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Pacesetter

Adrienne Mayor: Carthage, 24 June 2010

Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Mediterranean Civilisation 
by Richard Miles.
Allen Lane, 520 pp., £30, March 2010, 978 0 7139 9793 4
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... luxury [that] played to every Western European stereotype … about the decadent Orient’, as Richard Miles puts it in his impressive new history of Carthage. Pointing out that Rome’s triumph over Carthage ‘provided an attractive blueprint’ and ‘metaphor’ to justify French domination in North Africa, ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Miami Vice’, 17 August 2006

Miami Vice 
directed by Michael Mann.
August 2006
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... music videos, an effect enhanced by guest appearances from Phil Collins, Willie Nelson, Little Richard, Miles Davis and many others. But the other, complementary theory of the series’ origin names a news story about vice cops using repossessed goods as a glossy cover for their assumed criminal characters. This is why ...

Seven Miles per Hour

Robert Macfarlane: The men who invented flight, 5 February 2004

First to Fly: The Unlikely Triumph of Wilbur and Orville Wright 
by James Tobin.
Murray, 431 pp., £9.99, November 2003, 0 7195 5738 0
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The Wright Brothers: The Aviation Pioneers who Changed the World 
by Ian Mackersey.
Little, Brown, 554 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 316 86144 8
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Wings of Madness: Alberto Santos-Dumont and the Invention of Flight 
by Paul Hoffman.
Fourth Estate, 369 pp., £18.99, June 2003, 1 84115 368 0
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Taking Flight: Inventing the Aerial Age from Antiquity to the First World War 
by Richard Hallion.
Oxford, 531 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 19 516035 5
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... half the length of a freighter Boeing 747’s cargo deck – at an airspeed of around seven miles per hour, in a motorised glider optimistically but, as it turned out, correctly named Flyer. Orville Wright was by no means the first man aloft, but he was the first man actually to fly an aeroplane. As he later put it, in characteristically forensic ...
Digging Deeper: Issues in the Miners’ Strike 
edited by Huw Beynon.
Verso, 252 pp., £3.95, March 1985, 0 86091 820 3
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Policing the Miners’ Strike 
edited by Bob Fine and Robert Millar.
Lawrence and Wishart, 243 pp., £4.95, March 1985, 0 85315 633 6
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The Strike: An Insider’s Story 
by Roy Ottey.
Sidgwick, 157 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780283992285
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Scargill and the Miners 
by Michael Crick.
Penguin, 172 pp., £2.95, March 1985, 0 14 052355 3
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The Great Strike: The Miners’ Strike of 1984-5 and its Lessons 
by Alex Callinicos and Mike Simons.
Socialist Worker, 256 pp., £3.95, April 1985, 0 905998 50 2
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... pickets: in one notorious instance, Kent miners were turned back at the Dartford tunnel, 200 miles from their objective. While this case hit the headlines, the everyday use of roadblocks did not; nor did the common practice of stopping coaches of pickets miles from their destination, forcing the occupants to walk. Nor ...

Dig, Hammer, Spin, Weave

Miles Taylor: Richard Cobden, Class Warrior, 12 March 2009

The Letters of Richard Cobden. Vol. I: 1815-47 
edited by Anthony Howe.
Oxford, 529 pp., £100, November 2007, 978 0 19 921195 1
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... the summer warning his countrymen of imminent social catastrophe. ‘It is my firm belief,’ Richard Cobden told the House of Commons in July, ‘that within six months we shall have populous districts in the north in a state of social dissolution.’ Privately, he was even less guarded. ‘The manufacturing classes’, he confided to a newspaper ...

Bring back the 19th century

Miles Taylor, 22 June 2000

British Society 1680-1880: Dynamism, Containment and Change 
by Richard Price.
Cambridge, 349 pp., £40, October 1999, 0 521 65172 7
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... for a split at 1815 and an end in the 1880s. So in choosing to conclude his new survey at 1880, Richard Price joins a long tradition of irreverent timekeeping. Except that, according to Price, it is not the 19th century that ends in the 1880s, but the ‘long’ 18th century. In recent years the lifetime of the distinctive political regime and social ...

