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How bad are we?

Bernard Porter: Genocide in Tasmania, 31 July 2014

The Last Man: A British Genocide in Tasmania 
by Tom Lawson.
Tauris, 263 pp., £25, January 2014, 978 1 78076 626 3
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... nation; a few years ago this provoked the almost comically reactionary Liberal prime minister John Howard to inveigh against what he called the ‘black armband’ view of his country’s history (as opposed to the proud Gallipoli view), which launched the popular debate that became known in Australia as the ‘history wars’. The main argument was over the ...

Business as Usual

J. Hoberman: Hitler in Hollywood, 19 December 2013

Hollywood and Hitler, 1933-39 
by Thomas Doherty.
Columbia, 429 pp., £24, April 2013, 978 0 231 16392 7
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The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler 
by Ben Urwand.
Harvard, 327 pp., £19.95, August 2013, 978 0 674 72474 7
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... Spanish peasant, with a script by Hollywood’s most prominent communist, the playwright John Howard Lawson. Strenuously opposed by groups like the Knights of Columbus and the Legion of Decency, as well as the Vatican, Blockade was the occasion for what Doherty calls ‘the most acrimonious case of doctrinal difference among movie-minded Catholics in the ...

Seeing Stars

Alan Bennett: Film actors, 3 January 2002

... though occasionally, almost miraculously, it did. That I can remember the deaths both of Leslie Howard and of Carole Lombard chalked up on the newspaper-sellers’ boards in City Square hardly counts. But there was the afternoon sometime in the 1940s when I was out shopping with Mam and we were walking up Thornton’s Arcade and saw coming down a vast man ...


Alan Bennett: Bennett’s Dissection, 1 January 2009

... Red Butler, who reported it as having been said by Randolph Turpin after his defeat by Sugar Ray Robinson. How my old lady came to know this is a mystery, and how Tom comes to know it, too, as I’m sure boxing isn’t his thing. 22 January. I’m reading George Steiner’s My Unwritten Books, a series of chapters, some more autobiographical than others, on ...

Gravity’s Smoothest Dream

Matthew Bevis: A.R. Ammons, 7 March 2019

The Complete Poems 
by A.R. Ammons.
Norton, two vols, 2133 pp., £74, December 2017, 978 0 393 25489 1
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... six volumes followed in quick succession, including a Selected Poems in 1968, which Richard Howard proclaimed ‘a masterpiece of our period’. Collected Poems appeared in 1972, and Harold Bloom called it the most distinguished book of American poetry since Wallace Stevens’s Collected Poems came out in the mid-1950s. It was ‘a major imaginative ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... scruff. He was famous enough to dress like a slob: tennis shoes, baggy jeans, a soft hat. The Howard Hughes of the paparazzi, an artist with funds. The Roller would be parked around the corner from the Carpenters Arms. Bailey handled the studio portraits, the direct entry to official glamour. The Krays were catalogued with all the permanent ephemera of ...


John Lanchester: Among the Balls, 20 July 2006

... explain why Fifa have brought in a new ball, just in time for the Fifa World Cup Germany. Paul Robinson shelled out £420 on new balls just before the tournament to get some early practice in, and reports that it swerves more than the familiar ball and will be harder for goalkeepers. That doesn’t mean it’s easier for outfield players, and especially ...

Reservations of the Marvellous

T.J. Clark, 22 June 2000

The Arcades Project 
by Walter Benjamin, translated by Howard Eiland.
Harvard, 1073 pp., £24.95, December 1999, 9780674043268
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... all gaslit or twilit. It has no true outside – no edges, no plein air, no Argenteuil or Robinson. No place, that is, where Nature itself is put through the sieve of exchange value, and laid on in the form of daytrips and villégiatures; and no answering dream of pure visibility and outwardness, or of the endless strangeness of earthbound life. No ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2000, 25 January 2001

... probably started the rot and then there was Glyn Daniel and his bow ties and today it’s Tony Robinson capering about professing huge excitement because of the uncovering of the (entirely predictable) foundations of a Benedictine priory at Coventry. His enthusiasm is anything but infectious and almost reconciles one to the bulldozer. And there’s always ...

Warmer, Warmer

John Lanchester: Global Warming, Global Hot Air, 22 March 2007

The Revenge of Gaia 
by James Lovelock.
Allen Lane, 222 pp., £8.99, February 2007, 978 0 14 102597 1
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Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis Summary for Policymakers: Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 
IPCC, February 2007Show More
Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning 
by George Monbiot.
Allen Lane, 277 pp., £17.99, September 2006, 0 7139 9923 3
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The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies 
by Richard Heinberg.
Clairview, 320 pp., £12.99, October 2005, 1 905570 00 7
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The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review 
by Nicholas Stern.
Cambridge, 692 pp., £29.99, January 2007, 978 0 521 70080 1
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... embracing anti-scientific irrationalism. One way of telling this story – adopted by Kim Stanley Robinson in his novel Forty Signs of Rain – begins with the Scientists for Johnson Campaign, run by a group of eminent scientists who were worried about Barry Goldwater’s apparent eagerness to wage nuclear war. Their campaign had a considerable impact, and ...

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