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Non Fiction

Glyn Davis reviews 'The Making of Modern Liberalism'

Glyn Davis
Wednesday, 24 October 2012

In a famous essay on poetry, English philosopher Michael Oakeshott evoked the metaphor of conversation to describe how people share and discuss ideas. A conversation, suggested Oakeshott, allows a continuous discussion between past and present, between the thought of earlier generations and the pressing needs of the present. A conversation is not a search for truth ...

Norman Davies illustrates the literary life available to a score or so of living historians whose works at one time or another made the bestseller lists. Like Simon Schama, Niall Ferguson, and Paul Kennedy, he occupies a place in a Valhalla where the normal rules don’t apply. Instead of waiting nervously for publishers to give thumbs up to a cherished manuscript, ...

‘Victorian Bloomsbury’ appears to be a contradiction in terms. ‘Bloomsbury’, as in ‘the Bloomsbury Group’, is shorthand for the group of writers, artists, and thinkers including Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Clive and Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, and Maynard Keynes, who gathered in the area of central London between Euston Road and Holborn in the early deca ...

Ben Juers's cartoon on the school system

Ben Juers
Tuesday, 23 October 2012

 

Cartoon

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Robin Prior reviews 'The Second World War'

Robin Prior
Monday, 22 October 2012

Too often histories of World War II either have ‘total’ in their title or make great play with total war as a concept. Essentially this is meaningless, because all that is meant by total war is big war. Antony Beevor mercifully does not call World War II ‘total’ or make any reference to total war.

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Ian Britain reviews 'The Two Frank Thrings'

Ian Britain
Thursday, 27 September 2012

How lucky we were! My ‘baby boomer’ generation in Melbourne grew up on stories of the second Frank Thring (1926–94), which competed in outrageousness with the anecdotes we heard of Barry Humphries; and throughout the 1960s we had the opportunity – more so in the case of Thring, who had now settled back in Melbourne as a regular performer on stage and televis ...

Peter Steele once described his teaching and writing as ‘acts of celebration’. He is – and was – quite literally a celebrant: in his role as a Jesuit priest, and as a poet of praise. Those acts of celebration extend to his prose works as well, both his homilies and his literary essays, especially those that take up the matter of poetry ...

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Andy Lloyd James reviews 'A Point of View'

Andy Lloyd James
Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A Point of View is a weekly BBC Radio series in which invited speakers deliver ten-minute talks about ‘anything that has captured their imagination’ that week. Clive James contributed from 2007 to the end of 2009. This book is a collection of his talks. It is fascinating to read, both because of the immense range of subjects he covered and because it give ...

Too often foreign affairs seem the realm of tedious diplomacy, impenetrable acronyms, and cynical realpolitik. So it comes as a relief to Western governments and voters if they can from time to time adopt a stance that places them on the side of the angels. Helping transform bad régimes into good, as in Burma, offers such an opportunity, and activist and author Ben ...

Jennifer Lindsay's essay: 'Man on the Margins'

Jennifer Lindsay
Wednesday, 26 September 2012

‘If Indonesia were a person,’ a good friend in Jakarta said to me, ‘it would be Goenawan.’ I know what she means. There is nothing black and white about him. He is a complex man, multi-faceted, charming and exasperating, full of conviction and contradiction, at once deeply patriotic and critical of his nation (which was born just five years after he was), so ...

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