Father Bosco to Africa

Walter Nash, 5 February 1987

The Red Men 
by Patrick McGinley.
Cape, 304 pp., £10.95, January 1987, 0 224 02386 1
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Chat Show 
by Terence de Vere White.
Gollancz, 207 pp., £9.95, January 1987, 0 575 03910 8
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Leaden Wings 
by Zhang Jie, translated by Gladys Yang.
Virgo, 180 pp., £9.95, January 1987, 0 86068 759 7
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Russian Novel 
by Edward Kuznetsov, translated by Jennifer Bradshaw.
Quartet, 285 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 7043 2522 5
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Richard Robertovich 
by Mark Frankland.
Murray, 216 pp., £9.95, January 1987, 0 7195 4330 4
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... another is to export him to England, to a voluble career in television. This is the fate of Miles O’Malley, hero of Terence de Vere White’s Chat Show. Chance brings him into chat-showmanship at the age of 42 – and Miles is indeed a chancer, a shamelessly obsessive promoter of himself, accurately described by one ...

Down to the Last Flea

Richard Fortey: Resurrecting the mammoth, 23 May 2002

Mammoth: The Resurrection of an Ice Age Giant 
by Richard Stone.
Fourth Estate, 242 pp., £14.99, January 2002, 1 84115 517 9
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... from their frozen obscurity and brought back to life, once more to browse the Arctic plains? Richard Stone assumes that attempts to revive mammoths are a practical possibility. Frozen mammoth sperm, so the theory goes, may yet be viable. Techniques are already used routinely in fertility treatment that allow defrosted sperm to fertilise living eggs, so ...

Hurrah for the Dredge

Richard Hamblyn: The ocean floor, 3 November 2005

Fathoming the Ocean: The Discovery and Exploration of the Deep Sea 
by Helen Rozwadowski.
Harvard, 276 pp., £16.95, April 2005, 0 674 01691 2
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... Sea. ‘What passes in those remote depths – what beings live, or can live, twelve or fifteen miles beneath the surface of the waters – what is the organisation of these animals, we can scarcely conjecture.’ Much the same could be said today, 140 years on from the voyage of the Nautilus, with less than 5 per cent of the world’s 320 million cubic ...

At King’s Cross

Richard Taws: Amalia Pica’s ‘Semaphores’, 24 October 2019

... forms, does a little of both.At its height, the Chappe telegraph network spread for three thousand miles across France, and into Germany and Northern Italy. As modern Paris changed beyond recognition in the early 19th century, the telegraph cranked enigmatically overhead. It was used primarily for conveying state and military information (and, from 1803, the ...

Fifty Years On

Richard Wollheim, 23 June 1994

... running. I drove up the beach, waved on by flags, through the dunes, and then, for about eight miles, followed the divisional signs, through liberated villages, past burnt-out vehicles, and the utterly unexpected sight of crosses made of raw wood. Except for a few days as a very small child near Le Touquet, this was my first holiday abroad. At last we ...

Got to go make that dollar

Alex Abramovich: Otis Redding, 3 January 2019

Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life 
by Jonathan Gould.
Crown, 544 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 0 307 45395 2
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... Otis Redding​ was born in 1941 on a farm in Terrell County, Georgia, 150 miles south of Atlanta, but raised further north in Macon, a small, bustling city at the geographical centre of the state. Of the cotton fields but not from them, he was a sharecropper’s son who grew up in an early iteration of America’s inner-city projects, forming a gospel quartet with the neighbourhood boys, joining a junior choir at the church where his father was a deacon, banging away on a drum set his mother bought him with money she had earned as an Avon lady in town ...

Raider of the Lost Ark

Richard Pankhurst: In Soho, 24 May 2001

The Pale Abyssinian: A Life of James Bruce, African Explorer and Adventurer 
by Miles Bredin.
Flamingo, 290 pp., £7.99, March 2001, 0 00 638740 3
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... version, and is still included in the Ethiopian Bible. For all these reasons it is surprising that Miles Bredin’s The Pale Abyssinian is only the third biography of Bruce to have been published in over two centuries. The first, by the Orientalist Alexander Murray, which is included in the second and third editions of Bruce’s Travels (1805, 1813), is brief ...

Promises, Promises

David Carpenter: The Peasants’ Revolt, 1 June 2016

England, Arise: The People, the King and the Great Revolt of 1381 
by Juliet Barker.
Abacus, 506 pp., £10.99, September 2015, 978 0 349 12382 0
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... the city, they sacked John of Gaunt’s palace of the Savoy and forced the king, the 14-year-old Richard II, to meet them at Mile End. There, on 14 June, Richard made major concessions, the most important being the abolition of villeinage. While negotiations were going on at Mile End, another group of rebels dragged the ...

Diary

Peter Craven: On the Demidenko Affair, 16 November 1995

... we had determined weeks before the Demidenko affair reached its final phase to give the prize to Richard Flanagan, for his magical-realist investigation of Tasmania’s history, The Death of a River Guide. Helen Demidenko published her novel, The Hand That Signed the Paper, in 1994, when she was 23. She claimed that, like the narrator of her book, she had a ...

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