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Agent Untraceable, Owner Not Responding

Laleh Khalili: Abandoned Seafarers, 30 March 2023

Cabin Fever: Trapped On Board a Cruise Ship When the Pandemic Hit 
by Michael Smith and Jonathan Franklin.
Endeavour, 259 pp., £20, July 2022, 978 1 913068 73 8
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Dead in the Water: Murder and Fraud in the World’s Most Secretive Industry 
by Matthew Campbell and Kit Chellel.
Atlantic, 268 pp., £10.99, May, 978 1 83895 255 6
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... been the fate of almost all the cruise ships stranded by Covid border closures.Michael Smith and Jonathan Franklin tell the horror story of another plague ship, the Zaandam, owned and operated by Holland America, which left Buenos Aires on 6 March 2020. The cruise ship companies already knew that their vessels were hothouses for the mysterious ...

Australian Circles

Jonathan Coe, 12 September 1991

The Tax Inspector 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 279 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 571 16297 5
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The Second Bridegroom 
by Rodney Hall.
Faber, 214 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 9780571164820
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... but now resembling nothing more than a ‘badly tended family grave’. The Catchprices live in Franklin, New South Wales, which used to be a country town twenty miles from Sydney: since then Sydney has swollen out of recognition (it’s now the second biggest city in the world, after Calcutta), and suddenly ...

Perpetual Sunshine

David Cannadine, 2 July 1981

The Gentleman’s Country House and its Plan, 1835-1914 
by Jill Franklin.
Routledge, 279 pp., £15.95, February 1981, 0 7100 0622 5
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... on below-stairs life: most notably Pamela Horn on The Rise and Fall of the Victorian Servant, Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy’s history of the British nanny (which puts Churchill’s Mrs Everest firmly in her place), and Merlin Waterson’s account of Erdigg, which tells the entire story of a country house from the servants’ standpoint. Above stairs, Mark ...

Shuddering Organisms

Jonathan Coe, 12 May 1994

by Charles Palliser.
Cape, 308 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 224 02919 3
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... sophisticated ends: these are novels of epistemology, and Arthur Clennam, Esther Summerson and Franklin Blake are reluctant detectives whose investigations function as thrilling metaphors for the processes by which we all acquire our knowledge of the world. The Quincunx carried on this tradition with a vengeance, almost to the point where it became ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Hitler’s Last Day, 7 May 2015

... came out just in time to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of that happy occasion. It’s by Jonathan Mayo (whose previous books include D-Day: Minute by Minute and The Assassination of JFK: Minute by Minute) and Emma Craigie (the author of Chocolate Cake with Hitler and King Henry VIII: The Exploding King). Strictly speaking it ought to be called ...

Losing the Plot

Francesca Wade: Nicola Barker, 3 July 2014

In the Approaches 
by Nicola Barker.
Fourth Estate, 497 pp., £18.99, June 2014, 978 0 00 758370 6
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... be bloody writing novels about it, you should be out there bloody doing something about it.’ Jonathan Coe drops in to tell Maxwell Sim that his book is about to end; Sim looks ‘into the eyes of a serial killer’, and suspects that ‘beneath his courteous exterior, this guy was full of nothing but conceit and self-admiration.’ In At Swim-Two-Birds ...

The Brothers Koerbagh

Jonathan Rée: The Enlightenment, 14 January 2002

Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 
by Jonathan Israel.
Oxford, 810 pp., £30, February 2001, 0 19 820608 9
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... speculation in what they took to be the style of Locke and Newton. Their industrious children – Franklin, Hume, Rousseau, Diderot and d’Alembert – turned this rather muddled family inheritance into a ‘coherent modern view of the world’ which Gay called ‘modern Paganism’: an utterly original intellectual movement, as he saw it, which managed to ...

Move like a party

Mendez: George Michael’s Destiny, 5 January 2023

George Michael: A Life 
by James Gavin.
Abrams, 502 pp., £25, June 2023, 978 1 4197 4794 6
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George Michael: Freedom Uncut 
directed by David Austin and George Michael.
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... he flew to the US to record another, ‘I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)’, a duet with Aretha Franklin.Gavin’s telling of the recording session with Franklin is problematic (lingering on an unlikely tale of baby back ribs and a grease stain across the front of Michael’s trousers). ...

