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Passage to Africa

D.A.N. Jones, 7 July 1983

Africa Dances 
by Geoffrey Gorer.
Penguin, 218 pp., £2.95, January 1983, 0 14 009502 0
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Nigerian Kaleidoscope 
by Rex Niven.
Hurst/Archon, 278 pp., £13.50, January 1983, 0 905838 59 9
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by Sylvia Leith-Ross, edited by Michael Crowder.
Peter Owen, 191 pp., £10.95, February 1983, 0 7206 0600 4
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Female and Male in West Africa 
edited by Christine Oppong.
Allen and Unwin, 402 pp., £18.50, April 1983, 0 04 301158 6
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Memories of Our Recent Boom 
by Kole Omotoso.
Longman, 232 pp., £1.50, May 1983, 0 582 78572 3
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... One was picturesque and picaresque, Africa Dances: A Book about West African Negroes, published by Geoffrey Gorer in 1935 when he was 30, after a rather Waugh-like tour of French and British territories: he had been guided by Féral Benga, a ballet dancer from Senegal whom he had met in Paris. The striking pictures included a smoky painting of handsome Benga ...


Aingeal Clare: Alice Oswald, 23 March 2006

Woods etc 
by Alice Oswald.
Faber, 56 pp., £12.99, May 2005, 0 571 21852 0
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... through these various voices. The result is similar in spirit to Basil Bunting’s Briggflatts or Geoffrey Hill’s Mercian Hymns, a scrupulous tilling and scouring of the poet’s homeland. Despite her marked territoriality, there is an aura of communion in Oswald’s work (communion with God, nature, language – anything to hand) which can at times seem ...


Philip Horne, 28 September 1989

The Pale Companion 
by Andrew Motion.
Viking, 164 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 670 82287 6
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... a consciously smooth and reader-friendly go at the anachronistic childhood memoir invented by Geoffrey Hill in the pricklier Mercian Hymns. ‘Scripture’ manifests the ‘renewed interest in narrative’ of which the 1982 Introduction spoke; and its subject-matter – school friendships, traumas and epiphanies, seen with ingenious irony as episodes from ...

The Great NBA Disaster

John Sutherland, 19 October 1995

... newsworthy events. A rogue Japanese trader had out-Leesoned Leeson by losing a billion dollars on Wall Street without his employers noticing; Clinton had successfully, as it seemed, bombed the Serbs and blackmailed the Israelis to the peace table; Humphrey the missing Downing Street cat had been found. What the Times chose to lead with on Wednesday morning ...

The Finchley Factor

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Thatcher in Israel, 13 September 2018

Margaret Thatcher and the Middle East 
by Azriel Bermant.
Cambridge, 274 pp., £22.99, September 2017, 978 1 316 60630 8
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... Thatcher’s death the self-proclaimed ‘very right-wing’ historian Andrew Roberts wrote in the Wall Street Journal that ‘her support for Israel was lifelong and unwavering.’ All this is quietly and comprehensively demolished by Bermant, who has scoured both the Israeli and the British archives, and interviewed many of the surviving political players ...

Staying in power

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 7 January 1988

Mrs Thatcher’s Revolution: The Ending of the Socialist Era 
by Peter Jenkins.
Cape, 411 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 224 02516 3
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De-Industrialisation and Foreign Trade 
by R.E. Rowthorn and J.R. Wells.
Cambridge, 422 pp., £40, November 1988, 0 521 26360 3
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... on nuclear weapons.) Lawson could, if allowed, prevent the more successful firms going to the wall. And he could assist the recovery – which now depends on corporations from abroad like Nissan taking advantage of some of Europe’s cheapest labour – of the devastated North. Meanwhile, the six million council tenants are now mostly those who are too ...

Poor George

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 7 March 1991

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power 
by Daniel Yergin.
Simon and Schuster, 877 pp., £20, January 1991, 0 671 50248 4
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... Edison threw a switch in J.P. Morgan’s office in lower Manhattan in 1882, however, and lit up Wall Street with electricity, it seemed that demand would fall. The internal combustion engine revived it. By 1910, sales of gasoline were exceeding those of kerosene, and in 1913, the invention of thermal cracking enabled refiners to extract motor fuel even from ...

