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It’s good to be alive

Gideon Lewis-Kraus: Science does ethics, 9 February 2012

Sex, Murder and the Meaning of Life: A Psychologist Investigates How Evolution, Cognition and Complexity Are Revolutionising Our View of Human Nature 
by Douglas Kenrick.
Basic, 238 pp., £18.99, May 2011, 978 0 465 02044 7
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Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values 
by Sam Harris.
Bantam, 291 pp., £20, April 2011, 978 0 593 06486 3
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The Fair Society: The Science of Human Nature and the Pursuit of Social Justice 
by Peter Corning.
Chicago, 237 pp., $27.50, April 2011, 978 0 226 11627 3
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... of what we would like them to be.’ That, at any rate, is what Douglas Kenrick has to tell us. Sam Harris begins The Moral Landscape in much the same way: ‘The more we understand ourselves at the level of the brain, the more we will see that there are right and wrong answers to questions of human values.’ Kenrick and ...

Short Cuts

William Davies: Jordan Peterson, 2 August 2018

... outcome, sinks back into his black leather regency armchair and turns again to his interlocutors, Sam Harris and Douglas Murray. I’d cheered for the first option, not least because I was interested to know how on earth it was going to work. The O2 was less than a third full, but even so, that’s an audience of six thousand people. This is a venue so ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: The Hitchens Principle, 21 March 2019

... stupidity and sometimes dangerousness of religious belief. Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens: over the previous few years each had published a bestselling book condemning religion, and they were all rather pleased with themselves. Dawkins’s The God Delusion alone, with its compelling argument that God is the ...

The Atheists’ Picnic

Julian Bell: Art and Its Origins, 10 June 2010

Conceiving God: The Cognitive Origin and Evolution of Religion 
by David Lewis-Williams.
Thames and Hudson, 320 pp., £18.95, March 2010, 978 0 500 05164 1
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... collapses into a company of picnickers. Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris motored up to his chosen summit a while ago; and here, sure enough, stepping forward to pat the newcomer on the back and welcome him along, who should it be but Philip Pullman? ‘Magnificent … a sane, courteous and devastating criticism of ...

Religion is a sin

Galen Strawson: Immortality!, 2 June 2011

Saving God: Religion after Idolatry 
by Mark Johnston.
Princeton, 198 pp., £16.95, August 2009, 978 0 691 14394 1
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Surviving Death 
by Mark Johnston.
Princeton, 393 pp., £24.95, February 2010, 978 0 691 13012 5
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... correlation, and scolds them for their errors about Spinoza, but I find Dawkins and Hitchens (and Sam Harris) companionable, as I find Johnston himself, and feel no resultant stress. Johnston gives ground to no one in his disdain for the idolaters – all ordinary believers – and there’s a great deal to be said from his perspective that can be read ...

Where the Jihadis Are

Jeremy Harding: How to Spot a Jihadi, 17 February 2011

Talking to the Enemy: Violent Extremism, Sacred Values and What It Means to Be Human 
by Scott Atran.
Allen Lane, 558 pp., £25, November 2010, 978 1 84614 412 7
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... Tigers. In his view, the ‘four horsemen’ of the new atheism – Dennett, Dawkins, Hitchens and Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith – ride roughshod over the rich history of religion in the name of a ‘pulp fiction’ that ends happily ever after when they’ve argued faith into extinction. He is appalled by ...

Wait a second what’s that?

August Kleinzahler: Elvis’s Discoverer, 8 February 2018

Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ’n’ Roll 
by Peter Guralnick.
Weidenfeld, 784 pp., £16.99, November 2015, 978 0 297 60949 0
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... One night​ in 1939, 16-year-old Sam Phillips jumped into a ‘big old Dodge’ with his older brother and a few friends a little after midnight and set out to drive from Florence, Alabama to Dallas, Texas to hear a celebrated First Baptist pastor deliver a sermon. At four or five a.m. the boys arrived in Memphis, where they found themselves in a black part of town called Beale Street ...

Who had the most fun?

