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Tastes like Cancer

J. Robert Lennon: The Sweet'N Low dynasty, 8 March 2007

Sweet and Low 
by Rich Cohen.
Cape, 272 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 224 07272 4
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... with the past, and blind loyalty is the only conceivable reason to stick with the stuff. Rich Cohen’s grandfather, Ben Eisenstadt, founded Cumberland Packing, the developers of both Sweet’N Low and the sugar packet itself. So you might expect the results of his own taste test to err on the side of loyalty. Nope. ‘Tastes like cancer,’ he ...

The kind of dog he likes

W.G. Runciman: Realistic Utopias, 18 December 2014

Justice for Earthlings: Essays in Political Philosophy 
by David Miller.
Cambridge, 254 pp., £18.99, January 2013, 978 1 107 61375 1
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... with him. He has in his sights the ‘neo-Augustinians’, as he calls them, like the late G.A. Cohen, for whom justice can be realised only in a secular version of Augustine’s City of God, thereby leaving political philosophers with nothing to do but lament the size of the gap between the disappointing actual and the impossible ideal. What use is a ...

Transitology

Stephen Holmes: Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia by Stephen Cohen, 19 April 2001

Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia 
by Stephen Cohen.
Norton, 305 pp., £15.95, November 2000, 0 393 04964 7
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... in Russia before his accession to power. After a decade of multiparty elections, neither the rich nor the powerful seem to take the slightest interest in the well-being of the electorate, even though a dim regard for public support may have inspired authorities to escalate the conflict in Chechnya and throttle critics in the press. That the Duma’s ...

Trust me

Steven Shapin: French DNA, 27 April 2000

French DNA: Trouble in Purgatory 
by Paul Rabinow.
Chicago, 201 pp., £17.50, October 1999, 0 226 70150 6
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... Humain (CEPH); the charismatic presence is the Tunisian-French-Jewish scientific director Daniel Cohen; the time is early 1994, when genomics entrepreneurship – spurred on by the US Government-funded Human Genome Project and venture capital-fuelled commercial competition – is frenzied. The CEPH had been founded in the 1980s as a hybrid entity – partly ...

Buying and Selling

Paul Foot, 6 April 1995

The Davies Report: The ‘Great Battle’ in Swansea 
by Michael Davies.
Thoemmes, 139 pp., £3.99, October 1994, 1 85506 366 2
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... Colwyn Williamson, who had been lecturing in philosophy in Swansea since 1967, and Michael Cohen, a former Tory voter described by Sir Michael Davies as a ‘careful and reasonable sort of person’. In early 1990, all four lecturers, Hunt, Maclean, Williamson and Cohen, formally complained to the Academic Secretary ...

Sheer Cloakery

Adam Mars-Jones: Joshua Cohen, 24 September 2015

Book of Numbers 
by Joshua Cohen.
Harvill Secker, 580 pp., £16.99, June 2015, 978 1 84655 865 8
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... The​ American novelist Joshua Cohen arrives with the reputation of a wizard in the making, but his magic is as likely to blow every fuse in the house of fiction as transport it into a new dimension. There are wonderful things here cloaked with an invisibility spell, tucked away in the middle of the book, where only the stubbornest seeker after enchantment will find them ...

Confounding Malthus

Roy Porter, 21 December 1989

Health and the Rise of Civilisation 
by Mark Nathan Cohen.
Yale, 285 pp., £22.50, October 1989, 0 300 04006 7
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Nutrition and Economic Development in the 18th-Century Habsburg Monarchy: An Anthropomorphic History 
by John Komlos.
Princeton, 325 pp., $45, November 1989, 0 691 04257 8
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... it bluntly, have things been getting better or worse? It is not the least virtue of Mark Nathan Cohen’s revaluation of the ‘diseases of civilisation’ question that he does not push a simple solution. He offers a qualified pessimism about the past, and a question-mark for the future. Cultural anthropology and economic history have generally told ...

Divide and divide and divide and rule

Yonatan Mendel: The Arab-Israeli Conflict, 6 October 2016

1929: Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 
by Hillel Cohen, translated by Haim Watzman.
Brandeis, 312 pp., £20, November 2015, 978 1 61168 811 5
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... ordinary people, onlookers. They, and others like them, are central figures in the work of Hillel Cohen. Neither the conventional ‘winners’ nor the stereotypical ‘losers’, they play a part in the grand political story which, though crucial, is often overlooked. Cohen was born in 1961 into a National Religious ...

