Tag Archives: biography practice

The Biographical Turn: Lives in History – H.Renders, B. de Haan, J. Harmsma.

Edited by Hans Renders, Binne de Haan, Jonne Harmsma
222 pages
© 2017 – Routledge

Paperback: 9781138939714
pub: 2016-09-28
Hardback: 9781138939707
pub: 2016-09-26


The Biographical Turn showcases the latest research through which the field of biography is being explored. Fifteen leading scholars in the field present the biographical perspective as a scholarly research methodology, investigating the consequences of this bottom-up approach and illuminating its value for different disciplines.

While biography has been on the rise in academia since the 1980s, this volume highlights the theoretical implications of the biographical turn that is changing the humanities. Chapters cover subjects such as gender, religion, race, new media and microhistory, presenting biography as a research methodology suited not only for historians but also for explorations in areas including literature studies, sociology, economics and politics. By emphasizing agency, the use of primary sources and the critical analysis of context and historiography, this book demonstrates how biography can function as a scholarly methodology for a wide range of topics and fields of research.

International in scope, The Biographical Turn emphasizes that the individual can have a lasting impact on the past and that lives that are now forgotten can be as important for the historical narrative as the biographies of kings and presidents. It is a valuable resource for all students of biography, history and historical theory.

Table of Contents


List of contributors


1 The Biographical Turn: Biography as Critical Method in the Humanities and in Society

Hans Renders, Binne de Haan and Jonne Harmsma


Section 1: The Biographical Turn in the Humanities

2 Biography as Corrective

Nigel Hamilton

3 The Plurality of the Past: Historical Time and the Rediscovery of Biography

Sabina Loriga

4 The Life Is Never Over: Biography as a Microhistorical Approach

Sigurður Gylfi Magnússon

5 Personalized History: Biofiction, Source Criticism and the Topicality of Biography

Binne de Haan

6 The Life Effect: Literature Studies and the Biographical Perspective

Joanny Moulin

7 Biography as a Concept of Thought: On the Premises of Biographical Research and Narrative

Christian Klein


Section 2: The Biographical Turn in Fields of Knowledge

8 Biographies as Multipliers: The First World War as Turning Point in the Lives of Modernist Artists

Hans Renders and Sjoerd van Faassen

9 ‘Honest Politics’: A Biographical Perspective on Economic Expertise as a Political Style

Jonne Harmsma

10 Rediscovering Agency in the Atlantic: A Biographical Approach Linking Entrepreneurial Spirit and Overseas Companies

Kaarle Wirta

11 Building Bridges to Past Centuries: Religion and Empathy in Early Modern Biography

Enny de Bruijn

12 Palatable and Unpalatable Leaders: Apartheid and Post-Apartheid Afrikaner Biography

Lindie Koorts


Section 3: The Biographical Turn in Academia and Society

13 Biography Is Not A Selfie: Authorization as the Creeping Transition from Autobiography to Biography

Hans Renders

14 What Are We Turning From? Research and Ideology in Biography and Life Writing

Craig Howes

15 Liberation From Low Dark Space: Biography Beside and Beyond the Academy

Carl Rollyson

16 From Academic Historian to Popular Biographer: Musings on the Practical Poetics of Biography

Debby Applegate




Biography and Detective Fiction

By Nigel Hamilton


When I told my fellow writers in the Boston Biographers Group (BBG) that I’d stopped work on FDR and was reading detective novels, there was kind of gasp of incomprehension.

Detective fiction?”


“But why?” they asked

“I’ve got writer’s block.”

“And detective fiction solves writer’s block?”

I blushed. “It might.”

At the next meeting, held at the Lutheran Church near Harvard Square, I was asked if it had helped.

“Not yet,” I admitted. “But I’ve definitely improved the sales of Henning Mankell.”

The month after that, though, I was healed.

“No more writer’s block!” I announced with relief, as if I’d overcome planter fasciitis, or tennis elbow.

“Was it Mankell?” someone asked.

“It was!” I responded, full of gratitude. “I feel like writing to thank him.

“That’d be difficult,” someone else pointed out. “He just died.”

Mankell – creator of Detective Inspector Kurt Wallender, the overweight, flawed, workaholic policeman from Ystad, near Malmö, Sweden?

