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All Together Now

John Lloyd: The British Trade Union, 19 October 2000

British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics. Vol. I: The Postwar Compromise, 1945-64 
edited by John McIlroy and Nina Fishman et al.
Ashgate, 335 pp., £35, January 2000, 0 7546 0018 1
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British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics. Vol. II: The High Tide of Trade Unionism, 1964-79 
edited by John McIlroy and Nina Fishman et al.
Ashgate, 389 pp., £35, January 2000, 0 7546 0018 1
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The TUC: From the General Strike to New Unionism 
by Robert Taylor.
Palgrave, 299 pp., £45, September 2000, 0 333 93066 5
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... being closely attended to, even feared, by ministers and by the public. And it was feared. Harold Wilson’s 1964-70 and 1974-76 Governments and James Callaghan’s 1976-79 Administration spent more time cajoling, ‘standing up to’, browbeating, placating and schmoozing with union leaders than with any other group. Robert Taylor’s close account of the ...

Drop a tiger into a court-bouillon

Bee Wilson: Mesopotamian cookery, 6 October 2005

The Oldest Cuisine in the World: Cooking in Mesopotamia 
by Jean Bottéro, translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan.
Chicago, 134 pp., £16, May 2004, 0 226 06735 1
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... the quantities of the seasonings were wrong – no quantities are given in Apicius, so I consulted Andrew Dalby and Sally Grainger’s Classical Cookbook (1996) – but whatever the amount, the food would have seemed weird to our untrained stomachs. The later Romans, we thought, as we gargled with fizzy water to take the taste away, must have had very odd ...

Send them to Eton!

Linda Colley, 19 August 1993

The End of the House of Windsor: Birth of a British Republic 
by Stephen Haseler.
Tauris, 208 pp., £14.95, June 1993, 1 85043 735 1
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The Rise and Fall of the House of Windsor 
by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 211 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 1 85619 354 3
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Royal Throne: The Future of the Monarchy 
by Elizabeth Longford.
Hodder, 189 pp., £16.99, April 1993, 0 340 58587 0
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Diana v. Charles 
by James Whitaker.
Signet, 237 pp., £14.99, May 1993, 0 670 85245 7
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The Tarnished Crown 
by Anthony Holden.
Bantam, 400 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 0 593 02472 9
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Inheritance: A Psychological History of the Royal Family 
by Dennis Friedman.
Sidgwick, 212 pp., £14.99, April 1993, 0 283 06124 3
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Raine and Johnnie: The Spencers and the Scandal of Althorp 
by Angela Levin.
Weidenfeld, 297 pp., £17.99, July 1993, 0 297 81325 0
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... firmly and mistakenly that books about the monarchy always sell. The exceptional success of Andrew Morton’s Diana: Her True Story suggested that sycophantic royal biographies were out, and savage royal exposés were in. Hence the commissioning of a spate of Mortonesque knife-jobs. It was also supposed that what the Sun called the Queen’s bum year ...

Beyond Discussion

Neal Ascherson, 3 April 1980

The Last Word: An Eye-Witness Account of the Thorpe Trial 
by Auberon Waugh.
Joseph, 240 pp., £6.50, February 1980, 0 7181 1799 9
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... and stated that a gunman had shot his dog and attempted to shoot him on Porlock Moor. The gunman, Andrew Newton, said he had been hired to murder Scott, and the prosecution tried to link the shot on Porlock Moor with a group of Liberals, con-men and bon viveurs who were endeavouring to protect Thorpe against Scott’s allegations. In the course of the ...

Snarling

Frank Kermode: Angry Young Men, 28 November 2002

The Angry Young Men: A Literary Comedy of the 1950s 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen Lane, 244 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 0 7139 9532 7
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... Larkin and John Wain knew one another at Oxford, but had little to do with autodidacts like Colin Wilson, John Osborne and Alan Sillitoe – this last name less often mentioned in this context than might have been expected, doubtless because Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958) was published a little too late to be fitted into the fashionable ...

Reasons for Being Nice and Having Sex

Andrew Berry: W.D. Hamilton, 6 February 2003

Narrow Roads of Gene Land: The Collected Papers of W.D. Hamilton. Vol. II: The Evolution of Sex 
by W.D. Hamilton.
Oxford, 872 pp., £50, January 2001, 0 19 850336 9
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... recognition it deserved. The catalyst was the publication in 1975 of the Harvard ant expert E.O. Wilson’s Sociobiology. Although it was primarily about animals (especially social insects such as ants), Wilson had also ventured boldly into human territory, settling firmly for nature in the face of the nature-nurture ...

Official Secrecy

Andrew Boyle, 18 September 1980

The Frontiers of Secrecy 
by David Leigh.
Junction, 291 pp., £9.95, August 1980, 0 86245 002 0
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... caretaker Prime Minister, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, never got to hear what happened and Sir Harold Wilson, when he came to power, was told nothing of this fail accompli for three years, and then in so veiled a way that his memory had to be jogged in the eventual scandal of 1979.’ At a time when dissatisfaction with an outmoded Official Secrets Act is largely ...

