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“I fear they will hang around the court of France for the rest of Henry’s life, and he will be known as a second-rank pretender: worth playing as a card in a game of treaties, worth nothing on his own account.”
“In the novel, one of the specialists who examines the manuscript concludes that it's "not as good as 'Hamlet,' but as good as 1593 Shakespeare"; that is, it belongs with early, second-rank efforts like the unendurable "Henry VI" trilogy.”
“Within the corridors of power, Medvedev had no “team” of his own beyond a few law school friends and former colleagues who were seconded to Gazprom or scattered across a number of second-rank positions.”
“Its moral ins-and-out are thrashed not only by Hacker and Sir Humphrey but also by second-rank civil servant Bernard Woolley (the shambolic Mark Slinger) and new character to the mixed nuts, Claire Sutton (a sleek Emily Joyce), whom the prime minister has tapped to give him advice whenever he twigs to Sir Humphrey's manipulations.”
“Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed credited Fleischmann with transforming "a provincial second-rank orchestra into one of the world's best.”
“Although suave, mildly erotic and, in its way, educational (you will meet many artists you've never heard of before), most of this is second-rank stuff, more at home in a manor house on Sunset Boulevard than a major art museum.”
“Samuel Pepys, an important but second-rank player, bequeathed the best surviving account of life and government in 1660s London.”
“It was a second-rank recommendation, buried among dozens of others, which left hospitals who were seeking to do better without any help setting priorities.”
“I suspect that Laumer had high hopes for this book, and he must have been surprised when it wound up being published by a second-rank paperback house instead of some prestigious hardcover imprint.”
“The Costa Book Awards, one of the second-rank British book awards (behind the Booker but still pretty big), announced their Book of the Year Tuesday: A.L. Kennedy's novel Day, about an RAF tailgunner reliving the war as a movie extra five years later, which just came out in the U.S. this month.”
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