“Yep. Aged 67.”

Wow! I was shocked.

“No more Wallender tales,” someone said, elegiacally.

“Unless, like famous fictional heroes – Sherlock Holmes, James Bond – another writer resurrects him,” said someone else

People were looking at me.

“No, no, no!” I protested. “I’m 71 already!”

Too old to switch gears (all cars are automatic transmission here), let alone profession.

Not always, though, I had to admit. My friend Larry Leamer – a group biographer of the Kennedy women as well as men – had just written a one-woman biographical play about Rose, the Kennedy family matriarch, and was getting it produced on 42nd Street, New York… (More about that another time.)

To study the relationship between detective fiction and biography might be a neat project for someone, some day, however. The biographer is, after all, a real-life literary detective. He or she may not be charged with solving a crime, but the process of biography is remarkably similar, surely.

Think about it, I urged my colleagues. Assembling evidence, following a trail, interviewing witnesses, drawing up a verifiable chronology, examining forensic evidence, testing hypotheses, checking facts and records, approaching family members, deciding what will hold up in court and what won’t, dealing with the media… And the long hours! The workaholic, obsessive focus on the single investigation: on researching, eliciting, presenting the truth – or best-effort at truth – about a real human being’s actions. Meeting daily the challenge of innocence or guilt; daring to move beyond assumptions, false information, defenses, deceit, lies, posturing, even hostility on the part of those with a vested interest in preserving a well-varnished reputation…

Yes, the biographer may not wear a sidearm or holstered gun (unless from Texas!), but he or she can certainly empathize with fictional detectives. Both police detectives and private detectives.

We are, in our way, akin to private detectives, after all: employed to research and report on the behavior and character of selected individuals. One such detective I know in Boston has a further degree in psychology; she spends much of her time checking out the truthfulness of potential witnesses before trial – something I also do now almost by rote, as a biographer, after almost half a century of investigative work.

And Detective Inspector Wallender, the Swedish curmudgeon? What was so gratifying, so restorative for me in reading of his exploits in little Ystad, I was asked?

Escapism, yes – to the extent that all fiction is a mythic escape from reality into a world of make-believe, where truth doesn’t matter, and where entertainment – both high-brow (“literature”) and low-brow (“pulp fiction”) – is all. But Henning Mankell’s achievement was to me far more than the creation of a brilliantly fallible yet intuitively-inspired fictional detective, I insisted. It was Wallender’s dogged, methodical pursuit of the truth that was Mankell’s wonderful contribution to the genre, in my humble view as a blocked biographer searching for a magical elixir that would free my pen. There were very few set-piece dramatic scenes, or pyrotechnics; rather, I found myself happily following the ageing, stumbling detective as he began at zero, and so often returned to zero in terms of solving swiftly the puzzle or riddle of a murder. He was deplored by his superiors, given his contempt for the media and his refusal to rush to judgment, or hand over to others. He believed passionately in the process of detective work: that ultimately the truth, or something close to verifiable truth, will emerge, over time – and patient investigation.

I loved that conviction. I loved the simplicity of Ystad, the little town with its tough drink-driving laws and summer beaches. Reading Mankell’s tales of the Ystad detective I found myself re-centering my focus, my gaze, my concentration. Few thrills: just the patient, relentless process of investigation, in the pursuit of the truth about a human being – and a modicum of justice, even after death.

Bravo Mankell! And en avant with FDR…

Nigel Hamilton

Biography beyond Borders: Colloquium on American and European Biography- Nov. 2016

Save the date5th NOVEMBER 2016

In collaboration with the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing at Oxford, housed at Wolfson College and directed by Professor Dame Hermione Lee, BIO will host a Colloquium on American and European Biography, to be held on November 5 2016.

Preliminary plans include an elegant reception to be held in London on the evening of 4 November; travel by train to Oxford on the morning of the 5th, and a day devoted to panel discussion of significant differences (and some similarities) between American and European biography. A lunch-time discussion will feature a top American and a top European biographer exploring the question of how we can push the boundaries of the purposes and meaning of biography, and how American and European perspectives might differ in doing so. The colloquium will conclude with a reception at Wolfson College.

