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6 August 1992
Fatherland 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 372 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 09 174827 5
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... A useful maxim for reviewers would be one that encouraged them to relate art to life rather than art to art, or fiction to fiction. In two respects, unfortunately, Fatherland by RobertHarris makes artistic comparisons inescapable. It belongs, first, to that select genre of fiction which deals in the Alternative Present, or in this case an alternative recent past. It is set in 1964 in the ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher Hitchens

10 January 1991
Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... adviser and biographer, took me to a Friday luncheon at the old Bertorelli’s in Charlotte Street. Here was a then-regular sodality, consisting at different times of Kingsley Amis, Bernard Levin, Robert Conquest, Anthony Powell, Russell Lewis and assorted others, and calling itself with heavy and definite self-mockery ‘Bertorelli’s Blackshirts’. The conversational scheme was simple (I think it ...

The Lady in the Back Seat

Thomas Jones: Robert Harris’s Alternative Realities

15 November 2007
The Ghost 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £18.99, October 2007, 978 0 09 179626 6
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... RobertHarris’s first novel, Fatherland (1992), was a counterfactual historical thriller set in Nazi Germany in 1964. In the alternative reality of the book, Germany defeated the Soviet Union in the Caucasus in ...

New Man from Nowhere

James Davidson: Cicero

4 February 2016
Dictator 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 299 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 0 09 175210 1
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... like Julius Caesar. Biographies of Cicero himself, however, have tended to be either dull or thin, the authors either overwhelmed by the data or not properly engaging with his writings at all. RobertHarris​ is a former journalist who began by writing bestselling non-fiction about journalism, war and politics in the 20th century – Gotcha about the media and the Falklands War, Selling Hitler ...

Bevan’s Boy

John Campbell

20 September 1984
The Making of Neil Kinnock 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 571 13266 9
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Neil Kinnock: The Path to Leadership 
by G.M.F. Drower.
Weidenfeld, 162 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 297 78467 6
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... after this upbringing, if he did not claim some legacy and in these respects he is thoroughly entitled to do so: it is the first great piece of luck on which his career has flourished. The second, as RobertHarris points out, was the date of his birth: Kinnock is just old enough to have imbibed at first hand from his parents, uncles and grandparents vivid memories of the hardship and degradation of ...

Holy Relics

Alan Milward

3 April 1986
Selling Hitler: The story of the Hitler Diaries 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 402 pp., £10.95, February 1986, 0 571 13557 9
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... great expert on 17th-century British history. When Lord Dacre later had doubts about what he had so boldly written about their authenticity in the Sunday Times, Murdoch swept him aside, according to RobertHarris, with the memorable line: ‘Fuck Dacre, publish.’ Meanwhile the historian David Irving denounced the diaries as fakes, on the radio and television of three countries, although he had no ...

Noddy is on page 248

Jay Griffiths: On the streets

10 June 1999
The Penguin Book of 20th-Century Protest 
edited by Brian MacArthur.
Penguin, 440 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 670 87052 8
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DIY Culture: Party and Protest in Nineties Britain 
edited by George McKay.
Verso, 310 pp., £11, July 1998, 1 85984 260 7
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... reprints ‘a thundering leading article’ from the Times. There are also reprints from, or mentions of, the Times on seven other pages. The Sunday Times features on six pages. The Times columnist RobertHarris gets two entries compared to Germaine Greer’s one, Gandhi’s one, or Mandela’s one. Noam Chomsky: nil. E.P Thompson: nil. The Times columnist Bernard Levin: two. Levin deserves a special ...

Schadenfreude

R.W. Johnson

2 December 1993
The Downing Street Years 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 914 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 00 255049 0
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... and Thatcherism have done to Britain. Lawson and Howe aren’t alone in this fault. Much of the public reaction to the book has centred too narrowly on its slighting references to ex-colleagues. RobertHarris’s furious depiction of it (in the Independent on Sunday) as spluttering with ‘rage, malice, contempt and hatred’ is probably the extreme case. The memoirs of other premiers, Harris notes ...

Three Poems

Robert​ Crawford

24 June 2004
... branch with sycamores, alert To downdrafts or the slipstream of a squirrel, I let my mind fill with yon falconer Shouting and shouting to a blank blue sky Until at last, just as he knew it would, The Harris hawk comes from its other world Beyond the human eye, senses his calling, Stoops, and disappears back into view. On Hereditary Slavery A bicycling monarchy? That talk Is wrong. We need to make them ...

