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Half a pirate

Patrick O’Brian, 22 January 1987

Captain Kidd and the War against the Pirates 
by Robert Ritchie.
Harvard, 306 pp., £16.95, November 1986, 0 674 09501 4
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Richard Knight’s Treasure! The True Story of his Extraordinary Quest for Captain Kidd’s Cache 
by Glenys Roberts.
Viking, 198 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 670 80761 3
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... Kidd’s buried treasure, many go in search of it. Some indeed find it, and the latest of these is Richard Knight, whose adventures are told by Glenys Roberts. It appears that Mr Knight, putting all the clues together, found three of the Captain’s buried chests on a small island off the coast of Vietnam. There was more to ...

Memories of Lindsay Anderson

Alan Bennett, 20 July 2000

... of discontent. Still, it was a much better piece than was generally allowed (Clive James and Richard Ingrams making particular fools of themselves) but it wasn’t what viewers had come to expect from me and so was unfamiliar, or too unfamiliar anyway, a little unfamiliarity often an ingredient of success at any rate with critics, as it enables them to ...

Why read Clausewitz when Shock and Awe can make a clean sweep of things?

Andrew Bacevich: The Rumsfeld Doctrine, 8 June 2006

Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq 
by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor.
Atlantic, 603 pp., £25, March 2006, 1 84354 352 4
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... by the fortuitous retirement of one justice followed by the death of another. In appointing John Roberts and Samuel Alito, Bush elevated to the court two jurists with track records of giving the executive branch a wide berth on matters relating to national security. (Once on the court, justices don’t always perform as expected; whether the ...

Stanley and the Women

Tony Gould, 25 July 1991

Stanley: The Making of an African Explorer 
by Frank McLynn.
Constable, 411 pp., £17.95, October 1989, 0 09 462420 8
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Stanley: Sorcerer’s Apprentice 
by Frank McLynn.
Constable, 499 pp., £25, January 1991, 0 09 470220 9
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Dark Safari: The Life behind the Legend of Henry Morton Stanley 
by John Bierman.
Hodder, 401 pp., £17.95, January 1991, 0 340 50977 5
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... of William Grant Stairs and memoirs of Alice Pike Barney’; he also pays generous tribute to Richard Hall’s earlier biography, ‘a model of hard-nosed and painstaking investigation’. Hall was the first to reveal Stanley’s secret engagement to Alice Pike. Unfortunately, his excitement over this discovery led him to make the tactical ...

Fear and Loathing in Limehouse

Richard Holme, 3 September 1987

Campaign! The Selling of the Prime Minister 
by Rodney Tyler.
Grafton, 251 pp., £6.95, July 1987, 0 246 13277 9
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Battle for Power 
by Des Wilson.
Sphere, 326 pp., £4.99, July 1987, 0 7221 9074 3
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David Owen: Personally Speaking 
by Kenneth Harris.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 297 79206 7
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... nature of society, drawn from those of 19th-century economists and from the precepts of Alderman Roberts. She represents a clear set of values. David Owen, the other Outsider of British politics, represents, by contrast, a sort of free-floating populism made up of anger against men and measures, combined with a regard for self and country. Shirley ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Where I was in 1993, 16 December 1993

... in the middle of a field. 20 January. Collected by the New Yorker and taken to be photographed by Richard Avedon, now a grey-haired faun of 72 who says he’s bored with taking snapshots in the studio (this morning Isaiah Berlin and Stephen Spender) and wants to photograph me outside. ‘Outside’ means that eventually I find myself perched up a tree in Hyde ...

Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching

Terry Eagleton: Richard Dawkins, 19 October 2006

The God Delusion 
by Richard Dawkins.
Bantam, 406 pp., £20, October 2006, 0 593 05548 9
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... the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe ...

Cobban’s Vindication

Olwen Hufton, 20 August 1981

Origins of the French Revolution 
by William Doyle.
Oxford, 247 pp., £12.50, January 1981, 0 19 873020 9
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... the national archivist, who thought that by 1945 all had been said. Confronted with the young Richard Cobb, about to begin his Herculean labours, he advised some alternative field of study. ‘Monsieur,’ he said kindly, ‘vous êtes venus trop tard pour l’histoire de la Révolution Française.’ He was, of course, wrong. The post-war ...

Ramadhin and Valentine

J.R. Pole, 13 October 1988

A History of West Indies Cricket 
by Michael Manley.
Deutsch, 575 pp., £17.95, May 1988, 0 233 98259 0
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Sobers: Twenty Years at the Top 
by Garfield Sobers and Brian Scovell.
Macmillan, 204 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 0 333 37267 0
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... spend in opposition. Roy Jenkins’s Asquith, Anthony Crosland’s reflections on socialism, Richard Crossman’s Bagehot, would hardly have come out of Whitehall, and Michael Manley would not have found time to write a history of West Indian cricket which encompasses the social, economic and regional problems of the Caribbean if he had been engaged in ...

A Plumless Pudding

John Sutherland: The Great John Murray Archive Disaster, 18 March 2004

... its bibliophile vice-president, Gordon Ray) acquired the literary correspondence of the publisher Richard Bentley and Sons, principal purveyor of the three-decker novel to the Victorian reading public. At the same time, the British Library (with financial assistance from the Friends of National Libraries) took possession of most of Bentley’s ledgers and ...

Be Dull, Mr President

Kim Phillips-Fein: Remembering Reagan, 19 October 2006

President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination 
by Richard Reeves.
Simon and Schuster, 571 pp., £20, March 2006, 0 7432 3022 1
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... lineage of many of the most powerful figures in America today – Dick Cheney, George Bush, John Roberts, Samuel Alito – can be traced back through the Reagan administration. Conservatives disaffected with Bush accuse him of the worst sin they can imagine: betraying Reagan’s legacy. Even Democrats have forgotten the harsh feelings they once ...

Horsemen

Carolyn Steedman, 4 February 1988

Spoken History 
by George Ewart Evans.
Faber, 255 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14982 0
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... that came out of Wales and Ireland, farms and fishing, men’s work with horses. Like Robert Roberts, another recorder of the lives of the poor born at the end of the last century, Evans grew up in a grocer’s shop – not in the classic slum of Salford, but in the mining valley of Abercynon. The children of shopkeepers in poor working-class communities ...

Staggering on

Stephen Howe, 23 May 1996

The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... In 1950 a venerable, once highly successful, long-ailing magazine quietly expired. Richard Usborne, the assistant editor in its dying days, later recalled an aficionado’s touching reaction. ‘When the Strand finally folded in 1950, my old sixth-form master wrote to me regretfully: “I loved the dear old Strand ...

Beast and Frog

John Bayley, 4 November 1993

Dr Johnson & Mr Savage 
by Richard Holmes.
Hodder, 260 pp., £19.99, October 1993, 0 340 52974 1
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Samuel Johnson 
by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 116 pp., £4.99, April 1993, 0 19 287593 0
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... as we can. The idea may sound fanciful, but it is pursued with remarkable force and fascination in Richard Holmes’s study. Richard Savage, the young Johnson’s alter ego, was a poor and talented writer whom Johnson had met in Grub Street. Each took a fancy to the other, and they became companions in want in London’s ...

Diary

Paul Laity: Henry Woodd Nevinson, 3 February 2000

... very problematically in love with his best friend’s wife. I knew little about his artist son, Richard – C.R.W. Nevinson – apart from his First World War paintings and prints. They are easy to like: influenced by Cubism but totally comprehensible – a sort of Modernism-lite. I went to the Nevinson retrospective at the Imperial War Museum hoping for ...

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