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Having it both ways

Peter Clarke, 27 January 1994

A.J.P. Taylor: A Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 468 pp., £18.99, January 1994, 1 85619 210 5
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A.J.P. Taylor: The Traitor within the Gates 
by Robert Cole.
Macmillan, 285 pp., £40, November 1993, 0 333 59273 5
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From Napoleon to the Second International: International Essays on the 19th Century 
by A.J.P. Taylor, edited by Chris Wrigley.
Hamish Hamilton, 426 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 241 13444 7
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... Sisman is not usually taken in, least of all by unsubstantiated assertions from Taylor himself. Robert Cole’s book, The Traitor within the Gates, forms an instructive contrast. In his treatment of several episodes, Cole has placed his reliance on the authority of the autobiography. For example, he simply reiterates ...

Uncle of the Bomb

Steven Shapin: The Oppenheimer Brothers, 23 September 2010

Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer and The World He Made Up 
by K.C. Cole.
Houghton Mifflin, 439 pp., $27, August 2009, 978 0 15 100822 3
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... HUAC: Is your brother a member of the Communist Party? Robert Oppenheimer: He is not a member of the Communist Party, to the best of my knowledge. HUAC: Are you speaking as of the present time? Robert Oppenheimer: I am, sir. HUAC: Was he a member of the Communist Party in the past? Robert Oppenheimer: Mr Chairman, I will answer the questions you put to me ...

At Driscoll Babcock

Christopher Benfey: The Shock of the Old, 16 June 2016

... heard of Durand, or, indeed, of the two ‘kindred spirits’ – the British-born painter Thomas Cole and the Romantic poet and newspaper editor William Cullen Bryant – whom he depicted contemplating a lushly idealised Catskills landscape of bluffs and waterfalls, their names inscribed like those of lovers on a nearby birch tree. ...

It’s slippery in here

Christopher Tayler: ‘Twin Peaks: The Return’, 21 September 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return 
created by Mark Frost and David Lynch.
Showtime/Sky Atlantic, 18 episodes, 21 May 2017 to 3 September 2017
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... At first glance the new series was just as disconnected from public concerns. James Comey and Robert Mueller might be on people’s minds, but on Twin Peaks the salient FBI boss is still Gordon Cole, a hearing-impaired, gee-whizzily cryptic character played by Lynch himself. We first caught up with him in a conference ...

Big Daddy

Linda Nochlin, 30 October 1997

American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America 
by Robert Hughes.
Harvill, 635 pp., £35, October 1997, 9781860463723
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... of stylistic precedence and traditional modes of expression are common to both. In the case of Robert Hughes, author of the monumental American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America, the artist of choice would be John Singer Sargent, brilliant pictorial chronicler of the beau monde of the 19th century. Like Sargent, Hughes is a brilliant ...

Vagueness

Hans Keller, 1 May 1980

Michael Tippett: An Introductory Study 
by David Matthews.
Faber, 112 pp., £5.95, December 1979, 0 571 10954 3
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Tippett and his Operas 
by Eric Walter White.
Barrie and Jenkins, 142 pp., £7.97, January 1980, 0 214 20573 8
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... Tippett’s music resists close analysis,’ declares the distinguished Hugo Cole in the opening sentence of his review of the two books here under consideration. For one thing, ‘close analysis’ is a pleonasm, proving the writer at least momentarily incapable of analysing his own thought, and never mind Tippett’s. For another, in ...

Shining Pink

Tam Dalyell, 23 May 1985

Death of a Rose-Grower: Who killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Graham Smith.
Cecil Woolf, 96 pp., £5.95, April 1985, 0 900821 76 0
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... and callous murder’ of Hilda Murrell, to use the words of Chief Detective Superintendent David Cole, are complex. So complex that, I am told, the Police have taken some forty thousand or more records, of which over fourteen thousand have been computerised. The death of the 78-year-old Shrewsbury rose-grower is, I understand, the subject of the largest ...

Down and Out in London and Amis

Zachary Leader, 22 June 1989

Ripley Bogle 
by Robert McLiam Wilson.
Deutsch, 273 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 233 98392 9
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The Burnt House 
by Adam Lively.
Simon and Schuster, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 671 69999 7
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Two Women of London: The Strange Case of Ms Jekyll and Mrs Hyde 
by Emma Tennant.
Faber, 121 pp., £10.99, June 1989, 0 571 15242 2
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The Magic Drum 
by Emma Tennant.
Viking, 142 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 670 82556 5
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... Robert McLiam Wilson was born in 1964, which means that Ripley Bogle, his first novel, was written in his early twenties. The novel’s qualities are those of immodest youth: it is ambitious, energetic, self absorbed, bursting with hormonal vehemence and self-consciousness. Structure and sequence (or plot) are not its strong points ...

