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Christopher Norris, 20 February 1986

Signéponge/Signsponge 
by Jacques Derrida, translated by Richard Rand.
Columbia, 160 pp., $20, March 1984, 0 231 05446 7
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... life to lead and objects very much to critics who ignore that courteous distinction. In fact, as Richard Rand informs us in his Preface, Ponge was present at the colloquium in Cérisy-la-Salle where Derrida first delivered portions of his text. So we are not to expect any clumsy intrusions of unlicensed biographical fancy. In taking ‘Francis ...

Who’s in charge?

Chalmers Johnson: The Addiction to Secrecy, 6 February 2003

Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers 
by Daniel Ellsberg.
Viking, 498 pp., $29.95, October 2002, 0 670 03030 9
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... experience in Vietnam, a PhD in economics from Harvard, and a defence intellectual employed by the Rand Corporation of Santa Monica, with the highest security clearances, Ellsberg is as good as the American system can produce in the way of a male citizen working in the foreign policy apparatus. His odyssey from Pentagon staff officer to the man who spirited 47 ...

Short Cuts

David Bromwich: Alexander Hamilton’s Worst Idea, 24 October 2019

... him in this direction (the mainstream media call it ‘isolationist’) – among them, Senator Rand Paul and the conservative TV news host Tucker Carlson. In the absence of his third sacked national security adviser, John Bolton, the role of empire-minder has been taken over by Democrats and the anti-Trump media. (...

Female Bandits? What next!

Wendy Doniger: The incarnations of Robin Hood, 22 July 2004

Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography 
by Stephen Knight.
Cornell, 247 pp., £14.50, May 2003, 0 8014 3885 3
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... Many people firmly believe there was. We owe the widespread belief that Robin lived in the time of Richard I (1157-1199) to William Stukeley (1687-1765), an eccentric scholar of ancient British history who fabricated for him a crazy family pedigree going back to the Normans. Knight argues that the search for the historical Robin is as quixotic as the search ...

Guerrilla International

Caroline Moorehead, 6 August 1981

The Terror Network: The Secret War of International Terrorism 
by Claire Sterling.
Weidenfeld, 357 pp., £7.95, June 1981, 0 297 77968 0
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... there are mistakes. The British diplomat kidnapped by the Quebec separatists was James Cross, not Richard Gross. The man sitting between Yassir Arafat and George Habash at the Tripoli Arab Summit Conference in 1977 was Zuhair Mohsin of SAIQA – not, as Claire Sterling suggests, Ahmed Jibril of the PFLP, to whom she devotes an entire chapter. The fate of her ...

A Very Good Job for a Swede

E.S. Turner, 4 September 1997

The Fu Manchu Omnibus: Vol. II 
by Sax Rohmer.
Allison and Busby, 630 pp., £9.99, June 1997, 0 7490 0222 0
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... Africa, after the Boer War, Lord Milner imported fifty thousand indentured Chinese to work the Rand gold mines; the subsequent row over their mistreatment (and misbehaviour) convulsed British Liberals and gave Winston Churchill the opportunity to protest that ‘slavery’ was a ‘terminological inexactitude’. In Britain such Chinese as were not in the ...

Fortress Mathematica

Brian Rotman: John Nash and Paul Erdos, 17 September 1998

The Man who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdös and the Search for Mathematical Truth 
by Paul Hoffman.
Fourth Estate, 320 pp., £12.99, July 1998, 1 85702 811 2
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Proofs from the Book 
by Martin Aigner and Günter Ziegler.
Springer, 210 pp., £19, August 1998, 3 540 63698 6
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A Beautiful Mind: Genius and Schizophrenia in the Life of John Nash 
by Sylvia Nasar.
Faber, 464 pp., £17.99, September 1998, 0 571 17794 8
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... results, I told him proudly, in the partition calculus he’d invented with his fellow Hungarian Richard Rado; I was also trying to settle a conjecture in infinite combinatorics – that there was no infinite descending sequence of countable order types. He ignored the first, questioned me about the second, thought for a few mom ents, then shrugged – which ...

Boiling Electrons

David Kaiser, 27 September 2012

Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe 
by George Dyson.
Allen Lane, 401 pp., £25, March 2012, 978 0 7139 9750 7
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... a process recounted in David Alan Grier’s When Computers Were Human. Young physicists like Richard Feynman carved up the calculations into discrete steps, and then assistants – often the young wives of the laboratory’s technical staff – would crunch the numbers, each one performing the same mathematical operation over and over again. One of them ...

