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... the attempt on which William Rodgers and David Owen seem to be embarked, and which has led Roy Jenkins and David Marquand to abandon the party. A desperate public cry to Shirley Williams: why have you got so lost in that company, one with ineffable self-confidence but without either a social base or alternative policies – you who once knew the Labour ...

Men in Aprons

Colin Kidd: Freemasonry, 7 May 1998

Who’s Afraid of Freemasons? The Phenomenon of Freemasonry 
by Alexander Piatigorsky.
Harvill, 398 pp., £25, August 1997, 1 86046 029 1
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... against the victorious Democrat (and Mason) Andrew Jackson and the National Republicans’ Henry Clay (nominally ‘on the square’, though inactive), but the Anti-Masonic movement would play a central role in the formation of the Whig Party. Several Whig leaders emerged from the movement, including President Harrison, who ran in 1840 as the nominee ...

World’s Greatest Statesman

Edward Luttwak, 11 March 1993

Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... of 1940 and premier intelligencer thereafter (... and Science), Norman Rose (and Zionism) and Roy Jenkins (the Government of 1951-55) are predictably good. The uneven John Keegan (... ’s Strategy), though seemingly disqualified by his recent published confession that he cannot understand Clausewitz, nevertheless succeeds here, correctly citing the one ...

Frock Consciousness

Rosemary Hill: Fashion and frocks, 20 January 2000

The Penguin Book of 20th-Century Fashion Writing 
edited by Judith Watt.
Viking, 360 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 670 88215 1
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Twentieth-Century Fashion 
by Valerie Mendes and Amy de la Haye.
Thames and Hudson, 288 pp., £8.95, November 1999, 0 500 20321 0
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A Century of Fashion 
by François Baudot.
Thames and Hudson, 400 pp., £19.95, November 1999, 0 500 28178 5
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The Hidden Consumer: Masculinities, Fashion and City Life 1860-1914 
by Christopher Breward.
Manchester, 278 pp., £45, September 1999, 0 7190 4799 4
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Black in Fashion 
by Valerie Mendes.
Victoria & Albert Museum, 144 pp., £35, October 1999, 1 85177 278 2
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... allowed a degree of personal expression without attracting suspicions of camp. Watt includes Alan Jenkins’s touching elegy for his father, whom he conjures up through the ties he wore and which Jenkins remembers borrowing down to the last – ‘a sort of crepe he bought for funerals, and hated’. As Breward argues was ...


Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman, 16 July 2015

... way through Coleman’s most famous tune, ‘Lonely Woman’. There was a haunting duet between Henry Threadgill, on alto flute, and Jason Moran, on piano, and an electric dialogue between the drummer Jack DeJohnette and the tap dancer Savion Glover. The only alto saxophone heard on Saturday was Coleman’s, glimpsed in a documentary filmed at the 2009 ...

Do you like him?

Ian Jack: Ken Livingstone, 10 May 2012

You Can’t Say That: Memoirs 
by Ken Livingstone.
Faber, 710 pp., £9.99, April 2012, 978 0 571 28041 4
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... which laid the foundations of Livingstone’s politics. In this very long autobiography – Roy Jenkins managed Gladstone’s life in less – the most rewarding pages come near the beginning. A politician who believes he can still win power is likely to present himself in the best of lights, or at least suppress any awkward self-knowledge he may happen to ...

Easy-Going Procrastinators

Ferdinand Mount: Margot Asquith’s War, 8 January 2015

Margot Asquith’s Great War Diary 1914-16: The View from Downing Street 
edited by Michael Brock and Eleanor Brock, selected by Eleanor Brock.
Oxford, 566 pp., £30, June 2014, 978 0 19 822977 3
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Margot at War: Love And Betrayal In Downing Street, 1912-16 
by Anne de Courcy.
Weidenfeld, 376 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 0 297 86983 2
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The Darkest Days: The Truth Behind Britain’s Rush To War, 1914 
by Douglas Newton.
Verso, 386 pp., £20, July 2014, 978 1 78168 350 7
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... husband). In fact she starts a new volume of the diary at the end of July 1916 by claiming that ‘Henry’s position in the country and in the cabinet is stronger than it has ever been.’ Despite or partly because of all her defects, the diaries never cease to entertain, and they turn out to be remarkably enlightening too, if not always in the advertised ...