Into the Second Term

R.W. Johnson: New Labour, 5 April 2001

Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Hamish Hamilton, 434 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 241 14029 3
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Mandelson and the Making of New Labour 
by Donald Macintyre.
HarperCollins, 638 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 00 653062 1
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Mo Mowlam: The Biography 
by Julia Langdon.
Little, Brown, 324 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 316 85304 6
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Ann Widdecombe: Right from the Beginning 
by Nicholas Kochan.
Politico’s, 302 pp., September 2000, 1 902301 55 2
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The Paymaster: Geoffrey Robinson, Maxwell and New Labour 
by Tom Bower.
Simon and Schuster, 272 pp., £17.99, March 2001, 0 7432 0689 4
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The Future of Politics 
by Charles Kennedy.
HarperCollins, 235 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 00 710131 7
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... Mowlam remain outside. David Trimble was astonished but that’s how it always is with New Labour. Andrew Rawnsley records how the momentous decision that Britain would not join the euro during the current Parliament was taken. Aware of the increase in Euroscepticism from Philip Gould’s focus groups and daily readings of the Sun and the Mail, Gordon ...

Artovsky Millensky

Andrew O’Hagan: The Misfit, 1 January 2009

Arthur Miller, 1915-62 
by Christopher Bigsby.
Weidenfeld, 739 pp., £30, November 2008, 978 0 297 85441 8
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... and contemporary, by the space it opened up for his own long struggle with reality. Edmund Wilson catches the mood in a passage from The Shores of Light: One couldn’t help being exhilarated at the sudden unexpected collapse of that stupid gigantic fraud. It gave us a new sense of freedom . . . a new sense of power to find ourselves still carrying ...

Glaswegians

Andrew O’Hagan, 11 May 1995

... early in the war, working as a lamp-trimmer. He was good pals with an assistant cook called James Wilson McGinlay, who was a bit younger. McGinlay’s father was a coachman at Milton, in Glasgow, a fact which eventually brought James into nodding and tobacco-loaning relations with my grandfather, Michael O’Hagan, who came from Glasgow’s Calton ...

Issues for His Prose Style

Andrew O’Hagan: Hemingway, 7 June 2012

The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Vol. I, 1907-22 
edited by Sandra Spanier and Robert Trogdon.
Cambridge, 431 pp., £30, October 2011, 978 0 521 89733 4
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... ship had even left dock: We paraded 85 blocks down 5th ave today and were reviewed by President Wilson. About 75,000 were in line and we were ye star attraction. I was made a sergeant in ye squadron and led the 2nd Platoon out in the middle of the avenue all by myself and saluted Ye Great Woodrow. I felt lonesome. It was a Red Cross march but Hemingway ...

Quiet Sinners

Bernard Porter: Imperial Spooks, 21 March 2013

Empire of Secrets: British Intelligence, the Cold War and the Twilight of Empire 
by Calder Walton.
Harper, 411 pp., £25, February 2013, 978 0 00 745796 0
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... access to closed papers in order to produce official histories. One of them was Christopher Andrew, who employed Walton to help him with The Defence of the Realm (2009), about MI5. Suddenly, one kind of conspiracy story – official plots and cover-ups – became acceptable. So Walton can now assert at the end of his book, without doing much damage to ...

Like Unruly Children in a Citizenship Class

John Barrell: A hero for Howard, 21 April 2005

The Laughter of Triumph: William Hone and the Fight for a Free Press 
by Ben Wilson.
Faber, 455 pp., £16.99, April 2005, 0 571 22470 9
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... centre of our school lives includes commissioning ‘the distinguished historian and biographer Andrew Roberts … to chair a panel of academics who will draw up a simple but clear list of key facts, personalities and dates which every child should be taught’. I wonder, disingenuously perhaps, if one of those ‘key personalities’ will be William ...

Kelpers

Claude Rawson, 17 June 1982

St Kilda’s Parliament 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 87 pp., £3, September 1981, 0 571 11770 8
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Airborn/Hijos del Aire 
by Octavio Paz and Charles Tomlinson.
Anvil, 29 pp., £1.25, April 1981, 0 85646 072 9
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The Flood 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 55 pp., £3.95, June 1981, 0 19 211944 3
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Looking into the Deep End 
by David Sweetman.
Faber, 47 pp., £3, March 1981, 0 571 11730 9
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Independence 
by Andrew Motion.
Salamander, 28 pp., £5, December 1981, 0 907540 05 8
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... in the light of episodes concerning, Scottish writers, mostly of the 18th century: Tannahill, John Wilson of Greenock – and, in ‘Green Breeks’, a famous anecdote of Scott’s boyhood is subjected to an extremely deft and somewhat mean-spirited reversal. The volume as a whole gives a sense of substantial and sensitive gifts embarrassed by a strange ...

Too early or too late?

David Runciman, 2 April 2020

... for someone to blame, so they blamed the president.In that year’s presidential election Woodrow Wilson lost the state of New Jersey, where he had once been governor. The biggest swings against him came in the counties nearest the shore, where the switch of allegiance was comparable to the turn against Herbert Hoover at the nadir of the Great Depression. In ...

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