, if, as Richard Lewontin has written, ‘we know nothing more about genetic causes of difference in social status and power today than was known to Galton,’ then the history of biological engineering, and genetics, is merely an aspect of the history of class or race or ...

He, She, One, They, Ho, Hus, Hum, Ita

Amia Srinivasan: How Should I Refer to You?, 2 July 2020

What’s Your Pronoun? Beyond He and She 
by Dennis Baron.
Liveright, 304 pp., £16.99, February, 978 1 63149 604 2
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... appropriate agreement between personal pronouns and indefinites. The first to do so was Ann Fisher in her New Grammar, a widely used textbook originally published in 1745. ‘The Masculine Person answers to the general Name,’ Fisher explained, ‘which comprehends both Male and Female; as Any Person who knows what ...

Town-Cramming

Christopher Turner: Cities, 6 September 2001

Cities for a Small Country 
by Richard Rogers and Anne Power.
Faber, 310 pp., £14.99, November 2000, 0 571 20652 2
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Urban Futures 21: A Global Agenda for 21st-Century Cities 
by Peter Hall and Ulrich Pfeiffer.
Spon, 384 pp., £19.99, July 2000, 0 415 24075 1
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... industrial squalor and urban overcrowding persists in the minds of public and planners alike,’ Richard Rogers and Anne Power argue in Cities for a Small Country, ‘and fuels an almost obsessive desire for low-density, suburban homes.’ What happened, they ask, to ‘the English love of cities’? Should we blame the town planner Ebenezer Howard ...

Reasons for Being Nice and Having Sex

Andrew Berry: W.D. Hamilton, 6 February 2003

Narrow Roads of Gene Land: The Collected Papers of W.D. Hamilton. Vol. II: The Evolution of Sex 
by W.D. Hamilton.
Oxford, 872 pp., £50, January 2001, 0 19 850336 9
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... to his cost, was not his strong suit. Hamilton’s obituarists were not timid in their assessment: Richard Dawkins called him ‘a good candidate for the title of most distinguished Darwinian since Darwin’. His most important contribution was a Darwinian explanation of altruism, a problem over which Darwin himself admitted to having had sleepless ...

This Sporting Life

R.W. Johnson, 8 December 1994

Iain Macleod 
by Robert Shepherd.
Hutchinson, 608 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 09 178567 7
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... committee to examine NHS expenditure: the crucial brief was written by two young welfare radicals, Richard Titmuss and Brian Abel-Smith. He also set up the first committee to investigate the effects of smoking: both the Treasury and Lord Salisbury wanted to suppress its Report and Macleod, anxious to placate such powerful colleagues, chain-smoked his way ...

Sexual Subjects

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 21 October 1982

The Sexual Fix 
by Stephen Heath.
Macmillan, 191 pp., £12.95, June 1982, 0 333 32750 0
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Questions of Cinema 
by Stephen Heath.
Macmillan, 257 pp., £12.50, August 1981, 0 333 26122 4
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‘Sight and Sound’: A 50th-Anniversary Selection 
edited by David Wilson.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.50, September 1982, 0 571 11943 3
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... rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner and make love in between, without being hunter, fisher, herder, critic or lover. As ever, we are not told how. Nevertheless, simple, even simple-minded, and derivative though it is, Heath’s little book does develop in one direction that does not so far seem to have interested Foucault or anyone else who has ...

Time and Men and Deeds

Christopher Driver, 4 August 1983

Blue Highways: A Journey into America 
by William Least Heat Moon.
Secker, 421 pp., £8.95, May 1983, 0 436 28459 6
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... achievement, combining the restless determination of Tschiffely’s Ride with a touch of Richard Jefferies or (among recent American naturalist-travellers) Edwin Way Teale. Moon uses a camera and a tape-recorder competently, but as aides-mémoire, not as mistresses. Between these covers are locked the perceptions of a reluctant solitary, perhaps, but ...

A Preference for Strenuous Ghosts

Michael Kammen: Theodore Roosevelt, 6 June 2002

Theodore Rex 
by Edmund Morris.
HarperCollins, 772 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 00 217708 0
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... finds that Gilded Age Administration less corrupt than had been believed. The Conservative pundit Richard Brookhiser gave us Founding Father: Rediscovering George Washington (1996) in order to paint a portrait of integrity and rectitude as an exemplar of what was wanting in the Clinton White House. Books about Franklin D. Roosevelt and, above all, Abraham ...

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