Page 5

Unyielding hope

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O ne of Robert F. Kennedy’s favourite passages of poetry was drawn from Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’: ‘Come, my friends,/ ’Tis not too late to seek a newer world./ Push off, and sitting...

Page 9

‘S o, do you believe in God?’ That is the Nth

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time today I’ve been asked that, where N is starting to be quite a big number. I was bracing myself for the God question after it was announced this week that I will be...

Page 10

McCain’s failure is a warning to Cameron: offer tax cuts before Brown does

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T here was something almost comic about Gordon Brown and David Cameron’s rush to associate themselves with Barack Obama’s victory, each offering their own quite different...

Page 11

I t is so important that the first black President is

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only half-black. The black side of Barack Obama’s heritage is the non-American bit. His black, Kenyan father was absent. His Hawaiian upbringing was white. One day, he recalls...

Page 13


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SUNDAY Just had an absolute nightmare setting up one of those conference calls. Jed thought it would be nice if Dave rang Mrs Palin to wish her luck. Simple enough you might...

Page 14

Obama’s America will be more equal but less mighty

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Reihan Salam says that the President-elect is no socialist and it was desperate of McCain to claim as much. Obama’s policies more closely resemble European social democracy —...

Page 16

Obama has changed the world just by being elected

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James Forsyth looks back on an extraordinary contest and the victory of a man who, even before his inauguration, has had a transformative effect upon American politics...

Page 18

Meet the real Joe Biden: Vice-President Plonker

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The scrutiny of Sarah Palin diverted attention from Obama’s running mate, says Freddy Gray . Biden is not that popular, a ‘gaffe machine’, and he eats Snickers bars in one...

Page 20

Is Barack Obama really black?

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Actually, I’m not so sure Rod Liddle , who wanted the Democrat to win, says the racial dimension to this presidential election was never straightforward, and probably favoured...

Page 21

I don’t miss Italy. The dolce vita is a myth

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Lisa Hilton looks back on three years exile in Milan and rejoices in the bounty of Waitrose and a postal service that is at least halfway efficient. Italy at its best is a...

Page 22

The Tory quest for a fiscal Holy Grail is doomed

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Brown’s golden rules have been exposed as a sham, says Irwin Stelzer , but the Tory response has been feeble. Their target should be the PM’s feathering of Old Labour nests T he...

Page 24

As Orwell warned, children now spy on adults

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Brendan O’Neill says that New Labour is deploying Maoist tactics to use children’s ‘pester power’ to crack down on the ‘eco-crimes’ and alleged anti-social behaviour of their...

Page 26

Remembrance day salutes man’s ancient instincts

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War has a fatal attraction for men, says James Delingpole . Those who fall in combat are indeed the best and the bravest — and we shall certainly need their like again E very...

Page 28

S taying recently on the Herengracht in Amsterdam, I found myself

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trying to solve a psychological puzzle. How could anyone have thought for a moment, how could any mind have entertained even for an infinitesimal fraction of an instant, that...

Page 29

The MoD’s failure of duty

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Sir: Charles Moore berates Oxford deputy coroner Andrew Walker for upbraiding officialdom in the matter of the death of Para Corporal Mark Wright, deeming such criticism of the...

On Mumbai and martinis

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Sir: Christopher Booker is right (Letters, 1 November) — inhabitants of Bombay who refer to their city as ‘Mumbai’ are spoken of by the teeming majority who don’t as...

A woman of influence

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Sir: The article by Paul Johnson asking ‘Should a widowed mother aged 13 be a saint?’ (And another thing, 6 September) was brought to my attention recently and it was with some...

Homage to Goldfinger

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Sir: While generally panning Quantum of Solace , Deborah Ross complains that the film ‘doesn’t even give itself the odd, knowing wink. No Speedos, no plays on martinis being...

A subtle study

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Sir: No one would, as Edward Norman has done (Books, 1 November), treat Rowan Williams’s Dostoevsky — Language, Faith and Fiction as a (defective) theological treatise, except...

Don’t brand Brand

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Sir: Rod Liddle is quite within his rights to argue that he doesn’t find Russell Brand funny (‘The real lesson is: the public don’t like Jonathan Ross or Russell Brand’, 1...

Page 30

I am woken by the song of the kookaburra in this ancient, haunting landscape

The Spectator

K ookaburras don’t really laugh, but I can see why the old song suggests it: a weird, taunting call, which does have a kind of dark comicality about it. And this is one of the...

