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Trashing the Supreme Court

Ronald Dworkin, 19 June 1980

The Bretheren: Inside the Supreme Court 
by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong.
Secker, 467 pp., £7.95, March 1980, 0 436 58122 1
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... supposed to be based on confidentiality. Woodward (the famous hero of Watergate journalism) and Armstrong, his colleague at the Washington Post, apparently succeeded in shattering that confidentiality, for most of their ‘inside stories’ (if true) come from among the 170 former clerks they say they interviewed. I say ‘if true’ because none of what ...

What did you expect?

Steven Shapin: The banality of moon-talk, 1 September 2005

Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth 
by Andrew Smith.
Bloomsbury, 308 pp., £17.99, April 2005, 0 7475 6368 3
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... about who gets to go back home on a damaged lunar ascent module that can carry only one. Astronaut Scott shoves Astronaut Oates off the steps of the module – ‘I am going up now. I may be gone for some time’ – and blasts off. For Dorothy, this is the end of all romance (‘Goodbye spoony Juney Moon’): the men are unworthy of the Moon. Opening in ...

Pop your own abscess

Rory Scothorne: Definitions of Poverty, 22 February 2018

The New Poverty 
by Stephen Armstrong.
Verso, 242 pp., £12.99, October 2017, 978 1 78663 463 4
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Poverty Safari 
by Darren McGarvey.
Luath, 244 pp., £7.99, November 2017, 978 1 912147 03 8
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... NGO. DentAid’s UK operations began in 2015, providing a charitable alternative to what Stephen Armstrong calls ‘DIY Dentistry’. In a chapter that’s almost impossible to read without flinching, Armstrong tells story after story of individuals forced by the scarcity of public services and the cost of private ...

The Vice President’s Men

Seymour M. Hersh, 24 January 2019

... didn’t have an intelligence insider.’ The Washington press corps was equally in the dark. Scott Armstrong, a Washington journalist who spent years researching US policy on Iran, recalled a pleasant lunch he had long after the Iran-Contra inquiry with Don Gregg, Bush’s national security adviser. The conversation inevitably turned to the ...

Collapse of the Sofa Cushions

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 24 March 1994

Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics and Politics 
by Isobel Armstrong.
Routledge, 545 pp., £35, October 1993, 0 415 03016 1
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The Woman Reader: 1837-1914 
by Kate Flint.
Oxford, 366 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 19 811719 1
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... fascination with the Romantics has brought the Victorian poets back into critical fashion. Isobel Armstrong’s Victorian Poetry represents a massive attempt to alter the balance. The break between the Victorians and the Modernists, Armstrong contends, is largely an illusion, a fiction constructed by the later writers in ...

Operation Backfire

Francis Spufford: Britain’s space programme, 28 October 1999

... All the British rocketmen talk of the pleasure of working with very high levels of energy. John Scott-Scott was a hydrodynamicist at Armstrong Siddeley Rocket Motors at Ansty near Rugby, who worked on conventional turbine engines before switching to rockets. He invented a turbo-pump ...


Karl Miller: Football Tribes, 1 June 1989

... until the time came for a genocidal pacification, ordered by none other than James I, and Armstrong said his last good night. Nationality counted for very little, compared with family. Perpetually at feud among themselves, a community of predator victims straddled the frontier, as did a population of the defenceless: ‘The poor and those unable to ...


James Wood, 8 December 1994

Shadow Dance 
by Angela Carter.
Virago, 182 pp., £9.99, September 1994, 1 85381 840 2
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Flesh and the Mirror: Essays on the Art of Angela Carter 
edited by Lorna Sage.
Virago, 358 pp., £8.99, September 1994, 1 85381 760 0
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... her tremulous, shy, disingenuous smile and saying Halloo with the dying fall of an F. Scott Fitzgerald chick spinning giddily to hell’. Carter establishes her dirty atmospherics with superb swiftness and confidence – some extravagant and dangerous players, a seedy Gothic neighbourhood both real and set-like. But she seems not to know what to ...


Tam Dalyell: The Belgrano Affair, 7 February 1985

... In essence, what one deep throat told me was this ... Towards the end of December 1983, Sir Robert Armstrong, as Secretary of the Cabinet, set up an inquiry into leaks, relating, inter alia, to GCHQ Cheltenham and Belgrano matters. Various people were checked out, either known or unbeknown to themselves. In March 1984 there was a ‘tremendous flap’ in ...

The Road to West Egg

Thomas Powers, 4 July 2013

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of ‘The Great Gatsby’ 
by Sarah Churchwell.
Virago, 306 pp., £16.99, June 2013, 978 1 84408 766 2
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The Great Gatsby 
directed by Baz Luhrmann.
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... when you’re young. ‘I want to be one of the greatest writers who have ever lived,’ Scott Fitzgerald said to his friend Edmund Wilson when they were just out of college, ‘don’t you?’ Wilson was the son of a lawyer, a bit chilly, a prodigious reader steeped in Plato and Dante. He thought Fitzgerald’s remark foolish – just what you might ...

Pseud’s Corner

John Sutherland, 17 July 1980

by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 181 pp., £4.95, July 1980, 0 224 01822 1
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Moscow Gold 
by John Salisbury.
Futura, 320 pp., £1.10, March 1980, 0 7088 1702 5
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The Middle Ground 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 297 77808 0
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The Boy Who Followed Ripley 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 292 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 434 33520 7
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... Great unknowns, pen names and spoof attributions figure centrally in the genre’s history, from Scott, to George Eliot, to Kilgore Trout. According to the massive, nine-volume Dictionary of Anonymous and Pseudonymous English Literature there are, largely speaking, only three reasons for masked authorship, all prudential: ‘Generally the motive is some form ...


Benjamin Markovits: What It Takes to Win at Sport, 7 November 2013

... Wiggins and Froome – studied sports science and psychology before doing an MBA. When the Lance Armstrong story broke, Brailsford was worried about the possible implications for Team Sky, which had adopted a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach to drug cheats. So he called his friend Alastair Campbell for advice and turned to a book he was reading, The Seven Signs ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers, 6 March 2008

... is of a tousle-haired, clean-limbed and smiling John Spahr, looking like a tragic hero out of Scott Fitzgerald. Why does one of the very best scholastic rowers in the United States go to school in North Philadelphia – when he lives in Cherry Hill? ‘It was just word of mouth,’ said John Spahr, who won the Junior National Singles championship last ...


Fredric Jameson, 8 November 2018

My Struggle: Book 6. The End 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Martin Aitken and Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 1153 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 84655 829 0
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... Edison. Henry Ford. Benjamin Franklin. Marie Curie. Florence Nightingale. Winston Churchill. Louis Armstrong. Theodore Roosevelt.’ ‘You read Theodore Roosevelt’s biography when you were a kid?’ ‘I did, yes. There was a series. About twenty of them, I suppose. One on each. Most were about Americans. A lot of presidents. Walt Disney, I remember ...

Loaded Dice

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Ta-Nehisi Coates, 3 December 2015

Between the World and Me 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Text, 152 pp., £10.99, September 2015, 978 1 925240 70 2
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... Yorker’s editor, David Remnick, called it ‘extraordinary’; the New York Times critic A.O. Scott said it was ‘essential, like water or air’; in a widely circulated blurb, Toni Morrison likened Coates to Baldwin and declared the book ‘required reading’; even Jay-Z tweeted to his millions of followers: ‘Please. read.’ For some time ...

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