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Stephen Bann, 4 August 1983

George beneath a Paper Moon 
by Nina Bawden.
Macmillan, 192 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 333 35380 3
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The Ice-House 
by Nina Bawden.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 333 35244 0
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A Dance to the Glory of God 
by Hugh Fleetwood.
Hamish Hamilton, 183 pp., £8.95, July 1983, 0 241 11088 2
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The Ice Monkey, and Other Stories 
by John Harrison.
Gollancz, 144 pp., £8.95, June 1983, 0 575 03259 6
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Arabic Short Stories 
translated by Denys Johnson-Davies.
Quartet, 173 pp., £6.95, July 1983, 0 7043 2367 2
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The Changelings: A Classical Japanese Court Tale 
translated by Rosette Willig.
Stanford, 248 pp., $19.50, May 1983, 0 8047 1124 0
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... spell in a Chilean prison to take up a one-sided relationship with a former friend living in Rome. Robert, in the story of the same name, is ‘a black American of indeterminate age with a rather grand manner’ who carries his paintings (and his desperate idealism) around with him in a black tin trunk. We catch our last sight of Pat as he stumbles pointlessly ...

The Killing of Osama bin Laden

Seymour M. Hersh, 21 May 2015

... bladder loaded with extra fuel for the two Black Hawks, it first had to be reconfigured as a troop carrier. The crash of the Black Hawk and the need to fly in a replacement were nerve-wracking and time-consuming setbacks, but the Seals continued with their mission. There was no firefight as they moved into the compound; the ISI guards had gone. ‘Everyone in ...

My Mad Captains

Frank Kermode, 14 December 1995

... when he performed the trick that made him, for a while, famous. We had been sent to join the same carrier in Oregon, where lived a girl who rarely ceased to commend what she described as Harrison’s bedroom eyes. Eventually we had to leave what was then the delightful town of Portland and sail down the West Coast, through the Panama Canal, and north to New ...

In the Potato Patch

Jenny Turner: Penelope Fitzgerald, 19 December 2013

Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 508 pp., £25, November 2013, 978 0 7011 8495 7
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... a flannelette nightie. Did that give licence to the next day’s BBC Book Programme, opened by Robert Robinson on the proposition that ‘the judges made the wrong choice’? A ‘favourite aunt’, ‘a jam-making grandmother’, ‘Pooterish’, ‘distrait’: this is the sort of thing people wrote about the figure Fitzgerald presented, finding a ...

True Science

M.F. Perutz, 19 March 1981

Advice to a Young Scientist 
by P.B. Medawar.
Harper and Row, 109 pp., £4.95, February 1980, 0 06 337006 9
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... Such classic studies as W.L. Bragg’s solutions of the structures of the common minerals, or Sir Robert Robinson’s elucidation of the chemical formulae of the flower pigments, did involve imaginative guesswork, but coupled to intellection of the highest order. Those were fantastic feats of puzzle-solving. Great feats of the intellect are surely the very ...


Tim Radford: Yuri and the Astronauts, 5 March 1998

Korolev: How One Man Masterminded the Soviet Drive to Beat America to the Moon 
by James Harford.
Wiley, 392 pp., £24.95, June 1997, 0 471 14853 9
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Countdown: A History of Space Flight 
by T.A. Heppenheimer.
Wiley, 398 pp., £24.95, June 1997, 0 471 14439 8
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Something New under the Sun: Satellites and the Beginning of the Space Age 
by Helen Gavaghan.
Copernicus, 300 pp., £15, December 1997, 0 387 94914 3
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Space and the American Imagination 
by Howard McCurdy.
Smithsonian, 294 pp., £19.95, November 1997, 1 56098 764 2
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... for a few hundred feet? How do you explain the Romanian-German Hermann Oberth, and the American Robert Goddard, who pursued the mad ambition of space with rockets that lifted themselves only a few yards, before collapsing under their own contradictions? Even more remarkable are the interlinked stories of the two men who actually took humans into ...

Just How It was

Anne Hollander: The work of Henri Cartier-Bresson, 7 May 1998

Tête à Tête: Portraits by Henri Cartier-Bresson 
edited by E.H. Gombrich.
Thames and Hudson, 144 pp., £32, February 1998, 9780500542187
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Henri Cartier-Bresson: Europeans 
edited by Jean Clair.
Thames and Hudson, 231 pp., £29.95, January 1998, 0 500 28052 5
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... lastyear of the great forerunner’s life. Stieglitz’s face has a weary look not unlike that of Robert Flaherty, father of the documentary film, another great forerunner whose portrait Cartier-Bresson took in the same year. A similar weariness infuses the faces of Georges Rouault and Pierre Bonnard in their 1944 portraits; but the relationship between these ...

