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Institutional Hypocrisy

David Runciman: Selling the NHS, 21 April 2005

Restoring Responsibility: Ethics in Government, Business and Healthcare 
by Dennis Thompson.
Cambridge, 349 pp., £16.99, November 2004, 0 521 54722 9
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NHS plc: The Privatisation of Our Healthcare 
by Allyson Pollock.
Verso, 271 pp., £15.99, September 2004, 1 84467 011 2
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Brown’s Britain 
by Robert Peston.
Short Books, 369 pp., £14.99, January 2005, 1 904095 67 4
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... an essay entitled ‘Hypocrisy and Democracy’ in his wonderfully measured new collection, Dennis Thompson quotes Judith Shklar, who described the politics of anti-hypocrisy as an ‘unending game of mutual unmasking’, in which everyone is bound to lose. Because democracy is a system of government that institutionalises distrust, as the price we pay for ...

Cheesespreadology

Ian Sansom, 7 March 1996

Garbage 
by A.R. Ammons.
Norton, 121 pp., £7.50, February 1995, 0 393 31203 8
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Tape for the Turn of the Year 
by A.R. Ammons.
Norton, 205 pp., £8.95, February 1995, 0 393 31204 6
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Red Sauce, Whiskey and Snow 
by August Kleinzahler.
Faber, 93 pp., £6.99, April 1995, 0 571 17431 0
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The Unemployed Fortune-Teller: Essays and Memoirs 
by Charles Simic.
Michigan, 127 pp., £30, January 1996, 0 472 06569 6
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Frightening Toys 
by Charles Simic.
Faber, 101 pp., £6.99, April 1995, 0 571 17399 3
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The Ghost of Eden 
by Chase Twichell.
Faber, 78 pp., £6.99, April 1995, 0 571 17434 5
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... on the snot riddle in his book Rubbish Theory: The Creation and Destruction of Value, Michael Thompson explains that the riddle succeeds by playing upon that which is residual to our system of cultural categories. When, in the context of wealth and poverty, we talk of possessable objects we unquestioningly assume that we are talking about valuable ...

On Thatcher

Karl Miller, 25 April 2013

... when there were plenty of people to stand by their woman. Those who wrote about her included Ian Gilmour, W.G. Runciman, Neal Ascherson, Christopher Hitchens, R.W. Johnson, Ross McKibbin, E.P. Thompson, Tam Dalyell and Peter Clarke. What they wrote seemed excellent to me, with Runciman bearing the palm for aphoristic ...

Sinking Giggling into the Sea

Jonathan Coe: Giggling along with Boris, 18 July 2013

The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson 
edited by Harry Mount.
Bloomsbury, 149 pp., £9.99, June 2013, 978 1 4081 8352 6
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... a foothold in the establishment they were criticising: in the words of Cook’s biographer, Harry Thompson, these were not rebellious outsiders but ‘young men questioning a system they had been trained to lead’ and laughing at ‘the society that had reared them’.The four cast members of Beyond the Fringe soon decamped to New York, where the revue ...

Positively Spaced Out

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Building of England’, 6 September 2001

The Buildings of England: A Celebration Compiled to Mark 50 Years of the Pevsner Architectural Guides 
edited by Simon Bradley and Bridget Cherry.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2001, 0 9527401 3 3
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... kind of thing better done than it has been done before.’ A Celebration includes an extract from Ian Buruma’s study of anglophilia, Voltaire’s Coconuts (1999), which discusses Pevsner in terms of the clash between ‘nativism and internationalism’ – a conflict which, Buruma suggests, he embodied without ever resolving. The objections, which rumble on ...

With Bit and Bridle

Matthew Kelly: 18th-Century Ireland, 5 August 2010

Eighteenth-Century Ireland: The Isle of Slaves 
by Ian McBride.
Gill and Macmillan, 563 pp., £19.99, October 2009, 978 0 7171 1627 0
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... cent to 5 per cent. Confiscation and settlement alone, however, did not secure the Ascendancy. As Ian McBride emphasises, the Franco-Jacobite threat was temporarily removed in 1713, when France recognised the Protestant succession as part of the Treaty of Utrecht. Paving the way for the Anglo-French alliance of 1716-31, Utrecht allowed the consolidation of ...

It’s a riot

Michael Ignatieff, 20 August 1981

‘Civil Disturbances’: Hansard, Vol. 8, Nos 143-144, 16 July 1981 – 17 July 1981 
HMSO, £80Show More
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... speaks of riot as the inevitable explosion, the moment when the spark hit the tinder. Tories like Ian Lloyd enjoy demolishing this inevitabilism, citing the example of wretched but peaceable Glasgow as proof that Labour’s correlation between poverty and looting is ‘seditious sociological claptrap’. The correlation may not be claptrap, but it offers no ...

In Search of People’s History

Eric Hobsbawm, 19 March 1981

People’s History and Socialist Theory 
edited by Raphael Samuel.
Routledge, 417 pp., £10.95, January 1981, 0 7100 0765 5
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British Labour History 
by E.H. Hunt.
Weidenfeld, 428 pp., £18.50, January 1981, 0 297 77785 8
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... means for working coal-miners (by Dave Douglass), pioneer studies of the Scottish peasantry (by Ian Carter), an exploration into the politics of Hertfordshire villagers at the time of Wat Tyler (by Ros Faith), observations on George V’s Silver Jubilee as celebrated in Kenya (by John Lonsdale), a powerful dissection of the problems of writing the history ...