Page 32

There’s plenty of goodies yet in the English word-factory

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T he most overused word this autumn has been ‘crunch’ in the sense of ‘crisis’, as in the phrase ‘credit crunch’. Not many know that it was first used thus by Winston Churchill,...

Page 34

He’s the voice of the crash, but the words are all his own

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Financial crisis has transformed Robert Peston from egghead to celebrity, says Dominic Midgley , but the BBC business editor indignantly denies he’s a government mouthpiece T he...

Page 36

Why I’ll never be Warren Buffett

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Ross Clark I ought to be a natural Warren Buffett. I’ve never had any difficulty doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing. If there ever was anyone capable of being...

Page 38

Scapegoats, hate figures and superheroes

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Psychotherapist and former banker Lucy Beresford says we’re all in denial about our guilt for the debt crisis D uring the recent economic nervous breakdown, pundits everywhere...

Page 40

A prickly character

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Kate Chisholm HESTER by Ian McIntyre Constable, £25, pp. 450, ISBN 9781845294496 I must eat up my own heart & be quiet,’ confided Hester Thrale in her private notebook in the...

Page 41

The Great Duke and others

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James Delingpole WELLINGTON by Jane Wellesley Weidenfeld, £20, pp. 369, ISBN 9780297852315 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T here can never be too many biographies of the...

Page 42

Enemies within

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Michael Henderson F IFTY P EOPLE W HO B UGGERED U P B RITAIN by Quentin Letts Constable, £12.99, pp. 274, ISBN 978184529855 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 A s readers...

Page 43

Turning back the pages

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Juliet Townsend M AGIC M oMENTS : T HE B ooKS THE B oy L oVED AND M UCH E LSE B ESIDES by John Sutherland Profile, £10.99, pp. 273, ISBN 9781846680786 ✆ £8.79 (plus £2.45 p&p)...

Page 44

A rich harvest

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Tony Gould CODA by Simon Gray Faber/Granta, £14.99, pp. 251, ISBN 9781847080943X ✆ £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 W ere Simon Gray alive t o d a y , I could not have...

Page 45

Celebrity is not enough

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Christopher Howse a nnie l eiBovitz at W ork by Annie Leibovitz, edited from conversations with Sharon DeLano Cape, £25, pp. 240, ISBN 9780224087575 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870...

Page 46

Remembrance of girls past

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Elisa Segrave P AST I MPERFECT by Julian Fellowes Weidenfeld, £17.99, pp. 410, ISBN 9780297855224 V £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 B ut why should people want to read...

From pillar to post

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Colin Amery T HE E NGLISH H OUSE : T HE S TORY OF A N ATION AT H OME by Clive Aslet Bloomsbury, £20, pp. 308, ISBN 97807457797 3 V £16(plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 E arlier...

Page 47

Ten minutes that shook Europe

The Spectator

Judith Flanders W RATH OF G OD : THE G REAT L ISBON E ARTHQUAKE OF 1755 by Edward Paice Quercus, £20, pp. 304, ISBN 9781847246233 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 P ortugal...

Page 48

A backdrop of beasts and losers

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William Feaver C HAGALL : L iFE , A RT , E xiLE by Jackie Wullschlager Allen Lane, £30, pp. 558 ISBN 9780713996524 ✆ £24 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T here’s this cow...

Page 49

Tales of the unexpected

The Spectator

Cressida Connolly T HE A TMOSPHERIC R AILWAY : N EW AND S ELECTED S TORIES by Shena Mackay Cape, £17.99, pp. 423, ISBN 9780224072984 ✆ £14.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I n...

L OVE You sitting on the edge of the bed With

The Spectator

your guts churned up Because you’ve had a couple of Guinnesses And haven’t slept all night. Saying you’ll go home, have a shower before work. I put my arms round you And...

Page 50

A choice of first novels

The Spectator

Simon Baker A Fraction of the Whole , by Steve Toltz, was one of two debut novels on the Booker shortlist — and is, one could argue, a more distinguished offering than the...

Page 51

The divided states of America

The Spectator

Ian Sansom A M ERCY by Toni Morrison Chatto, £15.99, pp. 168, ISBN 9780701180454 V £12.79(plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Y ou may or may not agree with the New York Times ,...