Full details of the cost of housing and conference fees will soon be announced. Wolfson is an elegant, modern college with excellent conference facilities, including eighty en-suite bedrooms. (https://www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/oclw)

For those who are interested, a BIO group will be spending Thursday night, November 3, at a Victorian Bed and Breakfast in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, run by a key former staff member in the Royal household who also offers specially guided tours of the area.

If you are interested in being part of this exciting collaboration between OCLW and BIO (either as a participant on a panel or as a member of the group), please contact either Deirdre David (ddavid@temple.edu) or Will Swift (drwswift@gmail.comto indicate your desire to learn more information.

Biography and Gossip

By Nigel Hamilton

An interesting essay by the award-winning novelist Cynthia Ozick was put on the front cover of last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review – a cover always reserved for book reviews.

In it Ms. Ozick gloried in what she called “gossip” as a quintessential ingredient in great storytelling. “Ever since Genesis no story has been free of gossip.” she wrote. “To choose to live without gossip” – as preachers since the Bible have urged mankind to do – “is to scorn storytelling,” for “the gossiper strives to fathom the difference between appearance and reality and to expose the gap between the false and the genuine” – to peer “through the keyhole of unsuspecting humanity.”

How true!

How interesting, too, her examples of where we would be without gossip and rumination on repute, at least in literary terms – “no Chaucer, no Boccaccio, no Boswell, no Jane Austen, no Maupassant, no Proust, no Henry James!”[1]

Well, I for one was glad somebody’s said it – moreover has hitched a famous biographer – perhaps the most famous biographer – to the cause!

Not that Boswell’s own reputation survived his passing. Poor man! He wrote the greatest biography in English literature – but after he died he was trashed by Lord Macaulay, the Victorian historian, as a drunken sot, and his reputation quickly plummeted. Not only his reputation, but the very example he had set for the process and construction of modern biography.

Visiting the Musée d’Orsay in Paris recently, on my way to the Biography Workshop and inaugural meeting of the Société de Biographie in Aix en Provence, I happened to see the new exhibition portraying the underside of the Victorian world, “Splendeurs et Misères: Images de la Prostitution en France, 1850-1910.”

What a magnificent keyhole into the patriarchal, sexual universe of the Victorians! It was like looking at a vast, hidden harem: revealed through the brave eyes of Béraud, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Tissot, Chabaud, Van Dongen, Dérain, Bernard, Picasso, Van Gogh, Munch, Mossa and Forain – who all dared record the matrix of Victorian hypocrisy and prudery. The novels of Maupassant and Zola were represented, along with King Edward VII’s actual “Chaise de volupté.” Sadly biography was not represented – because, after Boswell, the snobs and prudes closed down biography as an exploration of human splendors and miseries – exploration that was only permitted in fiction, not reality.

That sad story is well known to historians of biography – though there were, to be sure, positive aspects of Victorian life-chronicles, especially in the quasi-scientific, historical approach to fact gathering, as well as the enlarged biographical net the Victorians threw when compiling biographical dictionaries of men (not women, however). What is particularly relevant to us today, as we undertake a more research-oriented approach to the study of modern biography, is Ozick’s inclusion of Boswell in her list of great storytellers. For during the last hundred years, as more and more of Boswell’s papers have come to light, the manner in which he was trashed by Lord Macaulay and the Victorians has been revealed to be a monstrous travesty by a supposedly great historian of the age – a historian who failed utterly to be a true historian when it came to Boswell’s life.

As we consider the need to begin researching the records, papers and lives of modern biographers for the first time on a major scale, it is worth reminding ourselves of the example of James Boswell. His Life of Dr. Johnson took him seven years to assemble and write in the late eighteenth century, during which other biographies of the great Bear or Doctor were published. Boswell was unfazed by the competition, however. Of Dr. Johnson, he explained, “I profess to write, not his panegyrick, which must be all praise, but his Life; which, great and good as he was, must not be supposed to be entirely perfect. To be as he was, is indeed subject of panegyrick enough to any man in this state of being; but in every picture there should be shade as well as light.” He had known Johnson personally for twenty-one years and was determined to tell the truth – truth that would make Johnson come alive, as a great portrait painter does.

