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What if he’d made it earlier?

David Runciman: LBJ, 5 July 2012

The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV: The Passage of Power 
by Robert Caro.
Bodley Head, 712 pp., £30, June 2012, 978 1 84792 217 5
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... were routinely traded for advertising revenue. At the same time, one of his former aides, Bobby Baker, was under Senate investigation as part of a money, spies and call girls scandal that had uncomfortable echoes of the Profumo affair. On 22 November 1963, Johnson was in Texas as part of a long delayed fundraising trip with the president, which had given ...

What did she do with those beds?

Thomas Keymer: Eliza Haywood, 3 January 2013

A Political Biography of Eliza Haywood 
by Kathryn King.
Pickering and Chatto, 288 pp., £60, June 2012, 978 1 85196 917 3
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... Queen Incog’ in this rough and tumble burlesque, and according to her first biographer David Baker, who wrote eight years after her death in 1756, she ‘appears to have had a relation of close literary intimacy’ with the feckless Hatchett. But that’s as warm as the paternity trail ever gets. It doesn’t help, as ...

A Talented Past

Linda Colley, 23 April 1987

The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. I: Survey 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 400 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. II: Constituencies 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 704 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. III: Members A-F 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 852 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. IV: Members G-P 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 908 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1790-1820. Vol. V: Members P-Z 
edited by R.G. Thorne.
Secker, 680 pp., £225, August 1986, 0 436 52101 6
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... Canning, Goderich, Grenville, Grey, Liverpool, Melbourne, Palmerston, Peel, Perceval, Pitt, Russell and Wellington – sat in the Commons at some time during this period; and so did men of the calibre of Edmund Burke, Charles James Fox, Henry Grattan, David Ricardo, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and William Wilberforce. ‘What a mercy to have been born an ...

Round up the usual perverts

Michael Wood: ‘L.A. Confidential’, 1 January 1998

L.A. Confidential 
directed by Curtis Hanson.
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... The girl is damaged goods, but she is Kim Basinger. The other figure in the triangle, played by Russell Crowe, is another policeman, an ex-thug who has learned how to get in touch with his tenderness, or his tender side. Meanwhile, yet another policeman, a smarmy type whose chief activities are leaking gossip to a racy magazine and acting as technical ...

The Most Wonderful Sport

James Salter: Those Magnificent Men, 6 November 2014

The Unsubstantial Air: American Fliers in the First World War 
by Samuel Hynes.
Farrar, Straus, 322 pp., £17.99, November 2014, 978 0 374 27800 7
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... Azy. He had fallen about 50 ft in a nose dive and died before they got him out of the plane … Russell is missing … Curry is buried near Azy where he fell. The book contains chapters about the observation and bomber pilots and a portrait of Billy Mitchell, who came to France as a major and by war’s end had become a general ordering thousand-plane ...

Seeing Stars

Alan Bennett: Film actors, 3 January 2002

... tall, elegant ‘professional women’ who were stars in their own right: Alexis Smith, Rosalind Russell, Eve Arnold – women who could perch casually on the edge of an editorial desk, toss one long silk-stockinged leg over the other while lighting a cigarette or consulting a powder compact. Graceful and expensive as racehorses, they were amused, ironic and ...

The Miller’s Tale

J.B. Trapp, 4 November 1993

Erasmus: His Life, Work and Influence 
by Cornelis Augustijn, translated by J.C. Grayson.
Toronto, 239 pp., £16.25, February 1991, 0 8020 5864 7
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Erasmus: A Critical Biography 
by Léon-E. Halkin, translated by John Tonkin.
Blackwell, 360 pp., £45, December 1992, 0 631 16929 6
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Erasmus, Man of Letters: The Construction of Charisma in Print 
by Lisa Jardine.
Princeton, 278 pp., £19.95, June 1993, 0 691 05700 1
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... Erasmus the miller under the supervision of the dove of the Holy Ghost and handed on to Luther the baker, bent over his kneading tub. The Church hierarchy refuse the product. Behind looms a peasant with his flail, while a dragon shrieks excommunication. This graphic statement of the conflict between the Reformers’ view of the scriptural message, perspicuous ...

