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The Finchley Factor

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Thatcher in Israel, 13 September 2018

Margaret Thatcher and the Middle East 
by Azriel Bermant.
Cambridge, 274 pp., £22.99, September 2017, 978 1 316 60630 8
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... years before, at the 1950 general election, a 24-year-old research chemist by the name of Margaret Roberts had stood unsuccessfully for Parliament. By now called Margaret Thatcher, she was elected MP for Finchley in 1959: the first chapter of Azriel Bermant’s outstandingly valuable Margaret Thatcher and the Middle East is titled ‘Thatcher and the ...

Memories of Lindsay Anderson

Alan Bennett, 20 July 2000

... of The Old Crowd was Stephen Frears, but in real terms it was LWT and its then head of programmes, Michael Grade. Used as I was to the BBC and to my regular producer, Innes Lloyd, I found LWT entirely well-meaning but awkward to work with only because it wasn’t an organisation geared to producing drama. ...

English Butter

David Trotter, 9 October 1986

Englishness: Politics and Culture 1880-1920 
edited by Robert Colls and Philip Dodd.
Croom Helm, 378 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 7099 0849 0
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The Character Factory: Baden-Powell and the Origins of the Boy Scout Movement 
by Michael Rosenthal.
Collins, 335 pp., £15, August 1986, 0 00 217604 1
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Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause? 
by Richard Symonds.
Macmillan, 366 pp., £29.50, July 1986, 0 333 40206 5
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... should be happy.’ The Ashanti eventually obliged. But it was the Boer War which enabled him, as Michael Rosenthal remarks, ‘to invent himself’. Ordered to raise two regiments of mounted infantry for the protection of Rhodesia and Bechuanaland, Baden-Powell withdrew one of them into the strategically insignificant town of Mafeking, and was ...

Why read Clausewitz when Shock and Awe can make a clean sweep of things?

Andrew Bacevich: The Rumsfeld Doctrine, 8 June 2006

Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq 
by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor.
Atlantic, 603 pp., £25, March 2006, 1 84354 352 4
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... handiwork. To that effort, this very fine book makes an important contribution. A decade ago, Michael Gordon, a reporter with the New York Times, and Bernard Trainor, a retired US Marine Corps lieutenant general, collaborated on The Generals’ War, still perhaps the best narrative history of the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91. Cobra II, a worthy ...

Cynical Realism

Randall Kennedy: Supreme Court Biases, 21 January 2021

... dissent, the senior justice in the majority does the assigning. The current chief justice is John Roberts, who was nominated in 2005 by George W. Bush. Clarence Thomas, the most senior associate justice, was nominated in 1991 by George H.W. Bush. Stephen Breyer was nominated in 1994 by Bill Clinton, Samuel Alito in 2005 by George W. Bush, and Sonia ...

Short Cuts

James Meek: Anglospheroids, 21 March 2013

... his 2006 book A History of the English-Speaking Peoples since 1900, the British historian Andrew Roberts writes: ‘Just as in science fiction people are able to live on through cryogenic freezing after their bodies die, so British post-imperial greatness has been preserved and fostered through its incorporation into the American world-historical ...

Paupers and Richlings

Benjamin Kunkel: Piketty’s ‘Capital’, 3 July 2014

Capital in the 21st Century 
by Thomas Piketty, translated by Arthur Goldhammer.
Harvard, 696 pp., £29.95, March 2014, 978 0 674 43000 6
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... claims on profits without necessarily corresponding to a proportionate increase in total profits. (Michael Roberts finds that after the early 1960s the rate of profit ‘reached a low in 1975 and then rose to a peak in the mid-1990s. Since then, the world rate of profit has been static or slightly falling and has not returned to its peak of the ...

