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Cuba Down at Heel

Laurence Whitehead

8 June 1995
The Secret Cuban Missile Crisis Documents 
Brassey (US), 376 pp., £15.95, March 1994, 9780028810836Show More
The Cuban Revolution: Origin, Course and Legacy 
by Marifeli Pérez-Stable.
Oxford, 252 pp., £16.95, April 1994, 0 19 508406 3
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Cuba on the Brink: Castro, the Missile Crisis and the Soviet Collapse 
by James Blight, Bruce Allyn and David Welch.
Pantheon, 509 pp., $27.50, November 1993, 0 679 42149 1
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Castro’s Final Hour: The Secret Story Behind the Coming Downfall of Communist Cuba 
by Andrés Oppenheimer.
Simon and Schuster, 474 pp., $25, July 1992, 0 671 72873 3
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Revolution in the Balance: Law and Society in Contemporary Cuba 
by Debra Evenson.
Westview, 235 pp., £48.50, June 1994, 0 8133 8466 4
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The Problem of Democracy in Cuba: Between Vision and Reality 
by Carollee Bengelsdorf.
Oxford, 238 pp., £32.50, July 1994, 0 19 505826 7
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Back from the Future: Cuba under Castro 
by Susan Eva Eckstein.
Princeton, 286 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 691 03445 1
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Fidel Castro 
by Robert Quirk.
Norton, 898 pp., £25, March 1994, 0 393 03485 2
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Healing the Masses: Cuban Health Politics at Home and Abroad 
by Julie Feinsilver.
California, 307 pp., £35, November 1993, 0 520 08218 4
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Contesting Castro: The United States and the Triumph of the Cuban Revolution 
by Thomas Paterson.
Oxford, 364 pp., £22.50, July 1994, 0 19 508630 9
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... island’s worst hardships and might even have turned external sanctions to advantage by forcing productive reform. It remains an open question whether Castro will be that ‘pragmatic’ even now. RobertQuirk’s new biography devotes only 34 pages to the Eighties and Nineties. Otherwise, the topics covered by earlier biographies are exhaustively recapitulated, at the expense of the subsequent ...

Defeated Armies

Scott Sherman: Castro in the New York Times

5 July 2007
The Man Who Invented Fidel: Castro, Cuba, and Herbert L. Matthews of the ‘New York Times’ 
by Anthony DePalma.
PublicAffairs, 308 pp., £15.99, September 2006, 1 58648 332 3
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... Italian angle. Only others so doing being Moscow papers.’ Matthews was a witness to some of the most dramatic events of the conflict: the battle of Teruel, when he, Hemingway and the photographer Robert Capa accompanied Republican forces during their heady initial victories; the siege of Barcelona, where ‘I and a million others saw things which Dante could not have imagined’; the Ebro fighting ...

