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Gaddafi’s Folly

Andrew Wilson, 27 June 2002

... Colonel Gaddafi is building the largest aqueduct the world has ever seen. The Great Man-Made River supplies the cities of northern Libya with drinking water from beneath the sands of the south. Pumping stations at Tazerbo and Sarir in the eastern Libyan Sahara raise water from deep aquifers and convey it northwards to Benghazi and Sirt through 1500 km of pipeline ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Mobile phones, 10 July 2003

... enabled people to be on time, whereas mobile phones mean it hardly ever matters if we’re late. Andrew Wilson, a poet, will be publishing his first collection, Text Messages, in the autumn (Smith/Doorstop, £5). Readers are encouraged to send poems to friends’ mobiles. From September, it will be possible to receive five free by texting yes to 07781 ...

Lukashenko’s Way

Jonathan Steele, 27 September 2012

Belarus: The Last European Dictatorship 
by Andrew Wilson.
Yale, 304 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 300 13435 3
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The Last Dictatorship in Europe: Belarus under Lukashenko 
by Brian Bennett.
Hurst, 358 pp., £30, January 2012, 978 1 84904 167 6
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... and travel sanctions, then moved to cautious engagement: neither strategy made an impact. Andrew Wilson is more dispassionate than Brian Bennett, who was the UK ambassador in Minsk between 2003 and 2007 and remains angry at what he saw. Wilson devotes the first half of his book to an analysis of ...

What did happen?

David Edgar: Ukraine, 21 January 2016

The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine 
by Serhii Plokhy.
Allen Lane, 381 pp., £25, December 2015, 978 0 241 18808 8
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In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine 
by Tim Judah.
Allen Lane, 256 pp., £20, January 2016, 978 0 241 19882 7
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Ukraine Crisis: What It Means for the West 
by Andrew Wilson.
Yale, 236 pp., £12.99, October 2014, 978 0 300 21159 7
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Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands 
by Richard Sakwa.
I.B. Tauris, 297 pp., £9.99, January 2015, 978 1 78453 527 8
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... the columns of journals, at university conferences, and at public and private meetings ever since. Andrew Wilson had already written an effective narrative of the 2004 uprising in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution (2005), where he acknowledged that the protests against Yanukovich’s fraudulent 2004 election were pre-planned (exit polls, steward training, the ...

Not a desire to have him, but to be like him

Slavoj Žižek: Highsmith is the One, 21 August 2003

Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith 
by Andrew Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 534 pp., £25, June 2003, 0 7475 6314 4
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... held for Gilles Deleuze (a ‘Christ among philosophers’). I learned a lot about her from Andrew Wilson’s biography, a book which strikes the right balance between empathy and critical distance. Wilson’s interpretations of her work, however, are often vapid. Can one really take seriously remarks such ...

Why name a ship after a defeated race?

Thomas Laqueur: New Lives of the ‘Titanic’, 24 January 2013

The Wreck of the ‘Titan’ 
by Morgan Robertson.
Hesperus, 85 pp., £8, March 2012, 978 1 84391 359 7
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Shadow of the ‘Titanic’ 
by Andrew Wilson.
Simon and Schuster, 392 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 1 84739 882 6
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‘Titanic’ 100th Anniversary Edition: A Night Remembered 
by Stephanie Barczewski.
Continuum, 350 pp., £15.99, December 2011, 978 1 4411 6169 7
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The Story of the Unsinkable ‘Titanic’: Day by Day Facsimile Reports 
by Michael Wilkinson and Robert Hamilton.
Transatlantic, 127 pp., £16.99, November 2011, 978 1 907176 83 8
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‘Titanic’ Lives: Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 404 pp., £9.99, September 2012, 978 0 00 732166 7
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Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage 
by Hugh Brewster.
Robson, 338 pp., £20, March 2012, 978 1 84954 179 4
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‘Titanic’ Calling 
edited by Michael Hughes and Katherine Bosworth.
Bodleian, 163 pp., £14.99, April 2012, 978 1 85124 377 8
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... the lost age of innocence. Walter Lord, who wrote the 1955 classic A Night to Remember, which, as Andrew Wilson says in his wonderful retellings of survivors’ stories, marks the beginning of the modern era of Titanic myth and memory, sailed on her as a boy. (The Olympic had her share of bad luck too. She was rammed by a warship in 1911 and limped into ...

Other People’s Mail

Bernard Porter: MI5, 19 November 2009

The Defence of the Realm: The Authorised History of MI5 
by Christopher Andrew.
Allen Lane, 1032 pp., £30, October 2009, 978 0 7139 9885 6
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... as MI5 and MI6 had to be kept so secret; MI5 remained officially secret for 80 years. Christopher Andrew has another explanation, however. It was just a ‘taboo’, he writes (quoting the historian Michael Howard), like ‘intra-marital sex’. Everyone knew it went on, and was ‘quite content that it should, but to speak, write or ask questions about ...

