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Strange Love

William​ Boyd

1 December 1983
The Africans 
by David Lamb.
Bodley Head, 363 pp., £12.50, August 1983, 0 370 30968 5
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African Princess 
by Princess Elizabeth of Toro.
Hamish Hamilton, 230 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 241 11002 5
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The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat 
by Ryszard Kapuściński, translated by William Brand and Katarzyna Mroczkowsa-Brand.
Quartet, 164 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7043 2415 6
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... In an African country, an Englishman – a senior consultant engineer for an oil company – checks into the best hotel in the capital city. The next morning, eating his breakfast by candlelight (the electricity has failed), he is disturbed by a steady drip of water onto the table in front of him. An inquiry soon establishes that this is an overflow from malfunctioning lavatories on the floor above ...

Survivors

Jonathan Steinberg

18 December 1986
Strangers in their own Land: Young Jews in Germany and Austria Today 
by Peter Sichrovsky and Thomas Keneally.
Tauris, 177 pp., £10.95, May 1986, 1 85043 033 0
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Remnants: The Last Jews of Poland 
by Malgorzata Niezabitowska and Tomasz Tomaszewski, translated by William Brand and Hanna Dobosiewicz.
Friendly Press, 272 pp., £25, September 1986, 0 914919 05 9
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The Jews in Poland 
edited by Chimen Abramsky, Maciej Jachimczyk and Antony Polonsky.
Blackwell, 264 pp., £29.50, September 1986, 0 631 14857 4
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... On 20 July 1943 the Polish artist Jonasz Stern was executed along with hundreds of other Jews of the Lwow ghetto by SS machine-gun fire. He awoke from a faint to find himself alive, buried under the corpses of the entire neighbourhood, covered in other people’s blood and excrement, the only survivor on Janowski Street. Two of the books reviewed here are about survivors, people who turned right instead ...

Why did Lady Mary care about William​ Cragh?

Maurice Keen: A medieval miracle

5 August 2004
The Hanged Man: A Story of Miracle, Memory and Colonialism in the Middle Ages 
by Robert Bartlett.
Princeton, 168 pp., £16.95, April 2004, 0 691 11719 5
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... extraordinary story of a Welshman hanged by the neck outside Swansea in 1290 (and rehanged to make double sure he was done for), and restored to life by the intervention of a saint. The Welshman was William Cragh (cragh in Welsh means ‘the scabby’), a follower, it appears, of the Welsh patriot Rhys ap Maredudd. Cragh had been captured by the men of William de Briouze, Lord of Gower, and sentenced by ...

Roadblocks

Jeremy Harding

9 May 1991
Fishing in Africa: A Guide to War and Corruption 
by Andrew Buckoke.
Picador, 227 pp., £17.50, May 1991, 0 330 31895 0
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Africa: Dispatches From a Fragile Continent 
by Blaine Harden.
HarperCollins, 333 pp., £16.99, April 1991, 0 00 215889 2
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The Soccer War 
by Ryszard Kapuściński, translated by William Brand.
Granta, 234 pp., £2.99, November 1990, 0 14 014209 6
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... Two of these books are by real journalists – Blaine Harden for the Washington Post, Andrew Buckoke for the Financial Times and others. The third is by a writer, Ryszard Kapuściński, who spent many years masquerading as a correspondent for the Polish news agency, PAP. In covering epic misfortune of the kind one reads about in Africa, all three have learned to talk straight from the shoulder, although ...

Genderbait for the Nerds

Christopher Tayler: William​ Gibson

22 May 2003
Pattern Recognition 
by William​ Gibson.
Viking, 356 pp., £16.99, April 2003, 0 670 87559 7
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... logo designs: ‘She’s met the very Mexican who first wore his baseball cap backward . . . She’s that good.’ It’s an effortful business, and, it seems, a full-time job, but hardly unusual in William Gibson’s futuristic fiction, which often features characters whose sensitivity to ambient data borders on the supernaturally acute. His last but one, Idoru (1996), introduced Colin Laney, an ...

Leave, and Leave Again

William​ Davies: The Brexit Mentality

7 February 2019
... competitive markets are systems in which ‘exit’ counts for everything. If I am unhappy with the quality of my washing powder, I can simply decline to buy it again, and choose a different brand in future. If enough consumers do the same, the manufacturer will eventually get the message, and either improve its product or get driven out of the market altogether. In a free market, exit is the ...

Waldorf’s Birthday Present

Gabriele Annan: The Lovely Langhornes

7 January 1999
The Langhorne Sisters 
by James Fox.
Granta, 612 pp., £20, November 1998, 1 86207 071 7
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... know they can’t but I never knew they realised it.” ’ Fox’s list tells you all you need to know about Nancy, but leaves out her charm, which was ‘such that we all fell easy victims’, Lord Brand wrote when he first met her. It must have been colossal to make her friends put up with some of the qualities in Fox’s inventory, not to speak of her relentless interference in their affairs ...

