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Unhappy Mothers

Judy Dunn, 17 July 1980

Babyshock 
edited by John Cobb.
Hutchinson, 255 pp., £5.95, May 1980, 9780091408305
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Infancy 
by Martin Richards.
Harper and Row, £4.95, March 1980, 9780063181243
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Childhood 
by Sheldon White and Barbara Notkin White.
Harper and Row, £4.95, March 1980, 0 06 318122 3
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... It is hardly a new discovery that becoming a parent is full of problems. In every society there have been at least some parents who have had a huge stake in the survival of at least some of their children. However high the mortality rates of pre-modern societies, we do not know of a time when parents did not often feel acute distress and anxiety over their children’s health ...

Bloodbaths

John Sutherland, 21 April 1988

Misery 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 320 pp., £11.95, September 1987, 0 340 39070 0
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The Tommyknockers 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 563 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 340 39069 7
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Touch 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 245 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 9780670816545
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Sideswipe 
by Charles Willeford.
Gollancz, 293 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 575 04197 8
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Ratking 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 282 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 571 15147 7
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... Whatever happened to Baby Jane? and John Fowles’s The Collector. A best-selling author, Paul Sheldon, crashes in a desolate area of the Rockies. It is winter, his car is buried in the snow, and his broken body is rescued by an eccentric recluse. She turns out to be a homicidal and crazy nurse, Annie Wilkes, who before retiring under something of a ...

To Fiji with Measles

Terence Ranger: Plagues, 4 February 1999

The Black Death and the Transformation of the West 
by David Herlihy.
Harvard, 117 pp., £17.95, October 1997, 0 674 07613 3
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Plague, Pox and Pestilence 
edited by Kenneth Kiple.
Weidenfeld, 176 pp., £25, January 1997, 0 297 82254 3
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Epidemics and History: Disease, Power and Imperialism 
by Sheldon Watts.
Yale, 400 pp., £30, January 1997, 0 300 07015 2
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... So-called World History originated in an attempt to escape from the tyrannical perspective of dead white Euro-American males, yet that ‘world’ perspective has had the effect of making those same males more dominant than ever. Thus Eric Wolf’s Europe and the People Without History (1982), however heroic in intention, ends up asserting that extra-European peoples did have a history, but it was a history of their relations with Euro-American economies ...

Enthusiasts

Anita Brookner, 3 February 1983

Where I Used to Play on the Green 
by Glyn Hughes.
Gollancz, 192 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 575 02997 8
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Virginie 
by John Hawkes.
Chatto, 212 pp., £8.50, January 1983, 0 7011 3908 0
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Ancient Enemies 
by Elizabeth North.
Cape, 230 pp., £7.95, November 1982, 0 224 02052 8
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Dancing Girls 
by Margaret Atwood.
Cape, 240 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 224 01835 3
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Master of the Game 
by Sidney Sheldon.
Collins, 495 pp., £8.95, January 1983, 0 00 222614 6
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... to send the girl off to live with her own father in America; the roots of her hair are now quite white and sometimes she takes too many pills, so desperate measures are called for. Henry, in a rage, has walked out on hearing of this ploy. But at the very end, when Petra hears the train coming in at the station and knows, in the teeth of all concrete ...

Dependencies

Elizabeth Young, 25 February 1993

The Case of Anna Kavan 
by David Callard.
Peter Owen, 240 pp., £16.95, January 1993, 0 7206 0867 8
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... the offices of Horizon. ‘Understandably, Connolly was never comfortable with Kavan,’ Michael Sheldon wrote in Friends of Promise, his book about Connolly. He was presumably referring to her heroin addiction. Friends and mentors over the years – Rhys Davies. Peter Owen, Brian Aldiss – have made considerable efforts to dispel such feelings of uncase by ...

God’s Own

Angus Calder, 12 March 1992

Empire and English Character 
by Kathryn Tidrick.
Tauris, 338 pp., £24.95, August 1990, 1 85043 191 4
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Into Africa: The story of the East African Safari 
by Kenneth Cameron.
Constable, 229 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 09 469770 1
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Burton: Snow upon the Desert 
by Frank McLynn.
Murray, 428 pp., £19.95, September 1990, 0 7195 4818 7
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From the Sierras to the Pampas: Richard Burton’s Travels in the Americas, 1860-69 
by Frank McLynn.
Barrie and Jenkins, 258 pp., £16.99, July 1991, 0 7126 3789 3
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The Duke of Puddle Dock: Travels in the Footsteps of Stamford Raffles 
by Nigel Barley.
Viking, 276 pp., £16.99, March 1992, 0 670 83642 7
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... of decolonised Harare is remarkable testimony to the charisma attached to the myth of the doughty white man worming into the core of a dark continent. Uganda, which Speke ‘discovered’, had indeed been remote from European knowledge. On the other hand, when he and Burton went to Lake Tanganyika, they had been on a track well beaten by Arab slavers, and ...