Surprising literary ventures

The Spectator

Gary Dexter A MOK : K ING OF L EGEND (1976) by Ken Follett K en Follett is a cult in countries such as Japan, Italy and Spain — in Spain, in fact, there is a statue to him,...

Page 52

How Boris got under his skin

The Spectator

Henrietta Bredin talks to Edward Gardner, English National Opera’s music director T here is a ridiculously tiny, narrow room carved out of the foyer of the London Coliseum,...

Page 54

Intimate moments

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Andrew Lambirth From Sickert to Gertler: Modern British Art from Boxted House Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury, Suffolk, until 13 December P rivate collections of art are...

Page 56

Voices of reason

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Lloyd Evans To Be Straight With You Lyttelton American Briefs Above the Stag, 15 Bressenden Place, SW1 I t’s been said that the Catholic Church has always known how to deal...

Page 58

A fine romance

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Michael Tanner I Capuleti e i Montecchi Of Thee I sing Opera North, Leeds S lightly perversely, Opera North has been running a series of ‘Shakespeare operas’ ending with...

Page 59

Beating around the Bush

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Deborah Ross W 15, Nationwide W , which should be pronounced ‘dubya’, the Texan way, as in George ‘Dubya’ Bush — but never as in, for example, Dubya. H. Smith — is Oliver...

Page 60

Breaking the mould

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Peter Phillips T he election of Professor Sir Curtis Price as the next Warden of New College, Oxford, is remarkable in two respects: he is (or was) American and he is a...

Page 61

Taste for the unusual

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Giannandrea Poesio Overture 2012: Power and Passion Royal Albert Hall Julie Gilbert/Jean-Baptiste André The Place Triple Bill Royal Opera House I have to confess that the idea...

Page 62

What is freedom?

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Kate Chisholm L et’s focus for a change on what the BBC does best. Take, for instance, a short half-hour programme on Radio Four, buried in the schedules, midevening on a...

Extreme measures

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Simon Hoggart I watched Russell Brand’s Ponderland (Channel 4, Thursday) if only so that you don’t have to. It’s rather lazy, like the unpleasant message he and Jonathan Ross...

Page 64

Garden shorts

The Spectator

A ccording to Garden Trade News , almost my favourite bedside reading, sales of the liquid fertiliser, ‘Tomorite’, are up markedly this year. Where there is ‘Tomorite’, there...

Riviera revels

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Taki New York B ack in the summer of 1960, a married Hollywood actress and her friend, a Hollywood wife, came to the south of France and met a randy 23-year-old who showed them...

Page 65

An inside job

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Jeremy Clarke I t’s a proud day when your boy goes for his first job interview with a career in mind and says he wants to borrow your suit. He left school two years ago, aged...

Page 68

Money laundering

The Spectator

Melissa Kite W ith a sense of weary inevitability, I discover that it is not possible to have a washing machine delivered in my street without paying £100 in washing machine...

Page 70

In a rich man’s world

The Spectator

Peter Grogan on Britain’s last remaining ‘private bankers’ A s the dust slowly settles around the banking world’s Ground Zero, it’s instructive to peer into the hole and...

Page 78

I pity the fraudster who has to pretend to be me

The Spectator

A bout a year ago, I appeared on Watchdog to discuss identity fraud. A researcher for the programme had managed to become a ‘friend’ of mine via Facebook and, as a result, now...

Ancient & modern

The Spectator

‘Are they talking to the trees?’ asked my husband as he banged his stick against a sign attached to a plane tree near the Tate Gallery. He does not need a stick to lean on. He...

Page 79

K evin Pietersen was peculiarly charmless, even by his own high

The Spectator

standards, shortly after leading England to one of their most abject performances in any form of cricket in the Stanford 20/20 match. Did he mention how well Sir Allen...

Q. For some years before my retirement, I worked with

The Spectator

a male colleague who, for as long as I had known him, was quite bald. He is now in his late fifties and, I’m told, is sporting a very obvious hair transplant. As I believe we’ll...

Q. Although it is credit-crunch time for so many people,

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it is not the case for me. I have no money worries and do not foresee any. My problem is that when I invite friends to stay for the weekend they still feel they must come loaded...

Q. I run a high-end eco-guesthouse in Africa. While I

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can provide our guests with pretty much anything they want, the one area where we fall down is cigars. Our electricity is self-generated and frequent power cuts are the norm....