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Their Way

José Harris: On the Origin of Altruism, 12 March 2009

The Invention of Altruism: Making Moral Meanings in Victorian Britain 
by Thomas Dixon.
British Academy, 420 pp., £60, May 2008, 978 0 19 726426 3
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... or Soviet-style Marxism. Some of the most prominent social planners of those years, such as William Beveridge and Barbara Wootton in Britain, Pierre Laroque and Francis Netter in France, together with many campaigners for a united or federal postwar Europe, were heirs and exemplars of the positivist tradition of social, political and legal thought. Two ...

Strong Meat

John Lanchester, 11 January 1990

The Bellarosa Connection 
by Saul Bellow.
Secker, 102 pp., £11.95, January 1990, 0 436 19988 2
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The War Zone 
by Alexander Stuart.
Hamish Hamilton, 207 pp., £11.95, March 1989, 0 241 12342 9
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A Touch of Love 
by Jonathan Coe.
Duckworth, 156 pp., £9.95, April 1989, 0 7156 2277 3
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Do it again 
by Martyn Harris.
Viking, 220 pp., £11.95, October 1989, 0 670 82858 0
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... to the newspapers, and who has returned to Wykeham to live; Vivien, who now lectures at Wykeham; William, a charming ne’er-do-well antique dealer. Into this small circle intrudes Rachel, a 19-year-old student of Vivien’s, daughter of a Tory minister; she had a holiday fling with William not long ago, but Alex, who has ...

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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... intervals, the volumes plopped from the press, 63 in all, from Jacques Abbadie in 1885 to William Zuylestein in 1900, containing some thirty thousand pages on which 650 contributors recorded the details of 30,000 lives. And, as with the painting of the Forth Bridge, once this great Victorian monument was completed it was time to start all over ...

Georgian eyes are smiling

Frank Kermode, 15 September 1988

Bernard Shaw. Vol. I: The Search for Love, 1856-1898 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 486 pp., £16, September 1988, 0 7011 3332 5
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Bernard Shaw: Collected Letters. Vol. IV 
edited by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 946 pp., £30, June 1988, 0 370 31130 2
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Shaw: The Annual of Bernard Shaw Studies. Vol. VIII 
edited by Stanley Weintraub.
Pennsylvania State, 175 pp., $25, April 1988, 0 271 00613 7
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Shaw’s Sense of History 
by J.L. Wisenthal.
Oxford, 186 pp., £22.50, April 1988, 0 19 812892 4
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Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad. Vol. III: 1903-1907 
edited by Frederick Karl and Laurence Davies.
Cambridge, 532 pp., £35, April 1988, 0 521 32387 8
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Joseph Conrad: ‘Nostromo’ 
by Ian Watt.
Cambridge, 98 pp., £12.50, April 1988, 0 521 32821 7
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... There were already good biographies of Shaw, notably those of Frank Harris and Hesketh Pearson, both of whom knew Shaw and had the benefit of his energetic interventions. Pearson in particular will not be easily supplanted. Nevertheless the archives of the world are full of Shaviana inaccessible before his death, and because there had not been a serious attempt since 1956 – the centenary year – the Shaw Estate sensibly decided that the time had come for a new biography, and invited Mr Holroyd to write it ...

Babylon

William Rodgers, 30 March 1989

European Diary 1977-1981 
by Roy Jenkins.
Collins, 698 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 00 217976 8
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... Presidential years. ‘To lunch at the Wyatts at Connock. Clarissa Eden, the Weinstocks and John Harris ... the Weinstocks and Clarissa all being surprisingly agreeable.’ ‘Drive to Isleworth and dinner with the Gilmours ... an enjoyable and interesting dinner.’ But if these were sometimes occasions for tittle-tattle and of no great interest now, they ...

I ain’t afeared

Marina Warner: In Her Classroom, 9 September 2021

Black Teacher 
by Beryl Gilroy.
Faber, 268 pp., £12.99, July, 978 0 571 36773 3
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... work, in the poetry of Grace Nichols and David Dabydeen, and, especially, in the fiction of Wilson Harris. (I once invited Harris, a long-time resident of Chelmsford, to talk about what it was like to live in Essex: he wrote back to say that he had no idea – his mind was always in Guyana.)Gilroy’s grandmother was a ...

The Head in the Shed

Gavin Francis: Reading Bones, 21 January 2021

Written in Bone: Hidden Stories in What We Leave Behind 
by Sue Black.
Doubleday, 359 pp., £18.99, September 2020, 978 0 85752 690 8
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... Ian​ Hamilton once recounted in the LRB (22 October 1992) that ‘when William F. Buckley Jr sent a copy of his essays to Norman Mailer, he pencilled a welcoming “Hi, Norman!” in the index, next to Mailer’s name.’ The index discloses a lot about the nature of a book, and the passions of its author, more than is sometimes realised (‘acknowledgments’ are similarly illuminating ...

