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Close Relations

T.H. Barrett: Tibet and the Dalai Lama

2 April 1998
The Buddha of Brewer Street 
by Michael Dobbs.
HarperCollins, 288 pp., £16.99, January 1998, 0 00 225412 3
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The Book of Tibetan Elders: Life Stories and Wisdom from the Great Spiritual Masters of Tibet 
by Sandy Johnson.
Constable, 282 pp., £17.95, February 1997, 0 09 476950 8
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The Art of Tibet 
by Robert Fisher.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £7.95, November 1997, 0 500 20308 3
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Tibetan Nation: A History of Tibetan Nationalism and Sino-Tibetan Relations 
by Warren Smith Jr..
Westview, 732 pp., £59.50, December 1996, 0 8133 3155 2
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The Way to Freedom 
by His Holiness The Dalai Lama.
Thorsons, 181 pp., £7.99, February 1997, 0 00 220043 0
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Awakening the Mind, Lightening the Heart 
by His Holiness The Dalai Lama.
Thorsons, 238 pp., £8.99, February 1997, 0 00 220045 7
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Kundun: A Biography of the Family of the Dalai Lama 
by Mary Craig.
HarperCollins, 392 pp., £17.99, May 1997, 0 00 627838 8
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... problem is not the same as a solution. Nor, despite the waxing and waning of interest, is complete silence ever likely to fall on the matter of Tibet, for reasons which become clear from a reading of SandyJohnson’s work. She presents a remarkable picture of a diaspora driven from its homeland whom one might expect to become the Parsees of the next millennium, using the close-knit ties of religious ...
7 July 1983
... The ant-lion builds its traps in sandy soil. It fashions – somehow – a geometrically perfect inverted cone. At the tip of the cone the ant-lion lurks, buried and invisible, waiting for any small insect to tumble in. When this occurs ...

Boswell’s Bowels

Neal Ascherson

20 December 1984
James Boswell: The Later Years 1769-1795 
by Frank Brady.
Heinemann, 609 pp., £20, November 1984, 0 434 08530 8
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... James Boswell created the ‘Age of Johnson’, rescuing the late 18th century, above all, for the Victorians. The Boswell industry at Yale University has given an ‘Age of Boswell’ to the 20th century. This second volume of the grand ...

Fine Women

Neil Rennie

6 July 1989
The Pacific since Magellan. Vol. III: Paradise Found and Lost 
by O.H.K. Spate.
Routledge, 410 pp., £40, January 1989, 0 415 02565 6
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Captain Bligh: The Man and his Mutinies 
by Gavin Kennedy.
Duckworth, 321 pp., £14.95, April 1989, 0 7156 2231 5
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The Sublime Savage: James Macpherson and the Poems of Ossian 
by Fiona Stafford.
Edinburgh, 208 pp., £22.50, November 1988, 0 85224 569 6
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... Bread fruit is procured with no more trouble than that of climbing a tree and pulling it down.’ Here are the coconuts that floated or were carried across the ocean (studies are in print) to grow on sandy, salty atolls and feed the edible dogs, thatch the vegetable houses, bend in the inevitable cyclones, and grow, above all, into the symbol of ‘paradise’ sold. Here, too, are the islanders – ...


Gillian Darley: James Stirling

7 September 2000
Big Jim: The Life and Work of James Stirling 
by Mark Girouard.
Pimlico, 323 pp., £14, March 2000, 9780712664226
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... hostile to the memory of working with him that he still refuses to comment on their short-lived joint practice. The creation of James Stirling, world-class architect, the man who as much as Philip Johnson or Arata Isosaki invented the ‘signature building’ and who travelled the rewarding circuit of international big money prizes, lectures and juries from the 1960s onwards, is a very contemporary ...

Saying yes

Rupert Wilkinson

19 July 1984
... Ford did this in 1976, picking out the home states of his two Democratic opponents: ‘We will wage a winning campaign in every region of this country – from the snowy banks of Minnesota to the sandy plains of Georgia. We concede not a single state. We concede not a single vote.’ An important principle governing the acceptance speech as a whole is that it should identify the speaker with ...

The HPtFtU

Christopher Tayler: Francis Spufford

5 October 2016
Golden Hill 
by Francis Spufford.
Faber, 344 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 0 571 22519 4
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... writing’s dominant mode is a pastiche of 18th-century fiction, which licences a certain amount of knowing artificiality. After a 17-line opening sentence beginning ‘The brig Henrietta having made Sandy Hook a little before the dinner hour’, the novel establishes less mind-bending terms for the appropriate level of language. Eighteenth-century capitalisation practices – ‘It is a melancholy ...

The Frowniest Spot on Earth

Will Self: Life in the Aerotropolis

28 April 2011
Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next 
by John Kasarda and Greg Lindsay.
Allen Lane, 480 pp., £14.99, March 2011, 978 1 84614 100 3
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... romance masquerading as a work of urban theory, Aerotropolis was written by Greg Lindsay alone. Kasarda, a professor at the University of North Carolina’s business school, may be a peculiar sort of Johnson, but Lindsay, a business journalist, is nonetheless his committed Boswell. A Boswell who, in search of his subject’s zeitgeist wisdom, once mounted a three-week exploration of ‘Airworld’ – as ...

Abolish the CIA!

Chalmers Johnson: ‘A classic study of blowback’

21 October 2004
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to 10 September 2001 
by Steve Coll.
Penguin, 695 pp., $29.95, June 2004, 1 59420 007 6
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... use be transferred to the air force. When the new Republican administration came into office, it was deeply uninterested in bin Laden and terrorism even though the outgoing national security adviser, Sandy Berger, warned Condoleezza Rice that it would be George W. Bush’s most serious foreign policy problem. On 6 August 2001, the CIA delivered its daily briefing to Bush at his ranch in Crawford, Texas ...
24 January 1980
An Unfinished History of the World 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 700 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 0 241 10282 0
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... or two. The same may be true once more if only ‘the present leader of the British Conservative Party’ is granted time sufficient to revive the noblest political lineage of Europe, that of ‘Dr Johnson, Pitt the Younger, Burke, Benjamin Disraeli and Lord Salisbury’. Some other recent world-histories have taken a stand against Euro-centrism, notably William McNeill’s A World History (1971) and J ...


Iain Sinclair: The Thames

25 June 2009
Thames: Sacred River 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Vintage, 608 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 09 942255 6
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... half-completed or newly abandoned developments. A scheme for a bridge that would have connected the North and South Circular roads, and given London a second orbital motorway, was aborted by Boris Johnson: it was too closely associated with the former mayor, Ken Livingstone. Thames Gateway is a geographical area and a philosophy for which Johnson has no enthusiasm. Boris champions the Eagle comic ...

How to Grow a Weetabix

James Meek: Farms and Farmers

15 June 2016
... despairing of finding tenants for their neglected acres, jettisoned vast areas of farmland. Stuart Agnew farms just over four hundred acres on two parcels of land a couple of miles apart on the sandy soil of north Norfolk, near the market town of Fakenham. Agnew’s is a mixed farm, with sheep and chickens as well as crops, but it’s a measure of how conditions have changed that in the 1970s ...

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