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Baghdad’s Ruling Cliques

Keith Kyle, 15 August 1991

The Iraqi Revolution of 1958: The Old Social Classes Revisited 
edited by Robert Fernea and William Roger Louis.
Tauris, 232 pp., £35, May 1991, 1 85043 318 6
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Instant Empire: Saddam Hussein’s Ambition for Iraq 
by Simon Henderson.
Mercury House, 271 pp., £8.99, June 1991, 1 56279 007 2
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Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography 
by Efraim Karsh and Inari Rautsi.
Brassey, 307 pp., £17.95, April 1991, 0 08 041326 9
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The Gulf Between Us: The Gulf War and Beyond 
edited by Victoria Brittain.
Virago, 186 pp., £5.99, June 1991, 1 85381 386 9
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Under Siege in Kuwait: A Survivor’s Story 
by Jadranka Porter.
Gollancz, 250 pp., £4.99, July 1991, 9780575051850
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... to start off with a clear factual account of what, in fact, happened in Baghdad on 14 July 1958. Roger Owen says here that when Iraq was re-occupied by the British in 1941, after the Hashemite Regent had been deposed by four colonels and a pro-Axis politician, the structure of British influence was put on a new footing. From then on, the relationship ...

Not the Brightest of the Barings

Bernard Porter: Lord Cromer, a Victorian Ornamentalist in Egypt, 18 November 2004

Lord Cromer: Victorian Imperialist, Edwardian Proconsul 
by Roger Owen.
Oxford, 436 pp., £25, January 2004, 0 19 925338 2
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... and General Gordon’s nemesis – was no Osama bin Laden. (Interestingly, and diplomatically, Roger Owen describes him as ‘an ascetic and religious devotee’, rather than the usual ‘fanatic’ or ‘fundamentalist’.) Similarly, Egypt’s Ismail Pasha, whom Cromer saw as a ‘monster’, never threatened the world with weapons of mass ...

The Revolution That Wasn’t

Hugh Roberts, 12 September 2013

The Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life 
by Roger Owen.
Harvard, 248 pp., £18.95, May 2012, 978 0 674 06583 3
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Adaptable Autocrats: Regime Power in Egypt and Syria 
by Joshua Stacher.
Stanford, 221 pp., £22.50, April 2012, 978 0 8047 8063 6
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Raging against the Machine: Political Opposition under Authoritarianism in Egypt 
by Holger Albrecht.
Syracuse, 248 pp., £25, October 2012, 978 0 8156 3320 4
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Soldiers, Spies and Statesmen: Egypt’s Road to Revolt 
by Hazem Kandil.
Verso, 303 pp., £16.99, November 2012, 978 1 84467 961 4
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... his son Gamal to succeed him. His reign was thus an instance of both the wider phenomena that Roger Owen discusses in exemplary depth: the rise of ‘presidents for life’ in the Arab world and these leaders’ tendency – or at least the temptation – to try to secure the presidency for their families by instituting a dynastic succession. Mubarak ...

The Name of the Beast

Armand Marie Leroi, 11 December 1997

Buffon 
by Jacques Roger.
Cornell, 492 pp., £39.50, August 1997, 0 8014 2918 8
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The Platypus and the Mermaid and Other Figments of the Classifying Imagination 
by Harriet Ritvo.
Harvard, 274 pp., £19.95, November 1997, 0 674 67357 3
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... world. Fortunately, we now have a wonderful guide to his thought, in English, by the late Jacques Roger. Buffon’s compendium is a true natural history: a compilation of facts about the form, habits and behaviours of his subjects. He believed that the creatures Linnaeus separated out as ‘Mammalia’ and ‘Aves’ could be ‘connected’ in a multitude of ...

I am not a computer

Owen Flanagan, 7 September 1995

Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness 
by Roger Penrose.
Vintage, 457 pp., £17.99, September 1995, 0 09 958211 2
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... for a ‘deeper physicalism’, whether it be Witless or a leading mathematical physicist like Roger Penrose has got to be right. Deep physicalists look to biology, chemistry and physics for depth. They are sceptics – and rightly – about the resources of both a priori philosophy of mind and computer science to explain nature and mind. Computationalism ...