Dictionaries

Randolph Quirk

25 October 1979
Collins Dictionary of the English Language 
by P. Hanks, T.H. Long and L. Urdang.
Collins, 1690 pp., £7.95
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... fedora. Over four hundred years, and going stronger than ever. Of course, in the 16th century the market was for ‘bilingual’ dictionaries (especially Latin-English). We had to wait upon Robert Cawdrey in 1604 for a ‘monolingual’ model – aimed at ‘Ladies … or other unskilfull persons’. But the principles and goals are essentially the same. We don’t look up door to find that it ...
6 June 1996
The Letters of Rudyard Kipling. Vol. III: 1900-1910 
edited by Thomas Pinney.
Macmillan, 482 pp., £50, December 1995, 9780333637333
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... What finally persuaded him, however, of the essential loneliness of Cézanne’s effort to strip away the preconceptions which separate us from that world was not the pictures themselves, but a quirk of scheduling: ‘the Salon no longer exists; in a few days it will be replaced by an exhibition of automobiles which will stand there, long and dumb, each one with its own idée fixe of velocity ...
7 January 1988
The World’s Major Languages 
edited by Bernard Comrie.
Croom Helm, 1025 pp., £50, March 1988, 9780709932437
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Studies in Lexicography 
edited by Robert​ Burchfield.
Oxford, 200 pp., £27.50, April 1988, 0 19 811945 3
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Van Winkle’s Return: Change in American English 1966-1986 
by Kenneth Wilson.
University Press of New England, 193 pp., £7.95, August 1988, 0 87451 394 4
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Words at Work: Lectures on Textual Structure 
by Randolph Quirk.
Longman, 137 pp., £5.75, March 1988, 9780582001206
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The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language 
by David Crystal.
Cambridge, 472 pp., £25, November 1988, 0 521 26438 3
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... good an introduction as I know to the analysis of communication in written texts. In itself it is a record of an essay in communication, being a version of eight public lectures given by Sir Randolph Quirk in Singapore in 1985-86. The lectures rehearse in detail the conditions under which texts are constructed, the creative rules which all successful writers acknowledge, though they perhaps could not ...
9 July 1992
Devolving English Literature 
by Robert​ Crawford.
Oxford, 320 pp., £35, June 1992, 9780198112983
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The Faber Book of 20th-Century Scottish Poetry 
edited by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 424 pp., £17.50, July 1992, 9780571154319
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... Scottish and Welsh and Irish, others), what is striking is how that Anglocentrism, allegedly located in London and Oxbridge mostly, is supposed to be deeply satisfying to the English themselves. Robert Crawford, who pursues the argument on behalf of the Scots, avoids this mistake, detecting in a provincial Englishman like Tony Harrison a fury and resentment not surpassed by any Scot. But this is ...
24 February 1994
The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonisation and Cultural Change 950-1350 
by Robert​ Bartlett.
Allen Lane, 432 pp., £22.50, May 1993, 0 7139 9074 0
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... of the modern world’s experience is not especially new. Europeans have been behaving in the same way for most of Europe’s existence. Europe’s Middle Ages, the label long attached by a quirk of historiographical circumstance to the era of its youth, are acquiring a ‘relevance’ that architects of the National Curriculum should find it increasingly hard to deny. Ordered governments ...

Who whom?

Christopher Ricks

6 June 1985
The English Language Today 
edited by Sidney Greenbaum.
Pergamon, 345 pp., £12.50, December 1984, 0 08 031078 8
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The English Language 
by Robert​ Burchfield.
Oxford, 194 pp., £9.50, January 1985, 9780192191731
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A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language 
by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik.
Longman, 1779 pp., £39.50, May 1985, 0 582 51734 6
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Words 
by John Silverlight.
Macmillan, 107 pp., £17.50, May 1985, 9780333380109
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Faux Amis and Key Words: A Dictionary-Guide to French Language, Culture and Society through Lookalikes and Confusables 
by Philip Thody, Howard Evans and Gwilym Rees.
Athlone, 224 pp., £16, February 1985, 0 485 11243 4
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Puns 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 631 13793 9
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Fair of Speech: The Uses of Euphemism 
edited by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 222 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 19 212236 3
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... people how the people are (is?) using their (its?) immense language except the indispensable new class of panoptic logocrats? ‘Who whom?’ is famously a political as well as a linguistic question. Robert Burchfield in his deft and delightful book still hopes that it is possible to be a true liberal (that is, only wishy and not washy), so he says that ‘the formal distinction ... is breaking up but ...
7 April 1994
Howard Hughes: The Secret Life 
by Charles Higham.
Sidgwick, 368 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 9780283061578
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... gets their just deserts. You might think that a man whose lovers include Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Claudette Colbert, Bette Davis, Lana Turner, Rita Hayworth, Marlene Dietrich, Tyrone Power, Robert Ryan and Cary Grant must have had some kind of good time, but no one gets to have much fun in Higham’s book. Higham explains with nice elaboration that, with women, Hughes ‘preferred intermammary ...

