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Will there be war?

Howard W. French: China at War

27 July 2016
China and Global Nuclear Order: From Estrangement to Active Engagement 
by Nicola Horsburgh.
Oxford, 256 pp., £55, February 2015, 978 0 19 870611 3
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China’s Military Power: Assessing Current and Future Capabilities 
by Roger Cliff.
Cambridge, 378 pp., £21.99, September 2015, 978 1 107 50295 6
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China’s Coming War with Asia 
by Jonathan Holslag.
Polity, 176 pp., £14.99, March 2015, 978 0 7456 8825 1
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... two full aircraft carrier battle groups, including the Nimitz, which sailed through the strait. As Roger Cliff writes in China’s Military Power, this made clear ‘the PLA’s complete inability to successfully use force against Taiwan if the United States intervened’. Since then, the People’s Liberation Army’s budget has increased by roughly 11 ...


Roger Garfitt

20 March 1980
The Weddings at Nether Powers 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 166 pp., £2.95, July 1979, 0 7100 0255 6
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... like ‘Superstition’, which begins with a typical piece of pattern-making, The gorse-reeking cliffs give off jagged cloud; The exact shape of Beeny in cloud-cast rises Again and again in sequent shapes of scent, The cloud-flower born of flowers in a flower-               shape at flower-time. only to shift to a much more intense level of ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘North by Northwest’

9 July 2009
North by Northwest 
directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
July 1959
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... himself narrowly missing a bus. This busy city feeling continues as Cary Grant, playing the ad man Roger Thornhill, appears dictating notes to his secretary. They start to walk uptown, then take a taxi. He gets out at the Plaza, meets some business associates in the Oak Room. Then everything shifts into an entirely different register, apparently for plot ...

John McEnroe plus Anyone

Edward Said: Tennis

1 July 1999
The Right Set: The Faber Book of Tennis 
edited by Caryl Phillips.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19540 7
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... than as tea-sipping athletes in white flannels. Even the commentators are pros (some of them, like Cliff Drysdale and John McEnroe, excellent ones). In nearly every way tennis has become an alienated, albeit highly lucrative profession rather than a sport. The game’s most flamboyant and most gifted practitioner, Andre Agassi, has earned fabulous sums as an ...

The Shock of the Pretty

James Meek: Seventy Hours with Don Draper

8 April 2015
... twenty-year-old secretary to executive in Don’s team, the first woman to do so since the war; Roger Sterling (John Slattery), the urbane old-money wit and rake who runs Accounts; Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser), the spoiled, petulant, baby-faced young scion of neo-aristocratic New Netherlanders, also Accounts; and Joan Holloway (Christina ...
22 August 1996
Life of a Poet: Rainer Maria Rilke 
by Ralph Freedman.
Farrar, Straus, 640 pp., $35, March 1996, 0 374 18690 1
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Uncollected Poems 
by Rainer Maria Rilke and Edward Snow.
North Point Press/Farrar, Straus, 266 pp., $22, March 1996, 0 86547 482 6
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Rilke’s ‘Duino Elegies’: Cambridge Readings 
edited by Roger Paulin and Peter Hutchinson.
Duckworth/Ariadne, 237 pp., £30, March 1996, 1 57241 032 9
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... hard not to think of Hopkins’s sonnet ‘No worst, there is none’, with its terrifying mental cliffs; but the mood is different. Hopkins’s despair here becomes something unnameable, an ascent beyond words and feeling into something like extremity itself. The scary thing is that it is not entirely unpleasant. Exposed on the ...

