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Living on the Edge

R.W. Johnson: Nukes

28 April 2011
Atomic: The First War of Physics and the Secret History of the Atom Bomb 1939-49 
by Jim Baggott.
Icon, 576 pp., £10.99, November 2009, 978 1 84831 082 7
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The Twilight of the Bombs: Recent Challenges, New Dangers and the Prospects for a World without Nuclear Weapons 
by Richard Rhodes.
Knopf, 366 pp., $27.95, August 2010, 978 0 307 26754 2
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Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers 
by Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi.
ICNND, 294 pp., November 2009, 978 1 921612 14 5
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... forests could be so nervously followed from space, a good place to start is Jim Baggott’s Atomic. The story of the making of the atomic bomb has been told countless times before, most notably by RichardRhodes, but Baggott’s book is rare in giving details not just of the successful Anglo-Canadian-American effort at Los Alamos, but the competing efforts in Germany, Japan and the USSR, culminating ...
19 February 1981
Tomorrow at Dawn 
by J.G. de Beus.
Norton, 191 pp., £5.75, April 1980, 0 393 01263 8
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The Crucible of War 
by Barrie Pitt.
Cape, 506 pp., £8.95, June 1980, 0 224 01771 3
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Chindit 
by Richard Rhodes​ James.
Murray, 214 pp., £10.50, August 1980, 0 7195 3746 0
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The Chief 
by Ronald Lewin.
Hutchinson, 282 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780091425005
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Special Operations Europe: Scenes from the Anti-Nazi War 
by Basil Davidson.
Gollancz, 288 pp., £8.50, July 1980, 0 575 02820 3
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... warfare. The Chindit experience might be seen as exceptional, and certainly Wingate, a cross between Moses and Brian Clough, drove his men harder than most other commanders would have dared, Mr Rhodes James gets this across splendidly, yet even as one reads his harrowing accounts of the long marches and retreats through dense, humid jungle, or the last-ditch stand at the ‘Blackpool’ stronghold ...

Calcutta in the Cotswolds

David Gilmour: What did the British do for India?

3 March 2005
Empire Families: Britons and Late Imperial India 
by Elizabeth Buettner.
Oxford, 324 pp., £25, July 2004, 0 19 924907 5
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... Kipling, who was sent to a boarding-house and allowed to see his aunts only at Christmas, wrote the most harrowing account of such an exile in his story ‘Baa, Baa, Black Sheep’. But many others, RichardRhodes James for example, have recorded their experiences as ‘orphans of the Raj, paying the price of empire by a separation from parents’. Parents, too, of course had to pay the price ...

Well Downstream from Canary Wharf

Lorna Sage: Derek Beavan

5 March 1998
Acts of Mutiny 
by Derek Beavan.
Fourth Estate, 280 pp., £14.99, January 1998, 1 85702 641 1
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... that Derek Beavan ‘tackles the issue of recovered memory’. In a way of course Ralph does sound like one of the millennial hysterics lined up by Elaine Showalter in Hystories – fictional son of RichardRhodes perhaps, a scientist who has written about the making of the atom bomb, and also described how he was abused in a book called A Hole in the World. However, in Acts of Mutiny recovered memory ...

We Do Ron Ron Ron, We Do Ron Ron

James Meek: Welcome to McDonald’s

24 May 2001
Fast-Food Nation 
by Eric Schlosser.
Allen Lane, 356 pp., £9.99, April 2001, 0 7139 9602 1
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... Everyone – the ammunition worker, the machine-gunner, the infantryman – played their small, repetitive, unskilled role with as much speed and efficiency as they could muster. The Front was, as RichardRhodes put it in The Making of the Atom Bomb, an industrial operation for the manufacture of corpses. Disney and Kroc were great admirers of Ford (as was Lenin) and saw assembly lines as the ...