Hot Dogs

Malcolm Bull, 14 June 1990

Mine eyes have seen the glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America 
by Randall Balmer.
Oxford, 246 pp., $19.95, September 1989, 0 19 505117 3
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In God’s Country: Travels in the Bible Belt, USA 
by Douglas Kennedy.
Unwin Hyman, 240 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 0 04 440423 9
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The Divine Supermarket 
by Malise Ruthven.
Chatto, 336 pp., £14.95, August 1989, 0 7011 3151 9
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The Democratisation of American Christianity 
by Nathan Hatch.
Yale, 312 pp., £22.50, November 1989, 0 300 44470 2
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Religion and 20th-Century American Intellectual Life 
edited by Michael Lacey.
Cambridge/Woodrow Wilson Centre for Scholars, 214 pp., £27.50, November 1989, 0 521 37560 6
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New Religions and the Theological Imagination in America 
by Mary Farrell Bednarowski.
Indiana, 175 pp., $25, November 1989, 0 253 31137 3
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... for cases like that of the Manhattan life-insurance saleswoman who sent donations to Oral Roberts, a preacher who raised millions of dollars by proclaiming that God would ‘call him home’ if he did not receive the money. Balmer, who hopes to explain as well as entertain, sometimes plays down the strangeness of his subjects by emphasising the ...

Small America

Michael Peel: A report from Liberia, 7 August 2003

... oppressors. Outside the Centennial Pavilion, there is a monument in which large statues of J.J. Roberts, the first President, and William Tubman, head of state from 1944 to 1971, face one another beside an inscription listing the country’s Americo-Liberian leaders under the portentous heading: ‘These men have governed Liberia.’ The 19th-century ...

The Hijackers

Hugh Roberts: What will happen to Syria?, 16 July 2015

From Deep State to Islamic State: The Arab Counter-Revolution and Its Jihadi Legacy 
by Jean-Pierre Filiu.
Hurst, 328 pp., £15.99, July 2015, 978 1 84904 546 9
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Syrian Notebooks: Inside the Homs Uprising 
by Jonathan Littell.
Verso, 246 pp., £12.99, April 2015, 978 1 78168 824 3
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The Rise of Islamic State: Isis and the New Sunni Revolution 
by Patrick Cockburn.
Verso, 192 pp., £9.99, January 2015, 978 1 78478 040 1
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Isis: Inside the Army of Terror 
by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan.
Regan Arts, 288 pp., £12.99, February 2015, 978 1 941393 57 4
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... policy in Iraq and Syria and an unsparing analysis of Shia politics in Baghdad. In their book Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan lean much further towards Filiu’s thesis, that the rise of IS can be blamed in large part on the Assad regime, and they devote a chapter to the dealings between the Syrian intelligence services and Sunni jihadi groups in Iraq. I ...
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 ...

A Plumless Pudding

John Sutherland: The Great John Murray Archive Disaster, 18 March 2004

... what the firm itself sold for on the open market. On the face of it, the valuation is astounding. Michael Bott, currently in charge of ” the Reading collection, said that he first thought a decimal point had gone missing. And if the Murray archive is worth those many millions, how much is the (firmly closed) Aladdin’s cave, the Faber ...

My Old, Sweet, Darling Mob

Iain Sinclair: Michael Moorcock, 30 November 2000

King of the City 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 421 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 684 86140 2
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Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 496 pp., £6.99, May 2000, 0 684 86141 0
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... had been got up to look like a charity case, or a Wanted poster. Dead or alive. ‘Vote Michael Moorcock’, it said. ‘King of the City’. King of the City, a hefty London novel, character-packed, busy with competing narratives (confessing, denouncing, celebrating, plea-bargaining for its own sanity), was being punted by its publicists as ‘the ...

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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... In a speech given early last month, Michael Howard shared his thoughts on education with the Welsh Conservative Party Conference in Cardiff. He was mainly concerned with the problem of discipline. ‘Guess which class children are most likely to misbehave in?’ The answer turned out to be Citizenship. And which subject would best teach children ‘respect for authority and the importance of discipline in school’? History ...

Bus Lane Strategy

Tristram Hunt: London Governments, 31 October 2002

Governing London 
by Ben Pimlott and Nirmala Rao.
Oxford, 208 pp., £15.99, May 2002, 0 19 924492 8
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... without local authorities and we want to avoid that by all means in this country,’ Alderman Roberts of Grantham was moved to remark in 1946. As John Davis concluded in the Cambridge Urban History of Britain (2000), the second half of the 20th century saw local authorities reduced to ‘agents of the central welfare state, their incapacity off-set by ...

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