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What he meant by happiness

Patricia Beer, 11 June 1992

The Wreck of the Deutschland 
by Sean Street.
Souvenir, 208 pp., £15.99, March 1992, 0 285 63051 2
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Hopkins: A Literary Biography 
by Norman White.
Oxford, 531 pp., £35, March 1992, 0 19 812099 0
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... Martin’s book, published last year, summarises the information in two competent pages. In Norman White’s Hopkins: A Literary Biography his comments on what happened, scattered passim through the relevant chapter, are even more cursory. Obviously neither of them is of the school which thinks, say, that a knowledge of what Maud Gonne put into the ...

Were I a cloud

Patricia Beer, 28 January 1993

Robert Bridges: A Biography 
by Catherine Phillips.
Oxford, 363 pp., £25, August 1992, 0 19 212251 7
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... and, of course, the two recent books on Gerard Manley Hopkins, one by Robert Martin and one by Norman White, but there has been nothing comprehensive. There is now. In Robert Bridges Catherine Phillips tells us everything we could reasonably wish to know about his life. About his poetry there is more still to be said, but one of the merits of this ...

Iran’s Bomb: A Revision

Norman Dombey: Iran’s Bomb: A Revision, 24 January 2008

... with Iran without preconditions. Iran can afford to wait until there is a new occupant of the White House. So can the US: Iran will not have the option to start building a weapon until he or she is in ...

Cheese and Late Modernity

Steven Shapin: The changing rind of Camembert, 20 November 2003

Camembert: A National Myth 
by Pierre Boisard, translated by Richard Miller.
California, 254 pp., £19.95, June 2003, 0 520 22550 3
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... an American devotee visited Normandy, having heard a story that Camembert was created in 1791 by a Norman woman named Mme Marie Harel, who got the secret from the Abbé Gobert – in other versions, the Abbé Bonvoust – a recusant priest from the area around Brie whom she was protecting from the Terror. Supposedly, the priest had taught her how to make a ...

What is Trident for?

Norman Dombey: America’s Poodle, 5 April 2007

The Future of the UK’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: The White Paper, Cm. 6994 
Stationery Office, 140 pp., £13.50, December 2006, 0 10 169942 5Show More
The Future of the UK’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrent: The White Paper. Ninth Report, House of Commons Defence Committee, HC 225-I 
Stationery Office, 88 pp., £14.50, March 2007, 978 0 215 03281 2Show More
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... independent nuclear deterrent’, as Tony Blair described it in his foreword to the December 2006 White Paper on the renewal of Polaris’s replacement, Trident. The Nassau statement goes into some detail about the use of the Polaris force ‘for the purposes of international defence’: it would be ‘part of a Nato nuclear force and targeted in accordance ...


Norman Buchan: In Defence of the Word, 1 October 1987

... within the meaning of this Bill.’ Perhaps it was because of this piece of logic that Mrs Mary White-house assailed me in the corridor as ‘a disgrace to the Scottish race’. It was not simple pornography or Page Three that worried the promoters of the Bill. Time after time the same example arose – the necessary copulation scene in The Singing ...

Coats of Every Cut

Michael Mason, 9 June 1994

Robert Surtees and Early Victorian Society 
by Norman Gash.
Oxford, 407 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 19 820429 9
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... about the capacity of fiction to report on the world is still very fashionable, and in that sense Norman Gash’s book on Robert Surtees goes against the grain of present-day literary analysis. It does not go against the traditional grain of writing about Surtees, a novelist who has almost always been praised simply as a reporter of the English scene in the ...

The Pilot in Winter

Tobias Hill, 13 November 1997

... In a remote coastal town to the south-west of Corinth is the grave-site of Norman MacKay. In accordance with Greek Christian Orthodoxy, his bones have been dug up, washed with wine and laid in a box the length of his thigh-bone. The townspeople believe MacKay dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima from the B29 ‘Enola Gay’ on the morning of 6 August 1945 ...

Christian v. Cannibal

Michael Rogin: Norman Mailer and American history, 1 April 1999

The American Century 
by Harold Evans.
Cape, 710 pp., £40, November 1998, 0 224 05217 9
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The Time of Our Time 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 1286 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 316 64571 0
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... feature of the ‘American exceptionalism’ celebrated in the introduction. He identifies white supremacy as another constitutive feature of the United States, one that became ever more pervasive after the Emancipation Proclamation, and one which, according to Evans, white Americans have had more difficulty coming ...

Still Dithering

Norman Dombey: After Trident, 16 December 2010

... service was the Vanguard in December 1994. It was designed to last 25 years; in the 2006 defence White Paper this was extended by five years. Any replacement would be expected to enter service by 2025. If it were decided that three submarines would do, the first replacement would be needed by 2026. Let’s assume it would take ten years to build a submarine ...

Blowing It

Ian Hamilton, 6 March 1980

Breaking Ranks 
by Norman Podhoretz.
Weidenfeld, 385 pp., £7.95, February 1980, 0 297 77733 5
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... be seeing Y’ (‘Oh good, give my regards to Y’). ‘And on Friday, I’m having lunch with Norman Podhoretz.’ At this, the table froze. ‘You’re doing what? I repeated it, gently but with resolution, and the freeze froze even deeper. ‘But, but’ – and this with genuinely aghast reproach – ‘but, Ian, really, why? This little scene, or ...


Dinah Birch, 21 December 1989

The Temple of my Familiar 
by Alice Walker.
Women’s Press, 405 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 7043 5041 6
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The Fog Line 
by Carol Birch.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £13.95, September 1989, 0 7475 0453 9
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Home Life Four 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 169 pp., £9.95, November 1989, 0 7156 2297 8
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The Fly in the Ointment 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £10.95, October 1989, 9780715622964
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Words of Love 
by Philip Norman.
Hamish Hamilton, 218 pp., £11.95, October 1989, 0 241 12586 3
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... history, the stuff he taught, to forever be the centre of everyone’s attention. What a few white men thought, and did.’ The changing mind of Suwelo, as he painfully learns to place the definitions of academic history in a different context, is one of the threads that draw together this complicated book. His wife is caught up in another story, for she ...

White Man’s Heaven

Michael Wood, 7 February 1991

Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin 
by James Campbell.
Faber, 306 pp., £14.99, January 1991, 0 571 15391 7
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James Baldwin: Artist on Fire 
by W.J. Weatherby.
Joseph, 412 pp., £17.99, June 1990, 0 7181 3403 6
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... is not a human or personal reality; it is a political reality.’ A white liberal would say the same, but then, I take it, so would Nelson Mandela. The difference is in the intensity with which the political reality is experienced or denied. Baldwin understands the needs met by the Black Muslim movement in America, even as he ...

Iran and the Bomb

Norman Dombey: Don’t Do It, 25 January 2007

... Bush and Cheney are determined to deal with Iran before this administration ends and that ‘White House hawks led by Vice President Dick Cheney were intent on attacking Iran with or without the approval of the US Congress.’ John Pike of predicts US strikes this summer, safely distant from the presidential election next year. Bush ...

Seeing Curt Lemon blown up

James Wood, 26 July 1990

The things they carried 
by Tim O’Brien.
Collins, 255 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 00 223603 6
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... airlifted out, or Kiowa, who is grenaded, and drowns in a field of Vietnamese excrement, or poor Norman Bowker, who goes back to America after his one year of combat, but can’t find work, can’t adjust, and kills himself. O’Brien told his own story – compellingly, wrenchingly – in his memoir If I die. He grew up in the rural quarantine of ...

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