Kick over the Scenery

Stephanie Burt: Philip K. Dick, 3 July 2008

Four Novels of the 1960s: ‘The Man in the High Castle’, ‘The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch’, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, ‘Ubik’ 
by Philip K. Dick.
Library of America, 830 pp., $35, May 2008, 978 1 59853 009 4
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Five Novels of the 1960s and 1970s: ‘Martian Time-Slip’, ‘Dr Bloodmoney’, ‘Now Wait for Last Year’, ‘Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said’, ‘A Scanner Darkly’ 
by Philip K. Dick.
Library of America, 1128 pp., $40, August 2008, 978 1 59853 025 4
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... World War, and California subsists under the relatively gentle hand of Imperial Japan: ambitious white people imitate Japanese manners, everyone relies on the I Ching, and almost everyone has heard about a scandalous novel-within-the-novel, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, in which the Allies won the war. When one character drives to Wyoming to meet the ...

Walking on Eyeballs

E.S. Turner: The history of gout, 7 January 1999

Gout: The Patrician Malady 
by Roy Porter and G.S. Rousseau.
Yale, 393 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 300 07386 0
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... Smith to walking on his eyeballs. It not only created fiery anguish in the big toe but caused a white precipitation at the knuckles. Horace Walpole wrote of ‘chalky rills running from the fingers’ and ‘a hail of chalkstones and liquid chalk’, as if from a burst pipe. The authors have spotted in a Sherlock Holmes story an old man ‘cram full of ...

Travelling Southwards

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, 19 July 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey 
by E.L. James.
Arrow, 514 pp., £7.99, April 2012, 978 0 09 957993 9
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... that everything that wasn’t a copy of Jaws was by Jackie Collins, Harold Robbins, Sidney Sheldon, or Danielle Steel. I noted this cultural deficit in my compendium of things to complain about to God but I read The Bitch myself on the way home and remember a very fruity passage in which the heroine, a woman who owned a disco and was called ...

The sea is the same sea

Adam Shatz: Bibi goes to Washington, 30 August 2018

Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu 
by Anshel Pfeffer.
Hurst, 423 pp., £20, May 2018, 978 1 84904 988 7
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... in which so many men were North African or Yemeni Jews. “They’re OK as long as they are led by white officers,” he grinned.’ For all his braggadocio, ‘Ben Nitay’ was still floundering well into the 1970s. He gave occasional speeches in the Boston area on behalf of the Israeli government, which recognised an asset in his special forces ...

Act One, Scene One

David Bromwich: Don’t Resist, Oppose, 16 February 2017

... after the election, Aaron Sorkin’s rant on the Vanity Fair website: ‘The Klan won last night. White nationalists. Sexists, racists and buffoons … misogynistic shitheads everywhere … If he does manage to be a douche nozzle without breaking the law for four years, we’ll make it through those four years.’ Or consider the message read out to Vice ...

Strutting

Linda Colley, 21 September 1995

All the Sweets of Being: The Life of James Boswell 
by Roger Hutchinson.
Mainstream, 238 pp., £17.50, May 1995, 1 85158 702 0
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James Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’ 
edited by Marshall Waingrow.
Edinburgh, 518 pp., £75, March 1995, 0 7486 0471 5
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Johnson and Boswell: The Transit of Caledonia 
by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 245 pp., £30, April 1995, 0 19 818259 7
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... was avidly seeking out the sort of Georgian art that many British collectors ignored, and Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis was buying up the letters and ephemera of the then neglected figure, Horace Walpole, a Yale historian whose very name trumpeted Anglophilic Waspdom, Chauncey B. Tinker, tracked down Boswell’s papers to Malahide Castle in Ireland. Initially, his ...

Diary

David Bromwich: The Snowden Case, 4 July 2013

... Surveillance Act to issue warrants for searches of this kind. The Times, at the urging of the Bush White House, had held back the story for a year, across the significant divide of the 2004 presidential election. Even so, James Risen, who protected the source for his leak, was threatened with prosecution by the Bush justice department, and under Obama that ...

American Breakdown

David Bromwich, 9 August 2018

... The way to match the Trump pace is by tweeting; but that is to play his game – a gambit the White House press corps have found irresistible. Much of the damage to US politics over the last two years has been done by the anti-Trump media themselves, with their mood of perpetual panic and their lack of imagination. But the uncanny gift of Trump is an ...

HiEdBiz

Stefan Collini, 6 November 2003

The Future of Higher Education 
Stationery Office, 112 pp., £17.50, January 2003, 0 10 157352 9Show More
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... crammed into this unlovely paragraph, taken from the introductory chapter to the Government’s White Paper, The Future of Higher Education, published earlier this year. It is also the thought of that room in Whitehall where these collages are assembled. As the findings from the latest survey of focus groups come in, an official cuts out all those things ...

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