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Personal pronouns are changing fast

NOT so long ago a man could be jailed in Texas for sex with another man. In 2015 a county clerk in Kentucky was jailed for refusing to certify the marriage of two men. Gay rights in America proceeded at an extraordinary rate between Lawrence v Texas (2003), in which …

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Esther Kinsky muses on a river in England

Esther Kinsky goes with history’s flow River. By Esther Kinsky. Translated by Iain Galbraith. Fitzcarraldo; 368 pages; £12.99. To be published in America this autumn by Transit Books. IN HER post-war childhood beside the Rhine, the narrator of Esther Kinsky’s third novel learns that “every river is a border.” Flowing …

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Giorgio Vasari, the man who created art history

Vasari made craftsmen into stars The Collector of Lives: Giorgio Vasari and the Invention of Art. By Ingrid Rowland and Noah Charney. Norton; 432 pages; $29.95 and £23.99. TOWARDS the end of his life Michelangelo Buonarroti, the most famous artist of the Italian Renaissance, began burning his drawings. He did …

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Leonard Bernstein at 100

European tradition, American incarnation IF YOU were a well-heeled Massachusetts lady in the late 1920s and wanted your hair fixed like the movie stars, there was one man to turn to: Samuel Bernstein. In 1927, this entrepreneurial immigrant, who had arrived in New York from Tsarist Russia aged 16, acquired …

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The Vietnam war and its legacy

The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam. By Max Boot. Liveright; 768 pages; $35. Head of Zeus; £30. BECAUSE the Vietnam war was the first that the United States unequivocally lost, American treatments of it are often couched as might-have-beens. Liberals look for moments when …

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A powerful dramatisation of the murder of Gianni Versace

THE 20th century may be considered America’s greatest, but gay men had a miserable time. Sodomy was a felony in every state until 1962, and it remained illegal in 13 states until 2003. Gay men were sacked from jobs in government and left to die in an epidemic many considered …

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Visualising the careers of musicians-turned-actors

THE news of Harry Styles’s casting in “Dunkirk” (2017) was met with bemusement. It was hard to imagine the boyband heartthrob, with his Mick Jagger-esque locks and floral suits, under siege on the beaches of northern France (rather than under siege from hordes of teenage girls). Did a short comic …

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Britain could become basketball’s latest global outpost

FOR ONE night a year the O2 Arena, London’s biggest indoor stadium, belongs to basketball. On January 11th the 20,000-seat venue hosted its eighth regular-season fixture since 2011, between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers, the former of whom are genuine championship contenders this season in the National Basketball …

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Is art-connoisseur yet another job threatened by technology?

THE patient is carefully positioned on a pristine rectangular table. A signal is given, and from behind a glass wall, a technician directs an X-ray machine overhead. Zapping begins. This is not a hospital. It is the conservation laboratory of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Visits here were part of the …

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What makes humans inventive?

The Origins of Creativity. By Edward Wilson. Liveright; 198 pages; $24.95. Allen Lane; £20. The Runaway Species. By Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman. Catapult; 287 pages; $28. Canongate; £20. DOES science spoil beauty? John Keats, an English Romantic poet, thought so. When Sir Isaac Newton separated white light into its …

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