You have £2000, I have a kidney

Glen Newey: Morals and Markets, 21 June 2012

What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets 
by Michael Sandel.
Allen Lane, 244 pp., £20, April 2012, 978 1 84614 471 4
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How Much Is Enough?: The Love of Money and the Case for the Good Life 
by Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky.
Allen Lane, 256 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 1 84614 448 6
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... on stiffs.com are egged on with a ‘newest stiffs’ page (current features: Ray Bradbury, Richard Dawson) and the lure of ‘cyberboner’ windfalls for those who manage to pick the next celebs to go. All this elicits from Sandel a mixture of bafflement and revulsion. In fact, as Sandel recognises, the line between insurance and gambling was blurred ...

That’s democracy

Theo Tait: Dalton Trumbo, 2 March 2000

Johnny Got His Gun 
by Dalton Trumbo.
Prion, 222 pp., £5.99, May 1999, 1 85375 324 6
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... is just not an ordinary man,’ Cleo later explained. Frustrated Hollywood screenwriters – as Richard Corliss points out in his excellent study, Talking Pictures (1975) – expressed much of their creativity in ephemeral forms: angry memos, practical jokes, one-liners, gossip and bitching at the writers’ tables. Additional Dialogue (Trumbo’s letters ...

Kinsfolk

D.A.N. Jones, 12 July 1990

A Sort of Clowning: Life and Times, 1940-59 
by Richard Hoggart.
Chatto, 225 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 7011 3607 3
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Tilting at Don Quixote 
by Nicholas Wollaston.
Deutsch, 314 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 233 98551 4
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Finger Lickin’ Good: A Kentucky Childhood 
by Paul Levy.
Chatto, 202 pp., £13.95, May 1990, 0 7011 3521 2
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How Many Miles to Babylon? 
by Adewale Maja-Pearce.
Heinemann, 154 pp., £13.95, June 1990, 0 434 44172 4
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... of escape’ – escape from society. Finally (and to be taken foremost) is A Sort of Clowning by Richard Hoggart, perhaps the most usefully class-conscious English writer of our time. He created an accepted general idea of the British ‘working class’ in 1957, with The Uses of Literacy. He developed his concept, most recently, in his memoir, A Local ...

Silly Buggers

James Fox, 7 March 1991

The Theatre of Embarrassment 
by Francis Wyndham.
Chatto, 205 pp., £15, February 1991, 0 7011 3726 6
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... fiction, rather than visiting Joan Crawford in her film-set caravan, accompanied by Lord Snowdon. Richard Wollheim and Colin McInnes had been overheard talking about him on the balcony at a party. ‘There we were,’ said McInnes afterwards, ‘like two Chinese civil servants in the snow, talking about the Emperor.’ He shared an office with Meriel ...

Self-Made Women

John Sutherland, 11 July 1991

The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present 
edited by Virginia Blain, Isobel Grundy and Patricia Clements.
Batsford, 1231 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 7134 5848 8
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The Presence of the Present: Topics of the Day in the Victorian Novel 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 854 pp., $45, March 1991, 0 8142 0518 6
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... Objectivity’. Marguerite Duras and Hélène Cixous get in, but not Vicki Baum nor Ayn Rand (hers particularly I find an extraordinary omission). Catharine Stimpson (last year’s MLA president) gets in on the basis of some feminist literary criticism and a ‘a lesbian novel of development’. Miss Read and her un-lesbian Thrush Green novels of ...

The Push for War

Anatol Lieven: The Threat from America, 3 October 2002

... have already started to raise this issue, stirred up in part by the insulting language used by Richard Perle and his school about the caution of the professional military. As a recent letter to the Washington Post put it, ‘the men described as chicken hawks avoided military service during the Vietnam War while supporting that war politically. They are ...

The President and the Bomb

Adam Shatz, 16 November 2017

... in The Doomsday Machine, his forthcoming memoir of his time at the Defence Department and the Rand Corporation in the 1950s and 1960s, the actual purpose was to ensure that there could be no Soviet retaliation. In other words, US nuclear policy was designed for first use, rather than for a response to a Soviet strike. And though the bomb wasn’t deployed ...

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