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Grotty Cecil

Simon Raven

1 July 1982
Dornford Yates: A Tragedy 
by A.J. Smithers.
Hodder, 240 pp., £8.95, March 1982, 0 340 27547 2
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... and a granite diehard, who seduced the public with his flashy and worthless stories in much the same way as child-molesters tempt eight-year-olds with gaily-coloured sweets. But now comes A.J.Smithers with his biography to explain with patience and good humour that the truth was far more temperate and far less entertaining. The picture which emerges from this carefully compounded book reminds me ...

Tankishness

Peter Wollen: Tank by Patrick Wright

16 November 2000
Tank: The Progress of a Monstrous War Machine 
by Patrick Wright.
Faber, 499 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 571 19259 9
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... The Holt proved unsuitable, but – by a great stroke of good luck – Commander Briggs, a Navy man, happened to go into ‘one of those foreign bookshops off Leicester Square’ from which, so A.J.Smithers tells us in A New Excalibur (1986), he came out with a copy of the Scientific American for 18 February 1911, ‘which contained details of a much longer machine designed for moving heavy loads of an ...

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