Puffed up, Slapped down

Rosemary Hill: Charles and Camilla, 7 September 2017

Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life 
by Sally Bedell Smith.
Michael Joseph, 624 pp., £25, April 2017, 978 0 7181 8780 4
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The Duchess: The Untold Story 
by Penny Junor.
William Collins, 320 pp., £20, June 2017, 978 0 00 821100 4
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... is much closer to her material. She has written two lives of Charles and one each of Diana, Prince William and Prince Harry, as well as a group portrait of ‘the troubled life of the House of Windsor’. A year younger than Charles, she has herself become part of the story. Her joint biography of Charles and Diana, published to mark their tenth wedding ...

Dropping Their Eggs

Patrick Wright: The history of bombing, 23 August 2001

A History of Bombing 
by Sven Lindqvist, translated by Linda Haverty Rugg.
Granta, 233 pp., £14.99, May 2001, 1 86207 415 1
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The Bomber War: Arthur Harris and the Allied Bomber Offensive 1939-45 
by Robin Niellands.
Murray, 448 pp., £25, February 2001, 0 7195 5637 6
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Way Out There in the Blue: Reagan, Star Wars and the End of the Cold War 
by Frances FitzGerald.
Touchstone, 592 pp., $17, March 2001, 0 7432 0023 3
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... Mullah’ of Somaliland, who was bombed into submission within a week. Arthur (Bomber) Harris was a squadron leader in the Third Afghan war of 1919, and pioneered the strategy of ‘control without occupation’ in Iraq, which entailed sprinkling fire on straw-roofed huts: ‘within forty-five minutes,’ ...

Darling Clem

Paul Addison, 17 April 1986

Clement Attlee 
by Trevor Burridge.
Cape, 401 pp., £20, January 1986, 0 224 02318 7
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The Second World War Diary of Hugh Dalton 1940-1945 
edited by Ben Pimlott.
Cape in association with the London School of Economics, 913 pp., £40, February 1986, 9780224020657
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Loyalists and Loners 
by Michael Foot.
Collins, 315 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 00 217583 5
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... before the public. Attlee was officially recognised as a great man with the publication of Kenneth Harris’s biography in 1982. Harris enlarged Attlee’s stature in two different respects. It had always been suspected that Attlee, though something of a dark horse, was a wholly sane and balanced human being of absolute ...

Alien Heat

Jonathan Gil Harris: ‘The Island Princess’, 17 March 2016

The Island Princess 
by John Fletcher, edited by Clare McManus.
Arden, 338 pp., £16.99, December 2012, 978 1 904271 53 6
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... struck down with a deadly illness. The Travels of the Three English Brothers (1607) by John Day, William Rowley and George Wilkins demonstrates some awareness of the doctrinal differences between the Sunni Islam of the Ottoman Turks and the Shia Islam of the Persians, stating that the Shia venerate ‘Mortus Ali’ (Ali ibn Abi Talib, the nephew of ...

All my eye and Betty Martin

Roy Harris, 1 December 1983

A Dictionary of Mottoes 
by L.G. Pine.
Routledge, 303 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 9780710093394
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Newspeak: A Dictionary of Jargon 
by Jonathon Green.
Routledge, 263 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9685 2
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The Oxford Miniguide to English Usage 
by E.S.C. Weiner.
Oxford, 412 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 19 869127 0
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The Oxford Dictionary of Current Idiomatic English: Volume II 
by A.P. Cowrie, R. Mackin and I.R. McCaig.
Oxford, 685 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 0 19 431150 3
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A Dictionary of the Teenage Revolution and its Aftermath 
by Kenneth Hudson.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £12.95, October 1983, 0 333 28517 4
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A Dictionary of Catch-Phrases 
by Eric Partridge.
Routledge, 278 pp., £5.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9989 4
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... The ‘popular’ writers are people like Arnold Wesker, H.E. Bates, Kingsley Amis and William Golding. Needless to say, the idioms which the BBC, the newspapers and the ‘popular’ writers are free to indulge in are those which pass the cultural censorship which dictionary-makers themselves exercise. So there is no breaking out of the ...

Policing the Police

Fredrick Harris: The Black Panthers, 20 June 2013

Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party 
by Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin.
California, 539 pp., £24.95, January 2013, 978 0 520 27185 2
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... thing in itself. Like W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Charlotta Bass, Claudia Jones and William Patterson in the 1940s and 1950s, the Black Panther Party connected the oppression of black America to people of colour around the globe, linking the internal struggle against racism in the US to anti-imperial struggles in Africa, Asia and Latin ...

All hail, sage lady

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Crown’, 15 December 2016

... naval officer striated with pride, it came to seem, if reports are true, like a life sentence. William Shawcross, in his expertly genuflecting biography of the queen mother, shows us a Duke of Edinburgh just after his wedding, a young man in love writing to his mother-in-law of the new unity he has just achieved and hopes will bless the future. ‘Lilibet ...

Who now cares about Malinowski?

Robert Ackerman, 23 May 1996

After Tylor: British Social Anthropology 1888-1951 
by George Stocking.
Athlone, 570 pp., £50, January 1996, 0 485 30072 9
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... library with anything to say (in English) about sex. It also seemed a good idea to consult Marvin Harris, who had written a history of anthropology himself and who at that time taught the history course required of all entering graduate students. When I told him of my plans, he was appalled at my theoretical naivety and seemed to fear for my intellectual life ...

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