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The Prodigal Century

David Blackbourn: Something New under the Sun: An Environmental History of the 20th Century by John McNeill, 7 June 2001

Something New under the Sun: An Environmental History of the 20th Century 
by John McNeill.
Penguin, 448 pp., £8.99, August 2001, 0 14 029509 7
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... the basis of ocean food chains. The Aswan Dam and Thomas Midgely both have a place in John McNeill’s excellent environmental history of the 20th century. McNeill has done a vast amount of reading and his range is truly global. He discusses the effects of oil extraction from Tampico to the Niger delta, the ...

Education and Exclusion

Sheldon Rothblatt, 13 February 1992

Hutchins’ University: A Memoir of the University of Chicago 1929-1950 
by William McNeill.
Chicago, 194 pp., $24.95, October 1991, 0 226 56170 4
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Robert M. Hutchins: Portrait of an Educator 
by Mary Ann Dzuback.
Chicago, 387 pp., $24.95, November 1991, 0 226 17710 6
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Jews in the American Academy 1900-1940: The Dynamics of Intellectual Assimilation 
by Susanne Klingenstein.
Yale, 248 pp., £22.50, November 1991, 0 300 04941 2
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... best-known Committee on Social Thought (established with family money by the economic historian John Nef), are tiny departments cutting across disciplinary specialism and empowered in certain cases to award undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Hutchins’s Committee on the Liberal Arts was financed from the outside and was used by him to publicise his ...

‘If I Could Only Draw Like That’

P.N. Furbank, 24 November 1994

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies 
by James McNeill Whistler.
Heinemann, 338 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 434 20166 9
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James McNeill Whistler: Beyond the Myth 
by Ronald Anderson and Anne Koval.
Murray, 544 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 7195 5027 0
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... Britain; and as for his direct influence, as one observes it in Sickert, Wilson Steer, Gwen John and Victor Pasmore, it is hard not to think of it as beneficent and inspiring. People sometimes rebuke Whistler, as they rebuke Pound, for being noisy and obstreperous, but the polemics – the Ruskin trial, and the ‘Ten O’Clock’ lecture (reprinted in ...

Je suis bizarre

Sarah LeFanu: Gwen John, 6 September 2001

Gwen JohnA Life 
by Sue Roe.
Chatto, 364 pp., £25, June 2001, 0 7011 6695 9
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... The self-portrait by Gwen John hanging in the National Portrait Gallery was painted in 1899 or 1900. She is dressed in the formal costume of the period: a tight-waisted blouse with leg-of-mutton sleeves and a big black bow at the neck. Her hair is tied back and her hands are on her hips. She is slightly turned away from us, so only one hand is visible ...

One’s Self-Washed Drawers

Rosemary Hill: Ida John, 29 June 2017

The Good Bohemian: The Letters of Ida John 
edited by Rebecca John and Michael Holroyd.
Bloomsbury, 352 pp., £25, May 2017, 978 1 4088 7362 5
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... door to a respectable life had slammed shut behind her. Ida Nettleship sketched by Augustus John (c.1900) Such, more or less, is the story of Ida Nettleship, the first wife of Augustus John, who died of puerperal fever at the age of 30 in 1907 and was soon lost to view. In ...

Feast of Darks

Christine Stansell: Whistler, 23 October 2003

Whistler, Women and Fashion 
by Margaret MacDonald and Susan Grace Galassi et al.
Yale, 243 pp., £35, May 2003, 0 300 09906 1
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Whistler and His Mother: An Unexpected Relationship 
by Sarah Walden.
Gibson Square, 242 pp., £15.99, July 2003, 1 903933 28 5
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... for showmanship and his Paris education to make himself the prototype Victorian aesthete, James McNeill Whistler had started out as a dutiful son, following his father to West Point before turning his back on the Army to pursue the artist’s life in Paris. He arrived there in 1855, at the height of the craze for the vie de bohème, and like many other ...

What was it that drove him?

David Runciman: Gordon Brown, 4 January 2018

My Life, Our Times 
by Gordon Brown.
Bodley Head, 512 pp., £25, November 2017, 978 1 84792 497 1
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... of his expenses claims. Now he discovers that there is an article by one of his predecessors, John Major, which attacks him in highly personal terms. He decides he must ring the Telegraph’s editor to put the record straight. He has to do this on a train to Bradford, where he is due to unveil a memorial in honour of a local police officer, Sharon ...

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