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The Frighteners

Jeremy Harding, 20 March 1997

The Ends of the Earth 
by Robert Kaplan.
Macmillan, 476 pp., £10, January 1997, 0 333 64255 4
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... The world according to Robert Kaplan has arrived in Britain. The Ends of the Earth is a piece of blockbuster journalism by an American reporter/traveller of some influence whose thinking has shaped the way that other people, more influential still – in the White House, the State Department, the United Nations and the international aid agencies – go about their business ...

Back to the Graft

Joshua Kurlantzick: Indonesia since Suharto, 3 March 2011

My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with a Radical Islamist 
by Sadanand Dhume.
Skyhorse, 271 pp., $24.95, April 2009, 978 1 60239 643 2
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Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power 
by Robert Kaplan.
Random House, 384 pp., £21, October 2010, 978 1 4000 6746 6
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Understanding Islam in Indonesia: Politics and Diversity 
by Robert Pringle.
Hawaii, 220 pp., $22, April 2010, 978 0 8248 3415 9
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... never have done in the past, for fear of being targeted if they took up public positions. And as Robert Kaplan records in Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power, it is Indonesia’s growing stability that has made it an increasingly attractive partner for both China and the US. Obama’s ‘homecoming’ capped a year in which the ...

How to Catch a Tortoise

A.W. Moore: Infinity, 18 December 2003

Everything and More: A Compact History of ∞ 
by David Foster Wallace.
Weidenfeld, 319 pp., £14.99, November 2003, 0 297 64567 6
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A Brief History of Infinity: The Quest to Think the Unthinkable 
by Brian Clegg.
Constable, 255 pp., £8.99, September 2003, 1 84119 650 9
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The Art of the Infinite: Our Lost Language of Numbers 
by Robert Kaplan and Ellen Kaplan.
Allen Lane, 324 pp., £20, August 2003, 0 7139 9629 3
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... of this antagonism towards Aristotle appears in both Brian Clegg’s Brief History of Infinity and Robert and Ellen Kaplan’s The Art of the Infinite. Clegg writes that Aristotle ‘made a distinction on the matter of infinity that was to prove useful, but also was a fudge that made it possible to avoid the real issue for a ...

Why do white people like what I write?

Pankaj Mishra: Ta-Nehisi Coates, 22 February 2018

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Hamish Hamilton, 367 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 32523 0
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... mood was infectious among the personnel in charge of exterminating the brutes. The Atlantic’s Robert Kaplan cheerfully reported that ‘Welcome to Injun Country’ was the refrain among American soldiers worldwide. The primal blood-lusts of the war on terror survived Obama’s renaming of it. The Seal Team that in 2011 eventually scalped Osama bin ...

Homage to the Provinces

Michael Wood, 28 May 1992

Barcelona 
by Robert Hughes.
Harvill, 575 pp., £20, May 1992, 0 00 272078 7
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Barcelonas 
by Manuel Vazquez Montalban, translated by Andrew Robinson.
Verso, 210 pp., £17.95, May 1992, 0 86091 353 8
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Cities of Spain 
by David Gilmour.
Murray, 214 pp., £17.95, March 1992, 0 7195 4833 0
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Red City, Blue Period: Social Movements in Picasso’s Barcelona 
by Temma Kaplan.
California, 266 pp., $30, April 1992, 0 520 07507 2
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... sense, or the spirit of compromise, but it is also rendered as wisdom and intelligence, and Temma Kaplan associates it with solidarity. ‘The man of seny,’ we learn from a Catalan writer quoted by Hughes, ‘renounces neither salvation nor experience, and is always trying to set up a fruitful integration between both opposed, warring extremes.’ Sounds ...

Little Old Grandfather

Thomas Meaney: Djilas and Stalin, 18 May 2016

Conversations with Stalin 
by Milovan Djilas, translated by Michael Petrovich.
Penguin, 160 pp., £9.99, January 2014, 978 0 14 139309 4
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... of answers about the Yugoslav War. Democracy-promoting journalists like Michael Ignatieff and Robert Kaplan were pleased to learn from Djilas that the ethnic violence was the result of Tito’s failure to democratise the country when he had the chance. But they didn’t consider more disquieting problems presented by Djilas. The perceived selling-out ...

Someone like Maman

Elisabeth Ladenson: Proust’s mother, 8 May 2008

Madame Proust: A Biography 
by Evelyne Bloch-Dano, translated by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 310 pp., £16, October 2007, 978 0 226 05642 5
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... place the day after the French defeat at Sedan. Marcel was born ten months later, on 10 July 1871. Robert, the brother famously absent from almost everything Proust wrote, was born when Marcel was not quite two. What is striking in this as in other accounts of the Proust household is the extent to which the boys seemed to belong to two entirely separate ...

