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Changing Places

Avi Shlaim, 9 January 1992

... has the advantage of speaking in the soundbites beloved by American television interviewers. As Michael Sheridan wrote in the Independ ent on 2 November. the Israelis possessed the best organised, most efficient, least flustered, public relations team at the conference, with Mr Netanyahu, its intellectual bruiser, rushing before the CNN cameras every other ...

Bonfire in Merrie England

Richard Wilson: Shakespeare’s Burning, 4 May 2017

... the Memorial, became ‘the most important figure in Chesterton’s life’, according to David Baker in Ideology of Obsession: A.K. Chesterton and British Fascism. The two met when Chesterton went to interview Flower, ‘whose reign over Stratford-upon-Avon came as near absolutism as made no odds’. Flower was impressed by Chesterton’s refusal to use ...


J.I.M. Stewart, 5 May 1983

A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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The Agatha Christie Hour 
by Agatha Christie.
Collins, 190 pp., £6.50, September 1982, 0 00 231331 6
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The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes 
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Allen Lane, 1122 pp., £7.95, August 1981, 0 7139 1444 0
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The Quest for Sherlock Holmes 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Mainstream, 380 pp., £12.50, November 1982, 0 906391 15 6
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Essays on Photography 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 128 pp., £8.50, November 1982, 0 436 13302 4
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Uncollected Stories 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 456 pp., £8.95, November 1982, 0 436 13301 6
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The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie 
by Charles Osborne.
Collins, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 00 216462 0
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... regular Romeo’. But nobody has ever been called ‘a peeping Poirot’. Why is this? Why is Baker Street as universally associated with Conan Doyle’s hero as is Sherwood Forest with Robin Hood, or Greyfriars School with Billy Bunter? These are hard questions, and must be put aside in favour of the simple observation that in the bookshops, as the ...

Short Cuts

James Francken: The Booker Prize shortlist, 2 November 2000

... moves’, a problem for shortlisted novelists leading sedentary lives, but not for the impressive Michael Collins – author of The Keepers of Truth and a keen runner. As well as completing his novel, Collins has managed to finish a marathon. A jog through the streets of London dressed up in rhino costume wasn’t quite challenging enough for him, however: he ...

At Tate Britain

Brian Dillon: ‘Phantom Ride’, 4 July 2013

... rides through Ealing, Leeds and Southampton, and in 1910, A Trip on the Metropolitan Railway from Baker St to Uxbridge and Aylesbury. Starling’s art has frequently involved the reconstruction or repurposing of ramshackle machines. In 2005 he won the Turner Prize with Shedboatshed, rebuilding a tumbledown hut from the banks of the Rhine as a small ...

After the Battle

Matthew Coady, 26 November 1987

by Tam Dalyell.
Hamish Hamilton, 152 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 241 12170 1
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One Man’s Judgement: An Autobiography 
by Lord Wheatley.
Butterworth, 230 pp., £15.95, July 1987, 0 406 10019 5
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Changing Battlefields: The Challenge to the Labour Party 
by John Silkin.
Hamish Hamilton, 226 pp., £13.95, September 1987, 9780241121719
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Heseltine: The Unauthorised Biography 
by Julian Critchley.
Deutsch, 198 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 233 98001 6
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... helicopter company, discerning, as he does so, a campaign to discredit her Secretary for Defence, Michael Heseltine, who subsequently resigned. He claims, moreover, that she again misled the Commons over the American use of British bases to bomb Libya, and he sees her influence behind the police raids on BBC premises in Glasgow in the wake of the uproar over ...

Fancy Patter

Theo Tait: Holmes and the Holocaust, 31 March 2005

The Final Solution 
by Michael Chabon.
Fourth Estate, 127 pp., £10, February 2005, 0 00 719602 4
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... gangs as once I watched the criminal world of London.’ These few lines supply the background to Michael Chabon’s novella, which begins thirty years later on the South Downs. The main character is an ‘old man’, once a famous detective, now devoted to his bees. He remains unnamed throughout, but given that he wears an Inverness cape and hunting cap, and ...

