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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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... of the millions of words he churned out, ‘survival of the fittest’, and – somewhat unfairly – as having given birth to Social Darwinism. Progress, however, has now found a new champion in RobertWright. 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 ...

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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... is one of the main reasons why Fredkin believes in it. And Fredkin does believe. Like Edward Wilson and Kenneth Boulding, the two other scientist-visionaries whose lives and theories are examined in RobertWright’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 ...

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 early aviation. Yet for fifteen years or so – from the late 1890s until the opening months 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 ...

At Dia:Beacon

Hal Foster: Fetishistic Minimalist

5 June 2003
... Field, a vast grid of 400 stainless-steel poles staked out by de Maria on a New Mexico plain in 1977. 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 ...
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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... Downside and was a close friend and perhaps a sort of pupil of Knowles. There is something about 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 ...

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 – ...

The Satoshi Affair

Andrew O’Hagan

29 June 2016
... Some of the federal agents wore shirts that said ‘Computer Forensics’; one carried a search warrant 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 ...

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 ...

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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... writers, intellectuals, editors, journalists, actors, jazz musicians, film-makers, students, hangers-on, ‘terrorists’ 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 ...

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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... scholarship redundant. Michael Faletra’s student translation, for instance, useful and recommendable 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 ...
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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... disabilities, and was now, they thought, about to put the Elizabethan code against them back into 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 ...
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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... by Anthony Cavendish. He decided to write his book, he tells us, for one reason only: to clear 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 ...

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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... who lives in America, as Auden did, has written a libretto for a composer of whom I confess I haven’heard. 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 ...

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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... of the lone authorial voice. There is perhaps only one other living author for whom a direct comparison with Beckett would be neither irrelevant nor absurd. The French novelist and playwrightRobert 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 ...

Molehunt

Christopher Andrew

22 January 1987
Sword and Shield: Soviet Intelligence and Security Apparatus 
by Jeffrey Richelson.
Harper and Row, 279 pp., £11.95, February 1986, 0 88730 035 9
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The Red and the Blue: Intelligence, Treason and the University 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.95, June 1986, 0 297 78866 3
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Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics 1936-39 
by Robert​ Conquest.
Macmillan, 222 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 333 39260 4
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Conspiracy of Silence: The Secret Life of Anthony Blunt 
by Barrie Penrose and Simon Freeman.
Grafton, 588 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 246 12200 5
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... the NKVD was one of the chief victims of its own purges. Theodore Maly, the first control of both Philby and Burgess, was recalled to Moscow and shot. During the three-year period covered by Robert Conquest in Inside Stalin’s Secret Police the NKVD leadership was twice liquidated. Nikolai Yezhov, who succeeded G.G. Yagoda as head of the NKVD in September 1936, purged most of Yagoda’s men in ...

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