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Diary

E.P. Thompson: On the NHS, 7 May 1987

... Delhi in memory of Indira Gandhi. A little group of us flew out together, Air India, first class: Michael Foot, Jean Floud, William Radice, with Sir Richard Attenborough in pursuit. It was my pleasure to travel with my old friend and newly-minted Dame, Iris Murdoch. I’ve never travelled first before, and well! Cocktails, champagne, caviar, lobster ... Young ...
What is Love? Richard Carlile’s Philosophy of Sex 
edited by M.L. Bush.
Verso, 214 pp., £19, September 1998, 1 85984 851 6
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... but there is a promising cohort of liberationists among the period’s other radicals: William Thompson, Francis Place, George Petrie, Thomas Spence, Robert Owen and Richard Carlile. In his day, Carlile was no less celebrated as a political agitator, and as a polemical atheist, than he was as a sexual reformer: some such mix of activities was the rule for ...

Ethnic Cleansers

Stephen Smith, 8 October 1992

Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and its Aftermath 
by Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim.
Viking, 430 pp., £17.99, May 1992, 0 670 83233 2
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Tiger Balm: Travels in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia 
by Lucretia Stewart.
Chatto, 261 pp., £10.99, June 1992, 0 7011 3892 0
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... and its Metaphors’. In their attempt to answer the intractable ‘why’ of the massacre, Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim sense that the contributory factors they painstakingly assemble don’t quite amount to a reason, and reach for the viral theory. ‘Atrocity,’ they opine, ‘is like a virus known to strike soldiers in combat.’ Charlie Company of ...

Taking Flight

Thomas Jones: Blake Morrison, 7 September 2000

The Justification of Johann Gutenberg 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 259 pp., £14.99, August 2000, 0 7011 6965 6
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... endorse this: ‘The books here on my shelves have countless examples of similar behaviour.’When Michael Ryan murdered 14 people in Hungerford in 1987 (and then killed himself), the idea was put about that he’d been motivated by watching Rambo videos. That someone could, apparently without motive, massacre strangers on the streets of a Berkshire town was ...

Do what you wish, du Maurier

E.S. Turner, 31 March 1988

Maxwell 
by Joe Haines.
Macdonald, 525 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 356 17172 8
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Maxwell: The Outsider 
by Tom Bower.
Aurum, 374 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 948149 88 4
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Maxwell: A Portrait of Power 
by Peter Thompson and Anthony Delano.
Bantam, 256 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 593 01499 5
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Goodbye Fleet Street 
by Robert Edwards.
Cape, 260 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 224 02457 4
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... obstacle to his final ambition of success in America’ (where much harder questions are asked). Thompson and Delano, musing over ‘the secret cache in the Alps’, wonder if he has walled himself into Liechtenstein instead of walling others out. Bower’s book bears the mark of two foreign connections, having been ‘set in Hong Kong, printed in ...

Reach-Me-Down Romantic

Terry Eagleton: For and Against Orwell, 19 June 2003

George Orwell 
by Gordon Bowker.
Little, Brown, 495 pp., £20, May 2003, 0 316 86115 4
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Orwell: The Life 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 448 pp., £20, June 2003, 0 7011 6919 2
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Orwell: Life and Times 
by Scott Lucas.
Haus, 180 pp., £8.99, April 2003, 1 904341 33 0
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... executioners claim to believe in it too, any more than you find Morocco unpleasant just because Michael Portillo drops in on the place occasionally. In Orwell’s view, it was the Stalinist Left that had betrayed the common people, not democratic socialists like himself. Orwell first encountered Stalinism in the squalid betrayals ...

‘I love you, defiant witch!’

Michael Newton: Charles Williams, 8 September 2016

Charles Williams: The Third Inkling 
by Grevel Lindop.
Oxford, 493 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 0 19 928415 3
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... of poets – she and her husband, Wilfred Meynell, also nurtured the talent of the wayward Francis Thompson. Meynell found the meanings ‘crowded’ in Williams’s early poems; it’s a relief she was spared the later ones. With his taste for ritual and belonging, it’s something of a surprise that Williams didn’t join Meynell in the Catholic ...

Post-Nationalism

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 3 December 1992

English Questions 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 370 pp., £39.95, May 1992, 0 86091 375 9
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A Zone of Engagement 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 384 pp., £39.95, May 1992, 0 86091 377 5
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... of its ‘long national tradition’. Sentimentally, he now recalls, they offended patriots (E.P. Thompson especially). ‘Intellectually, they disturbed canonical Marxist opinion, as transmitted from Capital. Politically, they nettled the Labourism of reformists and the ouvriérisme of revolutionaries.’ In the beginning, they recovered two sets of ...

