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Huffing Along

Lorin Stein: The Emperor of Ocean Park

8 August 2002
The Emperor of Ocean Park 
by Stephen L. Carter.
Cape, 657 pp., £18, June 2002, 0 224 06284 0
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... StephenL.Carter has written the kind of novel in which the bad guys say ‘very well’ when they mean ‘OK’; in which the hero calls a visit from old friends ‘a delightfully rambunctious affair’ and his ...
23 September 2008
Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable​ Past and Promising Future 
by Newton Minow and Craig LaMay.
Chicago, 219 pp., £11.50, April 2008, 978 0 226 53041 3
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... have been televised since 1960, head-to-heads between candidates have a much longer history in the US , going back to seven fabled three-hour tussles between the Illinois senatorial candidates Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln in 1858 (which certainly did involve direct confrontation), all on the single subject of slavery. In the 1920s, the League of Women Voters sponsored a ten-month series of ...


Richard J. Evans

8 November 1990
Male​ Fantasies Vol. I: Women, Floods, Bodies, History 
by Klaus Theweleit, translated by Chris Turner, Erica Carter and Stephen​ Conway.
Polity, 517 pp., £35, May 1987, 0 7456 0382 3
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Male​ Fantasies Vol. II: Male​ Bodies: Psychoanalysing the White Terror 
by Klaus Theweleit, translated by Chris Turner, Erica Carter and Stephen​ Conway.
Polity, 507 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 7456 0556 7
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... Since its appearance in Germany in 1977, Klaus Theweleit’s psychoanalytical study of fascist literature has graduated from the status of a cult work to that of a classic. Rereading it in English, a decade after my first, rather sceptical perusal, it is easy to see why. Much of what made Theweleit’s book so startlingly original in the mid-Seventies has since become relatively conventional in literary ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine

3 December 1981
The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... Mr Stephen is editing a little dictionary,’ a friend explained to a clergyman foolhardy enough to ask whether Leslie ‘did any writing’. The enterprise in question was the DNB, one of those grandiosely ...

Fine-Tuned for Life

John Leslie: Cosmology

1 January 1998
Before the Beginning 
by Martin Rees.
Simon and Schuster, 288 pp., £7.99, January 1998, 0 684 81660 1
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The Life of the Cosmos 
by Lee Smolin.
Weidenfeld, 358 pp., £20, September 1997, 0 297 81727 2
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... perhaps generated black holes tiny enough to fit inside atomic nuclei, yet each as massive as a mountain. These might nowadays be ending their ‘black hole evaporation’ (a process discovered by Stephen Hawking) in bangs detectable from two million light years away. Bigger black holes, their evaporation too slow to be detected, probablylitter our galaxy in large numbers as the remnants of stellar ...

No Man’s Mistress

Stephen​ Koss

5 July 1984
Margot: A Life of the Countess of Oxford and Asquith 
by Daphne Bennett.
Gollancz, 442 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 575 03279 0
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... Anthony (‘Puffin’), both died without cashing in on this legacy. The diary, accompanied by an undisclosed quantity of private correspondence, thereupon passed into other family hands. Mark Bonham Carter, who holds the copyright, permitted Michael and Eleanor Brock to consult – but, one may infer from their cautious phraseology, not to draw directly on – these materials in the course of preparing ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Alice in Wonderland’

25 March 2010
Alice in Wonderland 
directed by Tim Burton.
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... can be merely precious, a wimpish pose. Meanwhile the movie has begun to revolve around, and be governed by, two figures: the Red Queen and the Mad Hatter. The former, played by Helena Bonham Carter, who seems to have gained a rich new expressive life through representing the forces of evil in the Harry Potter films (not that she didn’t express herself in Burton’s Sweeney Todd), displays ...

Strait is the gate

Christopher Hitchens

21 July 1994
Watergate: The Corruption and Fall​ of Richard Nixon 
by Fred Emery.
Cape, 448 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 224 03694 7
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The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House 
by H.R. Haldeman.
Putnam, 698 pp., $27.50, May 1994, 0 399 13962 1
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... The man who started this frivolous auction was William Safire, former speechwriter to Richard Nixon and now columnist for the New York Times. He it was who, during the dismal days of the Jimmy Carter Presidency, came up with ‘Koreagate’, ‘Peanutgate’, ‘Billygate’ and – his own favourite, concerning some fiddle of government expenses – ‘Double Billingsgate’. In an interview ...

