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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. This is as true now for ...

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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... one of the lightest-fingered authors living). In this case, the borrowings are from Robert Aldrich’s 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 ...

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 ...

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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... of his leaving emerges as the narrative spins to an exhausted close. Petra’s mother has decided 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 ...

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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... During the war Anna Kavan worked for nearly two years at 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 ...

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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... up less well. The Man in the High Castle begins as alternative history. The Axis has won the Second 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 ...

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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... near the territory formerly known as Southern Rhodesia, their continued invocation in the centre 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 ...

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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... horrors of gout, will find much of the information in these pages riveting. Gout was likened by Sydney 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 ...

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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... fairer, 400 million other people. When I was about ten I went to a jumble sale to buy books only to discover 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 ...

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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... recalled, wasn’t limited to Arabs. ‘He joked about the Golani Brigade, the infantry force 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 ...

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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... enrich understanding of and interest in 18th-century Britain. At much the same time as Paul Mellon 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 ...

Diary

David Bromwich: The Snowden Case

4 July 2013
... But the feed had been deliberately routed around the court set up by the Foreign Intelligence 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 ...

Act One, Scene One

David Bromwich: Don’t Resist, Oppose

16 February 2017
... and the effect is to baffle and immobilise thought. Consider a typical reaction from the morning 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 ...

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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... ill. It is not simply the fact that no single institution could successfully achieve all the aims 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 ...

American Breakdown

David Bromwich

9 August 2018
... and unscheduled interruptions, with changes in the sponsors and the supporting cast and production team. 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 ...

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