Eat Caviar

Daniel Soar: Rubem Fonseca’s Cunning Stories, 26 February 2009

‘The Taker’ and Other Stories 
by Rubem Fonseca, translated by Clifford Landers.
Open Letter, 166 pp., $15.95, November 2008, 978 1 934824 02 3
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... to be very precise in its arsenal of weapons-related terminology – they’re using a 12-gauge Thompson – and equally interested in its details, but when you look closely at the way those details are described you find that the language keeps heading in a particular direction: ‘There was a hole in his chest that was big enough for a loaf of ...

Across the Tellyverse

Jenny Turner: Daleks v. Cybermen, 22 June 2006

Doctor Who 
BBC1Show More
Doctor Who: A Critical Reading of the Series 
by Kim Newman.
BFI, 138 pp., £12, December 2005, 1 84457 090 8
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... really the Tardis, an ineptly camouflaged space-and-time-travel machine. The teachers, Barbara and Ian, will for a while go travelling with the Doctor, too – representing History and Science, the original show’s big themes. ‘An Unearthly Child’ was broadcast on a date to conjure with – 23 November 1963, the day after Kennedy was shot. The basic ...

His Bonnet Akimbo

Patrick Wright: Hamish Henderson, 3 November 2011

Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. I: The Making of the Poet (1919-53) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 416 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 1 84697 132 7
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Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. II: Poetry Becomes People (1954-2002) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 395 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 1 84697 063 4
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... body and convention to ‘soar like an eagle’ in the way of the blessed inebriate in Richard Thompson’s song ‘God Loves a Drunk’ (‘His shouts and his curses they are just hymns and praises/To kick-start his mind now and then’)? Timothy Neat writes not in order to leave his late friend in a heap on the floor, least of all the floor of the ...

Histories of Australia

Stuart Macintyre, 28 September 1989

The Oxford History of Autralia. Vol III: 1860-1900 
by Beverley Kingston.
Oxford, 368 pp., £22.50, July 1989, 0 19 554611 3
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The Road from Coorain: An Australian Memoir 
by Jill Ker Conway.
Heinemann, 238 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 434 14244 1
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A Secret Country 
by John Pilger.
Cape, 286 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 224 02600 3
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Convict Workers: Reinterpreting Australia’s Past 
edited by Stephen Nicholas.
Cambridge, 246 pp., $45, June 1989, 0 521 36126 5
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... Fascism sharpened their national consciousness into radical activism. They included Russel Ward, Ian Turner and Bob Gollan, who were all Communists when they embarked on their careers. Their influence on Australian history was perhaps even greater than that of their British equivalents, Hill, Thompson, Hobsbawm and ...

Moments

Marilyn Butler, 2 September 1982

The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. I: Medieval Literature Part One: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition, Vol. II: The Age of Shakespeare, Vol. III: From Donne to Marvell, Vol. IV: From Dryden to Johnson 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 647 pp., £2.95, March 1982, 0 14 022264 2
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Medieval Writers and their Work: Middle English Literature and its Background 
by J.A. Burrow.
Oxford, 148 pp., £9.95, May 1982, 0 19 289122 7
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Contemporary Writers Series: Saul Bellow, Joe Orton, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Pynchon 
by Malcolm Bradbury, C.W.E. Bigsby, Peter Conradi, Jerome Klinkowitz and Blake Morrison.
Methuen, 110 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 416 31650 6
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... the early graduates of Cambridge English, [D.W.] Harding, [L.C.] Knights, Q.D. Leavis and [Denys] Thompson – five authors who, in aggregate, wrote on virtually every topic that Scrutiny ever discussed. The second Scrutiny generation, led by [R.G.] Cox and Ford, was markedly more restricted in range.’ Ford and his like (according to Mulhern) worked through ...

No more pretty face

Philip Horne, 8 March 1990

Emotion Pictures: Reflections on the Cinema 
by Wim Wenders, translated by Sean Whiteside and Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 148 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15271 6
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Scorsese on Scorsese 
by Martin Scorsese, edited by David Thompson and Ian Christie.
Faber, 178 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571141036
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... Wim Wender’s very pleasurable Paris, Texas (1984) is both an American movie and a European film. Its creative pedigree is mixed – all through the credits: the German Wenders as director, the American Sam Shepard as writer; the German Robby Müller as cinematographer, the American Ry Cooder as composer/performer of the music; the American actors Harry Dean Stanton and Dean Stockwell as the central Henderson brothers, the French Aurore Clément and the German Nastassia Kinski as their wives ...

Heart of Darkness

Christopher Hitchens, 28 June 1990

Not Many Dead: Journal of a Year in Fleet Street 
by Nicholas Garland.
Hutchinson, 299 pp., £16.95, April 1990, 0 09 174449 0
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A Slight Case of Libel: Meacher v. Trelford and Others 
by Alan Watkins.
Duckworth, 241 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 7156 2334 6
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... historic journalist’s fear of the whims of the proprietor, whether Canadian like Beaverbrook, Thompson and Black, Australian-American like Murdoch, or berks or Burkes like most of the rest of them. The other two coercions, of the law of libel and the law of official secrecy, remain as strong as ever. Alan Watkins’s book is ostensibly an essay on the ...

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