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Monasteries into Motorways

Isabel Hilton: The Destruction of Lhasa, 7 September 2006

Lhasa: Streets with Memories 
by Robert Barnett.
Columbia, 219 pp., £16, March 2006, 0 231 13680 3
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... disappeared as it has been surrounded and overlaid by successive Chinese visions of the modern. Robert Barnett’s experience of Lhasa does not go back as far as the Dalai Lama’s memory: he first visited in 1987, as a tourist on a not very profound search for enlightenment. He never got to the cave where he had planned a week of ...

Speak Bitterness

Isabel Hilton: Growing up in Tibet, 5 March 2015

My Tibetan Childhood: When Ice Shattered Stone 
by Naktsang Nulo, translated by Angus Cargill and Sonam Lhamo.
Duke, 286 pp., £17.99, November 2014, 978 0 8223 5726 1
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... or Lhasa, and Amdowan Tibetans still speak a dialect that is barely understood in Lhasa. As Robert Barnett explains in his extensive introduction, they bowed to the holy city of Lhasa, but ran their own temporal affairs, negotiating the shifting tribal and clan allegiances, and accepting obligations and protection from local religious figures. When ...

Jailbreak from the Old Order

David Edgar: England’s Brexit, 26 April 2018

The Lure of Greatness: England’s Brexit and America’s Trump 
by Anthony Barnett.
Unbound, 393 pp., £8.99, August 2017, 978 1 78352 453 2
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... Brexit vote lay with either economic privation or cultural loss. In The Lure of Greatness, Anthony Barnett, the founder of Charter 88 and co-founder of Open Democracy, has identified a third: the constitution. Those who focus on the economic explanation, for Brexit as for the election of Donald Trump, point to the increasing disparity between rich and poor on ...

Big Daddy

Linda Nochlin, 30 October 1997

American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America 
by Robert Hughes.
Harvill, 635 pp., £35, October 1997, 9781860463723
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... of stylistic precedence and traditional modes of expression are common to both. In the case of Robert Hughes, author of the monumental American Visions: The Epic History of Art in America, the artist of choice would be John Singer Sargent, brilliant pictorial chronicler of the beau monde of the 19th century. Like Sargent, Hughes is a brilliant ...

In Denbigh Road

Peter Campbell: David Sylvester, 7 February 2002

... with him usually agree that he was the most engaged and patient looker at art they ever knew. Robert Rosenblum rightly says, in David Sylvester: The Private Collection, that there was something comical about his high seriousness, but it is also true that, ‘unlike the rest of us ironists’, he could make one feel (or at least feel one ought to ...

The Jump-out Boys

J. Robert Lennon: The Drug-Bust that Wasn’t, 3 August 2006

Tulia: Race, Cocaine and Corruption in a Small Texas Town 
by Nate Blakeslee.
PublicAffairs, 450 pp., £15.99, September 2005, 9781586482190
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... Tulians had any doubts about the defendants’ guilt. The head of the Chamber of Commerce, Lana Barnett, was blunt: ‘We know these people; we grew up with them. And we know what they sell.’ If anything, Blakeslee writes, ‘Barnett felt the system was stacked in the defendants’ favour. She resented her tax dollars ...

The Greatest Geek

Richard Barnett: Nikola Tesla, 5 February 2015

Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age 
by W. Bernard Carlson.
Princeton, 520 pp., £19.95, April 2015, 978 0 691 05776 7
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... of mass destruction – didn’t appear for another 25 years. And on the day of the explosion Robert Peary’s crew were in New York, where they stayed for another week before embarking for Ellesmere Island. The biggest question, though, as Pynchon’s Professor Vanderjuice notes, is why on earth Tesla would have wanted to do such a thing: ‘Did Tesla ...
Nothing if not critical 
by Robert Hughes.
Collins Harvill, 429 pp., £16, November 1990, 0 00 272075 2
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Frank Auerbach 
by Robert Hughes.
Thames and Hudson, 240 pp., £25, September 1990, 0 500 09211 7
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Figure and Abstraction in Contemporary Painting 
by Ronald Paulson.
Rutgers, 283 pp., $44.95, November 1990, 0 8135 1604 8
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... era ruled. In this desert of greed, vanity and corruption one could always rely on the tonic of Robert Hughes pieces in Time and the New York Review of Books, now collected. He lays about him splendidly, not sparing any link in the chain that tethers artists to their time, from the studio to the dealers and their pimps, and to the final rings in the ...