Not Altogether Lost

James Hamilton-Paterson: The Tasaday, 19 June 2003

Invented Eden: The Elusive, Disputed History of the Tasaday 
by Robin Hemley.
Farrar, Straus, 352 pp., $25, May 2003, 0 374 17716 3
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... had been fully supportive of Marcos ever since: it needed his country as a loyal, stable aircraft carrier moored within easy reach of Vietnam. Domestic unrest in the Philippines looked almost as bad for Washington as for Marcos, and by mid-1971 there was an urgent need for some favourable news to counteract the damaging stories in the international ...

Don’t wear yum-yum yellow

Theo Tait: Shark Attack!, 2 August 2012

Demon Fish: Travels through the Hidden World of Sharks 
by Juliet Eilperin.
Duckworth, 295 pp., £18.99, January 2012, 978 0 7156 4291 7
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... shark maestro, Sonny Gruber; Boris Worm, doyen of fisheries conservation ecology; and Jeffrey Carrier, who has, ‘most likely, viewed more shark sex than any other researcher in the world’. Each of these people, as the convention requires, is given a perky little pen portrait: ‘Maclean is a blunt-spoken, stocky bleached blonde who’s spent years ...

What are we there for?

Tom Stevenson: The Gulf Bargain, 9 May 2019

AngloArabia: Why Gulf Wealth Matters to Britain 
by David Wearing.
Polity, 275 pp., £15.99, September 2018, 978 1 5095 3203 2
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... United Services Institute as Britain’s closest Gulf ally and ‘the equivalent of an aircraft carrier permanently in the Gulf’, demonstrators inspired by the Arab Spring were forcibly dispersed from the Pearl roundabout in Manama in 2011. The crackdown began in earnest two days after the US secretary of defence, ...

Stir and Bustle

David Trotter: Corridors, 19 December 2019

Corridors: Passages of Modernity 
by Roger Luckhurst.
Reaktion, 240 pp., £25, March 2019, 978 1 78914 053 8
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... the word’s Latin root suggests, could run fast’. A ‘corridor’ was a messenger, a scout, a carrier of money, a negotiator: a person in a hurry. The West Wing’s walk-and-talks are a hymn to speed without haste. While Marshall develops this line of inquiry into a compelling account of a variety of fictional corridors in which information flows either ...

Agamemnon, Smith and Thomson

Claude Rawson, 9 April 1992

Homer: The ‘Iliad’ 
translated by Robert Fagles.
Viking, 683 pp., £17.95, September 1990, 0 670 83510 2
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by Christopher Logue.
Faber, 86 pp., £4.99, March 1991, 0 571 16141 3
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... economically in the words ‘uncouth of speech’. The relentlessly reader-friendly translation by Robert Fitzgerald departs from the usual reading to say the Carians were led by their chief ‘in their own tongue’. Robert Fagles, whose version aims at an idiomatic directness lacking in Lattimore, without the sacrifice of ...

Botticelli and the Built-in Bed

Anthony Grafton: The Italian Renaissance, 2 April 1998

Behind the Picture: Art and Evidence in Italian Renaissance 
by Martin Kemp.
Yale, 304 pp., £25, November 1997, 0 300 07195 7
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... object. As he remarked one day, ‘It was an excellent question of my lady Cotton, when Sir Robert Cotton was magnifying of a shoe, which was Mose’s or Noah’s, and wondering at the strange shape and fashion of it: But Mr Cotton, says she, are you sure it is a shoe?’ The 20th-century art historian Martin Kemp has spent his life reconstructing the ...

Glimpsed in the Glare

Michael Neill: Shakespeare in 1606, 17 December 2015

1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear 
by James Shapiro.
Faber, 423 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 0 571 23578 0
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... was as useful to know about William Greenaway – Shakespeare’s neighbour and Stratford’s main carrier, the man from whom he would have hired horses and heard news from home – as it was to remember the queen’s imitation of a Roman triumph, or to reflect on the Elizabethan rediscovery of Tacitus. The four and a half yards of red livery cloth issued to ...

Dog Days

Stan Smith, 11 January 1990

Plays and Other Dramatic Writings by W.H. Auden, 1928-1938 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Faber, 680 pp., £25, July 1989, 0 571 15115 9
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... this association. The Enemies of a Bishop (1929), published here for the first time, ends with Robert Bicknell shooting his Spectre, a crime the village policeman greets with typical equanimity: Policeman: Ee’s dead. ’Oo is ’e? Robert: My spectre. I had one. Policeman: That’s unusual. I’ope you’re coming ...

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