Happy Man

Paul Driver: Stravinsky

8 February 2007
Stravinsky: The Second Exile​ – France and America 1934-71 
by Stephen​ Walsh.
Cape, 709 pp., £30, July​ 2006, 0 224 06078 3
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Down a Path of Wonder: Memoirs of Stravinsky, Schoenberg and Other Cultural Figures 
by Robert Craft.
Naxos, 560 pp., £19.99, October 2006, 1 84379 217 6
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... At the end of his two-volume biography, Stephen Walsh writes that Igor Stravinsky’s music is ‘the one unquestioned staple of the modern repertoire, the body of work that, more than any other, stands as an icon of 20th-century musical thought ...

A Common Playhouse

Charles Nicholl:​ The Globe Theatre

8 January 2015
Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle​ That Gave Birth to the Globe 
by Chris Laoutaris.
Fig Tree, 528 pp., £20, April 2015, 978 1 905490 96 7
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... efforts to exclude one who would become more distinguished than any of them. Blackfriars is an area rich in Shakespearean associations, invisible but well attested. Down an alleyway running south off CarterLane lies New Bell Yard. Now dominated by the glass-fronted atrium of the Grange St Pauls Hotel, this was formerly the site of the Bell Inn. In the 1590s its landlady was a Mistress Greffine or ...

How to Get Screwed

David Runciman

6 June 2019
The Mueller Report: Presented With Related Materials​ by the ‘Washington Post’ 
Simon and Schuster, 736 pp., £12.99, May 2019, 978 1 4711 8617 2Show More
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... I met​ Carter Page. And who’s he? For anyone not up to speed with the endless comings and goings in Trumpworld, the Washington Post edition of the Mueller report provides a helpful guide to its teeming cast of ...


Stephen​ Holmes: ‘Bomb Power’

8 April 2010
Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State 
by Garry Wills.
Penguin Press, 278 pp., $27.95, January 2010, 978 1 59420 240 7
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... Among them was the creation of ‘the vast and secret apparatus of the national security state’, including a ‘network of espionage and counter-subversion activities’. Wills applies his c’est-la-faute-à-la-bombe approach even to the CIA’s cloak-and-dagger escapades. ‘What,’ he asks, ‘made so many American officials feel they had the right to roam the world secretly killing “ ...
30 October 1997
Dust-bowl Migrants in the American Imagination 
by Charles Shindo.
Kansas, 252 pp., £22.50, January 1997, 0 7006 0810 9
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In the Country of Country 
by Nicholas Dawidoff.
Faber, 365 pp., £12.99, June 1997, 0 571 19174 6
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... had begun to evolve from ballads, building on traditional themes of loss, separation and alienation long before the Okies came to California. From the mid-Twenties onwards, Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family were recording songs about orphans, outlaws, disappointed love, homes left behind and nostalgically remembered – not to mention (though often forgotten) songs of hope and faith expressed in ...
22 November 1979
A.E. Housman 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Routledge, 304 pp., £9.75
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... on Housman’s work. One might then place his poetry in its historical context and assess it critically, taking account of the literary attitudes expressed in the London Introductory and Leslie StephenLectures. The author of such a study would find it helpful to have some understanding of the scholarly work which was the main business of Housman’s life, since the relation of this activity to his ...


Peter Campbell

7 May 1987
Joseph Banks: A Life 
by Patrick O’Brian.
Collins Harvill,​ 328 pp., £15, April 1987, 0 00 217350 6
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... life of Joseph Banks was to be expected. Banks combined the enthusiasm and practical competence of one of O’Brian’s fictional heroes, Jack Aubrey, with the passion for natural history of another, Stephen Maturin. Moreover O’Brian’s accounts in his novels of 18th-century seamanship are, like Tolstoy’s battle pieces, better historical description than most historians manage: it was clear that the ...

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