Showers of Hats

Robert​ Baird: ‘Lincoln in the Bardo’

29 March 2017
Lincoln in the Bardo 
by George Saunders.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, March 2017, 978 1 4088 7174 4
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... unaware of his own demise, and resolves to wait for his father to find him at the cemetery. This resolution gives the plot the kick it needs, as Willie’s determination runs up against a gruesome quirk of his new existence: children who tarry risk being trapped in the bardo for ever. To escape this fate, Willie must choose to yield to the matterlightblooming phenomenon, but that means accepting his ...

Stepchildren

Elspeth Barker

9 April 1992
Stepsons 
by Robert​ Liddell.
Peter Owen, 228 pp., £14.95, February 1992, 0 7206 0853 8
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Farewell Sidonia 
by Erich Hackl.
Cape, 135 pp., £5.99, February 1992, 0 224 02901 0
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... care for life out here?’ he wrote, intending speculation but absent-mindedly posing a question instead. Elsa believed that she was being offered a new life. ‘Yes,’ she replied. And so by a quirk of punctuation a tragedy was unleashed. The marriage took place despite the potent opposition of Oswald’s sisters-in-law, who were caring for Andrew and Stephen. Elsa insisted on being called ...

Flirting

P.N. Furbank

18 November 1982
The English World: History, Character and People 
edited by Robert​ Blake.
Thames and Hudson, 268 pp., £14.95, September 1982, 0 500 25083 9
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The English Gentleman: The Rise and Fall of an Ideal 
by Philip Mason.
Deutsch, 240 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 9780233974897
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... world’ here means everything and nothing, and it is left entirely to the reader to give it definition. I am being unfair, for many of the essays in the volume – on the development of Parliament (Robert Blake), ‘War and Peace with Wales, Scotland and Ireland’ (Hugh Trevor-Roper), art and popular taste (Quentin Bell), the evolution of the English landscape (Richard Muir) – are excellent and ...

Sweetie Pies

Jenny Diski

23 May 1996
Below the Parapet: The Biography of Denis Thatcher 
by Carol Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 303 pp., £16.99, April 1996, 0 00 255605 7
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... her, the rest of them voted for her, and some of us, foolishly, with our noses in the wrong books and not paying attention to reality didn’t even dream that such a thing could happen. If there is a quirk, it is Denis’s tendency to marry Margarets. At any rate, he married the wrong Margaret to start with, though what with there being a war on and his being a bit lacking in experience, it is an ...
1 June 1989
English Children and their Magazines 1751-1945 
by Kirsten Drotner.
Yale, 272 pp., £16.95, January 1988, 0 300 04010 5
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Frank Richards: The Chap behind the Chums 
by Mary Cadogan.
Viking, 258 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 670 81946 8
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A History of Children’s Book Illustration 
by Joyce Irene Whalley and Tessa Rose Chester.
Murray/Victoria and Albert Museum, 268 pp., £35, April 1988, 0 7195 4584 6
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Manchester Polytechnic Library of Children’s Books 1840-1939: ‘From Morality to Adventure’ 
by W.H. Shercliff.
Bracken Books/Studio Editions, 203 pp., £25, September 1988, 0 901276 18 9
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Children’s Modern First Editions: Their Value to Collectors 
by Joseph Connolly.
Macdonald, 336 pp., £17.95, October 1988, 0 356 15741 5
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... odd exception is made for the Fifties Eagle, whose first issue is reproduced in colour. What else? Prettifiers like Anne Anderson and Honor Appleton get in, but not the more distinctive Gladys Peto; Robert Lawson is here but not Lawson Wood; A.E. Bestall (briefly) but not Thomas Henry. In compiling the book – which is, in fact, very nearly comprehensive – the authors have drawn on the holdings of ...

Stinker

Jenny Diski

28 April 1994
Roald Dahl: A Biography 
by Jeremy Treglown.
Faber, 307 pp., £17.50, March 1994, 0 571 16573 7
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... of simple kindness to his wife. But Dahl was a good and attentive father, claims Treglown, with relief you feel at having found some quality to admire in his subject. Even so, this potentially benign quirk is tempered by the adult lives of his daughters, which according to their own stories have been blighted with addiction to drugs, drink and self-destructive neurosis. They speak of him still as god ...

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