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Back in the dark and the rain

In 1931, a Belgian pulp-fiction writer living in Paris and churning out four titles a month using various noms de plume decided to publish a series of detective stories under his own name. His publisher had to ask him what his real name was;everyone in Paris knew him as ‘Sim’. Georges Simenon, as he identified

Man with a mission | 14 July 2007

There has not been an abler or more decent prime minister than Sir Robert Peel, and peacetime has not produced a more courageous one. Perhaps none has assembled a more gifted ministry or commanded Cabinet more effectively. Before and during his premiership he made huge choices and implemented them with skill and resolve. Like Attlee

Right for his times

Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, high on a hill overlooking Simi Valley, California and you are greeted at the door by a bronze statue of the former president dressed as a cowboy. For many on the Left in Britain that is exactly how they saw the 40th president of the United States. They should

The chthonic nub of things

Don’t imagine this book by a 42-year-old Englishwoman who has been in her time an English undergraduate at Oxford, a digging-in anti-roads campaigner and a lonely depressive in her London flat, is anything resembling your average expedition into the wild. The usual elegant reflections on wilderness and its transcendent emptiness are absent here. Instead, there

Lessons from the father of lies

Ryszard Kapuscinski, who died in January this year, was a literary-minded reporter. As the Polish Press Agency’s only foreign correspondent for most of the 1960s and 1970s, he would prepare for his journeys to Africa, Asia and the Americas by reading extensively. Later, he used his exotic experiences as material for what might best be

Double trouble and strife

Is there anyone, hearing a story about bigamy, who does not feel a tiny jolt of admiration, even envy, for the wrongdoer? How many of us can say that, if we could suffer no ill consequences, we wouldn’t rather like to have a second household, with different plants in the garden, different curtains, a different

Dropping himself in the soup

One of Richard Nixon’s salient characteristics was his clumsiness. No one ever called him a man of the Left politically, but in the other figurative sense he was quite unusually gauche or linkisch. By the last grim days of his presidency that might have been explained by the martinis he was downing as if they