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Marching Orders

Ronan Bennett: The new future of Northern Ireland, 30 July 1998

... Unionism together, but he had no illusions about the task confronting him. ‘It is one thing for Mr Macmillan to talk of a wind of change blowing on another continent,’ he said, ‘but a very different matter when you have to initiate the change yourself and try to drag behind you a reactionary and reluctant party which has been in power since ...

Crypto-Republican

Simon Adams: Was Mary Queen of Scots a Murderer?, 11 June 2009

Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth I 
by Stephen Alford.
Yale, 412 pp., £25, May 2008, 978 0 300 11896 4
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... has recently been revived by Alford’s former supervisor, John Guy, in his biography of Mary, My Heart is my Own (2004). Any subsequent biographer is forced to address Guy’s case against Cecil. Alford has not done so explicitly, but he has accepted some of Guy’s charges, while others are either ignored or treated ...

Farewell to the Log Cabin

Colin Kidd: America’s Royalist Revolution, 18 December 2014

The Royalist Revolution 
by Eric Nelson.
Harvard, 390 pp., £22.95, October 2014, 978 0 674 73534 7
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... the presidency, there were several attempts to restore the family to the office. JFK’s brother Robert was assassinated after his victory in the California Democratic primary in 1968. The immediate chances of a third brother, Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, were scuppered after the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969 – when a young female aide ...

The dogs in the street know that

Nick Laird: A Week in Mid-Ulster, 5 May 2005

... a position he assumed, as he recently admitted, in February 1972. He was born the same year as my mother, and my parents used to live in Londonderry. If instead of meeting my dad at a dance in Dublin, she had met a young butcher called Martin from the Bogside, maybe I would be Martin ...

Diary

Robert Fisk: Salman Rushdie and Other Demons, 16 March 1989

... of bigotry and fanaticism. May it never happen. Now some less dramatic thoughts about Mr Rushdie’s predicament. His situation is not unique. It is, sadly, shared by many others. His life has been threatened, he has been ‘sentenced to death’ – although the word ‘sentence’ has too judicial a flavour for the Ayatollah’s court – but ...

Adored Gazelle

Ferdinand Mount: Cherubino at Number Ten, 20 March 2008

Balfour: The Last Grandee 
by R.J.Q. Adams.
Murray, 479 pp., £30, November 2007, 978 0 7195 5424 7
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... Lord of the Admiralty before the Battle of Jutland he did consent to be called at nine. As a young MP, it was only when his third session in the House loomed that he showed up, spurred on by his Aunt Georgie Salisbury’s chiding that it was time to show some ‘overt signs of parliamentary activity’. He claimed never to read the newspapers, made no effort ...

Darkness and a slippery place

Robert Alter, 25 April 1991

The Confessions of Saint Augustine 
translated with an introduction and notes by Henry Chadwick.
Oxford, 311 pp., £17.50, February 1991, 0 19 281779 5
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... frequently set at the beginning of a line of literary history that leads to Rousseau and Henry Adams, is a narrative of the writer’s life only in a highly intermittent and drastically selective way. Its aim, as has often been noted, is more spiritual exhortation then self-revelation, or, more precisely, it is an exposition of the divine scheme with ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: The Killers', Criterion Collection, 24 September 2015

... can’t speak like gangsters in movies? The two American films made from the story, directed by Robert Siodmak and Don Siegel, in 1946 and 1964 respectively (now re-released together on DVD by the Criterion Collection), very wisely go one better than Hemingway in this matter. They leave the movie joke out. They are up to all kinds of things, but dizzying ...

A Preference for Strenuous Ghosts

Michael Kammen: Theodore Roosevelt, 6 June 2002

Theodore Rex 
by Edmund Morris.
HarperCollins, 772 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 00 217708 0
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... Truman (1992) was on the bestseller lists for the better part of a year, and his John Adams (2001) is providing an astonishing repeat performance. Robert Caro’s dramatically detailed look at The Years of Lyndon Johnson has been unfolding since 1982, and large chunks of Volume Three have been serialised in the ...

At the Shrink

Janique Vigier, 22 October 2020

... teaching poetry workshops at St Mark’s Church, collaborating with Alice Notley, Ted Berrigan, Robert Creeley and others. John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara were their guiding lights. A new American poetics was taking shape: daily and referential, tough and casual. Between 1967 and 1969 Mayer edited, with Vito Acconci, the experimental mimeographed magazine 0 ...

