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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 ...

Nayled to the wow

Tom Shippey, 7 January 1993

The Life of Geoffrey Chaucer 
by Derek Pearsall.
Blackwell, 365 pp., £19.95, September 1992, 1 55786 205 2
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A Wyf ther was: Essays in Honour of Paule Mertens-Fonck 
edited by Juliette Dor.
University of Liège, 300 pp., June 1992, 2 87233 004 6
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Hochon’s Arrow: The Social Imagination of 14th-Century Texts 
by Paul Strohm.
Princeton, 205 pp., £27.50, November 1992, 0 691 06880 1
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... Taverner’, thus seems to have kept a pub in Ipswich, while his great-great-grandson, Richard Duke of Suffolk, nicknamed ‘Blanche Rose’, was accepted as King of England – but, alas, only by the French, and only till he was killed in battle at Pavia. There is an irony, on which Derek Pearsall ends his book, in the extirpation of the Chaucer ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Da Vinci Code’, 8 June 2006

The Da Vinci Code 
directed by Ron Howard.
May 2006
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... The great secret of Ron Howard’s movie version of The Da Vinci Code has nothing to do with murders, cryptology, the Templars, Opus Dei, Mary Magdalene, or the idea that Christ might have been a practising heterosexual. It’s a masterly piece of Hollywood hokum, spoiled only slightly by the fact that it appears to be taking itself seriously ...


John Bossy: Simon Forman, 22 February 2001

The Notorious Astrological Physician of London: Works and Days of Simon Forman 
by Barbara Howard Traister.
Chicago, 260 pp., £19, February 2001, 0 226 81140 9
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Dr Simon Forman: A Most Notorious Physician 
by Judith Cook.
Chatto, 228 pp., £18.99, January 2001, 0 7011 6899 4
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... Burckhardt claimed for Renaissance Italy. Rowse’s enthusiasms do not cut much ice with Barbara Howard Traister, a professor of English tempted by the New Historicism. She has tried to embrace the whole corpus of Forman’s writings, and says that his manuscripts are more her subject than he is; she wants to pursue through them, not the ‘eccentric and ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: David Lean, 3 July 2008

... than any other film he had ever made. Brief Encounter, however, is something else again. As Richard Dyer points out in his excellent BFI book on the film, it is the awkwardness of the main characters, played by Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, their touching, strangling inability either to deny their feelings or fully ...

Winner’s History

Howard Erskine-Hill, 20 August 1981

Some Intellectual Consequences of the English Revolution 
by Christopher Hill.
Weidenfeld, 100 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 297 77780 7
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The Century of Revolution, 1603-1714 
by Christopher Hill.
Nelson, 296 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 17 712002 9
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... by Cromwell’s attainment of quasi-monarchical power; a third marked by the overthrow of Richard as Lord Protector and the brief re-establishment of the Rump; and the fourth, to be termed the ‘glorious revolution’ by Bevil Higgons in 1726, the restoration of Charles II. Hill, however, is using the term in a more modern sense: for a vast and ...

How to Be Tudor

Hilary Mantel: Can a King Have Friends?, 17 March 2016

Charles Brandon: Henry VIII’s Closest Friend 
by Steven Gunn.
Amberley, 304 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 4456 4184 3
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... then would have swived the other sister both’. He fought for the invading Tudor forces against Richard III. Unsubstantiated legend has him as a standard-bearer at Bosworth, cut down close to the person of the man who would soon be king. Whatever the exact truth, he died a hero with a claim on the gratitude of the new regime. He did not leave much land for ...

It’s she, it’s she, it’s she

Joanna Biggs: Americans in Paris, 2 August 2012

Dreaming in French: The Paris Years of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Susan Sontag and Angela Davis 
by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 289 pp., £17, May 2012, 978 0 226 42438 5
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As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Diaries 1964-80 
by Susan Sontag.
Hamish Hamilton, 544 pp., £18.99, April 2012, 978 0 241 14517 3
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... in Paris. She would borrow Resnais’s apartment, investigate Blanchot for her translator friend Richard Howard, go to see the latest Godard film or visit the catacombs with her son. In the late 1960s, she fell in love with Nicole Stéphane, who had acted in Jean-Pierre Melville’s films but now produced her own. Stéphane, who was descended from the ...