Various Woman

Penelope Fitzgerald

2 April 1987
A Voyager Out: The Life of Mary Kingsley 
by Katherine Frank.
Hamish Hamilton, 333 pp., £14.95, February 1987, 0 241 12074 8
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by Gloria Steinem and George Barris.
Gollancz, 182 pp., £12.95, February 1987, 0 575 03945 0
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Joe and Marilyn: A Memory of Love 
by Roger Kahn.
Sidgwick, 268 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 283 99427 4
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I leap over the wall 
by Monica Baldwin and Karen Armstrong.
Hamish Hamilton, 308 pp., £4.95, March 1987, 9780241119747
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Diary of a Zen Nun: A Moving Chronicle of Living Zen 
by Nan Shin (Nancy Amphoux).
Rider, 228 pp., £5.95, January 1987, 9780712614320
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... The same stories appear in Joe and Marilyn, though more luridly told and more often, since Roger Kahn repeats himself frequently. Marilyn and DiMaggio married in 1954. They were ‘Mr and Mrs America’. Sightseeing buses pulled up outside their house. They stayed together for less than nine months, then it was Splitsville. Kahn’s real ...

Making Do and Mending

Rosemary Hill: Penelope Fitzgerald’s Letters

25 September 2008
So I Have Thought of You: The Letters of Penelope Fitzgerald 
edited by Terence Dooley.
Fourth Estate, 532 pp., £25, August 2008, 978 0 00 713640 7
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... Chris Carduff, who had offered to send her any books she wanted, for a copy of Wild America by Roger Tory Peterson and James Fisher. An account of a 30,000-mile journey around the continent by two naturalists, it was originally published in 1955 and was being reissued in memory of Peterson, who had recently died. Fitzgerald wanted it, however, for the sake ...

Flight to the Forest

Richard Lloyd Parry: Bruno Manser Vanishes

24 October 2019
The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure 
by Carl Hoffman.
William Morrow, 347 pp., £14.74, March 2019, 978 0 06 243905 5
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... of Batu Lawi, a 6700-feet peak that is the Penan’s holy mountain, and had to spend a night on a cliff ledge after getting stuck three-quarters of the way up. He made himself sick by heedlessly ingesting poisonous jungle plants. In peninsular Malaysia, he came close to being trampled to death when he attempted to befriend a herd of wild elephants. He had an ...

Into the Alley

Daniel Soar: Dashiell Hammett

3 January 2002
Nightmare Town: Stories 
by Dashiell Hammett, edited by Kirby McCauley and Martin Greenberg et al.
Picador, 396 pp., £16.99, March 2001, 0 330 48109 6
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Selected Letters of Dashiell Hammett 1921-60 
edited by Richard Layman and Julie Rivett.
Counterpoint, 650 pp., £28.99, June 2001, 1 58243 081 0
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... is a clue: it exists only to tell you about something else. In Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Poirot is interested by the fact of a chair having been moved, which, he says, might not be significant, but of course he thinks it is – and, of course, he’s right. Hammett’s objects, on the other hand, aren’t clues, however suggestive they ...


Alan Bennett: Bennett’s Dissection

1 January 2009
... and engulfing the whole village. The lake itself is always black and sinister, the farther cliff falling sheer into the water. It was once more exotically planted than with the pines that grow here now, as the Edwardian botanist Reginald Farrer used to sow the seeds he brought home from the Orient by firing them across the water into the ...
2 January 1997
... Jenny. Diski feels more accurately like me, though it is an entirely invented name to which both Roger-the-Ex and I changed when we got married. There was a gasp and then a brief silence.‘How are you?’I was 11 when she had last known me, but what else was there to say?‘I’m well, thank you.’I explained that I was a writer these days and was thinking ...

Secrets are best kept by those who have no sense of humour

Alan Bennett: Why I turned down ‘Big Brother’

2 January 2003
... one imagines, by John Bayley, whose efforts on behalf of his late wife and her reputation make Max Clifford seem timid and retiring. One lesson of this deplorable business is never to sanction the shooting of any video, however lofty its purpose, because once shot it will be shown. Professor Hodges seems to have arrived at his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s ...
24 May 2018
... from the cultural milieu. There was Clive, Fred Halliday, later Sheila Rowbotham got involved, and Roger Smith, script editor at the BBC. The French May erupted as we were about to launch the first issue, which had come out looking slightly miserabilist and unimaginative. It was generally felt that the cover was awful. We voted to pulp it and ...

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