Hey, Mister, you want dirty book?

Edward Said: The CIA, 30 September 1999

Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War 
by Frances Stonor Saunders.
Granta, 509 pp., £20, July 1999, 1 86207 029 6
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... E.P. Thompson called it the ‘Natopolitan’ world: that is, not just Nato plus all the Cold War military and political institutions that were integral to it, but also a mentality whose web extended over a lot more activity and thought, even in the minds of individuals, than anyone at the time had suspected. Of course there were the revelations in the mid-Sixties about Encounter and the CIA, and later in the US and Britain a stream of disclosures about covert counter-insurgency in every form, from secretly underwritten academic research to assassinations and mass killings ...

What are we telling the nation?

David Edgar: Thoughts about the BBC, 7 July 2005

Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC 
by Georgina Born.
Vintage, 352 pp., £10.99, August 2005, 0 09 942893 8
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Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for a Digital World 
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... by the head of serials, Jonathan Powell, produced by the Birmingham regional drama head, Michael Wearing, and scheduled before Martin had finished the scripts. Third, as a result of its plural structure, the department had gained and kept its reputation as a producer-led, oppositional space, not just for Edge of Darkness, but for Alan Bleasdale’s ...

Tortoises with Zips

David Craig: The Snow Geese by William Fiennes, 4 April 2002

The Snow Geese 
by William Fiennes.
Picador, 250 pp., £14.99, March 2002, 0 330 37578 4
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... hobo, who talked at him continuously for the thousand miles from Winnipeg to Churchill via Thompson. The furnishings, food and remarkable happenings in Dally’s Diner on Logan Street, Aberdeen, South Dakota, as our hero waits for the snow geese to leave the prairie sloughs and sail northwards on a following wind. Fiennes is an observant traveller, and ...

Spying on Writers

Christian Lorentzen, 11 October 2018

... are snitches. What did the local liquor store owner in Woody Creek, Colorado, know about Hunter Thompson? The make of his car and that he was going to appear on the Today show. The main snitch in Ray Bradbury’s file was the actor and screenwriter Martin Berkeley, a former Communist Party member who gave around 160 names to the House Committee on ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: The Weiner Trilogy, 29 August 2013

... female and uncloseted homosexual mayor of Gotham; she’s also been tarred as an accomplice of Michael Bloomberg in rendering New York a city run by and for the rich. To her left, at least tactically, is public advocate Bill de Blasio, a veteran of Bill Clinton’s administration, who focuses on inequality; his script sounds like an awkward adaptation of ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation, 8 September 2016

... a few years later. Peter Orlovsky and Allen Ginsberg at the Hotel de Londres, Paris in 1957. Bob Thompson, ‘LeRoi Jones and his Family’ (1964) Brion Gysin, ‘Calligraphy’ (1960) Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs, Untitled (Primrose Path, the Third Mind, p.12, 1965) Ettore Sottsass, ‘Neal Cassady, Los Gatos, California’ (1962) Bernard ...

Missing Elements

Rosalind Mitchison, 14 May 1992

Strategic Women: How do they manage in Scotland? 
by Elizabeth Gerver and Lesley Hart.
Aberdeen University Press, 216 pp., £9.95, June 1991, 0 08 037741 6
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A Guid Cause: The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Scotland 
by Leah Leneman.
Aberdeen University Press, 304 pp., £11.95, June 1991, 0 08 041201 7
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Marriage and Property: Women and Marital Customs in History 
edited by Elizabeth Craik.
Aberdeen University Press, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1991, 9780080412054
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A Woman’s Claim of Right in Scotland 
Polygon, 142 pp., £7.95, August 1991, 0 7486 6103 4Show More
Nationalism in the Nineties 
edited by Tom Gallagher.
Polygon, 192 pp., £7.95, August 1991, 0 7486 6098 4
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Cultural Weapons: Scotland and Survival in a New Europe 
by Christopher Harvie.
Polygon, 119 pp., £7.95, March 1992, 0 7486 6122 0
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Literature and Nationalism 
edited by Vincent Newey and Ann Thompson.
Liverpool, 286 pp., £27.50, June 1991, 0 85323 057 9
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The Invention of Scotland: The Stuart Myth of the Scottish Identity, 1638 to the present 
by Murray Pittock.
Routledge, 198 pp., £30, September 1991, 0 415 05586 5
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Scotland: A New History 
by Michael Lynch.
Century, 499 pp., £18.99, August 1991, 0 7126 3413 4
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... of politics, where decision making is the main topic of study, continue to think in state units, Michael Lynch’s big single-volume history of Scotland must take the foreground for anyone who wishes to know about the country and its past. It is a distinguished achievement, covering from the earliest records to the present day the story of a country ...

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