Diary

David Thomson: Alcatraz, 26 March 2009

... To this day, there are hardy members of swimming clubs who do the same. In December 1937, Ted Cole and Ralph Roe escaped from the Model Industries building and took to the water. No one has ever claimed to have seen them again. The guards spread a story that the men had been shot; inmates claimed they’d received a postcard from ...

Sexual Tories

Angus Calder, 17 May 1984

The Common People: A History from the Norman Conquest to the Present 
by J.F.C. Harrison.
Croom Helm and Flamingo, 445 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7099 0125 9
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British Society 1914-45 
by John Stevenson.
Allen Lane/Penguin, 503 pp., £16.95, March 1984, 0 7139 1390 8
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The World We Left Behind: A Chronicle of the Year 1939 
by Robert Kee.
Weidenfeld, 369 pp., £11.95, April 1984, 0 297 78287 8
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Wigan Pier Revisited: Poverty and Politics in the Eighties 
by Beatrix Campbell.
Virago, 272 pp., £4.50, April 1984, 0 86068 417 2
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... might reply to these rhetorical flourishes: ‘Well – what? How on earth can we tell?’ G.D.H. Cole and Raymond Postgate once added a postscript to their study of The Common People since 1746 suffused with Whiggish pleasure over Labour’s recent triumph in the 1945 General Election. They clearly believed that they understood the common ‘man’ and what ...

The Greatest

R.W. Johnson, 4 August 1994

Charles de Gaulle, Futurist of the Nation 
by Régis Debray, translated by John Howe.
Verso, 111 pp., £29.95, April 1994, 0 86091 622 7
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De Gaulle and 20th-Century France 
edited by Hugh Gough and John Horne.
Edward Arnold, 158 pp., £12.99, March 1994, 0 340 58826 8
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François Mitterrand: A Study in Political Leadership 
by Alistair Cole.
Routledge, 216 pp., £19.99, March 1994, 0 415 07159 3
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... the idea: ‘I could not accept such an award. The state does not decorate itself.’ Alistair Cole’s study of Mitterrand suffers from the huge distance it takes from its subject. This is certainly not due to lack of diligence: Cole has very thoroughly and usefully set down the details of Mitterrand’s career. And he ...

Performing Seals

Christopher Hitchens: The PR Crowd, 10 August 2000

Partisans: Marriage, Politics and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals 
by David Laskin.
Simon and Schuster, 319 pp., $26, January 2000, 0 684 81565 6
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... revenge on Edmund Wilson; the witches of Eastwick (lacking only their Hardwick) have vented about Robert Lowell. To interview all the exes of Philip Rahv would be an undertaking from which the most committed Boswellian might recoil. (Though it’s fascinating to speculate what might have happened if Rahv and Mary McCarthy had made a go of it; a marriage ...

Monsieur Mangetout

Walter Nash, 7 December 1989

The Guinness Book of Records 1990 
edited by Donald McFarlan.
Guinness, 320 pp., £10.95, October 1989, 0 85112 341 4
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The Chatto Book of Cabbages and Kings: Lists in Literature 
edited by Francis Spufford.
Chatto, 313 pp., £13.95, November 1989, 0 7011 3487 9
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... Kings. Regard it, if you like, as a ripping anthology of runaway rigmaroles, from Tertullian to Cole Porter, with the added bonus of a brilliant introductory essay; or approach it more soberly, as a donnish disquisition supported by a considerable appendix of illustrative material. I suspect Mr Spufford would like us to take it both ways, and I should ...

Staggering on

Stephen Howe, 23 May 1996

The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... than two hundred Party-linked or sympathetic periodicals. By far the most successful of these were Robert Blatchford’s Clarion and A.R. Orage’s New Age. The Clarion’s pitch was working-class and almost aggressively non-intellectual – entirely unlike anything Shaw or the Webbs might wish to emulate. If the early Statesman had a model, it was the ...

A Big Life

Michael Hofmann: Seamus Heaney, 4 June 2015

New Selected Poems 1988-2013 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 222 pp., £18.99, November 2014, 978 0 571 32171 1
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... Robert Lowell​ has a poem called ‘Picture in The Literary Life, a Scrapbook’ which begins: A mag photo, I before I was I, or my books – a listener … A cheekbone gumballs out my cheek; too much live hair.Not knowing the photo of Lowell, I go instead to the picture of Seamus Heaney on the front of the companion volume to this one, New Selected Poems 1966-87, painfully young, worried-looking, Noh-rice-flour-pale, against a dark brick wall ...

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