Here you will find only ashes

Geoffrey Hosking: The Kremlin, 3 July 2014

Red Fortress: The Secret Heart of Russia’s History 
by Catherine Merridale.
Penguin, 528 pp., £10.99, May 2014, 978 0 14 103235 1
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... don’t wish to have drawn to people’s attention – for example, ‘a red flag rolled against a wall’ and ‘a gilded table quarantined from some themed exhibition space’. Merridale writes with well-crafted irony but also somewhat superciliously about Russia’s rulers, showing most of them to have been vain, greedy and power-loving, which they usually ...

Del Ponte’s Deal

Geoffrey Nice: Milosevic’s Trial, 16 December 2010

Twilight of Impunity: The War Crimes Trial of Slobodan Milosevic 
by Judith Armatta.
Duke, 545 pp., £26.99, August 2010, 978 0 8223 4746 0
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... the ‘fishbowl’ of the court – with its dramatic but probably unnecessary bulletproof-glass wall separating us from the public and journalists – were better able to judge the atmosphere in the court. How much difference would it have made had Clark given evidence in the way everyone else did? Armatta also gives an inaccurate account of the attempt to ...

Paul de Man’s Proverbs of Hell

Geoffrey Hartman, 15 March 1984

... which suffers under the additional charge of turning everything into text (‘pantextualism’, ‘wall-to-wall textuality’), will obviously have an even harder time in being read by a wide audience. Certain pronouncements like Derrida’s ‘There is no hors texte’ have become notorious: they are taken out of context as ...

Capitalism without Capital

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 26 May 1994

The Endangered American Dream: How to Stop the United States from Becoming a Third World Country and Win the Geo-Economic Struggle for Industrial Supremacy 
by Edward Luttwak.
Simon and Schuster, 365 pp., $24, October 1993, 0 671 86963 9
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Japan’s Capitalism: Creative Defeat and Beyond 
by Shigeto Tsuru.
Cambridge, 277 pp., £24.95, June 1993, 0 521 36058 7
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... of the way on the buy-outs they were encouraging in the Eighties. The twelve hundred directors of Wall Street firms earned about $1.1 million each in 1991, and that was after the takeover fever had faded. Somewhat further down things have not been so good at all. Relatively, the change has been extraordinary. Between 1980 and 1991, the earnings of those chief ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: In the Bunker, 2 July 2020

... beneath. The track leading to the abbey passes through a stone archway, a gate in an ancient Roman wall. The medieval buildings stand towards the western end of the site of Falerii Novi, a city founded in 241 BC and occupied until the sixth or seventh century AD. It hasn’t been excavated – within the tumbledown and overgrown Roman walls, the 75 acres of ...

At Home in the Huntington

John Sutherland: The Isherwood Archive, 10 June 1999

... of literary skill’. (Once celebrated as the Shelley of the Thirties, he was later described by Geoffrey Grigson as the ‘Rupert Brooke of the Depression’.) Isherwood, he grudgingly conceded, could claim ‘accomplishment’. Isherwood returned the tepid compliment, 12 years later, with a script for the Tony Richardson production of The Loved One. The ...

Blood Boiling

Paul Foot: Corporate takeover, 22 February 2001

Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain 
by George Monbiot.
Macmillan, 430 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 333 90164 9
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No Logo 
by Naomi Klein.
Flamingo, 501 pp., £8.99, January 2001, 0 00 653040 0
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... Both contemptuously reject the view, which seemed supreme after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and what used to be known (quite wrongly) as Communism, that the world is now set fair on a course to libertarian capitalist prosperity. Instead of the torch of freedom, Klein writes, ‘it seems that it may be the torch of authoritarianism that is being ...

Bitter End

Alasdair St John, 27 October 1988

Hong Kong 
by Jan Morris.
Viking, 304 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 670 80792 3
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... foreign investors in Hong Kong, and when the terms of the Agreement were known, from Tokyo to Wall Street there was a loosening of collars and a wiping of brows. In Westminster the Agreement was greeted with, if not jubilation, at least satisfaction. Britain had honoured its commitment to Hong Kong, and could leave its easternmost possession with ...

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