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This Guilty Land

Eric Foner: Every Possible Lincoln, 17 December 2020

Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times 
by David S. Reynolds.
Penguin, 1066 pp., £33.69, September, 978 1 59420 604 7
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The Zealot and the Emancipator: John Brown, Abraham Lincoln and the Struggle for American Freedom 
by H.W. Brands.
Doubleday, 445 pp., £24, October, 978 0 385 54400 9
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... man and liberator of the slaves, has been the subject of more than 16,000 books, according to David S. Reynoldss new biography, Abe. That’s around two a week, on average, since the end of the American Civil War. Almost every possible Lincoln ...

Zest

David Reynolds: The Real Mrs Miniver, 25 April 2002

The Real Mrs Miniver 
by Ysenda Maxtone Graham.
Murray, 314 pp., £17.99, November 2001, 0 7195 5541 8
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Mrs Miniver 
by Jan Struther.
Virago, 153 pp., £7.99, November 2001, 1 85381 090 8
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... Miniver, whose heroine had come from a 1939 bestseller by the British writer Jan Struther. MGM’s 1942 movie had little else in common with her book, however, nor did its glossy portrait of a successful marriage correspond to the double life of Jan Struther. The film in fact took on an existence of its own, particularly in the United States, where it became ...

Too Proud to Fight

David Reynolds: The ‘Lusitania’ Effect, 28 November 2002

Wilful Murder: The Sinking of the ‘Lusitania’ 
by Diana Preston.
Doubleday, 543 pp., £18.99, May 2002, 0 385 60173 5
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Lusitania: Saga and Myth 
by David Ramsay.
Chatham, 319 pp., £20, September 2001, 1 86176 170 8
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Woodrow Wilson 
by John Thompson.
Longman, 288 pp., £15.99, August 2002, 0 582 24737 3
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... York Times that travellers sailing on British ships in the war zone around the British Isles did so ‘at their own risk’. Despite the luxurious languor of the voyage, there was a suppressed air of anxiety among the passengers, who included the American tycoon Alfred Vanderbilt and the Welsh mining magnate D.A. Thomas. The German submarine U-20 had already ...

Short Cuts

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Gordon Brown, 7 June 2007

... fortune through some startling and, on occasion, clandestine publishing and movie contracts, as David Reynolds has shown in his riveting In Command of History. Then there is self-justification after retirement, which almost always produces memoirs of numbing boredom: I assume – or hope – that no one alive has actually read every page of all the ...

Complete with spats

A.N. Wilson, 27 May 1993

Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul 
by Barbara Reynolds.
Hodder, 398 pp., £25, March 1993, 0 340 58151 4
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... I have been reading again The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy L. Sayers. Barbara Reynolds says that this book – together with her famous series of radio dramas The Man Born to be King – is her greatest work. And Barbara Reynolds should know. She is the goddaughter of Sayers; she is a distinguished Italian scholar and collaborated with Sayers on her translation of The Divine Comedy (a collaboration fascinatingly written up in her book The Passionate Intellect: Dorothy L ...

Big Man to Uncle Joe

Max Hastings: The Big Three, 22 November 2018

The Kremlin Letters: Stalin’s Wartime Correspondence with Churchill and Roosevelt 
edited by David Reynolds and Vladimir Pechatnov.
Yale, 660 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 300 22682 9
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... publication and long-lasting celebrity of his war memoirs, immensely to distort the conflict’s historiography. He presented an image of the Western powers fighting shoulder to shoulder that was at odds with the reality of two nations with widely differing war aims: the British sought to sustain themselves as an imperial power, while the United States was ...

At least that was the idea

Thomas Keymer: Johnson and Boswell’s Club, 10 October 2019

The Club: Johnson, Boswell and the Friends who Shaped an Age 
by Leo Damrosch.
Yale, 488 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 300 21790 2
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... The Turk’s Head​ isn’t the kind of name you’d choose for a pub these days, though there’s still one in Wapping, and another in Twickenham. The famous Turk’s Head was in Gerrard Street in Soho, a precinct first laid out under Charles II, popular with authors and artists from the start (Dryden moved to Gerrard Street in 1687 while still poet laureate), and by the mid-18th century thronged with coffee houses and taverns ...

Another Tribe

Andy Beckett: PiL, Wire et al, 1 September 2005

Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-84 
by Simon Reynolds.
Faber, 577 pp., £16.99, April 2005, 0 571 21569 6
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... Pistols, then and now the most famous punk band in the world, split up. Johnny Rotten, the band’s singer, most unstable musical element, and most adored and reviled member, had had enough. For the next nine months he largely disappeared from view, except for a promise to the music press that he would return with a new band who would be ‘anti-music of any ...

