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Chronicle of an Epidemic

John Ryle, 19 May 1988

And the band played on: Politics, People and the Aids Epidemic 
by Randy Shilts.
Viking, 630 pp., £15.95, March 1988, 0 670 82270 1
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Crisis: Heterosexual Behaviour in the Age of Aids 
by William Masters, Virginia Johnson and Robert Kilodny.
Weidenfeld, 243 pp., £9.95, March 1988, 0 297 79392 6
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The Forbidden Zone 
by Michael Lesy.
Deutsch, 250 pp., £11.95, February 1988, 0 233 98203 5
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... tenor of social life has radically altered. Actual behavioural change is more difficult to assess. Masters and Johnson and their colleague Robert Kolodny argue in Crisis that sexual behaviour in the United States among both homosexuals and heterosexuals has not yet altered enough to make a significant difference. In addition to the time-lapse between ...

Masters

Christopher Ricks, 3 May 1984

Swift: The Man, His Works and the Age: Vol III. Dean Swift 
by Irvin Ehrenpreis.
Methuen, 1066 pp., £40, December 1983, 0 416 85400 1
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Swift’s Tory Politics 
by F.P. Lock.
Duckworth, 189 pp., £18, November 1983, 0 7156 1755 9
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Jonathan Swift: Political Writer 
by J.A. Downie.
Routledge, 391 pp., £25, March 1984, 0 7100 9645 3
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The Character of Swift’s Satire 
edited by Claude Rawson.
Associated University Presses, 343 pp., £22.50, April 1984, 0 87413 209 6
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... that a good motive was alive in the unfortunate circumstance, as when Ehrenpreis suggests that Sir William Temple’s not making provision for the career of his young protégé was more fatherly than the reverse: ‘If he had indeed any fatherly feelings for Swift, they would have worked in the wrong direction. Not only would he have wished to hold onto the ...

Masters of Art

John Sutherland, 18 December 1980

Loon Lake 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, 258 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 333 30641 4
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Alice fell 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 124 pp., £5.50, November 1980, 0 224 01872 8
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The Covenant 
by James Michener.
Secker, 873 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 436 27966 5
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Ancesteral Vices 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 231 pp., £6.50, November 1980, 0 436 45809 8
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... in turn, are helped by Ella Grogan, the daughter of a local midwife and a gardener’s boy, William. All the characters in this hierarchy gain some narrative attention, but mainly it plays over the old man and the Paxtons’ daughter Alice. Between them, these two mark off a momentous span of English historical time. Alice is born on the eve of Eden’s ...

Uncle Max

Patricia Craig, 20 December 1984

The man who was M: The Life of Maxwell Knight 
by Anthony Masters.
Blackwell, 205 pp., £9.95, November 1984, 0 631 13392 5
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Unreliable Witness: Espionage Myths of the Second World War 
by Nigel West.
Weidenfeld, 166 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 297 78481 1
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The Great Betrayal: The Untold Story of Kim Philby’s Biggest Coup 
by Nicholas Bethell.
Hodder, 214 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 0 340 35701 0
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... Like most biographers, Anthony Masters starts by announcing his subject’s date of birth; unlike most biographers, he gets it wrong. Charles Henry Maxwell Knight was born on 9 July 1900, not 4 September, under the sign of Cancer, not Virgo, however tempting it may be, for reasons which become clear in the course of the story, to assign him to the latter ...

In the Know

Simon Schaffer, 10 November 1994

Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture 
by William Eamon.
Princeton, 490 pp., £38.50, July 1994, 0 691 03402 8
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The Business of Alchemy: Science and Culture in the Holy Roman Empire 
by Pamela Smith.
Princeton, 308 pp., £30, July 1994, 0 691 05691 9
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... it’, as well they might. Such stories might seem far away from modern science, but according to William Eamon they hold vital clues to the course and meaning of the Scientific Revolution. The quick-witted medical improviser was Leonardo Fioravanti, an eminent ‘professor of secrets’, one of a number of Renaissance writers who traded on their reputation ...

Prussian Officers

William Doyle, 23 January 1986

Frederick the Great: A Military Life 
by Christopher Duffy.
Routledge, 407 pp., £17.95, September 1985, 0 7100 9649 6
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Society, Government and the Enlightenment: The Experiences of 18th-Century France and Prussia 
by C.B.A. Behrens.
Thames and Hudson, 248 pp., £16, August 1985, 0 500 25090 1
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Religious Toleration and Social Change in Hamburg 1529-1819 
by Joachim Whaley.
Cambridge, 248 pp., £25, August 1985, 0 521 26189 9
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... they would be much better employed absorbing and pondering the conclusions of the great French masters who have already exposed the essential issues for them. Her footnotes are heavy with references to scholars like Marion, Mousnier, Egret, Bluche and Antoine, and in essentials her diagnosis of the ills that killed the Ancien Régime is a retouched and ...