Scribblers and Assassins

Charles Nicholl: The Crimes of Thomas Drury, 31 October 2002

... generally referred to as the ‘Baines Note’ and the ‘Remembrances’. The first, compiled by Richard Baines, is exclusively concerned with Marlowe’s atheistic opinions, while the second reports the words of another man, Richard Cholmeley, who is said to have been converted, or ‘persuaded’, to atheism by ...

The Sultan and I

Anthony Howard, 1 June 1989

By God’s Will: A Portrait of the Sultan of Brunei 
by Lord Chalfont.
Weidenfeld, 200 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79628 3
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The Richest Man in the World: The Sultan of Brunei 
by James Bartholomew.
Viking, 199 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 670 82152 7
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... figures around the world, including King Hussein of Jordan, President Mobutu, Rajiv Gandhi and Richard Nixon. He is currently on his way to visit ex-President Marcos in Honolulu. He has met Mrs Thatcher several times. Plainly a figure of some significance – and, no doubt, the Observer’s two million readers felt suitably chastened at never having heard ...

Over the Top

Michael Howard, 8 February 1996

A Genius for War: A Life of General George Patton 
by Carlo D’Este.
HarperCollins, 977 pp., £25, November 1995, 0 00 215882 5
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... material for biographers and Patton has had a dozen already, to say nothing of a film that brought Richard Nixon great consolation during the lonely watches of the Watergate nights. Only Erwin Rommel can match Patton in the publicity stakes, and he was a very much duller man. For the British, Patton may have been a minor if spectacular figure in World War ...


Gerald Howard, 18 July 1996

Secret Life 
by Michael Ryan.
Bloomsbury, 352 pp., £7.99, February 1996, 0 7475 2545 5
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... his win-at-all-costs ethic and ruthless discipline and tactics on his pre-teen charges. Like Richard Nixon he referred to himself in the third person; like the legendary American football coach Vince Lombardi he constantly repeated: ‘Winning’s not the most important thing, it’s the only thing.’ Connor’s hypermasculinity and aggression masked an ...

Great American Disaster

Christopher Reid, 8 December 1988

To Urania: Selected Poems 1965-1985 
by Joseph Brodsky.
Penguin, 174 pp., £4.99, September 1988, 9780140585803
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... rest of it, by the author alone. The crew of distinguished pen-men who helped him in the past – Richard Wilbur, Howard Moss, Derek Walcott and others – has for the most part been laid off. It is understandable why, after all these years, Brodsky should wish to tackle the job single-handed: poets are seldom natural ...


Colin Burrow: Henry Howard, 11 November 1999

Henry Howard, the Poet Earl of Surrey: A Life 
by W.A. Sessions.
Oxford, 448 pp., £60, March 1999, 9780198186243
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... He was almost kingly in status. His first cousins included two queens (Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard). He spent four years of his youth as the companion of Henry VIII’s illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy. Howard blood was blue enough to pose a threat to the succession, as Surrey’s uncle Thomas discovered when he was ...


Arthur Marwick, 18 October 1984

War and Society in Europe 1870-1970 
by Brian Bond.
Leicester University Press/Fontana, 256 pp., £12, December 1983, 0 7185 1227 8
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Wars and Welfare: Britain 1914-1945 
by Max Beloff.
Arnold, 281 pp., £18.95, April 1984, 0 7131 6163 9
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The Causes of Wars, and Other Essays 
by Michael Howard.
Counterpoint, 291 pp., £3.95, April 1984, 0 04 940073 8
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... it drew on still earlier work in social science (Sorokin, Andreski and Janowitz), social policy (Richard Titmuss’s rather naive equation of ‘the Dunkirk spirit’ with social reform, for example, is now very familiar) and Medieval studies. In the early Sixties at Edinburgh University, I launched special subjects on ‘The War and the Welfare State in ...

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