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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 ...

A Misreading of the Law

Conor Gearty: Why didn’t Campbell sue?, 19 February 2004

Report of the Inquiry into the Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Dr David Kelly CMG 
by Lord Hutton.
Stationery Office, 740 pp., £70, January 2004, 0 10 292715 4
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... At first sight, the Hutton Report seemed to provide further evidence of Tony Blair’s intuitive political genius. It was extraordinary to have reaped from the appointment of Lord Hutton a set of findings which transformed a crisis that threatened to be overwhelming into a vindication of every aspect of the government’s conduct, and of the prime minister’s moral probity in particular ...

A Smaller Island

Matthew Reynolds: David Mitchell, 10 June 2010

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 469 pp., £18.99, May 2010, 978 0 340 92156 2
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... David Mitchell’s new novel is set on and around an artificial island called Dejima, constructed in the bay of Nagasaki to house representatives of the Vereenigde Oest-Indische Compagnie (Dutch East India Company), the sole official conduit for European trade with Japan during almost all of the rule of the Tokugawa Shoguns (1603-1867 ...
The Correspondence of Thomas Hobbes: Vols I-II 
edited by Thomas Hobbes and Noel Malcolm.
Oxford, 592 pp., £60, September 1994, 0 19 824065 1
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... to or from Leibniz. For the last three decades of his life Hobbes suffered from Parkinson’s disease, but he always had the assistance of a secretary, and he seems to have replied to letters whenever he received them. Alas, few people wrote to him. Worse, most of his correspondents were obscure and insignificant. Between the letter from Henry ...

Diary

David Denby: Deaths on Camera, 8 September 2016

... After calling for back-up, Tensing pulls in behind DuBose, who has stopped his car on Rice St, a pleasant green road outside the university campus. Tensing walks to the car, and the men have a seemingly amiable conversation. The officer is insistent but polite, DuBose vague and indistinct (at one point, he hands over a small bottle of ...

Hinsley’s History

Noël Annan, 1 August 1985

Diplomacy and Intelligence during the Second World War: Essays in Honour of F.H. Hinsley 
edited by Richard Langhorne.
Cambridge, 329 pp., £27.50, May 1985, 0 521 26840 0
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British Intelligence and the Second World War. Vol. I: 1939-Summer 1941, Vol. II: Mid-1941-Mid-1943, Vol. III, Part I: June 1943-June 1944 
by F.H. Hinsley, E.E. Thomas, C.F.G. Ransom and R.C. Knight.
HMSO, 616 pp., £12.95, September 1979, 0 11 630933 4
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... Times proclaimed to a sceptical public that he was Donald Beves, the delightful tutor of King’s known to generations of undergraduates who performed on stage in the ADC, the Marlowe or the Musical Society, and whose interest in politics or indeed in ideas was negligible: clearly his bonhomie disguised an Iago. When that identification proved too ...

A Republic of Taste

Thomas Crow, 19 March 1987

The Political Theory of Painting from Reynolds to Hazlitt: ‘The Body of the Public’ 
by John Barrell.
Yale, 366 pp., £16.95, October 1986, 0 300 03720 1
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... pictures he painted, which are the most highly regarded, through whose hands they have passed, and so on. In all this I see nothing of more than mediocre intelligence, and I suspect there exists some degree of servility in this enthusiasm. Dare I say what I think of this debauchery and corrupt curiosité? One must somehow enjoy a swindle ...

During Her Majesty’s Pleasure

Ronan Bennett, 20 February 1997

... Hackney, shortly before midnight on 11 February 1982, Terry McCluskie and his friend Raymond Reynolds picked a fight with a total stranger, Robert Ford, and stabbed him to death. Ford was 15 years old and had just taken his girl-friend home after spending an evening at a local Citizens’ Band radio club. McCluskie, also 15, and ...

I could light my pipe at her eyes

Ian Gilmour: Women and politics in Victorian Britain, 3 September 1998

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire 
by Amanda Foreman.
HarperCollins, 320 pp., £19.99, May 1998, 0 00 255668 5
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Aristocratic Women and Political Society in Victorian Britain 
by K.D. Reynolds.
Oxford, 268 pp., £35, April 1998, 0 19 820727 1
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Lady Byron and Earl Shilton 
by David Herbert.
Hinckley Museum, 128 pp., £7.50, March 1998, 0 9521471 3 0
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... a child, ‘but Mama remained ’till six in the morning’ – which presumably curtailed Mama’s devotions that day. She effectively taught her children to gamble. ‘I can never make myself easy,’ she later wrote to Georgiana, ‘about the bad example I have set you, and what you have but too faithfully imitated.’ Her daughters had indeed inherited ...

Who was David Peterley?

Michael Holroyd, 15 November 1984

... David Peterley’s Peterley Harvest was first published on 24 October 1960. The book had a curious history and, shortly before publication, stories began to appear in the press declaring it to be an elaborate hoax. The jacket of the book contained the information that David Peterley was the only son of an old Quaker family that had ‘lived in the Chilterns and been neighbours of Milton and the Penns ...

Diary

Ronan Bennett: The IRA Ceasefire, 22 September 1994

... corners in Europe if you happen to be unaccompanied and of the wrong religion. I assume it’s an adaptation of some Gerald Seymour novel and reach over to turn the radio off. Then I recognise the voice – it’s John Humphrys on Today. I concentrate. On the Falls, apparently, men with hard, cold eyes used to stare ...

Even Purer than Before

Rosemary Hill: Angelica Kauffman, 15 December 2005

Miss Angel: The Art and World of Angelica Kauffman 
by Angelica Goodden.
Pimlico, 389 pp., £17.99, September 2005, 1 84413 758 9
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... to conceal an inconvenient pregnancy and had recently given birth to the Duke of Devonshire’s illegitimate daughter in a seedy boarding-house in Vietri. Having left the baby with a wet nurse, she embarked on a liaison with the Russian ambassador. Her standing in Neapolitan society was, at best, shaky. The English expatriates in Italy in the 1780s were a ...

Knife and Fork Question

Miles Taylor: The Chartist Movement, 29 November 2001

The Chartist Movement in Britain 1838-50 
edited by Gregory Claeys.
Pickering & Chatto, £495, April 2001, 1 85196 330 8
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... from the shock of the 1848 Revolutions, Carlyle was alarmed that the workers weren’t quite so silent after all. ‘Stump oratory’ had taken over, he observed in his Latter-Day Pamphlets: ‘tongues, platforms, parliaments, and fourth-estates; unfettered presses, periodical and stationary literatures: we are nearly all gone to tongue.’ Carlyle was ...

Let us breakfast in splendour

Charles Nicholl: Francis Barber, 16 July 2015

The Fortunes of Francis Barber: The True Story of the Jamaican Slave Who Became Samuel Johnson’s Heir 
by Michael Bundock.
Yale, 282 pp., £20, May 2015, 978 0 300 20710 1
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... The engraving​ called A Literary Party at Sir Joshua Reynoldss shows nine men seated around a table convivially cluttered with decanters and after-dinner debris. From left to right they are James Boswell, Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick, Edmund Burke, Pasquale Paoli, Charles Burney, Thomas Warton and Oliver Goldsmith ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Pompeo Batoni, 10 April 2008

... painted. It would probably only have taken a couple of sessions for Batoni to get the sitter’s face onto canvas – the 12 he gave David Garrick were unusual. He made no preliminary drawings; when it came to finishing the figure a stand-in could take up the chosen position, usually a variation on a settled range of ...

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