Ich dien

Michael Neill: Shakespeare and the Servants, 22 October 2009

Shakespeare, Love and Service 
by David Schalkwyk.
Cambridge, 317 pp., £50, June 2008, 978 0 521 88639 0
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... same language would have expressed a more literal truth. In that world the relationship between masters and servants in many respects resembled that between parents and children – even if ‘a seruants place and dutie’ was acknowledged to be ‘of more abiect and inferiour kinde’, as William Gouge put it in Of ...

A Giant Still Sleeping

Lorna Scott Fox: Mike Davies, 4 April 2002

Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the US City 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 202 pp., £10, November 2001, 9781859843284
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... six minors were jointly convicted of second-degree murder. Two years later, a vigilante called William Masters II shot a pair of unarmed graffiti painters, one of whom died. ‘Outraged Latino community leaders demanded Masters’s indictment for manslaughter,’ Davis reports, but the District Attorney let him go ...

Blake at work

David Bindman, 2 April 1981

William Blake, printmaker 
by Robert Essick.
Princeton, 304 pp., £27.50, August 1980, 0 691 03954 2
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... and that the French Revolution was the fulfilment of the prophecy of Revelation. One example is William Sharp, known alike for his skill as an engraver and his extreme credulity. Even Blake was sceptical of his fervent devotion to Richard Brothers, the self-appointed Prince of the Hebrews and Nephew of the Almighty, and to Joanna Southcott, the putative ...

Brute Nature

Rosemary Dinnage, 6 March 1997

Masters of Bedlam: The Transformation of the Mad-Doctoring Trade 
by Andrew Scull, Charlotte Mackenzie and Nicholas Hervey.
Princeton, 363 pp., £23, February 1997, 0 691 03411 7
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... lunatic asylum; his portrait of the alienist Sir Alexander Morison stares from the cover of Masters of Bedlam, gauntly silhouetted against a mottled sky. He seems to be looking at something he finds hard to bear. The brief biographies of 19th-century alienists through which Andrew Scull, Charlotte MacKenzie and Nicholas Hervey tell the story of the ...

At the V&A

Rosemary Hill: Constable , 23 October 2014

... that Constable was not a naive artist painting directly from nature but was influenced by old masters and contemporary painting is true, but nobody has seriously questioned it. As Ernst Gombrich wrote in 1960, ‘That the artist can learn from tradition … it never entered Constable’s mind to doubt.’ His friend and biographer C.R. Leslie described ...

An Endless Progression of Whirlwinds

Robert Irwin: Asian empire, 21 June 2001

Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Asia 
by Karl Meyer and Shareen Brysac.
Little, Brown, 646 pp., £25, January 2001, 0 316 85589 8
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Tibet: The Great Game and Tsarist Russia 
by Tatiana Shaumian.
Oxford, 223 pp., £16, October 2000, 0 19 565056 5
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... of Shadows is an intricate interweaving of biographical portraits and individual stories: of William Moorcroft, the horse doctor with a mission to find new stock for the cavalry in British India; Charles Metcalfe, the advocate of a forward policy on the frontier in the early 19th century; Alexander ‘Bokhara’ Burnes, the foolhardy political ...

Not His Type

Frank Kermode, 5 September 1996

About Modern Art: Critical Essays 1948-96 
by David Sylvester.
Chatto, 448 pp., £25, June 1996, 0 7011 6268 6
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... handle the work of painters born since 1945, and regrets that he has written so little about Old Masters, seeming, a shade implausibly, to blame this omission on lack of nerve. Occasionally he worries that his writing about painting could be an intrusion on the painting, and for that reason he has refrained from writing anything in the catalogues of some of ...

Make me work if you can

T.H. Breen, 18 February 1988

Bound for America: The Transportation of British Convicts to the Colonies, 1718-1775 
by Roger Ekirch.
Oxford, 277 pp., £25, November 1987, 0 19 820092 7
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... to banish persons who might well have been hanged. ‘The Liberties of a free people,’ wrote William Paley, ‘permit not those precautions and restraints, that inspection, scrutiny, and control, which are exercised with success in arbitrary governments.’ The Transportation Act rid the country of troublemakers, saved the government the cost of building ...

Soldier, Saint

Stuart Airlie, 19 February 1987

William Marshal: The Flower of Chivalry 
by Georges Duby, translated by Richard Howard.
Faber, 156 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 571 13745 8
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Thomas Becket 
by Frank Barlow.
Weidenfeld, 334 pp., £14.95, July 1986, 0 297 78908 2
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... In his fascinating new book, Professor Duby stresses that his subject, the knight-errant William Marshal, was never alone: ‘Who is ever alone at the beginning of the 13th century but the mad, the possessed – marginal figures who are hunted down? An orderly world requires that each man remain swathed in a fabric of solidarities, of ...

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