Despite the objections of contemporary critics and hero-worshippers he succeeded; but once the Victorians sank their white, moralistic teeth into him, poor Boswell fared miserably. His biography was lauded by Lord Macaulay, the historian, as a “a great, a very great work.” But Boswell himself “was one of the smallest men that ever lived,” Macaulay sneered, a man “of the meanest and feeblest intellect.” He was “the laughing-stock of the whole of that brilliant society which has owed to him the greater part of its fame. He was always laying himself at the feet of some eminent man, and begging to be spit upon and trampled upon.” Without “the officiousness, the inquisitiveness, the effrontery, the toad-eating, the insensibility to all reproof he never could have produced so excellent a book,” Macaulay claimed. “He was a slave, proud of his servitude,” an “unsafe companion who never scrupled to repay the most liberal hospitality by the basest violation of confidence, a man without delicacy, without shame, without sense enough to know when he was hurting the feelings of others or when he was exposing himself to derision.” Boswell had, Macaulay judged, “a weak and diseased mind. What silly things he said, what bitter retorts he provoked, how at one place he was troubled with evil presentiments which came to nothing, how at another place, on waking from a drunken doze, he read the prayer-book and took a hair of the dog that had bitten him, how he went to see men hanged and came away maudlin, how he added five hundred pounds to the fortune of one of his babies because she was not scared at Johnson’s ugly face, how he was frightened out of his wits at sea, and how the sailors quieted him as they would have quieted a child, how tipsy he was at Lady Cork’s one evening and how much his merriment annoyed the ladies, how impertinent he was to the Duchess of Argyle and with what stately contempt she put down his impertinence, how Colonel Macleod sneered to his face at his impudent obtrusiveness, how his father and the very wife of his bosom laughed and fretted at his fooleries; all these things he proclaimed to all the world, as if they had been subjects for pride and ostentatious rejoicing. All the caprices of his temper, all the illusions of his vanity, all his hypochondriac whimsies all his castles in the air, he displayed with a cool self-complacency, a perfect unconsciousness that he was making a fool of himself, to which it is impossible to find a parallel in the whole history of mankind. He has used many people ill; but assuredly he has used nobody so ill as himself.” In short, it was sheer “infamy” that such a feeble writer and personality should have written such an incomparable biography.[2]

As a professional biographer I wince every time I read Lord Macaulay’s vicious put-down. However it gives me hope, too: for when reviewers of my own warts-and-all works are reviewed by the likes of Michiko Kakutani, lead critic of the New York Times daily edition, I can console myself that they are the fools. For Ms. Kakutani, the first volume of my biography of President Clinton was nothing but “base gossip,” despite (or because of) the hundreds of fresh interviews I had done. It “represents a sleazy new low in the chronicling of presidential lives,” she damned me in the manner of Lord Macaulay. “It regurgitates the most scurrilous and unsubstantiated rumors about Mr. Clinton and his wife; dwells, with voyeuristic fascination, on his sex life and uses soap opera prose and sociological hot air to recount (in this, the first of two projected volumes) Mr. Clinton’s life through the conclusion of his tumultuous 1992 run for the White House.”[3]

Ms. Kakutani had said much the same of my biography of the young President Kennedy, JFK: Reckless Youth: namely that it “often reads like a trashy novel, one of those epic family sagas peopled with villains and heroes, and animated by stark, primordial emotions. The writing is frequently sensationalistic (“Kennedy then entered Swanson’s suite at the Hotel Poinciana and raped her,” he writes of Joseph P. Kennedy’s first night with Gloria Swanson); the insights into the familial psychology of the Kennedys are crudely and superficially Freudian.” Ms Kakutani – who is a brilliant reviewer of fiction, but lamentably ignorant of the working mechanisms of biography – was, however, compelled to set aside her feelings about the author – “an egregious Brit” as she later called me. “What overcomes these highly noticeable flaws,” she allowed, in the manner of the Victorian peer, “is the sheer accumulation of detail Mr. Hamilton has amassed: his minute, often day-by-day chronicle of young Kennedy’s life is based on 2,000 interviews and access to previously unpublished documents, and it slowly but steadily steamrollers over the reader’s doubts.”[4]

The shadow of Lord Macaulay thus still hangs over us, as biographers. Are we risible voyeurs, or “artists on oath” (as Desmond McCarthy once put it)? Or are we – as I have argued elsewhere[5] – serious microhistorian-biographers without whom historians, thanks to their moral hangups, indolence and fear of interviews (“base gossip”) are seldom equipped to judge the real import of individuality and individual agency when recording the past?