Nuclear Argument

Keith Kyle, 18 April 1985

Objections to Nuclear Defence: Philosophers on Deterrence 
edited by Nigel Blake and Kay Pole.
Routledge, 187 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 7102 0249 0
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Reagan and the World: Imperial Policy in the New Cold War 
by Jeff McMahan.
Pluto, 214 pp., £3.95, August 1984, 0 86104 602 1
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A future that will work 
by David Owen.
Viking, 192 pp., £12.95, August 1984, 0 670 80564 5
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The Most Dangerous Decade: World Militarism and the New Non-Aligned Peace Movement 
by Ken Coates.
Spokesman, 211 pp., £15, July 1984, 9780851244051
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... weapons are used, and conclude, unsurprisingly, that they do not. One of the authors, Father Roger Ruston, points out that in 1977, when the latest Protocol of the Laws of War was adopted at Geneva, both Britain and the United States entered a reservation to the effect that ‘the new rules introduced by the Protocol are not intended to have any effect ...

Clues

J.I.M. Stewart, 5 May 1983

A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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The Agatha Christie Hour 
by Agatha Christie.
Collins, 190 pp., £6.50, September 1982, 0 00 231331 6
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The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes 
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Allen Lane, 1122 pp., £7.95, August 1981, 0 7139 1444 0
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The Quest for Sherlock Holmes 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Mainstream, 380 pp., £12.50, November 1982, 0 906391 15 6
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Essays on Photography 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 128 pp., £8.50, November 1982, 0 436 13302 4
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Uncollected Stories 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 456 pp., £8.95, November 1982, 0 436 13301 6
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The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie 
by Charles Osborne.
Collins, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 00 216462 0
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... Christie is supreme. Thus in what I take to be the most famous of detective novels, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Ackroyd’s secretary hears his employer’s voice coming from his study: ‘the calls on my purse have been so frequent of late that I fear it is impossible for me to accede to your request.’ Poirot sees that nobody would talk like this ...

My word, Miss Perkins

Jenny Diski: In the Typing Pool, 4 August 2005

Literary Secretaries/Secretarial Culture 
edited by Leah Price and Pamela Thurschwell.
Ashgate, 168 pp., £40, January 2005, 0 7546 3804 9
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... as I write (do cats eat bats or do bats eat cats?). ‘Whatever they may do,’ the bibliographer Roger Stoddard has noted, ‘authors do not write books.’ Leah Price and Pamela Thurschwell take up the distinction and declare that their volume will focus ‘on the representation, self-representation and non-representation, in literature, film and other ...

Ideologues

Peter Pulzer, 20 February 1986

The Redefinition of Conservatism: Politics and Doctrine 
by Charles Covell.
Macmillan, 267 pp., £27.50, January 1986, 0 333 38463 6
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Thinkers of the New Left 
by Roger Scruton.
Longman, 227 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 582 90273 8
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The Idea of Liberalism: Studies for a New Map of Politics 
by George Watson.
Macmillan, 172 pp., £22.50, November 1985, 0 333 38754 6
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Socialism and Freedom 
by Bryan Gould.
Macmillan, 109 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 333 40580 3
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... detached study of the Cambridge fogeys – Michael Oakeshott, John Casey, Maurice Cowling and Roger Scruton – with side-glances at Shirley Robin Letwin and the conservative potential in Wittgenstein, Elizabeth Anscombe and Philippa Foot. Other than that, some of the conservatives are closer to liberalism than others; some accept, other reject, ideas of ...

Who Runs Britain?

Christopher Hitchens, 8 December 1994

The Enemy Within: MI5, Maxwell and the Scargill Affair 
by Seumas Milne.
Verso, 352 pp., £18.95, November 1994, 0 86091 461 5
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... premonitory of the coming confrontation with the Heath Government, he and a colleague named Owen Briscoe had swept the poll and begun to take over the district. After spending some quality time down the pit and taking the odd sounding at the club, I thought I realised that even the highly taciturn and conservative Yorkshire miners were ready for a ...

