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Higher Man

John Sutherland, 22 May 1997

The Turner Diaries 
by ‘Andrew Macdonald’.
National Vauguard Books, 211 pp., $12.95, May 1978, 0 937944 02 5
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... The authorities are always interested in the assassin’s bookshelf. The Israeli police were quick to release the fact that Yigal Amir had a copy of The Day of the Jackal. Before Theodore Kaczynski, the likely ‘Unabomber’, had even been charged, the press had announced that one of his noms de guerre was ‘Conrad’ (the nom de plume of Teodor Korzeniowski) and that there was a copy of The Secret Agent on his bookshelf ...

White Power

Thomas Meaney, 1 August 2019

Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America 
by Kathleen Belew.
Harvard, 330 pp., £23.95, April 2018, 978 0 674 28607 8
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Revolutionaries for the Right Anti-Communist Internationalism and Paramilitary Warfare in the Cold War 
by Kyle Burke.
North Carolina, 337 pp., June 2018, 978 1 4696 4073 0
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... In the spring​ of 1975, as America’s war in Vietnam drew to its grim conclusion, a new magazine targeted readers who did not want it to end. Soldier of Fortune was founded by Robert K. Brown, a former Green Beret based in Boulder, Colorado, who made the profitable discovery that his publication could double as an employment agency for mercenaries and a weaponry catalogue ...

Who’s sorry now?

Andrew O’Hagan: Michael Finkel gets lucky, 2 June 2005

True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa 
by Michael Finkel.
Chatto, 312 pp., £15.99, May 2005, 0 7011 7688 1
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Burning Down My Master’s House 
by Jayson Blair.
New Millennium, 288 pp., $24.95, March 2004, 9781932407266
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The Journalist and the Murderer 
by Janet Malcolm.
Granta, 163 pp., £8.99, January 2004, 1 86207 637 5
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... Perhaps we have to thank Watergate, even Deep Throat himself, that sussurating, parking-lot ghoul, for planting us in a world where the shriek of actuality has given way to the soft lilt of fiction. To me there is a stylistic link between that great moment for the Washington Post and the paper’s worst moment, in September 1980, when they ran a report by Janet Cooke that had everyone talking ...

Diary

Ian Aitken: Party Fairy-Tales, 22 March 1990

... My first paid job after leaving Oxford with what we used to call a ‘good’ second (did you ever meet anyone who got a ‘bad’ second?) was as a research assistant at the London School of Economics. My duty was to seek out suitable material for inclusion in a volume of documents illustrating the development of Labour Party policy from 1900 to 1945 ...

The Obdurate Knoll

Colin Kidd: The Obdurate Knoll, 1 December 2011

Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan 
by Jeff Greenfield.
Putnam, 434 pp., £20.25, March 2011, 978 0 399 15706 6
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11.22.63 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 740 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 4447 2729 6
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... The cultural consequences of 22 November 1963 are far more interesting than the events of the day itself. Historians like me tend not to find much of interest in the killing of one person by another, especially when the killer seems to have been a dysfunctional misfit. Of course, the assassination had puzzling aspects: Lee Harvey Oswald’s lengthy stay in the Soviet Union during some of the hottest years of the Cold War; the unlikely trajectory of one of the three bullets fired from the Texas School Book Depository, the ‘magic bullet’ which passed through the president’s neck and then through the body of the Texas governor, John Connally; and Oswald’s own murder while in police custody at the hands of Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner ...

Hoist that dollymop’s sail

John Sutherland: New Victorian Novels, 31 October 2002

Fingersmith 
by Sarah Waters.
Virago, 549 pp., £12.99, February 2002, 1 86049 882 5
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The Crimson Petal and the White 
by Michel Faber.
Canongate, 838 pp., £17.99, October 2002, 1 84195 323 7
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... Have you ever tried to write a Victorian novel? Here’s a beginning, with apologies to Sarah Waters and Michel Faber (and a nod to George MacDonald Fraser): London, 1860. November. A pea-souper billowing up from the flotsam bobbing in the Thames. The gas lamps already blearing. Good things of day begin to drowse. The rookeries are emptying, and their birds of prey making wing to the West End ...

Toshie Trashed

Gavin Stamp: The Glasgow School of Art Fire, 19 June 2014

... The Scott Street exterior of the west wing of Glasgow School of Art in 1933. I had​ the daily pleasure of seeing the west wing of the Glasgow School of Art, with its castle-like stonework and triple tall oriels rising dramatically from the steep slope of Scott Street, when, for more than a decade, I taught architectural history at the Mackintosh School of Architecture ...

What’s the point of HS2?

Christian Wolmar, 17 April 2014

... Mohammed Salique​ owns a restaurant called Diwana in Drummond Street, which runs west from the side of Euston station. Diwana, which opened in 1970, claims that it was the first restaurant in Britain to serve South Indian vegetarian food. It wasn’t the first Asian food outlet in the street: Ambala, now a chain of shops selling Indian sweets, opened in 1965, catering to the immigrants from India and Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) who had started moving into the Victorian terraces in the area ...

Glaswegians

Andrew O’Hagan, 11 May 1995

... The man from the Corporation was fixing the bin-cupboard by the front door; trying, I think, to rip out the hinges and put in new ones. He kept going on about Rangers and Celtic to a joiner working at the next house along. I could hear their voices from upstairs, where I sat by the fire chewing a corner of the old, purple candlewick that covered my mother’s bed ...