Boswell is, in this respect, a wonderful example of how, in academia if not in the New York Times, the true nature of what goes into a major biography is at last being validated – and valorized.

As James Caudle, one of the great editors of the Yale Editions of James Boswell, has written, Macaulay did not get away with his ignorant sneers. The “Life of Johnson now can lay claim to being the best-documented book of the eighteenth century,” he has noted – and the seven-year gestation of Boswell’s book equally so. Boswell’s actual research trail was an extraordinary story in itself – vindicating Boswell’s “Advertisement” to the first 1791 edition, in which Bozzie had explained the pains he had taken to get his facts right, involving “a degree of trouble far beyond that of any other species of composition.” It is, as Caudle described, “now the centerpiece of a record of its own evolution from talk into manuscript and into text, via printers and booksellers.” Moreover, as more and more of Boswell’s papers, diaries and letters emerged and were catalogued, annotated, debated and evaluated “from late Victorian times to the 1990s,” it became clear that Boswell was not only an indefatigable researcher, but a far better and more consciously artistic biographer than Johnson himself had been. Boswell’s “Life  was not simply an idiot savant’s verbatim transcription of whatever Johnson had to say, as Macaulay had averred, but rather a work of documentary drama, or Thucydidean reconstruction,” Caudle summarized the growing academic interest in Boswell as a biographer.

Moreover there has been a postmodern epilogue to this reassessment of Boswell as a pioneering modern biographer. Not all agreed as to Boswell’s exact merits, but Macaulay’s sneering malignity was clearly a thing of the past – for latterly there has come Boswell’s reconstruction as a postmodern icon. “Since the 1980s, Boswell has been psychologized, globalized, gendered, queered, and re-Scottified,” Caudle noted with amusement. “and has recently appeared in the guise of a practitioner of an archaic evolutionary branch of rap. That is far from the entire list of his transmutations in the secondary literature, but it will suffice to show how far the mental universe of 1950 is from the current scholarly world.”[6]

Biographers today may not wear the same shoes as Boswell – or talk, drink and “wench” quite as much. However, our diaries, papers and correspondence should perhaps be kept, collected and in due course studied: which is one of the research objectives of our new Société de Biographie. For if biography is the primary source and basis for how our society views real individuals, then future scholars should know – as we now know in relation to Boswell – more about the true process by which biographers arrive at our portraits, in all their forms. And that, as Ms Ozick rightly posits, should include gossip. “No gossip, no interiority. No interiority, the anthill.”[7]

Nigel Hamilton

[1] Cynthia Ozick, “The Novel’s Evil Tongue,” New York Times Book Review, December 20, 2015.

[2] Thomas Macaulay, review of The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. Including a Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, by James Boswell, Esq. A New Edition, with numerous Additions and Notes. By John Wilson Croker, LL.D., F.R.S. Five volumes, 8vo. London: 1831, reprinted in The Works of Lord Macaulay, 12 vols. (London: Longmans Green and Co., 1898), VIII, 56-111.

[3] Michiko Kakutani, “portrait of a President, Warts and … More Warts,” New York Times, September 23, 2003.

[4] Michiko Kakutani, “A Daunting Father, A Brother’s Shadow,” New York Times, November 27, 1992.

[5] Nigel Hamilton, “Biography as Corrective,” in the forthcoming The Biographical Turn (Routledge, 2016).

[6] “Editing James Boswell, 1924-2010: Pasts, Presents, Futures,” 2010, https://yale.academia.edu/JamesCaudle.

[7] Ozick, loc.cit.

The Biographer’s Stone

By Nigel Hamilton

“After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it – ‘I refute it thus.’”
James Boswell: The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D.


I’ve always liked this story. Samuel Johnson, the father of modern biography – the man who openly dared to argue the case for biography (a term only recently invented at the time) to be taken more seriously than history in the mid-eighteenth century, as I tried to show in my Biography: A Brief History.

