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Hogshit and Chickenshit

Michael Rogin, 1 August 1996

Washington Babylon 
by Alexander Cockburn and Ken Silverstein.
Verso, 316 pp., £31.95, May 1996, 1 85984 092 2
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... illegally supplementing her meagre welfare benefits with two jobs. National Public Radio’s Cokie Roberts, the sister of Washington’s most prominent lobbyist, Tommy Boggs, is the wife of US News and World Report’s reporter, Steve Roberts. The Fort Lauderdale Junior League paid Cokie ...


David Craig, 5 September 1985

... or Menlove Edwards’s laceratingly self-critical ‘symptoms of some psyclioneurotic disorder’. Michael Roberts, a notable literary editor in the Thirties, reviewing ‘The Poetry and Humour of Mountaineering’ in the Alpine Journal for 1941, opined that the risking and gruelling of oneself on climbs were good because ‘they show superiority to all ...


Michael Neve, 18 November 1982

Edie: An American Biography 
by Jean Stein and George Plimpton.
Cape, 455 pp., £9.95, October 1982, 0 224 02068 4
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Baby Driver: A Story About Myself 
by Jan Kerouac.
Deutsch, 208 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 233 97487 3
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... that forgotten class of dope dealers in late Sixties Manhattan: the doctors. For example, Doctor Roberts, made famous by the Beatles song, who would shoot up his patients with vitamins and methedrine. According to Cherry Vanilla, a client, ‘you’d go round to Doctor Roberts, and after the shots you’d get very ...

Cool Brains

Nicholas Guyatt: Demythologising the antebellum South, 2 June 2005

Conjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South 
by Michael O’Brien.
North Carolina, 1354 pp., £64.95, March 2004, 0 8078 2800 9
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... history of the antebellum South, much less become a historian of Southern intellectuals? Michael O’Brien has been working on an answer to these questions for fifteen years, and the result is a massive refutation of received wisdom. His first task is to persuade a sceptical audience of the mere existence of Southern intellectual life between 1810 ...

A Susceptible Man

Ian Sansom: The Unhappy Laureate, 4 March 1999

Living in Time: The Poetry of C. Day Lewis 
by Albert Gelpi.
Oxford, 246 pp., £30, March 1998, 0 19 509863 3
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... other writers.’ As Gelpi rightly points out, Day Lewis did always have his defenders. Early on, Michael Roberts claimed that From Feathers to Iron (1931) was ‘a landmark, in the sense in which Leaves of Grass, A Shropshire Lad, Des Imagistes and The Waste Land were landmarks’. And on the occasion of his death, Kingsley Amis declared that Day ...


Ian Hamilton: Sport Poetry, 23 January 1986

... about half an hour I was beginning to feel some of the old tension and contentment. Then Graham Roberts struck. With the ball nowhere in sight, Spurs’ neanderthal defender followed through on Charlie Nicholas with such force that the Scot was hurtled over the groundside hoardings into about the fifth row of the concrete enclosure. He was lucky to escape ...

Her Boy

R.W. Johnson: Mark Thatcher, 16 November 2006

Thatcher’s Fortunes: The Life and Times of Mark Thatcher 
by Mark Hollingsworth and Paul Halloran.
Mainstream, 415 pp., £7.99, July 2006, 1 84596 118 8
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The Wonga Coup: The British Mercenary Plot to Seize Oil Billions in Africa 
by Adam Roberts.
Profile, 304 pp., £9.99, June 2006, 1 86197 934 7
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... Town and Table Mountain. Among those who have bought houses here are Earl Spencer, Elton John and Michael Douglas, but the oddity is that, while you might assume, as you drive through its wonderful avenues, that Constantia’s residents are nothing if not respectable, you’d be dead wrong, because not only did Mark set himself up in palatial style here but ...

A Cousin of Colonel Heneage

Robert Crawford: Was Eliot a Swell?, 18 April 2019

The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume VIII: 1936-38 
edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden.
Faber, 1100 pp., £50, January 2019, 978 0 571 31638 0
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... Reunion and Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats were at a late stage, and a few days after Michael Roberts had commented to him that ‘Macavity is the feline analogue of the late Professor Moriarty’, Eliot was holidaying at Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire along with Emily Hale’s relatives, and probably Emily herself. There he received a ...

Grail Trail

C.H. Roberts, 4 March 1982

The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail 
by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.
Cape, 445 pp., £8.95, January 1982, 0 224 01735 7
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The Foreigner: A Search for the First-Century Jesus 
by Desmond Stewart.
Hamish Hamilton, 181 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 241 10686 9
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Satan: The Early Christian Tradition 
by Jeffrey Burton Russell.
Cornell, 258 pp., £14, November 1981, 0 8014 1267 6
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... In 1891, Bérenger Sauniere, curé of Rennesle-Château, a remote village in the Cevennes, discovered hidden in the structure of his church four parchments, two of them written in the 18th century and partly in code, two earlier and containing genealogies (still not published). There were references to Dagobert II, the Merovingian king, to Sion, and to treasure said to be Merovingian ...
... relative importance.’ Compare with this a sociological example taken from a recent study by Michael Roberts of the rise of a Karava élite in Sri Lanka. It can plausibly be explained as due to their adoption of Catholicism, to their involvement in catamaran fishing (and hence their evolution into a class of capitalist boat-owners), to their ...


Wendy Lesser: On O.J. Simpson, 21 July 1994

... with Primetime Live rather than going to NBC’s Dateline), and misbehaving celebrities like Julia Roberts, Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson are their meat. On the evening in question, Primetime Live had managed to get hold of a recent O.J. girlfriend – a pretty, big-eyed, unbelievably stupid model – who insisted that ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Cold fish at the royal household, 20 November 2003

... is that he’s a die-hard monarchist, as he reveals in his memoir, A Royal Duty (Michael Joseph, £17.99), a book at once agonisingly boring and shamefully fascinating. Much the most interesting bits are the insights into such things as what the Queen has (or used to have) for breakfast: ‘one slice of granary toast, a smear of butter and a ...

Short Cuts

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: Environmental Law, 8 February 2018

... be a greater weight of plastic in the seas than fish. The secretary of state for the environment, Michael Gove, watching Blue Planet 2 and moved by images of, among other things, a turtle caught in plastic, tweeted that ‘the imperative to do more to tackle plastic in our oceans is clear.’ What should be done? New laws could be passed. But that will help ...

Ramadhin and Valentine

J.R. Pole, 13 October 1988

A History of West Indies Cricket 
by Michael Manley.
Deutsch, 575 pp., £17.95, May 1988, 0 233 98259 0
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Sobers: Twenty Years at the Top 
by Garfield Sobers and Brian Scovell.
Macmillan, 204 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 0 333 37267 0
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... on socialism, Richard Crossman’s Bagehot, would hardly have come out of Whitehall, and Michael Manley would not have found time to write a history of West Indian cricket which encompasses the social, economic and regional problems of the Caribbean if he had been engaged in trying to resolve them in their present manifestations. There is no way of ...

The Runaways

Tessa Hadley: Michael Ondaatje, 8 November 2018

by Michael Ondaatje.
Cape, 299 pp., £16.99, June 2018, 978 1 78733 071 9
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... If you took​ only the subject matter of Michael Ondaatje’s novels into account, you would expect him to be an austere and even punishing writer. He chooses the darkest material, chronicles passages of life that would test the most resilient cheerfulness. Coming through Slaughter (1976) is loosely based on the tragic life of the jazz cornetist Buddy Bolden, who died in an asylum in New Orleans ...

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