No Bottle

Rose George: Water

18 December 2014
Drinking Water: A History 
by James Salzman.
Overlook Duckworth, 320 pp., £9.99, October 2013, 978 0 7156 4528 4
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Parched City: A History of London’s Public and Private Drinking Water 
by Emma Jones.
Zero Books, 361 pp., £17.99, June 2013, 978 1 78099 158 0
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Water 4.0: The Past, Present and Future of the World’s Most Vital Resource 
by David Sedlak.
Yale, 352 pp., £20, March 2014, 978 0 300 17649 0
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... Empire, and probably in the world’. The provision of water proceeded smoothly for a few decades in the 20th century, until there emerged what Sedlak calls the ‘chlorine dilemma’. In 1974, RobertHarris, an employee of the Environmental Defense Fund, conducted research in New Orleans and found that ‘men whose drinking water came from the Mississippi River had a 15 per cent higher chance of ...

Immoralist

José Harris

1 December 1983
John Maynard Keynes: Hopes Betrayed 1883-1920 
by Robert​ Skidelsky.
Macmillan, 447 pp., £14.95, November 1983, 0 333 11599 6
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... lay in the purely technical sphere of advancing the use of mathematics (as a tool not of statistics but of symbolic logic). Such an acquiescence in classical models is scarcely surprising since, as Robert Skidelsky clearly demonstrates, there was virtually nothing in the world before 1914 to suggest to an academic liberal of Keynes’s background that the classical economic system had failed or broken ...
21 November 1991
A Passion for Government: The Life of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Frances Harris.
Oxford, 421 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 19 820224 5
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... burning all the letters she sent to both of them. For all these reasons, studies of this remarkable woman have in the past been numerous but in the main soft-centred, preoccupied – as Frances Harris puts it – with her ‘tempestuous personal relationships’. Harris’s own book, by contrast, is founded on careful research in some twenty-five different archives on both sides of the Atlantic ...
9 September 1993
The Ern Malley Affair 
by Michael Heyward.
Faber, 278 pp., £15, August 1993, 0 571 16781 0
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... and Co), whose influence was just beginning to register on the Australian literary scene, mainly thanks to the only avant-garde journal of the time, Angry Penguins. Angry Penguins was edited by Max Harris, a student at Adelaide University, and John Reed, who was 10 years Harris’s senior and lived just outside Melbourne. Independently wealthy, Reed was committed to sponsoring any form of artistic ...

Browning Versions

Barbara Everett

4 August 1983
Robert​ Browning: A Life within Life 
by Donald Thomas.
Weidenfeld, 334 pp., £12.95, August 1982, 0 297 78092 1
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The Elusive Self in the Poetry of Robert​ Browning 
by Constance Hassett.
Ohio, 186 pp., £17, December 1982, 0 8214 0629 9
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The Complete Works of Robert​ Browning. Vol. V 
edited by Roma King.
Ohio, 395 pp., £29.75, July 1981, 9780821402207
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The Poetical Works of Robert​ Browning: Vol. I 
edited by Ian Jack and Margaret Smith.
Oxford, 543 pp., £45, April 1983, 0 19 811893 7
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Robert​ Browning: The Poems 
edited by John Pettigrew and Thomas Collins.
Yale/Penguin, 1191 pp., £26, January 1982, 0 300 02675 7
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Robert​ Browning: ‘The Ring and the Book’ 
edited by Richard Altick.
Yale/Penguin, 707 pp., £21, May 1981, 0 300 02677 3
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... James Thurber’s best-known cartoon has an impassive little man introducing his spouse to a dazed friend with ‘That’s My First Wife Up There, and This Is the Present Mrs Harris.’ The first Mrs Harris seems to be crouched on all fours on the top of a very high (glazed) bookcase, just behind the second Mrs Harris. This image has found an appreciative audience even among those not particularly ...

Tuesday Girl

Colin Burrow: Seraphick Love

6 March 2003
Transformations of Love: The Friendship of John Evelyn and Margaret Godolphin 
by Frances Harris.
Oxford, 330 pp., £25, January 2003, 0 19 925257 2
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... her eventual choice of husband, a middle-aged man called Sylvius, can only be guessed at; but she remained one of Evelyn’s friends for most of his life. He also enjoyed what was called, after Robert Boyle had popularised the term, ‘seraphick love’ with Anne Russell (whom he dubbed ‘Platona’) and Elizabeth Carey (who became his ‘Electra’). It is exceptionally hard to describe what ...

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