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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... Mountbatten – formerly Battenberg, a morganatic offshoot of the Hessen-Darmstadt house. The general assumption was that Prince Albert had provided the definitive and approved working model. Robert Rhodes James has written an entertaining and effective but oddly out-of-kilter book about that model. His standard texts appear to be Justin McCarthy and H.A.L. Fisher, historians whose reputations had ...
18 December 1980
Montague Rhodes​ James 
by Richard​ William Pfaff.
Scolar, 438 pp., £15, May 1980, 0 85967 554 8
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... Montague Rhodes James is secure in his reputation as a ghost-story writer of almost unparalleled quality. Even general readers of Ghost Stories of an Antiquary will immediately be aware of their strong ...

Megawoman

Penelope Fitzgerald

13 October 1988
Olive Schreiner: Letters. Vol.1:1871-1899 
edited by Richard​ Rive.
Oxford, 409 pp., £30, February 1988, 0 19 812220 9
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... Will was legal adviser to the Governor of Cape Colony, and she made a forceful entry into Cape politics. ‘There is one man I’ve heard of,’ she tells Havelock Ellis (April 1890): ‘Cecil Rhodes, the head of the Chartered Company, whom I think I should like if I could meet him; he’s very fond of An African Farm.’ She did meet him, four months after he became prime minister of the Cape ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: The State of Statuary

20 September 2017
... at First World War memorials, ‘but … powerless to protect themselves, their only defence, like that of the blind, is our respect.’ Putting aside, for a moment, the vexed presences of Cecil Rhodes and Robert E. Lee, it is worth considering how many statues – the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association counts 925 in the UK – should continue to enjoy the protection of our respect. Should ...
22 February 1990
A Good German: Adam von Trott zu Solz 
by Giles MacDonogh.
Quartet, 358 pp., £17.95, January 1990, 0 7043 2730 9
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... 1944 – better even than Claus von Stauffenberg who carried the bomb in his briefcase to the Führer’s headquarters in East Prussia and detonated it. This is because from 1931 to 1933 Trott was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College and made a tremendous impression on his contemporaries and seniors at Oxford. He made friends with men and women who were to become, or beginning to be, what the Germans ...
6 June 1996
... Oxford 1968-9. In the evenings, after dinner in hall, groups would take shape informally in the quad. There was Richard Cobb’s lot, making for the buttery and another round of worldly banter. There was this or that sodality, taking a cigarette break or killing time before revision. There was my own cohort, usually ...

A Talented Past

Linda Colley

23 April 1987
The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. I: Survey 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 400 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. II: Constituencies 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 704 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. III: Members A-F 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 852 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. IV: Members G-P 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 908 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. V: Members P-Z 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 680 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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... appeal for the more serious-minded of its personnel. The project was championed in the past by Harold Macmillan and is protected now by the enthusiasm of men such as Roy Jenkins and Robert Rhodes James. But why should those of us who are excluded from this desirable club at Westminster want such an extended work of collective biography? In the case of these volumes one obvious reason lies in ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: Like a Prep School

10 January 1991
... allowed to offer us the customary plonk and snacklets then and there. Instead, after Asa Briggs had introduced Cannadine and Cannadine had given us an encouragingly comical puff for his book, Robert Rhodes James reminded us that Lloyd George, despite doing so much to reduce the Upper House to impotence and discredit, had ended his days as Earl Lloyd George of Dwyfor, and then led us off down miles of ...

Spadework

John Brown

18 November 1982
Shadow Man: The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Richard​ Layman.
Junction, 285 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 86245 027 6
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... this is the first full-length account of his life to appear. In the context of the continuing vogue for biography, such a delay constitutes a small literary mystery, and in the preface to Shadow Man Richard Layman supplies a terse explanation. It appears that Lillian Hellman, Hammett’s closest friend from 1931 onwards, took steps soon after his death to acquire legal control of all the novelist’s ...

Members Only

R.B. Dobson

24 February 1994
The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1386-1421 
edited by J.S. Roskell, Linda Clark and Carole Rawcliffe.
Alan Sutton, 3500 pp., £275, February 1993, 9780862999438
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... 1439-1509. As the original if somewhat amateurish begetter of methodical inquiry into the membership of Parliament, Lord Wedgwood certainly deserves most of the tributes he receives from Robert Rhodes James in a Foreword to this work. On the other hand, even in the Thirties it was optimistic of Wedgwood to suppose that the compilation of biographies of Members of the Commons would necessarily ...

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