David Bromwich: The Marx Brothers, 10 May 2001

Groucho: The Life and Times of Julius Henry Marx 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Penguin, 480 pp., £7.99, April 2001, 0 14 029426 0
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The Essential Groucho 
by Groucho Marx, edited by Stefan Kanfer.
Penguin, 254 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 14 029425 2
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... were quick to absorb the cosmopolitan slang of the New York streets. Simon naturalised his name to Sam and set up business as a tailor out of the same three-room apartment on East 93rd Street that held Minna, her parents and the five boys; but the couple always had an air of waiting for something riper, and improvisation would become the family mood. With ...

I going England tomorrow

Paul Mendez: ‘The Lonely Londoners’, 7 July 2022

The Lonely Londoners 
by Sam Selvon.
Penguin, 138 pp., £16.99, June 2021, 978 0 241 50412 3
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... Sam​ Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners (1956) was one of the first British novels to be written in creolised English. It turned London, as the critic Susheila Nasta has said, into a ‘Black city of words’. The protagonist, Moses Aloetta, is an Afro-Trinidadian who arrived early in the Windrush era. After almost a decade in the city, he has become a reluctant welfare officer for newcomers: ‘All sorts of fellars start coming straight to his room … when they land up in London from the West Indies, saying that so and so tell them that Moses is a good fellar to contact, that he would help them get place to stay and work to do ...

Bang-Bang, Kiss-Kiss

Christian Lorentzen: Bond, 3 December 2015

directed by Sam Mendes.
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The Man with the Golden Typewriter: Ian Fleming’s James Bond Letters 
edited by Fergus Fleming.
Bloomsbury, 391 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 1 4088 6547 7
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Ian Fleming: A Personal Memoir 
by Robert Harling.
Robson, 372 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 84 95493 65 1
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... is the result of the joint efforts of Bond, M, Q (Ben Whishaw), Swann and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris). Who ever looked to 007 for displays of teamwork? What would Fleming have made of all this? He would no doubt have been happy that the film’s box-office take has already exceeded $500 million. The title of the new collection of his ‘James Bond ...

Joe, Jerry and Bomber Blair

Owen Hatherley: Jonathan Meades, 7 March 2013

Museum without Walls 
by Jonathan Meades.
Unbound, 446 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 908717 18 4
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... work of the high modern years’ – Clifton Cathedral, the work of Richard Gilbert Scott or Sam Scorer – ‘prompts awe. But that awe is more likely to be aesthetic rather than religious; it is not different to that which is incited by a grand hangar or concert hall – the potency of a building is quite distinct from its nobility (or baseness) of ...
... to the memory of the heroes … Stephen Decatur Parish, James West Hadnot, Sidney Harris, who fell in the Colfax Riot fighting for White Supremacy, April 13, 1873.’ When EJI arrived in Montgomery there were more than fifty memorials of one sort or another to the glories of the Confederacy. They included a gold star on the steps of the state ...


Janet Todd, 21 December 1989

Willa Cather: A Life Saved Up 
by Hermione Lee.
Virago, 409 pp., £12.99, October 1989, 0 86068 661 2
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... a student at Lincoln University. Much of this early life is caught in a late story ‘Old Mrs Harris’, tapes of which are used to accompany the modern pilgrim round the Cather shrine. At University she settled into literature when a teacher published a paper of hers on Carlyle in the Nebraska State Journal. She was soon reviewing theatrical productions ...

Welcome Home

Sukhdev Sandhu: Memories of Michael X, 4 February 1999

Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain 
by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips.
HarperCollins, 422 pp., £16.99, May 1998, 0 00 255909 9
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... firmly they told themselves they would return in five or ten years – could they begin to exist. Harris, in George Lamming’s novel The Emigrants (1954), pinpoints this feeling when, setting eyes on England for the first time from a ship’s porthole, he thinks to himself: ‘There was life, life, life, and wherever there was life there had to be something ...

I hope it hurt

Jo Applin: Nochlin’s Question, 4 November 2021

Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader 
edited by Maura Reilly.
Thames and Hudson, 472 pp., £28, March 2020, 978 0 500 29555 7
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Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? 
by Linda Nochlin.
Thames and Hudson, 111 pp., £9.99, January, 978 0 500 02384 6
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... exclusively about oil painting, though exceptions include a surprisingly interesting essay on Sam Taylor-Wood’s not very interesting photographs of famous men weeping (Jude Law and so on); a piece on Liza Lou’s beaded objects; and an essay on the conceptually spiky yet seductively soft fabric sculpture Louise Bourgeois made towards the end of her ...

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