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Momentous Conjuncture

Geoffrey Best: Dracula in Churchill’s toyshop, 18 March 2004

Prof: The Life of Frederick Lindemann 
by Adrian Fort.
Cape, 374 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 224 06317 0
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... World War on the winning side should count ‘the Prof’ as one of those who helped win it. Adrian Fort, in his good-natured but shrewd biography, comes down on that side of the argument, and so do I. But it was touch and go at times. The momentous conjuncture of Churchill with Lindemann did not occur until both were in their middle age. Lindemann ...

Musical Chairs with Ribbentrop

Bee Wilson: Nancy Astor, 20 December 2012

Nancy: The Story of Lady Astor 
by Adrian Fort.
Cape, 378 pp., £25, October 2012, 978 0 224 09016 2
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... instead a deep hatred and suspicion of the Russians on the one hand and the French on the other. Adrian Fort, in his new biography, argues persuasively that ‘on European matters a paramount influence upon Nancy seemed to be an aversion to the French’ and to ‘Latins in general’. As for the idea that she was organising conspiracies at ...

Rite of Corruption

James Wood: Emma Donoghue’s ‘Room’, 21 October 2010

by Emma Donoghue.
Picador, 321 pp., £12.99, July 2010, 978 0 330 51901 4
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... pages in this book run along a very flat pavement: While Bath is running, Ma gets Labyrinth and Fort down from on top of Wardrobe. We’ve been making Labyrinth since I was two, she’s all toilet roll insides taped together in tunnels that twist lots of ways. Bouncy Ball loves to get lost in Labyrinth and hide, I have to call out to him and shake her and ...

Do put down that revolver

Rosemary Hill, 14 July 2016

The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House between the Wars 
by Adrian Tinniswood.
Cape, 406 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 0 224 09945 5
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... connotations. When Edward Prince of Wales asked his father, George V, if he could have the use of Fort Belvedere at Windsor the king was surprised: ‘What could you possibly want that queer old place for? Those damn week-ends I suppose.’ He caved in and perhaps regretted it, for the weekends with their associated guests and amusements made possible the ...

i could’ve sold to russia or china

Jeremy Harding: Bradley Manning, 19 July 2012

The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story of the Suspect Behind the Largest Security Breach in US History 
by Chase Madar.
OR, 167 pp., £10, April 2012, 978 1 935928 53 9
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... who has spent two years in detention, first at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia and now in Fort Leavenworth, is charged under the Espionage Act and also with ‘aiding the enemy’. At his work station in a prefab intelligence building in Iraq, Manning came rapidly to feel that secrecy was a blight on everything he valued. Above all, that it set the ...


Ian Sansom, 17 July 1997

W.H. Auden: Prose 1926-38, Essays and Reviews and Travel Books in Prose and Verse 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Faber, 836 pp., £40, March 1997, 0 571 17899 5
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... lights must never go out, The music must always play, All the conventions conspire To make this fort assume The furniture of home; Lest we should see where we are, Lost in a haunted wood, Children afraid of the night Who have never been happy or good. In places the language has been worn smooth: the alternative of ‘not to ... but to’ rubbed down to the ...

Something Rather Scandalous

Jean McNicol: The Loves of Rupert Brooke, 20 October 2016

Rupert Brooke: Life, Death and Myth 
by Nigel Jones.
Head of Zeus, 588 pp., £12, April 2015, 978 1 78185 703 8
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Fatal Glamour: The Life of Rupert Brooke 
by Paul Delany.
McGill-Queen’s, 380 pp., £28.99, March 2015, 978 0 7735 4557 1
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The Second I Saw You: The True Love Story of Rupert Brooke and Phyllis Gardner 
by Lorna C. Beckett.
British Library, 216 pp., £16.99, April 2015, 978 0 7123 5792 0
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... Greek, had been carried away by the Homeric echoes of their journey: ‘Do you think perhaps the fort on the Asiatic corner will need quelling,’ Brooke had written, ‘and we’ll land and come at it from behind and they’ll make a sortie and meet us on the plains of Troy?’ They were primed to see Brooke’s death at this time, in this place, in those ...

Lost in the Void

Jonathan Littell: In Ciudad Juárez, 7 June 2012

... that could hold up to a thousand people each, and on the weekends they were full; soldiers from Fort Bliss in El Paso would cross over in droves. Now that’s all over. In 2005, a vast ‘renovation’ programme began and most of the historic bars were torn down. Then the money dried up and Calderón’s war started, so now a few brightly painted bars stand ...

No Mythology, No Ghosts

Owen Hatherley: Second City?, 3 November 2022

Second City: Birmingham and the Forging of Modern Britain 
by Richard Vinen.
Allen Lane, 545 pp., £25, September 2022, 978 0 241 45453 4
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... sometimes perplexed as to why Birmingham had been settled in the first place’. It had no fort, no castle, no major river, no cathedral. Until the 18th century it was overshadowed in size, wealth and importance by nearby places such as Coventry, Lichfield and Worcester. Ideally, a second city should present an alternative to the centre, a different ...

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