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On Jews Walk

Andrew Saint: Eleanor Marx’s Blue Plaque, 9 October 2008

... but a cold, compulsive philanderer, gravely sick himself and dependent on her for care and cash. Nine months before she died, he contracted a secret marriage. The usual theory is that Eleanor killed herself when she discovered it: she had certainly been wretched for months on his account, yet pathetically loyal. Most of her friends felt that Aveling ...

How to Get Rich

Laleh Khalili: Who owns the oil?, 23 September 2021

The World for Sale: Money, Power and the Traders Who Barter the Earth’s Resources 
by Javier Blas and Jack Farchy.
Random House Business, 410 pp., £20, February, 978 1 84794 265 4
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... century, futures contracts at the Chicago Board of Trade for grain, timber and meat surpassed cash trades. As the historian William Cronon wrote in Nature’s Metropolis (1991), ‘one could buy, sell and settle up price differences without ever worrying about whether anything really existed to back up ...

Prussian Chic

James Sheehan: Frederick the Great, 28 July 2016

Frederick the Great: King of Prussia 
by Tim Blanning.
Allen Lane, 648 pp., £30, September 2015, 978 1 84614 182 9
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... have been more surprised at Frederick’s posthumous reputation than his father, King Frederick William I (1713-40). The Hohenzollern dynasty was unusually lucky; for almost three centuries, they managed to produce relatively healthy, relatively sane males, who all lived long enough to avoid the struggles for succession of so many of Europe’s ruling ...


Frank Kermode: Wordsworth at Sea, 6 February 2003

The Wreck of the ‘Abergavenny’ 
by Alethea Hayter.
Macmillan, 223 pp., £14.99, September 2002, 0 333 98917 1
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... primarily from the circumstance that its captain was John Wordsworth, brother of the more famous William and Dorothy. His death in 1805 at the outset of what was to have been his last voyage before he retired (at 34) caused convulsions of sorrow at Grasmere, where he had intended to join the family circle. The chief mourner was of course ...

Fishing for Potatoes

James Lasdun: Nissan Rogue, 27 January 2022

Collision Course: Carlos Ghosn and the Culture Wars That Upended an Auto Empire 
by Hans Greimel and William Sposato.
Harvard, 368 pp., £22, June 2021, 978 1 64782 047 3
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... In October 1999, he presented his rescue plan in a rousing speech in Tokyo. As Hans Greimel and William Sposato show in Collision Course, Ghosn’s story was a chronicle of triumph and downfall foretold, and the foretelling could be heard right there in the grand ballroom of the Royal Park Hotel. ‘No sacred cows, no taboos, no constraints,’ Ghosn ...

Introspection and the Body

P.N. Johnson-Laird, 5 March 1987

William James: His Life and Thought 
by Gerald Myers.
Yale, 628 pp., £30, October 1986, 0 300 03417 2
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... American mother of the mid-19th century: a provider of piety and apple pie. Of the five children, William and Henry inherited their father’s scruples and way with words. Unfortunately they each usurped the other’s vocation: the diffident intellectual became a novelist, the practical man of the world a philosopher. Henry, as Rebecca West observed, wrote ...

Crimes of Passion

Sam Sifton, 11 January 1990

Missing Beauty: A True Story of Murder and Obsession 
by Teresa Carpenter.
Hamish Hamilton, 478 pp., £15.95, October 1989, 0 241 12775 0
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Wasted: The Preppie Murder 
by Linda Wolfe.
Simon and Schuster, 303 pp., $19.95, September 1989, 0 671 64184 0
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... Decent people, Teresa Carpenter would assert, aren’t always what they seem. In 1982 William Douglas was working as a cell biologist at Tufts University near Boston, Massachusetts. He was an associate professor on the tenure track, a gifted scientist, and a successful grant-getter. He was married and he lived a quiet suburban life just outside the city with his wife and three children ...

Cronyism and Kickbacks

Ed Harriman: The economics of reconstruction in Iraq, 26 January 2006

US General Accountability Office 
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US Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction 
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International Advisory and Monitoring Board 
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... and Budget. The Office won’t discuss the matter. Earlier this month, Brigadier-General William McCoy told reporters: ‘The US never intended to completely rebuild Iraq … This was just supposed to be a jump-start.’ According to American officials behind the sandbags and razor wire of the US embassy in Baghdad, life for ordinary Iraqis is on the ...