The Kentish Hog

Adrian Desmond, 15 October 1987

The Correspondence of Charles Darwin. Vol. II: 1837-1843 
edited by Frederick Burkhardt and Sydney Smith.
Cambridge, 603 pp., £30, March 1987, 0 521 25588 0
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The Works of Charles Darwin 
edited by Paul Barrett and R.B. Freeman.
Pickering & Chatto, 10 pp., £470, March 1987, 1 85196 002 3
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The Darwinian Heritage 
edited by David Kohn.
Princeton, 1138 pp., £67.90, February 1986, 0 691 08356 8
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Western Science in the Arab World: The Impact of Darwinism, 1860-1930 
by Adel Ziadat.
Macmillan, 162 pp., £27.50, October 1986, 0 333 41856 5
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Theories of Human Evolution: A Century of Debate 1844-1944 
by Peter Bowler.
Blackwell, 318 pp., £25, February 1987, 0 631 15264 4
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Controversy in Victorian Geology: The Cambrian-Silurian Dispute 
by James Secord.
Princeton, 363 pp., £33.10, October 1986, 0 691 08417 3
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Darwin’s Metaphor: Nature’s Place in Victorian Culture 
by Robert Young.
Cambridge, 341 pp., £30, October 1985, 0 521 31742 8
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... In adjacent fields social history has achieved surprising levels of sophistication, capped by Roger Cooter’s provocative study of phrenology as an intellectual instrument of self-help liberalism and social control (The Cultural Meaning of Popular Science, 1984). But hardly any attempt has been made to apply this sort of approach to Darwinism – to ...

Beach Poets

Blake Morrison, 16 September 1982

The Fortunate Traveller 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 99 pp., £3.95, March 1982, 0 571 11893 3
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Sun Poem 
by Edward Kamau Brathwaite.
Oxford, 104 pp., £4.95, April 1982, 0 19 211945 1
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Collected Poems 
by Bernard Spencer, edited by Roger Bowen.
Oxford, 149 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 19 211930 3
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Selected Poems 
by Odysseus Elytis.
Anvil, 114 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85646 076 1
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Poems from Oby 
by George MacBeth.
Secker, 67 pp., £4, March 1982, 9780436270178
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The New Ewart: Poems 1980-1982 
by Gavin Ewart.
Hutchinson, 115 pp., £4.95, March 1982, 0 09 146980 5
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The Apple-Broadcast 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 133 pp., £3, November 1981, 0 7100 0884 8
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... with the Mediterranean, an injustice which the Collected Poems, intelligently edited by Roger Bowen, seeks to put right. The volume shows how travel encouraged in Spencer both a casual, accumulative mode of observation, the poet noting with curiosity what other travellers might miss or think unworthy of mention (a watchdog on a building-site, a ...

Dancing and Flirting

Mark Ford: Apollinaire, 24 May 2018

Zone: Selected Poems 
by Guillaume Apollinaire, translated by Ron Padgett.
NYRB, 251 pp., £9.99, January 2016, 978 1 59017 924 6
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Selected Poems 
by Guillaume Apollinaire, translated by Martin Sorrell.
Oxford, 281 pp., £9.99, November 2015, 978 0 19 968759 6
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... sun’ (William Meredith); ‘Sun slit throat’ (Anne Hyde Greet); ‘The sun a severed neck’ (Roger Shattuck); ‘Sun neck cut’ (Beverley Bie Brahic); ‘Let the sun beheaded be’ (David Lehman); ‘Sun sundered head’ (Martin Sorrell); ‘Sun throat cut’ (Ron Padgett). The compression of this lurid image of the dawn must have greatly appealed to ...

Another A.N. Wilson

Michael Irwin, 3 December 1981

Who was Oswald Fish? 
by A.N. Wilson.
Secker, 314 pp., £6.95, October 1981, 0 436 57606 6
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... To explain exactly what the author was up to would be equivalent to identifying the murderer of Roger Ackroyd. Honour will be satisfied if he indicates in the most general terms the sort of thing the novelist might be attempting and makes a few knowing comments about particular devices or references that he thinks he has penetrated. Thus it comes about that ...

The Sage of Polygon Road

Claire Tomalin, 28 September 1989

The Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Vols I-VII 
edited by Janet Todd and Marilyn Butler.
Pickering & Chatto, 2530 pp., £245, August 1989, 1 85196 006 6
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... I acquired was called The Love Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft, and had a biographical preface by Roger Ingpen. It was a reprint of Mary’s letters to her lover Gilbert Imlay, first published by Godwin among her posthumous works, and then by Kegan Paul in 1879. Ingpen wrote of her life and sufferings tenderly: ‘Pathetic and lonely, she stands out in the ...

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