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It looks so charming

Tom Vanderbilt: Sweatshops, 29 October 1998

No Sweat: Fashion, Free Trade, and the Rights of Garment Workers 
edited by Andrew Ross.
Verso, 256 pp., £14, September 1997, 1 85984 172 4
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... representations equal ‘positive’ social change. Even the editor of No Sweat, Andrew Ross, slips into this thinking. Commenting on the black models who have begun to appear in ads for Hilfiger and other companies, he notes that ‘such images, presented as the epitome of beauty, are a notable breakthrough in a history of public aesthetics which ...

Skimming along

Ross McKibbin, 20 October 1994

The Major Effect 
edited by Anthony Seldon and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 500 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 333 62273 1
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... him paying tribute to Billy Wright on an ITV programme, evoking (as, according to Richard Holt and Alan Tomlinson in their essay, he often does) the lost world of a handful of heroes – Wright himself, Nat Lofthouse, Tom Finney, Stanley Matthews – it was impossible, even allowing for a certain artifice on Mr Major’s part, not to reflect on the tension ...

Rigging and Bending

Simon Adams: James VI & I, 9 October 2003

The Cradle King: A Life of James VI & I 
by Alan Stewart.
Chatto, 438 pp., £20, February 2003, 0 7011 6984 2
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... Lynch rather regretfully admit, has not yet been superseded, despite numerous subsequent studies. Alan Stewart is a lively writer, but heavily (and uncritically) reliant on the established published sources and liable to turn reported into direct speech to keep the narrative flowing. His bibliography is impressive, but appears to have been only partially ...

The Middling Sort

Alan Ryan, 25 May 1995

The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy 
by Christopher Lasch.
Norton, 276 pp., £16.95, March 1995, 0 393 03699 5
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... public debate. Other liberals were more plausible targets of Lasch’s anxieties: especially E.A. Ross, the promoter of the ‘social control’ movement, and Herbert Croly, the founder of the New Republic. Croly’s The Promise of American Life (1908), a runaway bestseller in its day, was not only the book that galvanised Theodore Roosevelt into the ...

The Tax-and-Spend Vote

Ross McKibbin: Will the election improve New Labour’s grasp on reality?, 5 July 2001

... the Liberal Democrats and by the fact that three former Conservative MPs were standing for Labour: Alan Howarth and Shaun Woodward (both elected), and Alan Amos (ex-Hexham), who opposed Peter Lilley in Hitchin and Harpenden. The Liberal Democrats did well, but not uniformly. In addition to the two seats they lost, they came ...

Poor Dear, How She Figures!

Alan Hollinghurst: Forster and His Mother, 3 January 2013

The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster Volumes I-III 
edited by Philip Gardner.
Pickering and Chatto, 813 pp., £275, February 2011, 978 1 84893 114 5
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... feel like, and how they might develop. The great love of this period of Forster’s life was Syed Ross Masood, the handsome and well-connected young Indian to whom he gave Latin lessons, and to whom he declared himself first in the diary (‘I love you, Syed Ross Masood: love’) and then, unavailingly, for real, having ...

The Whole Bustle

Siobhan Kilfeather, 9 January 1992

The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 
edited by Seamus Deane.
Field Day Publications/Faber, 4044 pp., £150, November 1991, 0 946755 20 5
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... Literature’, including epic, lyric and occasional poetry. The period 1600-1800, introduced by Alan Harrison, is probably more familiar to non-Gaelic readers through Kinsella and O’Tuama’s major bilingual anthology, An Duanaire (1981). The Field Day publicity makes the claim that ‘all texts not originally in English have been specially translated for ...

What Works Doesn’t Work

Ross McKibbin: Politics without Ideas, 11 September 2008

... Lib Dems, a large part of the Parliamentary Labour Party, probably William Hague, Theresa May, Alan Duncan and a few other Tories; Cameron and Osborne might be honorary or temporary members. The party of the right would include everyone else (including many members of the government). This would offer a more accurate representation of opinion than will be ...

Ghosts in the Palace

Tom Nairn, 24 April 1997

... vanish far more utterly than places and buildings. Majorism was like an interminable funeral rite. Alan Bennett isn’t alone in feeling that there’s something deeply uncouth about this mutation: general melancholia and regret might indeed be more seemly for the old state-nation. Yet, as the famous Carlton TV programme on the Monarchy earlier this year ...


Stephen Frears: That's Hollywood, 20 December 1990

... The producers were Barry Levinson and his partner, Mark Johnson. We had first met when Levinson, Alan Parker and I had dinner in London. It was a wonderfully smug affair: the last three films we had directed, Rain Man, Mississippi Burning and Dangerous Liaisons, had between them received 23 Oscar nominations. Levinson himself was to have made Donnie Brasco ...


Andrew O’Hagan: The Good Traitor, 25 September 2014

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State 
by Glenn Greenwald.
Hamish Hamilton, 259 pp., £20, May 2014, 978 0 241 14669 9
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... while the source is cool and inscrutable. Snowden later told the Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, that if ‘I end up in chains in Guantánamo Bay … I can live with it’. Greenwald is a former constitutional and human rights lawyer, and now a journalist who isn’t afraid to point the finger at the conventional and the powerful. Snowden ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor, 2 June 2016

David Astor: A Life in Print 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 400 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 0 224 09090 2
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... an aesthetic crime.) The new look displayed the work of a new generation of writers. John Gale, Alan Ross, Eric Newby, Katharine Whitehorn, Michael Frayn, Gavin Young, Mark Frankland and Neal Ascherson were among the names Astor hired and promoted, resisting what he saw as ‘the general tendency towards brightness at the expense of intelligence, which ...


Alan Bennett: A Shameful Year, 8 January 2004

... order, seemingly, to save his own skin, though the scene in which his wife is discussing this with Ross is unbearably tense, the audience knowing she is about to be murdered. The ending is as abrupt as the beginning, with not much in the way of a dying fall from Malcolm, who’s straightaway off to Scone for his coronation. Most relevant bit:Alas, poor ...

On Some Days of the Week

Colm Tóibín: Mrs Oscar Wilde, 10 May 2012

Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde 
by Franny Moyle.
John Murray, 374 pp., £9.99, February 2012, 978 1 84854 164 1
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The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated, Uncensored Edition 
by Oscar Wilde, edited by Nicholas Frankel.
Harvard, 295 pp., £25.95, April 2011, 978 0 674 05792 0
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... was not merely that he was a married man with extracurricular interests – he had sex with Robbie Ross for the first time in 1886 – but also that he was most famous for being mocked. No one took him seriously, except himself and his mother and his wife. Wilde’s lectures and poses were better known than his early plays or poems. For a while after his ...


James Harkin: Tweet for the CIA!, 2 December 2010

Death to the Dictator! Witnessing Iran’s Election and the Crippling of the Islamic Republic 
by Afsaneh Moqadam.
Bodley Head, 134 pp., £10.99, May 2010, 978 1 84792 146 8
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The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom 
by Evgeny Morozov.
Allen Lane, 408 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 1 84614 353 3
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Blogistan: The Internet and Politics in Iran 
by Annabelle Sreberny and Gholam Khiabany.
I.B. Tauris, 240 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 1 84511 607 1
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... leaderless, just-in-time disorganised organisation didn’t seem to help. In the late 1990s Alan Greenspan ridiculed the fashionable notion that the dot-com economy could overturn the traditional laws of economic profit and loss: he called it ‘irrational exuberance’. There is now an irrational exuberance about the potential of social media: it’s ...

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