This Modern Mafia

Jonathan Steinberg, 7 October 1982

... in his own empire. By the early 1970s Sindona owned the largest chain of banks on Long Island, the Franklin National. As a good Sicilian, he knew that there was no such thing as the Mafia, and that his customers with hard faces and strange nicknames were all legitimate entrepreneurs who just happened to want to make huge payments in Ankara or transfer even ...

Some More Sea

Patrick O’Brian, 10 September 1992

The Oxford Book of the Sea 
edited by Jonathan Raban.
Oxford, 524 pp., £17.95, April 1992, 9780192141972
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... a problem. Broadly speaking, the sea has produced few Cobbetts: in this collection I remember only Franklin and Dana as being capable of giving a spare, direct account of the ocean upon which they travelled. Many of the others, including those who, like solitary yachtsmen, know a great deal about the sea, seem, when confronted with its immensity, to despair of ...

The Biggest Rockets

Alex Ross: Gustav Mahler, 24 August 2000

Gustav Mahler. Vol. III. Vienna: Triumph and Disillusion (1904 to 1907) 
by Henry-Louis de La Grange.
Oxford, 1024 pp., £35, February 1999, 9780193151604
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The Mahler Companion 
edited by Donald Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson.
Oxford, 652 pp., £50, May 1999, 0 19 816376 2
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... books about Mahler, has edited a new one, The Mahler Companion. Two other biographies, by Peter Franklin and Jonathan Carr, have recently appeared. And, of course, there are recordings – well over a thousand versions of twenty works. A Mahler Discography, published in 1995, is already thoroughly out of date. One starts ...


Jonathan Lethem: My Marvel Years, 15 April 2004

... wife and famously ‘the weakest member of the Fantastic Four’. She wanted a home for their boy Franklin, she wanted Reed to stay out of the Negative Zone, and she was willing to quit the Four and quit the marriage to stand up for what she believed.I seriously doubt whether any 1970s Marvel-loving boy ever had a sexual fantasy about Sue Storm. We had ...


Ian Gilmour, 23 October 1986

Britain’s Civil Wars: Counter-Insurgency in the 20th Century 
by Charles Townshend.
Faber, 220 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 0 571 13802 0
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Terrorism and the Liberal State 
by Paul Wilkinson.
Macmillan, 322 pp., £25, May 1986, 0 333 39490 9
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Terrorism: How the West can win 
edited by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Weidenfeld, 254 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 79025 0
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Political Murder: From Tyrannicide to Terrorism 
by Franklin Ford.
Harvard, 440 pp., £24.95, November 1985, 0 674 68635 7
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The Financing of Terror 
by James Adams.
New English Library, 294 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 0 450 06086 1
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They dare to speak out: People and institutions confront Israel’s lobby 
by Paul Findley.
Lawrence Hill (Connecticut), 362 pp., $16.95, May 1985, 0 88208 179 9
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... Apart from the editor’s obtrusive commentaries, this consists of lectures given at the Jonathan Institute in Washington by George Shultz, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Arthur Goldberg, Moshe Arens, Eugene Rostow, Paul Johnson, Senator Cranston and many others with similar views. The blurb describes the book as a polemic, which it is, and ‘a comprehensive ...

Got to go make that dollar

Alex Abramovich: Otis Redding, 3 January 2019

Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life 
by Jonathan Gould.
Crown, 544 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 0 307 45395 2
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... They had a vegetable garden, a hog pen, a chicken coop. Redding’s most recent biographer, Jonathan Gould, says that Otis (14 at the time) ‘felt a special disdain for anything that smacked of “country”, flatly refusing to wear the overalls his parents bought for him’. Four years later, the house burned to the ground and the Reddings moved back ...


Ian Campbell Ross: ‘provincial genius’, 23 October 2003

Hermsprong; or Man as He Is Not 
by Robert Bage, edited by Pamela Perkins.
Broadview, 387 pp., £8.99, March 2002, 1 55111 279 5
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... were mediated through fiction.) Among non-fictional accounts, Bage draws on Pierre de Charlevoix, Jonathan Carver and John Long. He borrows material selectively, transforming it in the process. Chief among his sources were Voltaire’s L’Ingénu (or The Huron) and Benjamin Franklin’s ‘Remarks concerning the Savages of ...

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