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Don’t let that crybaby in here again

Steven Shapin: The Manhattan Project, 7 September 2000

In the Shadow of the Bomb: Oppenheimer, Bethe and the Moral Responsibility of the Scientist 
by S.S. Schweber.
Princeton, 260 pp., £15.95, May 2000, 0 691 04989 0
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Atomic Fragments: A Daughter’s Questions 
by Mary Palevsky.
California, 289 pp., £15.95, June 2000, 0 520 22055 2
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... plutonium bomb exploded on the Jornada del Muerto near Alamogordo, New Mexico, on 16 July 1945, Robert Oppenheimer, the Scientific Director of Los Alamos, remembered the line from the Bhagavad Gita where Vishnu says: ‘Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.’ One other remark deserves to be immortalised, which Oppenheimer himself later judged the ...

Cut-Ups

Robert Crawford, 7 December 1989

Perduta Gente 
by Peter Reading.
Secker, £5, June 1989, 0 436 40999 2
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Letting in the rumour 
by Gillian Clarke.
Carcanet, 79 pp., £4.95, July 1989, 9780856357572
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Lazy Thoughts of a Lazy Woman 
by Grace Nichols.
Virago, 58 pp., £4.99, July 1989, 1 85381 076 2
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Studying Grosz on the Bus 
by John Lucas.
Peterloo, 64 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 02 8
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The Old Noise of Truth 
by Joan Downar.
Peterloo, 63 pp., £4.95, August 1989, 1 871471 03 6
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... to the Muse of Death, like the George MacBeth who saw England as The Cleaver Garden or the Blake Morrison who heard The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper. Yet what sets Reading apart is that he has constantly signalled that he is fascinated as much by cut-ups of the text as by cut-ups of the body, as much by style-victimisation as by atrocity. It is this ...

When you’d started a world war

Blake Morrison: Walter Kempowski, 20 June 2019

Homeland 
by Walter Kempowski, translated by Charlotte Collins.
Granta, 240 pp., £14.99, November 2018, 978 1 78378 352 6
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... and made contact with the American counterintelligence corps (forerunner of the CIA): his brother Robert had bills of lading which proved that the Russians were stripping East German factories and sending materials back to the Soviet Union. In 1948, on a trip home to Rostock, Kempowski was arrested by the NKVD and charged with espionage. The experience is ...

We were the Lambert boys

Paul Driver, 22 May 1986

The Lamberts: George, Constant and Kit 
by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 388 pp., £13.95, April 1986, 0 7011 2731 7
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... sources are rifled. The extracts from letters that appear in Motion are in Shead; the Angus Morrison unpublished chapter made available to Shead and the Anthony Powell memoir which prefaced Shead’s book are re-quarried. And Motion never cites references – a major irritation of this biography without bibliography. Constant’s life-story is told with ...

A Potent Joy

E.S. Turner, 4 July 1985

Hitler’s Rockets: The Story of the V-2s 
by Norman Longmate.
Hutchinson, 423 pp., £13.95, May 1985, 0 09 158820 0
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... of kills at only 3 to 10 per cent of targets engaged. Other experts were more pessimistic; Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the radar authority, rated the chances of interception at a thousand to one. Nevertheless, according to Long-mate, operational trials were conducted and began to look promising. By that time, fortunately, the launching-sites had been destroyed ...

Like a boll weevil to a cotton bud

A. Craig Copetas, 18 November 1993

New York Days 
by Willie Morris.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £19.45, September 1993, 0 316 58421 5
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... Jack Kerouac is alive. Jimi Hendrix is alive. Lyndon Johnson is alive. James Jones is alive. Jim Morrison and Robert Penn Warren are alive. Richard Nixon is dead; and a Soviet-bloc skier named Ivana Trump – someone overhears Sixties psychic Jeanne Dixon saying – will assign her name to a novel she does not write with ...

Superior Persons

E.S. Turner, 6 February 1986

Travels with a Superior Person 
by Lord Curzon, edited by Peter King.
Sidgwick, 191 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 283 99294 8
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The Ladies of Castlebrae 
by A. Whigham Price.
Alan Sutton, 242 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 86299 228 1
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Lizzie: A Victorian Lady’s Amazon Adventure 
by Tony Morrison, Anne Brown and Ann Rose.
BBC, 160 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 563 20424 9
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Miss Fane in India 
by [author], edited by John Pemble.
Alan Sutton, 246 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 86299 240 0
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Explorers Extraordinary 
by John Keay.
Murray/BBC Publications, 195 pp., £10.95, November 1985, 0 7195 4249 9
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A Visit to Germany, Italy and Malta 1840-41 
by Hans Christian Andersen, translated by Grace Thornton.
Peter Owen, 182 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 7206 0636 5
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The Irish Sketch-Book 1842 
by William Makepeace Thackeray.
Blackstaff, 368 pp., £9.95, December 1985, 0 85640 340 7
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Mr Rowlandson’s England 
by Robert Southey, edited by John Steel.
Antique Collectors’ Club, 202 pp., £14.95, November 1985, 0 907462 77 4
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... applied to the vertical rules confining the text. Good background information is provided by Tony Morrison, who has himself endured those deep white clouds of insects descending ‘like a hair shirt’. If Lizzie scratched and sweated, so did Isabella Fane, the Commander-in-Chief’s daughter who followed the Army in India in the 1830s. She was a ...