The Strange Case of John Bampfylde

Roger Lonsdale, 3 March 1988

... public existence, it must be as the man on the right in this unusual double portrait by Joshua Reynolds. An interested enquirer might learn that Bampfylde was a minor poet of the later 18th century and, in the absence of much hard information, encounter what is scarcely more than a striking anecdote of frustrated love and subsequent insanity. To probe the ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Hemingway the Spy, 16 February 2017

... perfect sense that the Paris Review was once a blunt instrument of the CIA. Arguably, there’s only so much damage one can do with a Robert Frost interview, but that didn’t stop the late Peter Matthiessen, one of the founding editors, from now and then leaving the office, or the Himalayas, to spy on supposed enemies ...

Heroes

Pat Rogers, 6 November 1986

Hume and the Heroic Portrait: Studies in 18th-Century Imagery 
by Edgar Wind, edited by Jaynie Anderson.
Oxford, 139 pp., £29.50, May 1986, 0 19 817371 7
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Augustan Studies: Essays in honour of Irvin Ehrenpreis 
edited by Douglas Lane Patey and Timothy Keegan.
University of Delaware Press, 270 pp., £24.50, May 1986, 9780874132724
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The 18th Century: The Intellectual and Cultural Context of English Literature 1700-1789 
by James Sambrook.
Longman, 290 pp., £15.95, April 1986, 0 582 49306 4
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... You get ringing in your ears when you read Norman Bryson, and fear you have caught Ménière’s disease off the page? Do not despair. There is a remedy. The second posthumous volume of Edgar Wind’s essays outdoes even its sumptuous predecessor in intellectual glitter and academic burnishing. Only 120 large pages of ...

Had he not run

David Reynolds: America’s longest-serving president, 2 June 2005

Franklin Delano Roosevelt 
by Roy Jenkins.
Pan, 208 pp., £7.99, May 2005, 0 330 43206 0
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Franklin D. Roosevelt 
by Patrick Renshaw.
Longman, 223 pp., $16.95, December 2003, 0 582 43803 9
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Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of Freedom 
by Conrad Black.
Weidenfeld, 1280 pp., £17.99, October 2004, 0 7538 1848 5
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... was one of perpetual motion, yet he could not move unaided: FDR was the wheelchair president. It’s important to spell out what his disability entailed. Roosevelt was stricken by polio in 1921 and never recovered the use of his legs. Every day he had to be dressed and undressed, helped onto the toilet and heaved into bed. ‘Rubberlegs’ – the nickname he ...

Enjoying every moment

David Reynolds: Ole Man Churchill, 7 August 2003

Churchill 
by John Keegan.
Weidenfeld, 181 pp., £14.99, November 2002, 0 297 60776 6
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Man of the Century: Winston Churchill and His Legend since 1945 
by John Ramsden.
HarperCollins, 652 pp., £9.99, September 2003, 0 00 653099 0
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Clementine Churchill: The Revised and Updated Biography 
by Mary Soames.
Doubleday, 621 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 385 60446 7
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Churchill at War 1940-45 
by Lord Moran.
Constable, 383 pp., £9.99, October 2002, 1 84119 608 8
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Churchill’s Cold War: The Politics of Personal Diplomacy 
by Klaus Larres.
Yale, 583 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 300 09438 8
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... him the greatest Briton of all time. Most Churchill biographies have been massive: Roy Jenkins’s weighed in at 1.5 kilos and a thousand pages. A great virtue of John Keegan’s is its brevity. Here is the saga in miniature. Keegan’s Churchill is pre-eminently a man of war and a man ...

Crossed Palettes

Ronald Paulson, 4 November 1993

Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in 18th-Century England 
by David Solkin.
Yale, 312 pp., £40, July 1993, 0 300 05741 5
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... divided into those who followed academic precepts, often slavishly but sometimes imaginatively (Reynolds, Wilson, Barry and West), and those whose paintings were, in important ways, anti-academic, or ‘English’: Hogarth himself, Zoffany, Wright of Derby, Stubbs, Gainsborough, Rowlandson and Blake. The second group all shared something of Hogarth’...

Hobnobbing

Ian Hamilton, 1 October 1998

Osbert Sitwell 
by Philip Ziegler.
Chatto, 461 pp., £25, May 1998, 1 85619 646 1
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... In February 1940, a Reynolds News reviewer wrote of the three Sitwells, Osbert, Edith and Sacheverell: ‘Now oblivion has claimed them, and they are remembered with a kindly if slightly cynical smile.’ And this, I suppose, is more or less how they are thought of now. Edith’s dark vowels still find their way into anthologies ...

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