Here come the judges

Conor Gearty: The constitution, 4 June 1998

This Time: Our Constitutional Revolution 
by Anthony Barnett.
Vintage, 371 pp., £6.99, December 1997, 0 09 926858 2
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The Voice of the People: A Constitution for Tomorrow 
by Robert Alexander.
Weidenfeld, 214 pp., £17.99, September 1997, 0 297 84109 2
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The Making and Remaking of the British Constitution 
by Lord Nolan and Stephen Sedley.
Blackstone, 142 pp., £19.95, November 1997, 1 85431 704 0
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... the People in their rucksacks. Primus inter people is the founding director of Charter 88, Anthony Barnett, whose book attempts to recapture for his constitutionalist tendency the drama of ‘our constitutional revolution’: ‘“we the people” – to use a long-coined phrase that may finally become currency in Britain – have changed, especially in our ...

The Immortal Coil

Richard Barnett: Faraday’s Letters, 21 March 2013

The Correspondence of Michael Faraday Vol. VI, 1860-67 
by Frank James.
IET, 919 pp., £85, December 2011, 978 0 86341 957 7
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... small Sandemanian congregation, founded by the dissenting Dundonian John Glas and his son-in-law Robert Sandeman, lived by a plain – one might say, ‘empiricist’ – reading of Scripture. They preached brotherhood and purity, which in Faraday’s case at least did not preclude moderate drinking and trips to the theatre, and after Sunday morning services ...
Bowie 
by Jerry Hopkins.
Elm Tree, 275 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 241 11548 5
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Alias David Bowie 
by Peter Gillman and Leni Gillman.
Hodder, 511 pp., £16.95, September 1986, 0 340 36806 3
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... David Robert Jones, alias David Bowie, is now in his 40th year. His creepy, chilling phrases pop out of pub jukeboxes, and extracts from his movies catch the eye on pub videos, whether he is embracing a Chinese girl or being executed by Japanese soldiers; his image appears in the Sunday-paper magazines, artistically displayed in sundry poses ...

So it must be for ever

Thomas Meaney: American Foreign Policy, 14 July 2016

American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 244 pp., £14.99, March 2014, 978 1 78168 667 6
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A Sense of Power: The Roots of America’s Global Role 
by John A. Thompson.
Cornell, 343 pp., £19.95, October 2015, 978 0 8014 4789 1
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A Superpower Transformed: The Remaking of American Foreign Relations in the 1970s 
by Daniel J. Sargent.
Oxford, 369 pp., £23.49, January 2015, 978 0 19 539547 1
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... to solder their cause together with appeals to colour-blind communism and pan-Africanism. As Robert Vitalis notes in his book White World Order, Black Power Politics, Black Internationalism was born alongside the white chauvinist version of international relations at the end of the 19th century, when ‘international relations meant race ...

What sort of Scotland?

Neal Ascherson, 21 August 2014

... its music? The musicologist and advocate of the Scots language Billy Kay feels passionately about Robert Fergusson, the wild-child poet who died in the Edinburgh bedlam at 24. In Stromness, Montrose, Lochgelly, Stirling, he recited Fergusson’s verses. And then Karine Polwart sang the song that the dying Fergusson loved more than any other: ‘The Birks of ...

At the Hayward

Peter Campbell: Dan Flavin, 23 February 2006

... effect is far even from that of work by artists Flavin admired and makes a bow to, like Tatlin and Barnett Newman. (He did one arrangement of yellow, red and blue fluorescent light to commemorate the ‘simple problem’ posed by the title of Newman’s series of paintings, Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue.) Try to separate shape and colour, geometry and ...

At Tate Modern

Hal Foster: Robert Rauschenberg, 1 December 2016

... He has created​ more than any artist after Picasso,’ Jasper Johns said of Robert Rauschenberg, his one-time partner, and the Rauschenberg retrospective now at Tate Modern (until 2 April) fully attests to the sheer abundance of his six-decade career (he died in 2008). There are impressive inventions here, such as his extravagant combinations of painting, collage and sculpture, as well as mixed experiments, such as his rambunctious forays into new media technologies, but there is a lot of recycling and wheel-spinning too ...

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