Cocoa is blood and they are eating my flesh

Toby Green: Slavery and Cocoa, 11 April 2013

Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery and Colonial Africa 
by Catherine Higgs.
Ohio, 230 pp., £24.95, June 2012, 978 0 8214 2006 5
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... then forbidden to leave the estates that had ‘bought’ them. The serviçais were paid not in cash but vouchers, which they could only use at the estate store to buy poor quality goods and rum. This ‘voucher-wage labour’ was also common in the British-run nitrate mines of northern Chile. Casement reported that the Angolan serviçais were being treated ...

A Betting Man

Colin Kidd: John Law, 12 September 2019

John Law: A Scottish Adventurer of the 18th Century 
by James Buchan.
MacLehose, 513 pp., £14.99, August 2019, 978 1 84866 608 5
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... is no evidence,’ James Buchan writes, ‘he ever returned.’ Law was born in 1671, the son of William Law, a master goldsmith who, like other goldsmiths of his time, drifted from metallurgy into finance, becoming a lender to clients. Success in this sphere enabled the purchase of an estate at Lauriston in 1683. His family background must have helped ...


John Cannon, 10 May 1990

A Polite and Commercial People: England 1727-1783 
by Paul Langford.
Oxford, 803 pp., £25, September 1989, 0 19 822828 7
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Voters, Patrons and Parties: The Unreformed Electorate of Hanoverian England, 1734-1832 
by Frank O’Gorman.
Oxford, 445 pp., £40, August 1989, 0 19 820056 0
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... of people who do not always turn up in textbooks: Mary Tofts, ‘the rabbit woman’; the Rev. William Dodd, forger; Elizabeth Brownrigg, murderess; the Rev. Augustus Toplady, Evangelical; Elizabeth Chudleigh, duchess and bigamist, and the like. The straight political content is considerably reduced, but there is more on manners and ...

Ethnic Cleansers

Stephen Smith, 8 October 1992

Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and its Aftermath 
by Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim.
Viking, 430 pp., £17.99, May 1992, 0 670 83233 2
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Tiger Balm: Travels in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia 
by Lucretia Stewart.
Chatto, 261 pp., £10.99, June 1992, 0 7011 3892 0
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... the Embassy, but Tuan said foreigners were not allowed. He wouldn’t accept anything from me: not cash, not cigarettes, neither threats nor entreaties. But then he pointed to a door at the side of the building and held up three fingers – three minutes. The door was the entrance to a stairwell finished in drab lime. The stairs themselves were cordoned off by ...

Understanding Forwards

Michael Wood: William James, 20 September 2007

William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism 
by Robert Richardson.
Mariner, 622 pp., £15, September 2007, 978 0 618 43325 4
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... He was always around the corner and out of sight,’ Henry James wrote of his older brother William as a child. ‘He was clear out before I got well in.’ The philosopher C.S. Peirce said something similar about the grown man. ‘He so concrete, so living, I a mere table of contents.’ Josiah Royce, a life-long friend and Harvard colleague of William James, with whom he agreed philosophically scarcely ever, offered a fine parody of the pragmatism so closely associated with his companion’s name ...

The Ballad of Andy and Rebekah

Martin Hickman: The Phone Hackers, 17 July 2014

... of the News of the World, then edited by Coulson, intercepted the voicemail messages of Princes William and Harry. Goodman was arrested, and the police found 15 confidential palace phone books at his house in Putney. They also found five thousand names mentioned in 11,000 pages of handwritten notes at the home and in the office of Glenn Mulcaire, the ...

Pinned Down by a Beagle

Colin Burrow: ‘The Tragedy of Arthur’, 1 December 2011

The Tragedy of Arthur 
by Arthur Phillips.
Duckworth, 368 pp., £16.99, September 2011, 978 0 7156 4137 8
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... This was true of the most spectacular case of Shakespearean forgery. In 1795 a teenager called William Henry Ireland pretended to have found a series of documents connected with Shakespeare. His father, Samuel Ireland, loved making trips to Stratford to pick up dubious Shakespeareana. Indeed he loved everything to do with Shakespeare a lot more than he ...

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