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Suppose the Archduke had ducked

Andrew Berry: Game theory and human evolution, 7 September 2000

Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny 
by Robert Wright.
Little, Brown, 435 pp., £22.50, March 2000, 0 316 64485 4
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... as having given birth to Social Darwinism. Progress, however, has now found a new champion in Robert Wright. Wright, then on the staff of the New Republic, first entered the fray in 1990, with a lengthy (and unfavourable) review of Gould’s anti-progress manifesto, Wonderful Life. Then, deciding perhaps to make a ...

Bits

Catherine Caufield, 18 May 1989

Three Scientists and their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information 
by Robert Wright.
Times, 324 pp., $18.95, April 1988, 0 8129 1328 0
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Coming of Age in the Milky Way 
by Timothy Ferris.
Bodley Head, 495 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 370 31332 1
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Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse of St John 
by Isaac Newton.
Modus Vivendi, 323 pp., £800
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What do you care what other people think? Further Adventures of a Curious Character 
by Richard Feynman.
Unwin Hyman, 255 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 04 440341 0
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... and Kenneth Boulding, the two other scientist-visionaries whose lives and theories are examined in Robert Wright’s Three Scientists and their Gods, Fredkin has devoted himself to finding a theory that explains it all, that brings everything together, from DNA to slime cells, ant colonies, telephone systems, supermarket chains, television and ...

Seven Miles per Hour

Robert Macfarlane: The men who invented flight, 5 February 2004

First to Fly: The Unlikely Triumph of Wilbur and Orville Wright 
by James Tobin.
Murray, 431 pp., £9.99, November 2003, 0 7195 5738 0
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The Wright Brothers: The Aviation Pioneers who Changed the World 
by Ian Mackersey.
Little, Brown, 554 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 316 86144 8
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Wings of Madness: Alberto Santos-Dumont and the Invention of Flight 
by Paul Hoffman.
Fourth Estate, 369 pp., £18.99, June 2003, 1 84115 368 0
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Taking Flight: Inventing the Aerial Age from Antiquity to the First World War 
by Richard Hallion.
Oxford, 531 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 19 516035 5
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... of the Great War – powered flight was one of modernity’s greatest romances. Wilbur and Orville Wright, bicycle makers from Ohio, became famous as the Wright Brothers, but at first it was only Wilbur who had what he called the ‘disease’, the ‘belief that flight is possible to man’. He spent much of 1899, when he ...

At Dia:Beacon

Hal Foster: Fetishistic Minimalist, 5 June 2003

... Dia now also oversees the mother of all earthworks, Spiral Jetty, a great coil of rocks built by Robert Smithson into the Great Salt Lake in Utah in 1970. Initially directed by Heiner Friedrich, a German dealer who had exhibited such artists in Cologne and in New York, Dia was funded by his wife, Philippa de Menil, daughter of Dominique de Menil, a major ...

Take a tinderbox and go steady with your canoe

John Bossy: Jesuits, 20 May 2004

The Jesuits: Missions, Myths and Histories 
by Jonathan Wright.
HarperCollins, 334 pp., £20, February 2004, 0 00 257180 3
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... the Jesuit ethos that is impatient of history as it is impatient of attachment to place. Jonathan Wright is a young historian and seemingly an outsider, and his attitude to his subject is placid but sympathetic: notably sympathetic to contemporary Jesuits pursuing social and political justice, but unfussed by reactionaries, and agreeably complimentary to ...

Mid-Century Male

Christopher Glazek: Edmund White, 19 July 2012

Jack Holmes and His Friend 
by Edmund White.
Bloomsbury, 390 pp., £18.99, January 2012, 978 1 4088 0579 4
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... The friend in the title of Edmund White’s new novel is a writer called Will Wright, a straight man with bad skin but a sterling pedigree. What little we learn about Will’s first novel – a metafictional romance about a man, the heiress he loves and an anthropomorphic cat – comes from Jack Holmes, a handsome, closeted editorial assistant who works with him at a literary quarterly in Manhattan ...

The Satoshi Affair

Andrew O’Hagan, 30 June 2016

... issued under the Australian Crimes Act 1914. They were looking for a man named Craig Steven Wright, who lived with his wife, Ramona, at 43 St Johns Avenue. The warrant was issued at the behest of the Australian Taxation Office. Wright, a computer scientist and businessman, headed a group of companies associated with ...

Into the Gulf

Rosemary Hill, 17 December 1992

A Sultry Month: Scenes of London Literary Life in 1846 
by Alethea Hayter.
Robin Clark, 224 pp., £6.95, June 1992, 0 86072 146 9
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Painting and the Politics of Culture: New Essays on British Art 1700-1850 
edited by John Barrell.
Oxford, 301 pp., £35, June 1992, 9780198173922
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London: World City 1800-1840 
edited by Celina Fox.
Yale, 624 pp., £45, September 1992, 0 300 05284 7
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... No one ever failed more completely to be the hero of his own life than the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon, for whom heroism was an obsession. He used his own head as a model for Christ, Solomon, Alexander and Marcus Curtius and believed that heroic history painting was the highest form of art. Today his only generally remembered work is a portrait of Wordsworth ...