James Wood: John Carey, 8 March 2001

Pure Pleasure: A Guide to the 20th Century’s Most Enjoyable Books 
by John Carey.
Faber, 173 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 571 20448 1
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... of the Sunday Times and the Spectator. Carey’s cousins in populism sometimes include Simon Jenkins, Paul Johnson, A.N. Wilson and the late Auberon Waugh. An easy moralism animates this worldview. Picasso was a pig; Edmund Gosse was ‘a bore’; D.H. Lawrence hit Frieda and wanted to exterm-inate whole races; Virginia Woolf was a pretentious snob who ...

Prime Ministers’ Pets

Robert Blake, 10 January 1983

Benjamin Disraeli Letters: Vol. I 1815-1834, Vol. II 1835-1837 
edited by J.A.W. Gunn, John Matthews, Donald Schurman and M.G. Wiebe.
Toronto, 482 pp., £37.50, June 1982, 0 8020 5523 0
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The Gladstone Diaries: with Cabinet Minutes and Prime Ministerial Correspondence, Vol. VII, January 1869-June 1871, Vol. VIII, July 1871-December 1874 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew.
Oxford, 641 pp., £35, September 1982, 0 19 822638 1
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by Sarah Bradford.
Weidenfeld, 432 pp., £14.95, October 1982, 0 297 78153 7
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Gladstone: Vol. I 1809-1865 
by Richard Shannon.
Hamish Hamilton, 580 pp., £18, November 1982, 0 241 10780 6
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H.H. Asquith: Letters to Venetia Stanley 
edited by Michael Brock and Eleanor Brock.
Oxford, 676 pp., £19.50, November 1982, 0 19 212200 2
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... letters were Randolph Churchill and Martin Gilbert in their multi-volume Churchill and Roy Jenkins in his Asquith (1964). Their versions were far more accurate than anything that had appeared before, but copyright remained a problem, for Lady Violet Bonham Carter (Baroness Asquith of Yarnbury) was still alive and was anxious – some would say ...


Ian Gilmour: Britain and Europe, 10 December 1998

This Blessed Plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 558 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 333 57992 5
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... as well as of the Commonwealth; nor the discernment of the scientist and defence adviser Sir Henry Tizard, who minuted in 1949: ‘We are not a great power and never will be again. We are a great nation but if we continue to behave like a great power we shall soon cease to be a great nation.’ In recent years, that minute has been much quoted, but it ...

The Doctrine of Unripe Time

Ferdinand Mount: The Fifties, 16 November 2006

Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties 
by Peter Hennessy.
Allen Lane, 740 pp., £30, October 2006, 0 7139 9571 8
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... faster. Much of the summer holidays of 1958 and 1959 I spent in Norfolk with my schoolfriend Henry Harrod, and we would cycle to the postbox through the cornfields, proudly carrying his father’s letters to Number Ten, adding fuel to the flames. Like Hennessy, my prevailing memory is of those years as tranquil and contented. The harm that our ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2011, 5 January 2012

... his erstwhile fiancée, Ethne. All this gets pretty tedious and repetitive and rather Henry James-like in its moral ramifications. It’s gone through so often that one wonders whether the repetition is because the book came out originally in serial form. Each chapter certainly has a subheading: ‘Durrance hears news of Faversham’; ‘The House ...

What are judges for?

Conor Gearty, 25 January 2001

... John Day and Sir Archibald Levin Smith, both from the High Court: ‘Unionists to a man,’ as Roy Jenkins describes them in his Life of Gladstone. But what were these judges thinking of, presiding over a tribunal to which none of the ordinary rules applied, set up for a manifestly political purpose – namely, to add a veneer of judicial legitimacy to a crude ...

Crabby, Prickly, Bitter, Harsh

Michael Wood: Tolstoy’s Malice, 22 May 2008

War and Peace 
by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
Vintage, 1273 pp., £20, November 2007, 978 0 09 951223 3
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... a Dostoevsky novel,’ a place full of ‘the imagination of disaster’ – the phrase comes from Henry James – and not just the imagination, we might add. In this light, Trilling then says, we may feel that Tolstoy ‘gives us, after all, not reality itself but a sort of idyll of reality’. This is very intriguing, and a long way – too far, probably ...

England’s Isaiah

Perry Anderson, 20 December 1990

The Crooked Timber of Humanity: Chapters in the History of Ideas 
by Isaiah Berlin, edited by Henry Hardy.
Murray, 276 pp., £18.95, October 1990, 9780719547898
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... of sententious parody. It was the school master Le Bas who instructed Anthony Powell’s Nicholas Jenkins in the adage ‘It takes all sorts to make a world,’ about the time Berlin was going up to Oxford. A few years later, Wittgenstein found it ‘a very beautiful saying’. Unlike him, the author of Personal Impressions and Against the Current has made an ...

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