Textual Harassment

Claude Rawson, 5 April 1984

The World, the Text and the Critic 
by Edward Said.
Faber, 327 pp., £15, February 1984, 0 571 13264 2
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The Deconstructive Turn: Essays in the Rhetoric of Philosophy 
by Christopher Norris.
Methuen, 201 pp., £4.95, December 1983, 0 416 36140 4
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The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. VIII: The Present 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 619 pp., £3.50, October 1983, 0 14 022271 5
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... generosity of vision which deserves the respect even of those whose loyalties are opposed to his. My concern here is not with this theme, but with the role of ‘narrative’ within it. The word is used most often, perhaps, in the phrase ‘Palestinian narrative’, variously meaning or implying ‘history’, ‘story’, ‘predicament’, ‘side of the ...

Divinely Ordained

Jackson Lears: God loves America, 19 May 2011

A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided 
by Amanda Foreman.
Penguin, 988 pp., £12.99, June 2011, 978 0 14 104058 5
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... against evils, and perhaps there is no easier business,’ Trollope said of the anti-slavery MP John Bright, a theatrical orator who couldn’t be bothered with political detail. Celebrating the Civil War as a triumph of freedom over slavery is equally easy. A few decades ago, US historians tried to complicate this heroic narrative. Guided at times by ...

Write to me

Danny Karlin, 11 January 1990

The Brownings’ Correspondence. Vol. VII: March-October 1843 
edited by Philip Kelley and Ronald Hudson.
Athlone, 429 pp., £60, December 1989, 0 485 30027 3
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... My dear Lady Olliffe,’ Robert Browning wrote in March 1877: I have just been reading my old friend Miss Martineau’s protest against the publication – and indeed, retention – of all correspondence. Here, now, is a sample of mine: be assured I shall never demand it again, from any apprehension that hereafter the friendliness in it may be at variance with whatever feeling I please to entertain thirty years hence ...

Out of the Gothic

Tom Shippey, 5 February 1987

Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction 
by Brian Aldiss and David Wingrove.
Gollancz, 511 pp., £15, October 1986, 0 575 03942 6
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Eon 
by Greg Bear.
Gollancz, 504 pp., £10.95, October 1986, 0 575 03861 6
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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Four Parts 
by Douglas Adams.
Heinemann, 590 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 434 00920 2
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Humpty Dumpty in Oakland 
by Philip K. Dick.
Gollancz, 199 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 575 03875 6
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The Watcher 
by Jane Palmer.
Women’s Press, 177 pp., £2.50, September 1986, 0 7043 4038 0
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I, Vampire 
by Jody Scott.
Women’s Press, 206 pp., £2.50, September 1986, 0 7043 4036 4
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... a genre centred on ‘a definition of mankind’, does that not look – remembering Star Wars and Mr Spock – by some way too ambitious? Is Aldiss not, as he was in this book’s 1973 precursor, Billion Year Spree, a trifle over-persuaded by Mary Shelley? There is of course much to be said for seeing Frankenstein as simultaneously a Gothic novel and a work ...

Something of Importance

Philip Williamson, 2 February 1989

The Coming of the First World War 
edited by R.J.W. Evans and Hartmut Pogge von Strandmann.
Oxford, 189 pp., £22.50, November 1988, 0 19 822899 6
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The Experience of World War One 
by J.M. Winter.
Macmillan, 256 pp., £17.95, November 1988, 0 333 44613 5
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Russia and the Allies 1917-1920. Vol II: The Road to Intervention, March-November 1918 
by Michael Kettle.
Routledge, 401 pp., £40, June 1988, 0 415 00371 7
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Douglas Haig 1861-1928 
by Gerald De Groot.
Unwin Hyman, 441 pp., £20, November 1988, 0 04 440192 2
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Nothing of Importance: A Record of Eight Months at the Front with a Welsh Battalion 
by Bernard Adams.
The Strong Oak Press/Tom Donovan Publishing, 324 pp., £11.95, October 1988, 9781871048018
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1914-1918: Voices and Images of the Great War 
by Lyn Macdonald.
Joseph, 346 pp., £15.95, November 1988, 0 7181 3188 6
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... would happen to them if they did not go to war. Where, though, did responsibility lie? Partly, Robert Evans explains, with Austro-Hungary – but only partly, because the war its leaders wanted under Serbian provocation was only a small localised conflict, a third Balkan war. The main responsibility lay with the German leaders, who alone wanted a major war ...

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