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This Charming Man

Frank Kermode, 24 February 1994

The Collected and Recollected Marc 
Fourth Estate, 51 pp., £25, November 1993, 1 85702 164 9Show More
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... an upper-class socialist. He liked cricket, bridge (with, among others, the ‘Machiavellian’ David Sylvester), chess (with Martin Amis, who felt humbly as if he always had, or anyway always ought to have, the black pieces). Women found him instantly attractive. And he rode a motor bike. The illustrations here are more than adequate reminders of his dash ...

Spadework

John Brown, 18 November 1982

Shadow Man: The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Richard Layman.
Junction, 285 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 86245 027 6
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... acknowledges, on research done for other projected and equally unauthorised lives of Hammett by David Fechheimer and William Godschalk, and upon material gathered by William Nolan, editor of Dashiell Hammett: A Casebook. In other words, Shadow Man emerges from a background of intrigue: prolonged scuffling in the literary undergrowth and a growing sense of ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: When is a planet not a planet?, 18 August 2005

... data from which the object was discovered were obtained’, as one of its discoverers, Michael Brown, carefully puts it – in the second half of October 2003 (the 21st fortnight of the year; U is the 21st letter of the alphabet). Brown and his colleagues, Chad Trujillo and ...

Betting big, winning small

David Runciman: Blair’s Gambles, 20 May 2004

... set Blair apart from the two other most significant British politicians of the last decade. Gordon Brown is another risk-averse politician, but one who prefers to play for low stakes, endlessly and tirelessly working the percentages to build up his political reserves. Ken Livingstone, by contrast, is a politician who seems genuinely happy to take big ...

At Tate Britain

John Barrell: Late Turner, 18 December 2014

... free’ means something like the opposite of what it meant for Gowing. The aim of the co-curators, David Blayney Brown, Amy Concannon and Smiles, is to set Turner’s last paintings free from what Brown calls the ‘reductive critical stereotypes’ that have been applied to his work by ...

This Guilty Land

Eric Foner: Every Possible Lincoln, 17 December 2020

Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times 
by David S. Reynolds.
Penguin, 1066 pp., £33.69, September, 978 1 59420 604 7
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The Zealot and the Emancipator: John Brown, Abraham Lincoln and the Struggle for American Freedom 
by H.W. Brands.
Doubleday, 445 pp., £24, October, 978 0 385 54400 9
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... man and liberator of the slaves, has been the subject of more than 16,000 books, according to David S. Reynolds’s new biography, Abe. That’s around two a week, on average, since the end of the American Civil War. Almost every possible Lincoln can be found in the historical literature, including the moralist who hated slavery, the pragmatic politician ...

Nostalgia for the Vestry

James Buchan: Thatcherism, 30 November 2006

Thatcher and Sons: A Revolution in Three Acts 
by Simon Jenkins.
Allen Lane, 375 pp., £20, October 2006, 0 7139 9595 5
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... for different reasons to John Major and Tony Blair, and to Blair’s heir apparent, Gordon Brown. These men are to Jenkins Thatcher’s political ‘sons’, with David Cameron trotting along behind as a ‘grandson’. (The book was completed before Cameron’s Conservatives abandoned any formal adherence to the ...

Short Cuts

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Gordon Brown, 7 June 2007

... fortune through some startling and, on occasion, clandestine publishing and movie contracts, as David Reynolds has shown in his riveting In Command of History. Then there is self-justification after retirement, which almost always produces memoirs of numbing boredom: I assume – or hope – that no one alive has actually read every page of all the volumes ...

Success and James Maxton

Inigo Thomas, 3 January 2008

... Labour Party MP, socialist, orator, Scotsman and the subject of a biography written by Gordon Brown twenty years ago – was not a successful leader, although some of his contemporaries in the 1920s thought he might become one. ‘Maxton was never a government minister,’ Brown wrote of his subject, ‘and his failure ...

Doing Chatting

Eleanor Birne: Asperger’s, 9 October 2003

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time 
by Mark Haddon.
Cape, 272 pp., £10.99, May 2003, 0 224 06378 2
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... found out my mother was going to marry my father, she asked my mother to reconsider. ‘What about David?’ she said. ‘Wouldn’t you like to marry David instead?’ David is my father’s brother. He still lives alone in the council house my grandmother died in. He used to hear ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Flashman, 9 May 2002

... anyone settling down to write the further adventures of that Harry Potter of the 1830s, Tom Brown; even harder to imagine anyone settling down to read them. (Thomas Hughes did in fact write a sequel, Tom Brown at Oxford, but it’s never done as well as Tom Brown’s ...

Short Cuts

Paul Laity: Hanging out at River Cottage HQ, 14 December 2006

... foraging in the hedgerows, ethical food shopping – that would seriously trouble Gordon Brown or David Cameron, both happy to make green gestures but steadfastly wary of state action to enforce restrictions on personal freedom or curb corporate power. ‘We’ve all got our roles to play, in terms of the choices ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: Ed Balls, 22 September 2016

... ministers leaving Parliament after a short interval (hours for Blair, five years for Major and Brown, with Cameron likely to follow suit) and party leaders quickly throwing in the towel after election defeats (Hague, Miliband, Clegg). The most recent generation of political leaders attained high office infinitely faster than their predecessors, serving no ...

Cover Stories

Patrick Parrinder, 4 April 1985

Lives of the Poets: A Novella and Six Stories 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Joseph, 145 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 7181 2529 0
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The Pork Butcher 
by David Hughes.
Constable, 123 pp., £5.95, April 1984, 0 09 465510 3
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Out of the Blue 
by John Milne.
Hamish Hamilton, 309 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 241 11489 6
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... is silence, or rather, the rest should be another (and conceivably much more memorable) story. David Hughes’s The Pork Butcher is a worthy winner of the W.H. Smith award, the latest of the series of literary prizes awarded to novels published in 1984. In this, his ninth novel, Hughes has written a moral fable, brief, sensational, and hauntingly ...

Who’s on the Ropes Now?

Ross McKibbin: A Bad Week for Gordon Brown, 1 November 2007

... All those articles written only a couple of weeks ago and giving entirely good reasons why Gordon Brown was on top and David Cameron on the ropes now look faintly embarrassing. But at the beginning of October Brown was on top and no one can be faulted for failing to see his impending ...

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