Tears in the Café Select

Christopher Prendergast, 9 March 1995

Paris Interzone: Richard Wright, Lolita, Boris Vian and Others on the Left Bank 1946-1960 
by James Campbell.
Secker, 305 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 436 20106 2
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Foreign Correspondent: Paris in the Sixties 
by Peter Lennon.
Picador, 220 pp., £16.99, April 1994, 0 330 31911 6
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The Good Ship Venus: The Erotic Voyage of the Olympia Press 
by John de St Jorre.
Hutchinson, 332 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 09 177874 3
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... and the occasional gangster. Several of Campbell’s principals – Richard Wright, Samuel Beckett, Jérôme Lindon, Maurice Girodias – also turn up in Lennon’s story, like Balzac’s recurring characters or, less charitably, like figures in some bizarre soap opera. Naturally, the principal locale is the café or the bar, notably the ...

Act like Men, Britons!

Tom Shippey: Celticity, 31 July 2008

The History of the Kings of Britain 
by Geoffrey of Monmouth, edited by Michael Reeve, translated by Neil Wright.
Boydell, 307 pp., £50, November 2007, 978 1 84383 206 5
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The History of the Kings of Britain 
by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
Broadview, 383 pp., £8.99, January 2008, 978 1 55111 639 6
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... though it is, is based on a Swiss manuscript edited not long ago by Reeve’s collaborator Neil Wright, but curtly dismissed by Reeve as corrupt in more than a thousand places. Its joint dedication to King Stephen and Robert of Gloucester, which Faletra regards as ‘savvy marketing’ by Geoffrey, is likewise dismissed ...

Us and Them

Robert Taubman, 4 September 1980

The Secret Servant 
by Gavin Lyall.
Hodder, 224 pp., £5.50, June 1980, 0 340 25385 1
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The Flowers of the Forest 
by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 365 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 0 436 20087 2
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A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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Enter the Lion: A Posthumus Memoir of Mycroft Holmes 
by Michael Hodel and Sean Wright.
Dent, 237 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 460 04483 4
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Dorothy I. Sayers: Nine Literary Studies 
by Trevor Hall.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 9780715614556
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Milk Dime 
by Barry Fantoni.
Hodder, 192 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 0 340 25350 9
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... gives a full account of Agatha Christie’s work, making even plot-summaries a joy to read. If Robert Barnard sometimes seems more astute than his subject, he’s delightfully appreciative of her strategies, of the right and proper use of character stereotypes, and of Mayhem Parva, her own special English village fantasy with its definitions of the middle ...

A Tall Stranger in Hoxton

John Bossy, 3 July 1997

The Gunpowder Plot: Terror and Faith in 1605 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 347 pp., £20, August 1996, 9780297813484
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... force. One of the Catholics, a rich gentleman from the Midlands and charismatic energumen called Robert Catesby, called a meeting on 20 May at the Duck and Drake, off the Strand, the lodgings of his cousin and the disciple, Thomas Wintour. Three other men were invited: Jack Wright, a swordsman friend of Catesby’s; Thomas ...

So what if he was

Paul Foot, 25 October 1990

No Other Choice 
by George Blake.
Cape, 288 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 224 03067 1
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Inside Intelligence 
by Anthony Cavendish.
Collins, 181 pp., £12.95, October 1990, 9780002157421
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... the name of his former friend and boss, Sir Maurice Oldfield. He claims that before the Peter Wright fiasco, and before the 1989 Official Secrets Act, there was no general duty of confidentiality on former intelligence officers. Provided what they wrote or said fitted the absurd images created of themselves by the intelligence services, their reflections ...

Upstaging

Paul Driver, 19 August 1993

Shining Brow 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 86 pp., £5.99, February 1993, 0 571 16789 6
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... He is Daron Aric Hagen, and Shining Brow is an opera about the early life of Frank Lloyd Wright, commissioned by Madison Opera, Wisconsin, Wright’s home state. The work was premièred there in April, but not having heard it, I cannot speak for the opera’s music. That, though, would not appear to be much of a ...

Incompetents

Stephen Bann, 16 June 1983

Worstward Ho 
by Samuel Beckett.
Calder, 48 pp., £5.50, April 1983, 0 7145 3979 1
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That Voice 
by Robert Pinget, translated by Barbara Wright.
Red Dust (New York), 114 pp., $10.95, May 1983, 0 87376 041 7
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King Solomon 
by Romain Gary, translated by Barbara Wright.
Harvill, 256 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 00 261416 2
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A Year in Hartlebury, or The Election 
by Benjamin Disraeli and Sarah Disraeli.
Murray, 222 pp., £8.50, May 1983, 0 7195 4020 8
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The Sentimental Agents in the Volyen Empire 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 180 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 224 02130 3
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... comparison with Beckett would be neither irrelevant nor absurd. The French novelist and playwright Robert Pinget was put forward in the 1960s as an exponent of the ‘nouveau roman’. But his affiliation with Beckett was always stronger than the temporary association with Robbe-Grillet’s travelling circus, and Beckett paid him the compliment of making an ...

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