The Misery of Not Painting like others

Peter Campbell, 13 April 2000

The Unknown Matisse: Man of the North, 1869-1908 
by Hilary Spurling.
Penguin, 480 pp., £12.99, April 2000, 0 14 017604 7
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Matisse: Father and Son 
by John Russell.
Abrams, 416 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 8109 4378 6
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Ruthless Hedonism: The American Reception of Matisse 
by John O’Brien.
Chicago, 284 pp., £31.50, April 1999, 0 226 61626 6
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Matisse and Picasso 
by Yve-Alain Bois.
Flammarion, 272 pp., £35, February 1999, 2 08 013548 1
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... one soon learns from the letters he wrote to his son Pierre in the 1930s and 1940s (quoted in John Russell’s Matisse: Father and Son) – even the old Matisse was far from the calm, masterful presence one might have imagined, anxious as he was as a father and misunderstood, so he thought, as a husband. For the evidence of his art and his life to add up, we ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Where I was in 1993, 16 December 1993

... have to be taken away to a place of safety; the boy is later released. The ludicrous Mr Kenneth Baker blames the Church, and in particular the Bishop of Liverpool, David Sheppard, probably because he’s the only socialist in sight.22 February. A large crowd gathers outside Bootle Magistrates Court, to jeer as the vans carrying the two ten-year-olds accused ...

Man as the Measure

David Pears, 18 August 1983

Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language: An Elementary Exposition 
by Saul Kripke.
Blackwell, 150 pp., £9.50, September 1982, 0 631 13077 2
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... behind the formula in the two cases. Certainly, traditional British empiricism, represented by Russell, completely detached sense-data from all external criteria, and then, in order to explain how they are recognised, brought in images to serve as mental paradigms. In this theory the paradigms would be natural replicas of the things requiring to be ...

What Sport!

Paul Laity: George Steer, 5 June 2003

Telegram from Guernica: The Extraordinary Life of George Steer, War Correspondent 
by Nicholas Rankin.
Faber, 256 pp., £14.99, April 2003, 0 571 20563 1
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... deliberate effort to use air power as an instrument of massacre and terrorism’. For Philip Noel-Baker, MP and peace activist, the precedent was ‘extremely dangerous to us and to the world . . . such methods will come to be regarded as accepted practice, which all too probably would be the starting point for the next war.’ Anxious citizens saw Guernica ...

C (for Crisis)

Eric Hobsbawm: The 1930s, 6 August 2009

The Morbid Age: Britain between the Wars 
by Richard Overy.
Allen Lane, 522 pp., £25, May 2009, 978 0 7139 9563 3
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... Archbishop Cosmo Lang, Basil Liddell Hart, Bronislaw Malinowski, Gilbert Murray, Philip Noel-Baker, George Orwell, Lord Arthur Ponsonby, Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw, Arnold Toynbee, the Webbs, H.G. Wells or Leonard and Virginia Woolf? Unless clearly backed by an important publishing house or journal, as with ...

Dream On

Katha Pollitt: Bringing up Babies, 11 September 2003

I Don't Know How She Does It 
by Allison Pearson.
Vintage, 256 pp., £6.99, May 2003, 0 09 942838 5
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A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother 
by Rachel Cusk.
Fourth Estate, 224 pp., £6.99, July 2002, 1 84115 487 3
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The Truth about Babies: From A-Z 
by Ian Sansom.
Granta, 352 pp., £6.99, June 2003, 1 86207 575 1
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What Are Children For? 
by Laurie Taylor and Matthew Taylor.
Short Books, 141 pp., £6.99, January 2003, 1 904095 25 9
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The Commercialisation of Intimate Life 
by Arlie Russell Hochschild.
California, 313 pp., £32.95, May 2003, 0 520 21487 0
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... a pause. “Really?” I said, with frantic delight. “I’ve always thought I’d love to be a baker. Do you make any money out of it?” The two women looked at each other like schoolgirls, with horrified eyes.’ Cusk mourns the loss of adult freedom, but on the rare occasions she goes out for an evening, she spends the whole time calling home to make ...

Pissing in the Snow

Steven Rose: Dissidents and Scientists, 18 July 2019

Freedom’s Laboratory: The Cold War Struggle for the Soul of Science 
by Audra J. Wolfe.
Johns Hopkins, 302 pp., £22, January 2019, 978 1 4214 2673 0
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... for state planning in The Social Function of Science. In response the Oxford geneticist John Baker set up a Society for Freedom in Science, with a passionate attack on any attempt to tell scientists what they should work on or the methods they should use. The conflict between Bernalian and Bakerian views of science runs throughout Freedom’s ...

Even If You Have to Starve

Ian Penman: Mod v. Trad, 29 August 2013

Mod: A Very British Style 
by Richard Weight.
Bodley Head, 478 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 0 224 07391 2
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... might have been problematic. If the Oxbridgey Trads had a philosophical pin-up it was Bertrand Russell, with Freddie Ayer for real deep kicks; Mods backed the darker horse of existentialism. How much the Mod crush on continental philosophy was a pose, and how much serious engagement, is a moot point. Even as ‘mere’ pose it’s a very interesting ...

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