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4 June 1981
The Search for Alexander 
by Robin Lane Fox.
Allen Lane, 439 pp., £12.95, February 1981, 0 7139 1395 9
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Alexander the Great 
by N.G.L. Hammond.
Chatto, 358 pp., £14.95, April 1981, 0 7011 2565 9
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... Ever since his death in mid-career, Alexander has been projecting from his undiscovered tomb the powerful presence he exercised in life. To those around him, his magnetism was not mysterious: it was a natural phenomenon with which they lived. Once his contemporaries were dead, it became a legend: something transcending his recorded acts, and a receptacle for every kind of fantasy ...

Which is worse?

Adam Tooze: Germany Divided

18 July 2019
Die Getriebenen: Merkel und die Flüchtlingspolitik – Report aus dem Innern der Macht 
by Robin Alexander.
Siedler, 288 pp., €19.99, March 2017, 978 3 8275 0093 9
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Die SPD: Biographie einer Partei von Ferdinand Lassalle bis Andrea Nahles 
by Franz Walter.
Rowohlt, 416 pp., €16, June 2018, 978 3 499 63445 1
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Germany’s Hidden Crisis: Social Decline in the Heart of Europe 
by Oliver Nachtwey, translated by Loren Balhorn and David Fernbach.
Verso, 247 pp., £16.99, November 2018, 978 1 78663 634 8
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Die Schulz Story: Ein Jahr zwischen Höhenflug und Absturz 
by Markus Feldenkirchen.
DVA, 320 pp., €20, March 2018, 978 3 421 04821 9
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... happened behind the scenes in September 2015. The most compelling account is Die Getriebenen by Robin Alexander, a correspondent for the conservative paper Die Welt. He was given intimate access to Merkel’s entourage, and offers an unsparing portrait of the German political class as it struggled to cope with the crisis, largely by refusing to take ...
18 February 1988
Corruptions of Empire: Life Studies and the Reagan Era 
by Alexander Cockburn.
Verso, 479 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 86091 176 4
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... Much the best way to convey appreciation of Alexander Cockburn’s rousing and combative prose is to quote him at length. The protocols of reviewing, however, preclude such a practice, so one has to resort to the altogether drearier method of describing what he is about. Recently I mentioned to him that I was reading his book in order to review it ...

Strong Meat

John Lanchester

11 January 1990
The Bellarosa Connection 
by Saul Bellow.
Secker, 102 pp., £11.95, January 1990, 0 436 19988 2
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The War Zone 
by Alexander Stuart.
Hamish Hamilton, 207 pp., £11.95, March 1989, 0 241 12342 9
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A Touch of Love 
by Jonathan Coe.
Duckworth, 156 pp., £9.95, April 1989, 0 7156 2277 3
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Do it again 
by Martyn Harris.
Viking, 220 pp., £11.95, October 1989, 0 670 82858 0
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... based, on voice: the novel in which the main character is the voice in which the story is told. In Alexander Stuart’s second novel, The War Zone, the storytelling voice belongs to Tom, an adolescent whose family has just moved from London, which he liked, to Devon, which he hates: ‘the people down here don’t know they’re alive.’ He misses the ...

Who was in Tomb II?

James Romm: Macedon

6 October 2011
Heracles to Alexander the Great: Treasures from the Royal Capital of Macedon, a Hellenic Kingdom in the Age of Democracy 
by Angeliki Kottaridi et al.
Ashmolean, 264 pp., £25, April 2011, 978 1 85444 254 3
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A Companion to Ancient Macedonia 
edited by Joseph Roisman and Ian Worthington.
Wiley-Blackwell, 668 pp., £110, November 2010, 978 1 4051 7936 2
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Brill’s Companion to Ancient Macedon: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Macedon, 650 BC–300 AD 
edited by Robin Lane Fox.
Brill, 642 pp., €184, June 2011, 978 90 04 20650 2
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... a younger woman, a pair Andronikos soon identified as the Macedonian king Philip II – father of Alexander the Great, builder of the army and the European empire that gave his son the means to conquer the world – and one of his seven wives. But it was not long before different candidates were proposed, as experts started to examine the evidence. Today the ...

