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Lucy Hughes-Hallett, 19 December 1991

The Emperor’s Last Island: A Journey to St Helena 
by Julia Blackburn.
Secker, 244 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 436 20030 9
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... Each chapter of Julia Blackburn’s peculiar and haunting book has its epigraph. The largest number of quotations are from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass; the second most frequent source is King Lear. Absurdity and tragedy alternate and overlap in this tale of pomp in reduced circumstances. As Lear discovered, a king’s no better than a fool when the winds are blowing ...

The Method of Drifting

Ian Patterson: John Craske, 10 September 2015

Threads: The Delicate Life of John Craske 
by Julia Blackburn.
Cape, 344 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 0 224 09776 5
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... know of many books that give a better sense of the frustrations and excitement of research than Julia Blackburn’s account of her attempt to find out about John Craske. Detail from Craske’s ‘The Evacuation of Dunkirk’ She first hears about him from her friend Emily, who told her: ‘He was a fisherman who became a painter and embroiderer ...

Outfoxing Hangman

Thomas Jones: David Mitchell, 11 May 2006

Black Swan Green 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 371 pp., £16.99, May 2006, 0 340 82279 1
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... village in Worcestershire, England’s ‘most boring county’, as the narrator tells a girl from Blackburn he meets on holiday in Lyme Regis. It is concerned not with globalisation, artificial intelligence, cloning, the legacy of colonialism or the impending self-destruction of the human race, but with the everyday difficulties of being a 13-year-old ...

The Ribs of Rosinante

Richard Gott, 21 August 1997

Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life 
by Jon Lee Anderson.
Bantam, 814 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 593 03403 1
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Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara 
by Jorge Castañeda, translated by Marina Castañeda.
Bloomsbury, 480 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 7475 3334 2
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... Revolution made flesh. ‘He had an incalculable enchantment that came completely naturally,’ Julia Costenla, an Argentine journalist told Jon Lee Anderson when he was researching his biography of Guevara. ‘If he entered a room, everything began revolving around him.’That night he found a seat in a corner of the embassy gardens and everyone gathered ...

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