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End of the Road

R.W. Johnson: The Undoing of the ANC, 20 November 2008

Cyril Ramaphosa 
by Anthony Butler.
Currey, 442 pp., £18.95, February 2008, 978 1 84701 315 6
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After the Party: A Personal and Political Journey inside the ANC 
by Andrew Feinstein.
Jonathan Ball, 287 pp., R 170, October 2007, 978 1 86842 262 3
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Thabo Mbeki: The Dream Deferred 
by Mark Gevisser.
Jonathan Ball, 892 pp., R 225, November 2007, 978 1 86842 101 5
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... secretive businessmen; but an air of unfulfilled promise, of unused capacity, still surrounds him. Andrew Feinstein’s book has been a great success in South Africa because the country’s notorious $5 billion arms deal (a package involving British Aerospace and several other European suppliers) and its attendant corruption, which are at the centre of ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... nothing happen, then the poetry anthology has no such self-effacing qualms. Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion knew this, as did the predecessor they were tussling with, A. Alvarez’s The New Poetry (which was tussling with its predecessor, Robert Conquest’s New Lines). ‘This anthology,’ they wrote in their preface to the Penguin Book of Contemporary ...
... which characterises the ‘poem’ of Lisa Erdman; there was skill in it, but it was at best, as Andrew Motion said in the TLS, ‘impressively unlikeable’. In The White Hotel the pornography is more calculatingly deployed. The rioting fantasy which constituted the kind of ‘free novel’ Thomas wanted to write is ironised by those sections which are ...

Like a Mosquito

Mattathias Schwartz: Drones, 4 July 2013

Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield 
by Jeremy Scahill.
Serpent’s Tail, 642 pp., £15.99, May 2013, 978 1 84668 850 8
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... innocent civilians. Estimates of civilian deaths range from ‘single digits’ in a year (Dianne Feinstein) to the low hundreds (New America Foundation) to nearly a thousand (Bureau of Investigative Journalism) to more than 90 per cent of all the deaths in drone strikes (the ex-military officers David Kilcullen and ...

The President and the Bomb

Adam Shatz, 16 November 2017

... to respond to such an order within minutes: there’s no time for questions. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California recently asked a former head of US Strategic Command if he would carry out an execute order that he knew would have disastrous consequences: ‘He looked me straight in the eye and said: “Yes.”’ The idea that the wise men of the ...

Sorrows of a Polygamist

Mark Ford: Ted Hughes in His Cage, 17 March 2016

Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life 
by Jonathan Bate.
William Collins, 662 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 00 811822 8
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... poems such as ‘The Song of the Honey Bee’, written for the short-lived marriage of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, or ‘A Masque for Three Voices’, composed in honour of the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday. Yet even at his worst, as in these lines from the survey of 20th-century history he includes in his tribute to the Queen Mum, one can’t help ...

Act One, Scene One

David Bromwich: Don’t Resist, Oppose, 16 February 2017

... nominee for health secretary, owes his appointment to his agitation for the repeal of Obamacare. Andrew Puzder, the CEO of the fast-food franchise Carl Jr, chiefly known for his opposition to raising the minimum wage, is Trump’s pick for labour secretary. The most ominous appointment for the laws and liberty of the country is the new director of the ...

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