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Thatcherism

Gordon Brown, 2 February 1989

Thatcherism 
edited by Robert Skidelsky.
Chatto, 214 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 7011 3342 2
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The Hard Road to Renewal: Thatcherism and the Crisis of the Left 
by Stuart Hall.
Verso, 283 pp., £24.95, December 1988, 0 86091 199 3
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... on this aspect that Anthony King and Ivor Crewe concentrate in the Skidelsky collection. Margaret Roberts moved from her Anglo-Poujadist origins via Oxford, the lab and the bar to eventual leadership and Gaullist ambitions, more honoured in rhetoric than in achievement. The grocer’s daughter hectors for national regeneration with less success than the ...

Rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat

David Runciman: Thatcher’s Rise, 6 June 2013

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography. Vol. I: Not for Turning 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 859 pp., £30, April 2013, 978 0 7139 9282 3
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... to humanise it. His great find is a previously unseen cache of letters from the young Margaret Roberts to her older sister, Muriel, written variously from Grantham, Oxford and Dartford. There, she talks about boyfriends, fashion, shopping and the various inconveniences of life in wartime and then austerity Britain. They are, I suppose, human. But boy are ...

Horsemen

Carolyn Steedman, 4 February 1988

Spoken History 
by George Ewart Evans.
Faber, 255 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14982 0
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... that came out of Wales and Ireland, farms and fishing, men’s work with horses. Like Robert Roberts, another recorder of the lives of the poor born at the end of the last century, Evans grew up in a grocer’s shop – not in the classic slum of Salford, but in the mining valley of Abercynon. The children of shopkeepers in poor working-class communities ...

Fundamentally Goyish

James Wood: Zadie Smith, 3 October 2002

The Autograph Man 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 420 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 241 13998 8
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... North London suburb and in New York, bears the impress of American writers like Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace, clever, nervy exhibitionists, IQs-with-i-Books, guys who, as Smith has put it, ‘know things’, writers with a gift for speedy cultural analysis, whose prose is choppy with interruption. The Autograph Man may indeed be the nearest that a ...

Bad Dreams

Robert Crawford: Peter Porter, 6 October 2011

The Rest on the Flight: Selected Poems 
by Peter Porter.
Picador, 421 pp., £12.99, May 2010, 978 0 330 52218 2
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... of autobiographical details transmuted into verse that appears to be effortlessly precise. ‘Mr Roberts’, the second poem in the book, is a verse portrait of the ‘great Consul’, E.H. Roberts, the Latin-loving headmaster at Toowoomba, where Porter was sent after the school in Brisbane. Porter’s early published ...

The Real Magic

David Sylvester, 8 June 1995

A Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Deutsch, 834 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 233 98859 9
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... now I have taken the view that my ‘Desert Island’ book, if I were asked, would have to be David Thomson’s A Biographical Dictionary of the Cinema. First published in 1970, it has just re-appeared as A Biographical Dictionary of Film in a third edition that is revised and considerably enlarged. Despite its titles it is indeed a work of ...
Dance till the stars come down 
by Frances Spalding.
Hodder, 271 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 340 48555 8
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Keith Vaughan 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 288 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 09 469780 9
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... in which Minton was far from being the only considerable talent drinking itself to death. The ‘Roberts’ (Colquhoun and MacBryde) were there beside him; Dylan Thomas was boozing in the same pubs. Art is not made in that spirit any more. The notion that all things are a gamble, that candles should be burnt at both ends, that poverty is often art’s ...

Climbing

David Craig, 5 September 1985

... 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 mere ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Where I was in 1993, 16 December 1993

... The ludicrous Mr Kenneth Baker blames the Church, and in particular the Bishop of Liverpool, David Sheppard, probably because he’s the only socialist in sight. 22 February. A large crowd gathers outside Bootle Magistrates Court, to jeer as the vans carrying the two ten-year-olds accused of the toddler’s murder are driven away. One man eludes the ...

How Utterly Depraved!

Deborah Friedell: What did Ethel know?, 1 July 2021

Ethel Rosenberg: A Cold War Tragedy 
by Anne Sebba.
Weidenfeld, 288 pp., £20, June, 978 0 297 87100 2
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... sounded good to her. She was envious of her clever only daughter and favoured her youngest child, David. One of Ethel’s childhood friends remembered that Tessie was ‘more bigoted than religious … If God had meant for Ethel to have music lessons, he would have provided them. As he hadn’t there was something sinful about music lessons.’ Much of the ...

The Revolution That Wasn’t

Hugh Roberts, 12 September 2013

The Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life 
by Roger Owen.
Harvard, 248 pp., £18.95, May 2012, 978 0 674 06583 3
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Adaptable Autocrats: Regime Power in Egypt and Syria 
by Joshua Stacher.
Stanford, 221 pp., £22.50, April 2012, 978 0 8047 8063 6
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Raging against the Machine: Political Opposition under Authoritarianism in Egypt 
by Holger Albrecht.
Syracuse, 248 pp., £25, October 2012, 978 0 8156 3320 4
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Soldiers, Spies and Statesmen: Egypt’s Road to Revolt 
by Hazem Kandil.
Verso, 303 pp., £16.99, November 2012, 978 1 84467 961 4
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... social space by both Sadat’s regime (the Brothers were briefly suppressed for opposing the Camp David agreement) and Mubarak’s. They were able to build a large network of Islamic charitable, educational and cultural associations, as well as hospitals and clinics, giving them a social presence that none of the legal parties could rival. They were also able ...

Bitchy Little Spinster

Joanne O’Leary: Queens of Amherst, 3 June 2021

After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America's Greatest Poet 
by Julie Dobrow.
Norton, 448 pp., £13.99, January 2020, 978 0 393 35749 3
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... She exploited Austin’s role as the treasurer of Amherst College to wangle her own husband, David, into powerful university positions and forced him to build her a Queen Anne-style house just across from his family home. After his death she conned his surviving sister, Lavinia, into deeding her some land. But, perhaps most damning of all, Emily ...

Diary

Paul Laity: Henry Woodd Nevinson, 3 February 2000

... It was a remarkable time at the Slade – his other classmates included Paul Nash, Ben Nicholson, David Bomberg and William Roberts – and a revolutionary moment in British art. Even to express support for Roger Fry’s Post-Impressionist exhibitions was daring and radical. Nevinson, having seen a contemporary art show in ...

The Grey Boneyard of Fifties England

Iain Sinclair, 22 August 1996

A Perfect Execution 
by Tim Binding.
Picador, 344 pp., £15.99, May 1996, 0 330 34564 8
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... prop. It has passed through the levels of Eng Lit from the coal-owner’s estate in Lawrence to David Storey’s Radcliffe and homoerotic fumblings among the guy ropes. There is the same smack of Mosleyite fellow-travelling that Ishiguro exploits in The Remains of the Day. ‘Stand in the snug every Sunday after service, pull on his thumbs and brag about ...

Subject, Spectator, Phantom

J. Hoberman: The Strangest Personality Ever to Lead the Free World, 17 February 2005

Nixon at the Movies: A Book about Belief 
by Mark Feeney.
Chicago, 422 pp., £19.50, November 2004, 0 226 23968 3
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... televised debate, epitomises his ambivalent relationship with the medium. In Nixon’s Shadow, David Greenberg argues that Nixon was the first American president pre-eminently concerned with the construction of his image.* Unlike Kennedy, his nemesis, Nixon was a self-made man; he didn’t have the benefit of an extremely wealthy and well-connected ...

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