Being Greek

Henry Day: Up Country with Xenophon

2 November 2006
The Long March: Xenophon and the Ten Thousand 
by Robin Lane Fox.
Yale, 351 pp., £25, September 2004, 0 300 10403 0
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The Expedition of Cyrus 
by Xenophon, translated by Robin Waterfield.
Oxford, 231 pp., £8.99, September 2005, 0 19 282430 9
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Xenophon’s Retreat: Greece, Persia and the End of the Golden Age 
by Robin Waterfield.
Faber, 248 pp., £17.99, November 2006, 0 571 22383 4
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The Sea! The Sea! The Shout of the Ten Thousand in the Modern Imagination 
by Tim Rood.
Duckworth, 272 pp., £12.99, August 2006, 0 7156 3571 9
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... the ‘clearness of style and modesty of temper’ he found in the Anabasis, a judgment that Robin Waterfield’s new translation doesn’t traduce. Xenophon’s relatively simple sentences, preference for the vivid present tense, and use of third-person narration inevitably invite comparison with that other great classical war reporter, Julius ...

Over-Achievers

C.H. Roberts

5 February 1987
Pagans and Christians 
by Robin Lane Fox.
Viking, 799 pp., £17.95, October 1986, 0 670 80848 2
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... Christians really so different and, if they were, how and why? This is the principal question Robin Lane Fox sets out to answer in this compelling and readable book, which is also a major work of historical scholarship. It is a study of differing and competing religions in the second and third centuries AD: not so much of ideas and systems as of how ...

In the Shady Wood

Michael Neill: Staging the Forest

22 March 2018
TheShakespearean Forest 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 185 pp., £75, August 2017, 978 0 521 57344 3
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... us, Barton’s interest in the topic had first been excited by her reading of Ben Jonson’s Robin Hood play, The Sad Shepherd, for her monograph on Shakespeare’s great rival. Given this history, it may seem surprising that The Shakespearean Forest is not a longer book, but Barton became almost blind as a result of macular degeneration and was forced ...

Shorn and Slathered

Christine Smallwood: ‘Reynard the Fox’

5 November 2015
Reynard the Fox: A New Translation 
by James Simpson.
Liveright, 256 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 0 87140 736 8
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... histoire burlesque chantée et jouée, based on the tales collected by the Russian folklorist Alexander Afanasyev. The piece, which he finished in 1916 but wasn’t staged until 1922, was meant to be performed by acrobats, dancers or clowns in front of the theatre curtain or on a trestle stage in front of the orchestra. The action begins with Renard ...

Two Hares and a Priest

Patricia Beer: Pushkin

13 May 1999
Pushkin 
by Elizabeth Feinstein.
Weidenfeld, 309 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 297 81826 0
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... she recommends has important implications: in his biography, Pushkin: The Man and His Age (1994), Robin Edmonds strong-mindedly refrains from even attempting to introduce Pushkin’s poetry to readers who have no Russian, and helpfully fobs us off with the diplomatic and historical background of Pushkin’s life. Feinstein also mentions David Magarshack’s ...
12 March 1992
After the Fall: The Failure of Communism and the Future of Socialism 
edited by Robin Blackburn.
Verso, 327 pp., £32.95, November 1991, 0 86091 540 9
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... is a matter which divides them. A few writers are brave enough to admit that they felt sad. Alexander Cockburn, who has always been perfectly lucid about the corruption of Soviet Communism, makes a sardonic prediction about what will follow: ‘accelerating Balkanisation of what was the Union, strife between the Republics, looting of resources by ...

Diary

Mary Beard: Set in Tunisia

14 December 2006
... that its details have been rigorously checked by scholars of the most impeccable credentials. Robin Lane Fox famously advised on the Macedonian phalanx for Alexander, in exchange – it has been reported – for a bit-part in the cavalry charge. Even the ghastly Troy (which was about a mythical war in any case) set ...

Wolves in the Drawing Room

Neal Ascherson: The SNP

2 June 2011
... trail. Would Labour’s disaster of 5 May have happened if any of its best and brightest – Robin Cook, Douglas Alexander, Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown, even John Smith – had stayed in Scotland to lead the party and the devolved government at Holyrood? Only Donald Dewar took the train back north and became first ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation

7 September 2016
... Ginsberg had sex with him – was already living outside San Francisco with his wife, Carolyn Robinson. In 1955 Rexroth presided over a famous poetry reading at the Six Gallery in San Francisco. Ginsberg read the first section of Howl; two younger poets, Michael McClure (early twenties) and Gary Snyder (mid-twenties), read on the same night. So did Lew ...

Commotion in Moscow

Sheila Fitzpatrick: Paris Syndrome

1 August 2019
To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture 
by Eleonory Gilburd.
Harvard, 458 pp., £28.95, January 2019, 978 0 674 98071 6
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... input on the part of the translator. ‘Having preserved a Scotsman in Burns’, the editor Alexander Tvardovsky said of the poet Samuil Marshak’s translation, Marshak had nevertheless ‘made him a Russian’. I might have taken this as a mere rhetorical flourish had I not, in the 1960s, heard the Soviet bard Iuly Kim singing Marshak’s version of ...

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