Keynesian International

David Marquand, 5 July 1984

Controlling the Economic Future: Policy Dilemmas in a Shrinking World 
by Michael Stewart.
Harvester, 192 pp., £18.95, November 1983, 0 7108 0182 3
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In Defence of the Mixed Economy 
by Andrew Shonfield, edited by Zuzanna Shonfield.
Oxford, 231 pp., £15, February 1984, 0 19 215359 5
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The Welfare State in Crisis: Social Thought and Social Change 
by Ramesh Mishra.
Harvester, 208 pp., £15.95, December 1983, 0 7108 0240 4
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... As the name they gave their subject implied, the great political economists of the 19th century knew that the economy cannot be studied fruitfully in isolation from the polity. The notion that there is, or should be, a distinct and autonomous discipline of ‘economics’, whose practitioners are solely concerned with economic relationships, and for whom the corresponding political relationships are professionally irrelevant, would have seemed to them absurd, even shocking ...

The Reviewer’s Song

Andrew O’Hagan: Mailer’s Last Punch, 7 November 2013

Norman Mailer: A Double Life 
by J. Michael Lennon.
Simon and Schuster, 947 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84737 672 5
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... Let me issue a warning. This is not a review. And it isn’t a memoir either: it’s a memoir-as-review, or perhaps an autobiographical review, or just a moderate piece of literary egotism masquerading as scholarship, or a shotgun marriage between the handsome remnants of personal history and the pretty stuff on the public record. Let’s take the spirit of J ...

Will We Care When Labour Loses?

Ross McKibbin: Gordon Brown’s Failures, 26 March 2009

... Where do we go from here? It’s pretty clear that Gordon Brown doesn’t know and that Alistair Darling and the other members of the cabinet don’t either. Nor, it seems, does anyone else. It was much easier to predict that something nasty was going to happen than it is to know now when and how the nastiness will end. You had only to cast an eye over four financial indexes – current account, corporate debt, personal debt, house prices – to know that something bad was around the corner ...

All Together Now

John Lloyd: The British Trade Union, 19 October 2000

British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics. Vol. I: The Postwar Compromise, 1945-64 
edited by John McIlroy and Nina Fishman et al.
Ashgate, 335 pp., £35, January 2000, 0 7546 0018 1
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British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics. Vol. II: The High Tide of Trade Unionism, 1964-79 
edited by John McIlroy and Nina Fishman et al.
Ashgate, 389 pp., £35, January 2000, 0 7546 0018 1
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The TUC: From the General Strike to New Unionism 
by Robert Taylor.
Palgrave, 299 pp., £45, September 2000, 0 333 93066 5
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... Two days after May Day, the festival of labour, a story appeared on the front page of the Financial Times under the typically downbeat headline: ‘Work permit shake-up targets skill gap.’ It told of the Government’s introduction of a permit system which would allow rapid entry into the UK for foreign professionals and highly skilled technicians – doctors, nurses, software engineers, information technologists and others ...

Keepers

Andrew Scull, 29 September 1988

Mind Forg’d Manacles: A History of Madness in England from the Restoration to the Regency 
by Roy Porter.
Athlone, 412 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 485 11324 4
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The Past and the Present Revisited 
by Lawrence Stone.
Routledge, 440 pp., £19.95, October 1987, 0 7102 1253 4
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Sufferers and Healers: The Experience of Illness in 17th-Century England 
by Lucinda McCray Beier.
Routledge, 314 pp., £30, December 1987, 0 7102 1053 1
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Illness and Self in Society 
by Claudine Herzlich and Janine Pierret, translated by Elborg Forster.
Johns Hopkins, 271 pp., £20.25, January 1988, 0 8018 3228 4
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Medicine and Society in Wakefield and Huddersfield 1780-1870 
by Hilary Marland.
Cambridge, 503 pp., £40, September 1987, 0 521 32575 7
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A Social History of Madness: Stories of the Insane 
by Roy Porter.
Weidenfeld, 261 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 297 79223 7
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... For nearly two centuries now, the treatment of the mad in Georgian England has been almost uniformly portrayed in the darkest hues. Nineteenth-century lunacy reformers pictured the preceding age as mired in ignorance and cruelty, conjuring up indelible images of monstrous madhouse-keepers beating their patients into submission, chaining them up like wild beasts in foul holding-pens filled with shit, straw and stench; of the callous, jeering crowd – urban sophisticates and country bumpkins alike – thronging to Bedlam in their thousands to view the splendid entertainment offered by the spectacle of the raging and raving mad ...

Sisterhoods

Brian Harrison, 6 December 1984

Significant Sisters: The Grassroots of Active Feminism 1839-1939 
by Margaret Forster.
Secker, 353 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 436 16113 3
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Stepping Stones to Women’s Liberty: Feminist Ideas in the Women’s Movement 1900-1918 
by Les Garner.
Gower, 142 pp., £15, July 1984, 0 435 32357 1
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Women First: The Female Tradition in English Physical Education 1880-1980 
by Sheila Fletcher.
Athlone, 194 pp., £18, July 1984, 0 485 11248 5
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A Woman’s Place: An Oral History of Working-Class Women 1890-1940 
by Elizabeth Roberts.
Blackwell, 246 pp., £14.95, September 1984, 0 631 13572 3
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... It is already beginning to look as though 1979 marked a political and intellectual shift in Britain comparable with 1886, 1906, 1922, 1945 and 1964. For Mrs Thatcher’s electoral victory consolidated an intellectual shift towards conservatism that has penetrated into almost every corner of British society since the mid-1970s. Feminism, always linked to the fortunes of the Left and always vulnerable in the face of unemployment, has not been exempt, and we now seem to be living through one of the movement’s periodic pauses for breath during its long history ...

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