Too Much Gide

Douglas Johnson: French writers (1940-53), 15 November 2001

La Guerre des écrivains 1940-53 
by Gisèle Sapiro.
Fayard, 807 pp., frs 220, September 1999, 2 213 60211 5
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Correspondance: Marcel Arland – Jean Paulhan 1936-45 
edited by Jean-Jacques Didier.
Gallimard, 397 pp., frs 140, March 2000, 2 07 075789 7
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Dialogue des ‘vaincus’: Prison de Clairvaux, janvier-décembre 1950 
by Lucien Rebatet and Pierre-Antoine Cousteau, edited by Robert Belot.
Berg, 285 pp., frs 120, March 2000, 2 911289 22 6
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The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach 
by Alice Kaplan.
Chicago, 320 pp., £9.50, December 2000, 0 226 42415 4
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... La Rochelle, Céline, Montherlant, Châteaubriant and Chardonne. Curiously, he made no mention of Robert Brasillach. Brasillach had published his first book (on Virgil) in 1931, when he was 22. He went on to write essays, poetry, novels and history, including a history of the cinema, which he wrote with his equally right-wing brother-in-law, Maurice ...

The Tarnished Age

Richard Mayne, 3 September 1981

David O. Selznick’s Hollywood 
by Ronald Haver.
Secker, 425 pp., £35, December 1980, 0 436 19128 8
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My Early life 
by Ronald Reagan and Richard Hubler.
Sidgwick, 316 pp., £7.95, April 1981, 0 283 98771 5
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Naming Names 
by Victor Navasky.
Viking, 482 pp., $15.95, October 1980, 0 670 50393 2
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... than a coffee table without legs. Its credits ape a blockbuster movie’s: ‘Executive Producer: Robert Gottlieb – Associate Producer: Martha Kaplan’, etc; and its first page opens like cinema curtains on a wider-than-Panavision main title modelled on Gone with the Wind. A good half of the book is pictorial ...

Roaming the Greenwood

Colm Tóibín: A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition by Gregory Woods, 21 January 1999

A History of Gay Literature: The Male Tradition 
by Gregory Woods.
Yale, 448 pp., £24.95, February 1998, 0 300 07201 5
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... the uncertain Irishness of certain writers. Was Sterne Irish? Was Oliver Goldsmith Irish? Was Robert Tressell Irish? Is Iris Murdoch Irish? But the argument about who was gay and who was not and how we know is more difficult. How can someone be gay if, as in the case of Gogol, there is no direct evidence? Yet if you trawl through Gogol’s stories with ...

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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... claims made on his behalf, Michael Hofmann’s recent hailing of Brodsky as the true successor to Robert Lowell and great American poet of our age has at least the virtue of unambivalence. We may not agree with it, but the terms are clear. Hitherto, through no fault of his own, the poet has seemed to occupy a position of statelessness somewhere between ...

With What Joy We Write of the New Russian Government

Ferdinand Mount: Arthur Ransome, 24 September 2009

The Last Englishman: The Double Life of Arthur Ransome 
by Roland Chambers.
Faber, 390 pp., £20, August 2009, 978 0 571 22261 2
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... example, about the names and titles of Foreign Office staff, lurching between Lord Cecil and Sir Robert Cecil for Lord Robert Cecil, Sir Esmie instead of Esme Howard, and Sir Cavendish Bentinck for Victor Cavendish-Bentinck. More seriously, Muggeridge is described as ‘an enthusiastic apologist for Stalin’, when in ...

Downhill Racer

John Sutherland, 16 August 1990

Lying together 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 255 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 575 04802 6
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The Neon Bible 
by John Kennedy Toole.
Viking, 162 pp., £12.99, March 1990, 0 670 82908 0
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Solomon Gursky was here 
by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 576 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 394 53995 8
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Death of the Soap Queen 
by Peter Prince.
Bloomsbury, 277 pp., £13.99, April 1990, 0 7475 0611 6
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... his national service in Puerto Rico. The manuscript was submitted to Simon and Schuster, where Robert Gottlieb, after dickering for two years, eventually turned it down in 1966. By 1969 Toole was an English instructor at Dominican University, working in his spare time on his PhD. A modest academic career seemed likely. But Toole began to behave in a ...

The Israel Lobby

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt: The Israel Lobby, 23 March 2006

... they believe, would be contrary to God’s will. Neo-conservative gentiles such as John Bolton; Robert Bartley, the former Wall Street Journal editor; William Bennett, the former secretary of education; Jeane Kirkpatrick, the former UN ambassador; and the influential columnist George Will are also steadfast supporters. The US form of government offers ...

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