In Port Sunlight

Peter Campbell: The art collection of a soap magnate

20 January 2005
... of packaging it under the name ‘Sunlight’ that set the enterprise going. What had, up till then, been cut from a block by the grocer would be wrapped as cakes and sold as a branded product. A brand, at its simplest, combines a manufactured item and a name. The name can outlive the product. It can become generic, as ‘Hoover’ did, or it can establish meanings which no longer apply to the ...

Termagant

Ian Gilmour: The Cliveden Set

19 October 2000
The Cliveden Set: Portrait of an Exclusive Fraternity 
by Norman Rose.
Cape, 277 pp., £20, August 2000, 0 224 06093 7
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... airy and viewy’, a Roman Catholic who converted to Christian Science, became private secretary to Lloyd George in the First World War, and the British Ambassador in Washington in the Second; Robert Brand, thought by Jan Smuts to be ‘the most outstanding member of a very able team’ in South Africa, who became an investment banker and remained easily the best of the set; Geoffrey Dawson, editor of ...

One Enormous Room

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Council of Trent

9 May 2013
Trent: What Happened at the Council 
by John O’Malley.
Harvard, 335 pp., £20, January 2013, 978 0 674 06697 7
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... were proud of being good Catholics, but like many good Catholics before or since, they had no time for the pope. Counter-Reformation Rome had plenty of enormous rooms, its skyline punctuated by brand new palaces built by cardinals who sailed through the reforms of the Council of Trent serenely unreformed. ‘As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be’ seemed to be true of them. But ...
4 July 1985
Shah of Shahs 
by Ryszard Kapuściński, translated by William Brand.
Quartet, 152 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 7043 2473 3
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The Pride and the Fall: Iran 1974-1979 
by Anthony Parsons.
Cape, 160 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 224 02196 6
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Iran under the Ayatollahs 
by Dilip Hiro.
Routledge, 416 pp., £20, January 1985, 9780710099242
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Obbligato: Notes on a Foreign Service Career 
by William​ Sullivan.
Norton, 279 pp., £13.95, October 1984, 0 393 01809 1
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Envoy to the Middle World: Adventures in Diplomacy 
by George McGhee.
Harper and Row, 458 pp., £15.95, January 1984, 0 06 039025 5
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The Persians amongst the English 
by Denis Wright.
Tauris, 273 pp., £17.95, February 1985, 1 85043 002 0
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... throughout the revolutionary period. It is astonishing that the Embassy appears to have had no Farsi expert sufficiently aware of the intellectual currents to provide Parsons with accurate briefings. William Sullivan, US Ambassador to Iran during the crucial two years of the revolution, seems to have been better-informed in this respect, even if his understanding was superficial. ‘Shariati,’ he says ...

Staging Death

Martin Puchner: Ibsen's Modernism

8 February 2007
Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism: Art, Theatre, Philosophy 
by Toril Moi.
Oxford, 396 pp., £25, August 2006, 0 19 929587 5
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... most productive period of his life. Ibsen’s decision to move abroad seems to have been coupled with a desire to distance himself from the theatre. He called the first two texts he wrote in Rome – Brand (1866) and Peer Gynt (1867) – dramatic poems because he wanted to be free of the practical requirements of stage business. Their imaginative power exceeded that of anything he had written before ...

Short Cuts

William​ Davies: Jordan Peterson

2 August 2018
... and scientific institutions, is perfectly geared towards those in the younger generation who feel alienated from identity politics. If Peterson, Murray and Harris have one thing in common, it is a brand (always carefully tended) of intellectual and political fearlessness. The logo for the O2 event, titled ‘Winning the War of Ideas’, consisted of a grenade made out of a human brain, surrounded by ...

Pound & Co.

August Kleinzahler: Davenport and Kenner

26 September 2019
Questioning Minds: Vols I-II: The Letters of Guy Davenport and Hugh Kenner 
edited by Edward Burns.
Counterpoint, 1817 pp., $95, October 2018, 978 1 61902 181 5
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... In​ 1882, the year Virginia Woolf and William Carlos Williams were born, Friedrich Nietzsche bought a typewriter, a Malling-Hansen Writing Ball. It wasn’t as good as a Remington but it was cheaper. Nietzsche was losing his eyesight, probably ...

Welfare in America

William​ Plowden

11 July 1991
American Social Welfare Policy: A Structural Approach 
by Howard Karger and David Stoesz.
Longman, 371 pp., £18.95, November 1990, 0 8013 0193 9
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America’s Misunderstood Welfare State 
by Theodore Marmor, Jerry Mashaw and Philip Harvey.
Basic Books, 268 pp., $22.95, October 1990, 9780465001224
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The American Prospect 
edited by Paul Starr and Robert Kuttner.
New Prospect, 168 pp., $31
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... mid-1990, the Bush Administration announced that nothing more could usefully be done to fight poverty. ‘We have decided to abjure a glitzy, splashy high-profile announcement of new programs and a brand-new strategy,’ an official said. ‘We concluded that there were no obvious things we should be doing that we weren’t doing that would work.’ On this a staff member at a right-wing US think ...

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