Call it magnificence

Michael Hofmann: Antonio Muñoz Molina, 20 December 2018

Like a Fading Shadow 
by Antonio Muñoz Molina, translated by Camilo A. Ramirez.
Serpent’s Tail, 310 pp., £9.99, May 2018, 978 1 78125 894 1
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... but rigorous’ weave of it. A Spanish sound engineer accompanies the jazz musician Chet Baker to Florence for a concert, forgets the rest of his life, and ends up staying there for months himself, alone; the young Muñoz Molina was fascinated and envious. The concept of a ‘winter in Florence’ was an early version of the subsequent Winter in ...

Silly Buggers

James Fox, 7 March 1991

The Theatre of Embarrassment 
by Francis Wyndham.
Chatto, 205 pp., £15, February 1991, 0 7011 3726 6
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... of news pages and bad for advertisers, yet he would work only for the Magazine and its Art Editor, Michael Rand. Wyndham believed, on the contrary, that people liked reading about diverting, strange, glamorous subjects – and that glamour should not be taken seriously. He was also writing pieces in his own highly original style – pieces that were often ...

True Stories

Michael Irwin, 30 March 1989

Have the men had enough? 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 251 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 7011 3400 3
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Aurora’s Motive 
by Erich Hackl, translated by Edna McCown.
Cape, 117 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 224 02584 8
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The Open Door 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Grafton, 358 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 246 13422 4
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... it with the butt of a rifle, but it only squeaked, and continued to roam over our camping space. Baker solved the problem by firing at it with the twelve bore. That was the last we saw of it. There is a sense in which the freshness and unself-consciousness of this episode is too strong for the larger context. As the novel proceeds, one can come to regret ...

The Laws of War, US-Style

Michael Byers: No Way to Fight a War, 20 February 2003

... to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of chemical or biological weapons. In 1991, James Baker, then Secretary of State, privately warned Saddam that any recourse to chemical or biological weapons would result in a tactical nuclear response. Today, the Bush Administration has shown no compunction about making the same threat publicly. The National ...

Beetle bonkers in the beams

Michael Wood: Tony Harrison, 5 July 2007

Collected Film Poetry 
by Tony Harrison.
Faber, 414 pp., £20, April 2007, 978 0 571 23409 7
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Collected Poems 
by Tony Harrison.
Viking, 452 pp., £154, April 2007, 978 0 670 91591 0
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... the middle classes. Harrison seems to be blaming his father and mother for being who they are (a baker and his houseproud wife), and himself for leaving home. ‘Your bed’s got two wrong sides,’ he says to his father in a poem. ‘Your life’s all grouse.’ He himself now knows all kinds of languages but has also lost one language for good: ‘the ...


Christopher Hitchens: In Washington, 20 August 1992

... it first, and most convincingly. Exactly four years ago, when the aggregate of polling data gave Michael Dukakis a 17 point lead, Professor Roy Fair of Yale came up with a political/electoral ‘model’ that predicted a Bush victory with 52.2 per cent of the votes cast. In the event, Bush look 53.8 per cent, which was enough for an Electoral College ...


Julian Symons, 21 February 1991

By Grand Central Station I sat down and wept 
by Elizabeth Smart.
Paladin, 112 pp., £3.99, January 1991, 0 586 09039 8
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The Assumption of the Rogues and Rascals 
by Elizabeth Smart.
Paladin, 112 pp., £3.99, January 1991, 0 586 09040 1
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Necessary Secrets: The Journals of Elizabeth Smart 
edited by Alice Van Wart.
Grafton, 305 pp., £14.99, January 1991, 0 246 13653 7
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... their meeting, her editor Alice Van Wart says, they were lovers. This affair also had three sides. Baker was married, but found no difficulty in loving both women. The Barker-Smart relationship is traced in the latter part of GCS. They were arrested at the California/Arizona border on suspicion of being spies, so Van Wart tells us, not, as Brophy ...

A Hard Dog to Keep on the Porch

Christopher Hitchens, 6 June 1996

... own destiny with a high seriousness and purity, they found themselves sharing a ship with Bobby Baker. Mr Baker, who was Lyndon Johnson’s bag-man and fixer within the Democratic Party and throughout the capital city, had been convicted in a sensational trial of tax fraud and conspiracy. His attorney, the no less ...

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