I see in my mind’s eye the great Doctor kicking the church stone (perhaps an old gravestone?) really hard – a mark of his exasperation with Bishop Berkeley and his brood.

Clever philosophical ruminations may certainly fascinate us, but they often miss the point: namely the simple truth. Stones actually exist independent of our senses – and woe to our toes if we pretend otherwise!

Philosophers, though, still dispute Johnson’s understanding of truth as something factual and independent of the senses. He was accused, posthumously, of “philosophical incompetence,” or argumentum ad lapidem – addressing the stone, rather than his opponent’s philosophical argument.

This difference of opinion reminds me, in certain ways, of the difference between biography and “life-writing” – at least in terms of those who study and philosophize on those two genres.

We biographers, by and large, are practical rather than philosophical folk. Like Dickens’s Mr. Gradgrind we believe in fact. And in verifiable truth, as far as possible. We’ve been called many names, from journeymen to voyeurs: but even when trashing us for our invasive, investigative research, our critics hold our feet to the fire of verifiable truth. They rarely dispute it, if proven, as such; if they object to the truth we present, it is because they sometimes consider it inconvenient, or disrespectful, or hurtful. Or distracting, in the case of the study or enjoyment of art.

The reviewer of two new volumes of T.S. Eliot’s verse, for example, congratulated the editors (Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue) on presenting Eliot pure and unadulterated by biographers. “Eliot’s politics and anti-Semitism, as well as his fraught sexuality, have left us so bogged down in biographical criticism that we can lose sight of the poems,” the reviewer commented, in an article entitled “Deciphering the Old Stones.”[1] Literary criticism, yes; too much biographical information, no.

That uneasy, often troubling, sore lies at the heart of biography when the subject is a poet or painter. But there are many other sores with which the biographer must contend. Sometimes we have to acknowledge that the broadcasting of the truth can be dangerous. I was eventually dissuaded, for example, from publishing the manuscript of my admiring portrait of the first Indian prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. The Nehru family argued that my account of the prime minister’s late-life, platonic love affair with the wife of the Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, would be misconstrued by Bharatiya Janata Party, and used to trash Nehru’s beloved Congress Party at the polls. It broke my heart to lock away the manuscript – which Lady Mountbatten’s daughters had read, and which, for their part, they said they loved. But how could I, living in the West, argue with Sonia Gandhi’s conviction that publication could lead to bloodshed in India? The cynical, take-no-prisoners rise of the BJP – a political party threatening to abandon her grandfather-in-law’s principles of peaceful co-existence – was just too real a prospect for her. And given that both her mother-in-law and her husband were assassinated, she had every right to be wary.

My point is this: biographers may have to suppress the truth for any number of reasons. Most often it is at the behest of heirs and flame-keepers, who can use – or misuse – copyright to protect the reputations of their patriarchs or matriarchs after death. Despite this, though, the search for truth remains for biographers the holy grail. That stone may be painful to kick, and in the end we may elect to tap it only gently with our toes. But it is still there, and will remain there for those who follow in our biographical footsteps, if we decide to spare our phalanges – or those of others.

I like the notion and the symbolic image of the biographer’s stone, therefore. I am also amused, though, by the story of that other stone: the philosopher’s stone.

Known as lapis philosophorum the stone began its saga in the Roman or late Hellenic period, around 300 AD: the idea of making gold out of base metal. As such the philosopher’s stone preoccupied scientists and sages for almost fifteen hundred years – until, in the end, they finally realized they were on a fool’s errand. Base metals couldn’t be turned into gold, however much the idea fascinated them.

Is the lack of concern with truth which the philosophers of “life-writing” demonstrate not similar, in its way, to lapis philosophorum?

I confess I had to laugh when reading an interview with the non-fiction writer Simon Winchester, a wonderful journalist, biographer and geographer, in last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review.[2] Winchester was asked what genres he liked reading. Novelists of the outback and detective stories, he said. And those that he avoids? “Frankly,” he responded, “anything that has the name Derrida in it.”

Nigel Hamilton

[1] David Mason, “Deciphering the Old Stones,” The Wall Street Journal, December 12-13, 2015.

[2] Simon Winchester, “By the Book,” New York Times Book Review, December 13, 2015