Mind the gap

G.A. Cohen, 14 May 1992

Equality and Partiality 
by Thomas Nagel.
Oxford, 186 pp., £13.95, November 1991, 0 19 506967 6
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... in terms of the first or not demanding enough in terms of the second.’ In our unequal world the rich should sacrifice to help the poor. But how much should they give up? There is a level of sacrifice so modest that the rich could not reasonably refuse it, and a level so high that the poor could not reasonably demand ...

I’m a Surfer

Steven Shapin: What’s the Genome Worth?, 20 March 2008

A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life 
by Craig Venter.
Allen Lane, 390 pp., £25, October 2007, 978 0 7139 9724 8
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... Until fairly recently, you did not choose a scientific career with the idea of getting rich. After the end of World War Two, American academic scientists started out on about $2000 a year – the rough equivalent of $17,000 these days – while few full professors at the peak of their careers commanded as much as $10,000 ...

Tilting the day

Lisa Cohen: Writing about Clothes, 7 November 2019

Dressed: The Secret Life of Clothes 
by Shahidha Bari.
Cape, 312 pp., £25, June 2019, 978 1 78733 149 5
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... pays attention to her own point of view, she in fact thinks collectively and in more sensorially rich ways about our imbrication with objects and with one another’s lives. ‘When I listen closely in a crowd,’ she writes in her introduction, I am conscious of the synthetic rustle of a jacket’s lining as it grazes against an acrylic jumper, the crackle ...

There is no alternative to becoming Leadbeater

Nick Cohen: Charles Leadbeater, 28 October 1999

Living on Thin Air: The New Economy 
by Charles Leadbeater.
Viking, 244 pp., £17.99, July 1999, 0 670 87669 0
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... but then recommends making up the shortfall by regressive taxation, rather than the one charge the rich can’t avoid: property tax. I’m tempted to say – once again – that he’s a Tory and have done with it. But Third Way neo-Thatcherites work hard to deny their opponents a clear view of the target, Leadbeater worries about the slums and the sink ...

Delivering the Leadership

Nick Cohen: Get Mandy, 4 March 1999

Mandy: The Authorised Biography of Peter Mandelson 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 302 pp., £17.99, January 1999, 9780684851754
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... where excessive wealth is the norm and, because self-pity is the defining vice of the metropolitan rich, is seen as barely adequate to cover the costs of thieving tradesmen, children who want it all and nannies who are little better than extortionists in Peter Jones aprons. Labour, Mandelson said just before his fall, was ‘intensely relaxed about people ...

Trastevere

John Tranter, 1 October 1998

... sun from the old Italian women who mutter ‘Thank you, signora, it’s a pleasure to serve even a rich and impious Anglo lady such as yourself, take another punnet, our brothers take precedence in our father’s will, but we’re content with that.’ Now in the context of the blues – oh yeh – a love song about an owlet or a moo-cowlet playing up don’t ...

Waiting for the Poetry

Ange Mlinko: Was Adrienne Rich a poet?, 15 July 2021

The Power of Adrienne RichA Biography 
by Hilary Holladay.
Doubleday, 416 pp., £25, November 2020, 978 0 385 54150 3
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Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution 
by Adrienne Rich.
Norton, 345 pp., £13.99, May, 978 0 393 54142 7
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... Adrienne Rich’s​ poems speak so strongly to the current zeitgeist (dating from, say, the Occupy movement through #MeToo to Black Lives Matter) that it’s astounding – no, instructive – to realise they were written twenty, forty, fifty years ago:at your tabletelephone ringsevery four minutestalkof terrible thingsthe papers bringingno good news                                (‘New York’)False history gets made all day, any day,the truth of the new is never on the news                                (‘Turning the Wheel’)There is a cop who is both prowler and father …You have to confessto him, you are guilty of the crimeof having been forced                                (‘Rape’)Suppose you want to writeof a woman braidinganother woman’s hair –straight down, or with beads and shellsin three-strand plaits or corn-rows –you had better know the thicknessthe length the patternwhy she decides to braid her hairhow it is done to herwhat country it happens inwhat else happens in that country                                (‘North American Time’)Her essays employ an argot that contemporary opinion pieces might have cribbed from: ‘The creative energy of patriarchy is fast running out; what remains is its self-generating energy for destruction ...

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