Beach Poets

Blake Morrison, 16 September 1982

The Fortunate Traveller 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 99 pp., £3.95, March 1982, 0 571 11893 3
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Sun Poem 
by Edward Kamau Brathwaite.
Oxford, 104 pp., £4.95, April 1982, 0 19 211945 1
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Collected Poems 
by Bernard Spencer, edited by Roger Bowen.
Oxford, 149 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 19 211930 3
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Selected Poems 
by Odysseus Elytis.
Anvil, 114 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85646 076 1
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Poems from Oby 
by George MacBeth.
Secker, 67 pp., £4, March 1982, 9780436270178
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The New Ewart: Poems 1980-1982 
by Gavin Ewart.
Hutchinson, 115 pp., £4.95, March 1982, 0 09 146980 5
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The Apple-Broadcast 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 133 pp., £3, November 1981, 0 7100 0884 8
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... apparently struck by a train during one of his blackouts). Spencer’s reputation as a poet, like Robert Graves’s and Lawrence Durrell’s, has always been tainted by his association with the Mediterranean, an injustice which the Collected Poems, intelligently edited by Roger Bowen, seeks to put right. The volume shows how travel encouraged in Spencer both ...

Leading the Labour Party

Arthur Marwick, 5 November 1981

Michael Foot: A Portrait 
by Simon Hoggart and David Leigh.
Hodder, 216 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 340 27600 2
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... Labour prime minister. MacDonald was elected chairman and leader, as the press at the time, and Robert Mackenzie much later, stressed. MacDonald had the charisma, he had the contacts with the Left, and he profited from the general disenchantment with the war and those associated with it. That said, it is impossible to see the worthy Clynes as a ‘lost ...
... the first. The South Bank Show was also reviewed in the Spectator by Richard Ingrams, as follows:[Robert] Redford was followed onto the show by young Martin Amis, a rather scruffy looking man without a tie. I was baffled as to why his new novel should be given about half an hour of publicity when there are so many other things worthy of attention ... Amis ...

Sons and Heirs

Robert Vitalis: The bin Ladens and Their Money, 4 December 2008

The Bin Ladens: The Story of a Family and Its Fortune 
by Steve Coll.
Allen Lane, 671 pp., £25, April 2008, 978 1 84614 124 9
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... trustees to run it. In 1970 his government encouraged the Idaho dam-turned-military-base builders, Morrison Knudsen, bin Laden’s partner in operations on the volatile Yemen-Saudi border, to take a stake in the business. Coll says that the deal foundered when the Saudis balked, as might have been expected, at handing majority control over to the ...

The Word on the Street

Elaine Showalter, 7 March 1996

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics 
by Anonymous.
Chatto, 366 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6584 7
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... years’. In Newsweek, Walter Shapiro found it ‘the best aide’s-eye view of politics since Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men’. In the New Republic, Matthew Cooper, after revealing (‘full disclosure’) that he himself is now dating Mandy Grunwald, who held the position in the Clinton campaign of the novel’s sexy heroine Daisy ...

Advised by experts

David Worswick, 21 December 1989

The Economic Section, 1939-1961: A Study in Economic Advising 
by Alec Cairncross and Nita Watts.
Routledge, 372 pp., £40, May 1989, 0 415 03173 7
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The Robert Hall Diaries. Vol. I: 1947-1953 
edited by Alec Cairncross.
Unwin Hyman, 400 pp., £40, May 1989, 9780044452737
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... a history of the Economic Section up to 1961, and the other the first instalment of the diaries of Robert Hall, who was head of the Economic Section from 1947, throw a good deal of light on these questions. Both authors of the history worked in the Section, Alec Cairncross briefly in 1940-41, and again as its head after 1961, and Nita Watts from 1941 to ...

Spying on Writers

Christian Lorentzen, 11 October 2018

... drinks these days, and where? These scenarios seem unlikely. But perhaps they keep a file on Toni Morrison, who – as a photo that recently went viral made clear – hung out with Angela Davis in the early 1970s, and surely Don DeLillo’s speculations on Lee Harvey Oswald in Libra merited attention. There is at least one known case. In 2013 William Vollmann ...

A Bloody Stupid Idea

James Butler: Landlord’s Paradise, 6 May 2021

Red Metropolis: Socialism and the Government of London 
by Owen Hatherley.
Repeater, 264 pp., £10.99, November 2020, 978 1 913462 20 8
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... government. In March last year, the secretary for housing, communities and local government, Robert Jenrick, wrote to Khan to say that he was, effectively, taking control of the London Plan, the policy document through which the mayor can wield significant power over the built environment. In his letter, Jenrick hinted that London leeches off the rest of ...

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