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Diary

Jeremy Harding: Ash Dieback, 6 December 2012

... it’s only recently that we’ve paid attention to the common ash at all. In Ancient Woodland, Oliver Rackham drew up a table, under the heading ‘The Notice Which People Take of Trees’, and mapped ‘the percentage frequency with which tree species are mentioned’ in two Anglo-Saxon charters, a comprehensive list of British place names, the works of ...

Signing

Ian Hacking, 5 April 1990

Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf 
by Oliver Sacks.
Picador, 186 pp., £12.95, January 1990, 0 330 31161 1
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When the mind hears: A History of the Deaf 
by Harlan Lane.
Penguin, 537 pp., £6.99, August 1988, 0 14 022834 9
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Deafness: A Personal Account 
by David Wright.
Faber, 202 pp., £4.99, January 1990, 0 571 14195 1
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... medium, sound. There is just one easy place to go to find out about all of these things at once: Oliver Sacks’s new book of three essays. Like all his writing, the essays are engaging, funny, informed, humane and speculative. One, a brilliant piece of journalism, describes the 1988 revolution – the word used by every deaf person I know – at Gallaudet ...

Vendlerising

John Kerrigan, 2 April 1987

The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry 
edited by Helen Vendler.
Faber, 440 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 13945 0
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Selected Poems 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 348 pp., £16.95, April 1986, 0 85635 666 2
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The Poetry Book Society Anthology 1986/87 
edited by Jonathan Barker.
Hutchinson, 94 pp., £4.95, November 1986, 0 09 165961 2
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Two Horse Wagon Going By 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 143 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 85635 661 1
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... Small waves splashed against the hull and the hollow creak of oarlock and oar rose into the woods of black pine crusted with lichen. I moved like a dark star, drifting over the drowned other half of the world until, by a distant prompting, I looked over the gunwale and saw beneath the surface a luminous room, a light-filled grave, saw for the first time ...

Among the Graves

Thomas Laqueur: Naming the Dead, 18 December 2008

The Civil War and the Limits of Destruction 
by Mark Neely.
Harvard, 277 pp., £20.95, November 2007, 978 0 674 02658 2
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This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War 
by Drew Gilpin Faust.
Knopf, 346 pp., $27.95, January 2008, 978 0 375 40404 7
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... confronted soldiers as they marched in thin lines across open fields or in dense, often burning woods. Three and a half million men were under arms: virtually the entire military-age population of the South and a good proportion of the North as well. Very large armies – sometimes 100,000 to a side – fought scores of deadly pitched battles and hundreds ...

El Casino Macabre

James Morone: Rebellion of the Rich, 21 June 2007

Wall Street: A Cultural History 
by Steve Fraser.
Faber, 656 pp., £12.99, April 2006, 0 571 21829 6
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Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors 
by Charles S. Maier.
Harvard, 373 pp., £18.95, May 2006, 0 674 02189 4
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... the fire this time comes in cool, ironic novels like Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities. When Oliver Stone released his satirical movie Wall Street, the business press embraced the slick financial Mephistopheles at the heart of the indictment. ‘Greed is good,’ purrs the villain, Gordon Gekko. Greed might just save that ‘malfunctioning corporation ...

I wasn’t just a brain in a jar

Christian Lorentzen: Edward Snowden, 26 September 2019

Permanent Record 
by Edward Snowden.
Macmillan, 339 pp., £20, September 2019, 978 1 5290 3565 0
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... Snowden has been a subject of journalistic scrutiny for years and a hero of movies, including Oliver Stone’s somewhat misleading biopic. Snowden’s first job was as a web designer for a woman he had met in a Japanese class, a fellow anime enthusiast. They fell out after 9/11: he was all for the war on terror; she, a dove, moved to ...

Osip and Nadezhda Mandelstam

Seamus Heaney, 20 August 1981

... with convincing ease: When I hear the English tongue Like a whistle, but even shriller – I see Oliver Twist among A heaping of office ledgers. Go ask Charles Dickens this, How it was in London then: The old City with Dombey’s office, The yellow waters of the Thames. There is a salubrious élan about much of the book, and the fact that this is indeed a ...

Even Immortality

Thomas Laqueur: Medicomania, 29 July 1999

The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity from Antiquity to the Present 
by Roy Porter.
HarperCollins, 833 pp., £24.99, February 1999, 0 00 637454 9
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... impulsive tics and Korsakoff’s (Sergei, that is) amnesia, both recently made famous again by Oliver Sacks; Creutzfeld-Jacob disease, just to bring us right up to the mad cow. (No woman – at least at this level – seems to have had anything named after her.) A name announces only the dénouement, however: it does not convey the extraordinary ...

Erasures

Colm Tóibín: The Great Irish Famine, 30 July 1998

... to become civilised.’ In his essay on Irish emigration in the book commissioned by de Valera, Oliver MacDonagh states that two million people left Ireland permanently during the decade 1845 to 1855. ‘The cottier class had virtually disappeared. The number of holdings under one acre had dropped from 134,000 to 36,000 ... the number of persons per square ...

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