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13 April 2000
The Library of Alexandria: Centre of Learning in the Ancient World 
edited by Roy MacLeod.
Tauris, 196 pp., £39.50, February 2000, 1 86064 428 7
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... will dwarf that of the Mouseion and Sarapion of old Alexandria. The Library of Alexandria: Centre of Learning in the Ancient World is an Australian celebration of this grand undertaking. Edited by RoyMacLeod, a professor of history at the University of Sydney, the volume brings together essays by classicists, historians, archaeologists and conservators. Taken together, they represent the range of ...
8 December 1994
Iain Macleod 
by Robert Shepherd.
Hutchinson, 608 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 09 178567 7
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... It was one of the most attractive aspects of Iain Macleod that he was not easily taken for a professional politician. After depressing his hard-working doctor father by getting a lower second at Cambridge, he was quickly sacked from his first job at De la ...
17 February 1983
Sir William Rowan Hamilton 
by Thomas Hankins.
Johns Hopkins, 474 pp., £19.50, July 1981, 0 8018 2203 3
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Gentlemen of Science: Early Years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 
by Jack Morrell and Arnold Thackray.
Oxford, 592 pp., £30, August 1981, 0 19 858163 7
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The Parliament of Science: The British Association for the Advancement of Science 1831-1981 
edited by Roy MacLeod and Peter Collins.
Science Reviews, 308 pp., £12.25, September 1982, 0 905927 66 4
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... In the London Review of Books, John Maynard Smith said about scientists: ‘however interested they may be in politics or history or philosophy, their first love is science itself.’ If only I could follow this bent, and tell something of Hamilton as a mathematician. As it happens, he also wrote a good deal of poetry, but his poems lack the magic of his equations, which seem more beautiful and moving ...

We’ve done awfully well

Karl Miller: The Late 1950s

18 July 2013
Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 432 pp., £25, June 2013, 978 0 7475 8893 1
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... culled for the new volume is drawn from Bevan, and is as good as the ‘poetry’ heard by someone in his speeches. ‘Lazy? Lazy?’ Bevan responded to a sneer about the laziness of his colleague Roy Jenkins: ‘How can a boy from Abersychan who acquired an accent like that be lazy?’ From Princess Margaret comes a comment on the moribundity of the London Season: ‘Every tart in London can get ...
12 July 1990
Liberalisms. Essays in Political Philosophy 
by John Gray.
Routledge, 273 pp., £35, August 1989, 0 415 00744 5
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The Voice of Liberal Learning: Michael Oakeshott on Education 
edited by Timothy Fuller.
Yale, 169 pp., £20, April 1990, 0 300 04344 9
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The Political Philosophy of Michael Oakeshott 
by Paul Franco.
Yale, 277 pp., £20, April 1990, 0 300 04686 3
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by Ted Honderich.
Hamish Hamilton, 255 pp., £16.99, June 1990, 0 241 12999 0
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... excuse for ignoring him. Two quotations from Harold Macmillan are included, but Honderich has apparently not read any of Macmillan’s books. R. A. Butler is a non-person to Honderich, and so is Iain Macleod. The most glaring exclusion of all, however, is that of Lord Hailsham. Honderich is aware of Hailsham’s existence since he makes a heavy joke about his trousers, which Honderich calls his ...

Nobbled or Not

Bernard Porter: The Central African Federation

25 May 2006
British Documents on the End of Empire Series B Vol. 9: Central Africa: Part I: Closer Association 1945-58 
by Philip Murphy.
Stationery Office, 448 pp., £150, November 2005, 0 11 290586 2
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British Documents on the End of Empire Series B Vol. 9: Central Africa: Part II: Crisis and Dissolution 1959-65 
by Philip Murphy.
Stationery Office, 602 pp., £150, November 2005, 0 11 290587 0
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... had hoped for. In Central Africa, however, it was still consolidating, developing, even contemplating growing bigger: one of the most extraordinary items here is a report from 1946, in which Roy Welensky, the larger-than-life leader of the white Rhodesians, is quoted as admitting that it was probably ‘impractical’ for Britain to take over the Congo, Angola and Mozambique ‘at this stage ...

Really Very Exhilarating

R.W. Johnson: Macmillan and the Guardsmen

7 October 2004
The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World They Made 
by Simon Ball.
HarperCollins, 456 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 00 257110 2
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... Federation and decolonise) as fast as possible, using every unsavoury trick in the book to cut corners. This outraged Salisbury, who soon denounced him as worse than Chamberlain; his remark about Ian Macleod being ‘too clever by half’ was really aimed at Macmillan – Macleod’s boss. But Macmillan, like de Gaulle, had understood the urgent need to leave the age of empire behind, whatever the costs ...

What he did

Frank Kermode

20 March 1997
W.B. Yeats: A Life. Vol. I: The Apprentice Mage 
by R.F. Foster.
Oxford, 640 pp., £25, March 1997, 0 19 211735 1
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... F.S.L. Lyons, who first undertook this large-scale biography of Yeats, died in 1983, and after some vicissitudes the task devolved on Roy Foster, the professor of Irish history at Oxford. He has had access to Lyons’s notes and transcripts, invaluable to a successor confronted, as he says, with ‘a vast and unfamiliar subject ...

The Doctrine of Unripe Time

Ferdinand Mount: The Fifties

16 November 2006
Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties 
by Peter Hennessy.
Allen Lane, 740 pp., £30, October 2006, 0 7139 9571 8
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... worry about inflation. ‘What’s wrong with inflation, Derry?’ Macmillan asked his new chancellor Derick Heathcoat Amory. To support his view, the prime minister had the great Keynesian economist Roy Harrod writing to him by almost every post urging him to reflate faster. Much of the summer holidays of 1958 and 1959 I spent in Norfolk with my schoolfriend Henry Harrod, and we would cycle to the ...

Even Immortality

Thomas Laqueur: Medicomania

29 July 1999
The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present 
by Roy​ Porter.
HarperCollins, 833 pp., £24.99, February 1999, 0 00 637454 9
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... No one should take comfort from the title of Roy Porter’s shaggy masterpiece of a history of medicine. ‘The Greatest Benefit to Mankind’ – the phrase is Dr Johnson’s – begs for a question-mark, a rising inflection of incredulity, if not ...

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