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That’s democracy

Theo Tait: Dalton Trumbo, 2 March 2000

Johnny Got His Gun 
by Dalton Trumbo.
Prion, 222 pp., £5.99, May 1999, 1 85375 324 6
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... in an unknown hospital. The nurses’ hands, the vibrations caused by people walking around the ward, the pain of the sheets against his wounds are his only contact with the outside world. He is unable to separate the present from his hallucinations of the past: work and love in Los Angeles, his upbringing in Colorado. Trumbo cleverly writes the reader into ...

Votes for Women, Chastity for Men

Brian Harrison, 21 January 1988

Troublesome People: Enemies of War, 1916-1986 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Hamish Hamilton, 344 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 241 12105 1
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Sex and Suffrage in Britain, 1860-1914 
by Susan Kingsley Kent.
Princeton, 295 pp., £22, June 1987, 0 691 05497 5
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Women, Marriage and Politics, 1860-1914 
by Pat Jalland.
Oxford, 366 pp., £19.50, November 1986, 0 19 822668 3
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An Edwardian Mixed Doubles: The Bosanquets versus the Webbs. A Study in British Social Policy, 1890-1929 
by A.M. McBriar.
Oxford, 407 pp., £35, July 1987, 0 19 820111 7
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... only a few. Yet almost at once there came rumblings from Cambridge. Maurice Cowling, John Vincent, Andrew Jones and others rightly emphasised the Victorian politician’s relative autonomy from popular pressure, and cleverly unveiled the feebleness of provincial and popular reformers when they tried to operate at Westminster or Whitehall. Since 1979 ...

Secret Signals in Lotus Flowers

Maya Jasanoff: Myths of the Mutiny, 21 July 2005

The Indian Mutiny and the British Imagination 
by Gautam Chakravarty.
Cambridge, 242 pp., £45, January 2005, 0 521 83274 8
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... War in India: in three volumes he had taken the narrative only to the end of 1857. More recently, Andrew Ward’s moving account of the mutiny at Kanpur weighs in at nearly 700 pages; volumes by Christopher Hibbert and Saul David hover around 500.) Seen from certain perspectives, what had happened was a complete collapse of British security, authority ...


Christopher Tayler: Muriel Spark’s Essays, 24 September 2014

The Golden Fleece: Essays 
by Muriel Spark, edited by Penelope Jardine.
Carcanet, 226 pp., £16.99, March 2014, 978 1 84777 251 0
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... like ‘He looked as if he would murder me and he did’ – was formulated in 1950 in a piece on Andrew Young, a Scottish-born nature poet and Anglican clergyman. The anti-humanist thinking that underpins Spark’s writing seems to have grown from a feeling that meliorative, rational-materialist enterprises were an inadequate answer to the problem of death ...

Reduced to Ashes and Rubbage

Jessie Childs: Civil War Traumas, 3 January 2019

Battle-Scarred: Mortality, Medical Care and Military Welfare in the British Civil Wars 
edited by David Appleby and Andrew Hopper.
Manchester, 247 pp., £80, July 2018, 978 1 5261 2480 7
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... I’s capture and execution the conflict continued. ‘Long wars make men inhumane,’ Richard Ward wrote in The Anatomy of Warre: ‘that is, at first sinne seems to us loathing, but often sinning makes sinne seeme nothing … where before [a soldier] ever entered into the wars, he thought he could never be so cruell, as to dash the childrens braines ...


Alan Bennett: Allelujah!, 3 January 2019

... to the demotic. So today at rehearsal I give a note. Though most of the patients in the geriatric ward are Northern in their tone and language, Ambrose, the retired schoolmaster (a part I could once have played), is determinedly abstruse, just as Valentine, the Asian doctor, can be quite technical in his language. Two of Valentine’s speeches come out of ...

Rigging the Death Rate

Paul Taylor, 11 April 2013

... of state for health. The public inquiry was set up in 2010 by the then secretary of state, Andrew Lansley, to investigate further the findings of a previous inquiry, commissioned by the Labour health minister Andy Burnham and intended ‘primarily to give those most affected by poor care an opportunity to tell their stories’. Many such stories had ...

Walk on by

Andrew O’Hagan, 18 November 1993

... she might turn out to be a young woman who went missing after being discharged from a psychiatric ward at University College Hospital. I left him in his office at Wapping, surrounded by paper and photographs and dead people’s clothes, looking for the name of an attractive, 30-year-old woman who nobody seemed to know. There are certain kinds of vanishing ...

The Lives of Ronald Pinn

Andrew O’Hagan, 8 January 2015

... have been at the school during those years, and saw that his first friends could have been Paul Ward, Brian Foster and Terry Klepka.Many of our modern crimes are crimes of the imagination. We think of the unspeakable and exchange information on it. We commit a ‘thought-crime’ – giving the illicit or the abominable an audience. Some of us pretend to ...

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Adam Shatz: Mass Incarceration, 3 May 2017

Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America 
by James Forman.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 306 pp., £21.98, April 2017, 978 0 374 18997 6
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... was echoed by the Superior Court judge John Fauntleroy, one of DC’s first black justices, and by Andrew Fowler, an influential black pastor. That Clarke was white made the policy of decriminalisation particularly susceptible to attack. Some, like Moore, suspected a plot to weaken blacks (he would later oppose gun control for the same reason); others accused ...


James Meek, 5 April 2018

... called the Lansley reforms after their patron, the erstwhile Conservative health secretary Andrew Lansley. The Lansley reforms left seven local organisations responsible for healthcare in Leicestershire. Five are part of the NHS and two aren’t. There are three consortia of GPs called Clinical Commissioning Groups, or CCGs – one each for the east ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1999, 20 January 2000

... held a sort of inquest over the bodies of the slain in order to discuss how best to prevent or ward off the blows that had proved fatal in the fray.’ So among the camp followers finishing off the dying and stripping the dead there would be a more purposeful and professional group making notes. And as with the more sophisticated developments in today’s ...

Why aren’t they screaming?

Helen Vendler: Philip Larkin, 6 November 2014

Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love 
by James Booth.
Bloomsbury, 532 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4088 5166 1
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... Twenty​ years ago, Andrew Motion, one of Philip Larkin’s literary executors, wrote a scholarly and comprehensive authorised biography of the poet, whom he had known well; it was subtitled ‘A Writer’s Life’. Motion informed his readers that some important ingredients of Larkin’s life were still unavailable, especially most of the letters written to Monica Jones, a lecturer at the University of Leicester, who was his closest companion and lover, but never wife ...

The Satoshi Affair

Andrew O’Hagan, 29 June 2016

... to me and it was as if he was dropping a sugar lump into my tea. He typed the words, ‘Here I am, Andrew,’ and rested his fingers. ‘This gives us that little block there,’ he said, before verifying the signature. He looked sheepish and resigned in his blue checked shirt. ‘Welcome to the bit I was hoping to bury,’ he said. He leaned back and I ...

Into the Underworld

Iain Sinclair: The Hackney Underworld, 22 January 2015

... now,’ his collaborator, Alberto Duman, told me, ‘or is it the drugs that are fed to him?’ A ward at the Homerton was another kind of community altogether, less sheltered, more disparate in background and affiliation. Clients were united in pain, the grudge of benevolent imprisonment and diminished motion: they seethed, they drifted into reverie or ...

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