Questionably Virtuous

Stuart Middleton: Harold Wilson, 8 September 2016

Harold WilsonThe Unprincipled Prime Minister? Reappraising Harold Wilson 
edited by Andrew Crines and Kevin Hickson.
Biteback, 319 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78590 031 0
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... There has​ never been a bad time to reappraise Harold Wilson. He was a politician so enigmatic, so elusive even to his own associates, that he seemed to demand near continuous reappraisal throughout his career. On the verge of office in 1964, he appeared to more than one observer as a latter-day Lloyd George, a radical tribune sprung from provincial nonconformity to drive the nation before him with wit and moral exhortation ...

Jack and Leo

John Sutherland, 27 July 1989

The Letters of Jack London 
edited by Earle Labor, Robert Leitz and Milo Shepard.
Stanford, 1657 pp., $139.50, October 1988, 0 8047 1227 1
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Tolstoy 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 572 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 241 12190 6
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... in 1975. Just before his death, he had given encouragement to a British would-be biographer, Andrew Sinclair. On Irving’s death, Sinclair found himself dealing with Milo Shepard, whose policy with scholars, though notably less restrictive than his father’s and Charmian’s, has not been entirely open-handed – two recent biographers of ...

Denizens of Baghdad’s Green Zone, take note

Andrew Bacevich: America’s Forgotten General, 20 April 2006

Leonard Wood: Rough Rider, Surgeon, Architect of American Imperialism 
by Jack McCallum.
New York, 368 pp., $34.95, December 2005, 0 8147 5699 9
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... rearmament with an admixture of militarism – which put him at odds with President Woodrow Wilson, who didn’t want the United States embroiling itself in European quarrels, didn’t see any need for a bigger army, and above all didn’t take kindly to generals mucking around in politics. By 1917, when Wilson’s ...

Squidging about

Caroline Murphy: Camilla and the sex-motherers, 22 January 2004

Camilla: An Intimate Portrait 
by Rebecca Tyrrel.
Short Books, 244 pp., £14.99, October 2003, 1 904095 53 4
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... 1966, when she was 19, the knicker-throwing debutante met a 27-year-old lieutenant in the Guards, Andrew Parker Bowles. He was handsome, and his parents were ‘excellent in-law material’. His father, Derek, a steward at Newbury racecourse, was a great friend of the Queen Mother’s, while his mother, Ann (nicknamed ‘Rhino’), was the Chief Commissioner ...

Gaol Fever

David Saunders-Wilson, 24 July 1986

Prisons and the Process of Justice 
by Andrew Rutherford.
Oxford, 217 pp., £5.95, June 1986, 0 19 281932 1
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Growing out of Crime: Society and Young People in Trouble 
by Andrew Rutherford.
Penguin, 189 pp., £3.95, January 1986, 0 14 022383 5
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... opened in the last eighteen months, will reduce or end the overcrowding by the end of the decade. Andrew Rutherford, chairman of the Howard League for Penal Reform, advocates a vastly different approach to imprisonment and the prison system as a whole. In both Prisons and the Process of Justice and Growing out of Crime he argues against the ...

Raven’s Odyssey

D.A.N. Jones, 19 July 1984

Swallow 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 312 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 575 03446 7
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First Among Equals 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 446 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 340 35266 3
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Morning Star 
by Simon Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 264 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 9780856341380
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... author: the real people he describes may seem too predictable for credibility. For instance, Mary Wilson is welcoming guests at 10 Downing Street and immediately begins talking about the difficulty of getting poetry published. Well, she would, wouldn’t she? No, actually. An anecdote may help me here. When I was preparing in 1982 to review Simon Raven’s ...

The Strange Case of Peter Vansittart

Martin Seymour-Smith, 6 March 1986

Aspects of Feeling 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 251 pp., £10.95, January 1986, 0 7206 0637 3
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... has been singled out for praise by critics as diverse as Philip Toynbee, Francis King, Angus Wilson and Andrew Sinclair. All feel that he lacks the large audience he deserves. Yet the curious reader, anxious to gain more information about this somewhat enigmatic writer, of undoubted power (and above all vision), may ...

In Memory of Eustache-Hyacinthe Langlois

Rosemary Hill: Where is Bohemia?, 6 March 2003

Bohemians: The Glamorous Outcasts 
by Elizabeth Wilson.
Tauris, 288 pp., £11.99, October 2002, 1 86064 782 0
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Quentin & Philip 
by Andrew Barrow.
Macmillan, 559 pp., £18.99, November 2002, 0 333 78051 5
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... There are maps both in Elizabeth Wilson’s book, which deals with bohemians in general, and in Andrew Barrow’s, which is a study of two in particular, but the street plans of Soho, Paris or Munich are not much use as a guide to the subject. Bohemia is a country of the mind, a flying island that may land anywhere and take off again just as quickly ...

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