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How Tudjman won the war

Misha Glenny, 4 January 1996

The Death of Yugoslavia 
by Allan Little and Laura Silber.
Penguin, 400 pp., £6.99, September 1995, 0 14 024904 4
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... room at the headquarters of the US Army’s First Armoured Division in Bad Kreuznach, a charming little spa town in Rheinland Pfalz. Considered one of the toughest and most effective branches of the American military, the ‘Old Ironsides’ excelled itself in the deserts of Kuwait. Yet from Major-General William Nash, the commanding officer, down through ...

The Railway Hobby

Ian Jack, 7 January 2021

... On​ a wet and windy Saturday in October a few regulars of the Ian Allan Book and Model Shop gathered inside the premises for the last time. The shop – on Lower Marsh, behind Waterloo Station – would soon be a memory, like many things to do with the railway hobby. One or two customers chatted to the soon to be redundant staff ...

Pistols in His Petticoats

Neal Ascherson: The Celebrated Miss Flora, 15 December 2022

Pretty Young Rebel: The Life of Flora MacDonald 
by Flora Fraser.
Bloomsbury, 285 pp., £25, September 2022, 978 1 4088 7982 5
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... pouring rain on the Isle of Skye, James Boswell and Samuel Johnson found a welcome in the house of Allan MacDonald at Kingsburgh. Dr Johnson had developed a nasty cold; Boswell was wet and thirsty and delighted to get indoors. ‘There was a comfortable parlour,’ he wrote in his journal in the autumn of 1773, ‘with a good fire, and a dram of admirable ...

Cookson County

Rosalind Mitchison, 27 June 1991

The Hanging Tree 
by Allan Massie.
Heinemann, 346 pp., £13.99, November 1990, 0 434 45301 3
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Tiberius: The Memoirs of the Emperor 
by Allan Massie.
Hodder, 256 pp., £13.95, January 1991, 0 340 48788 7
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The Gillyflors 
by Catherine Cookson.
Bantam, 366 pp., £13.99, October 1990, 0 593 01726 9
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... for history in Northanger Abbey. Historical fiction does something to redress the gender bias, but little to improve the moral quality of the male personalities. It wouldn’t make for a good story if it did. But those wanting to read fiction are unlikely to want to do so to evaluate morals. They want to enter into ‘the willing suspension of ...

A History

Allan Massie, 19 February 1981

The Kennaway Papers 
by James Kennaway and Susan Kennaway.
Cape, 141 pp., £5.50, January 1981, 0 224 01865 5
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... and yet defiantly ironic, as he views the rich boys, who have everything and understand so little. A good starting-point, then, for any consideration of Kennaway is this realisation that he was the same type of novelist (and had something of the same order of talent) as the Old Firm, writers whose self-conscious dandy persona pervades their work, who ...

Pretty Letters

Megan Marshall: The Death of Edgar Allan Poe, 21 February 2008

Poe: A Life Cut Short 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 170 pp., £15.99, February 2008, 978 0 7011 6988 6
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... novelistic tricks of flashback and flash-forward to elude that soporific ‘and then’? So, it is little surprise to find the prolific genre-bender Peter Ackroyd beginning his brief biography of Edgar Allan Poe with a recounting of his subject’s final days. Never mind that Paul Strathern’s recent biographical study, Poe ...


John Upton: George Carman, 9 May 2002

No Ordinary Man: A Life of George Carman 
by Dominic Carman.
Hodder, 331 pp., £18.99, January 2002, 0 340 82098 5
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... depending on who they are speaking to – from mockney when talking to clients in the cell to Little Lord Fauntleroy’s posher cousin when addressing the judge. We learn also about Carman’s pressurised working arrangements: how he would return from a heavy drinking session to begin preparing for an important cross-examination, or even call in at his ...

Poe’s Woes

Julian Symons, 23 April 1992

Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-Ending Remembrance 
by Kenneth Silverman.
Weidenfeld, 564 pp., £25, March 1992, 9780297812531
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... case against Edgar A. Poe looks a strong one. Taken in by the Richmond tobacco broker John Allan when left orphaned at the age of two by the death of his actress mother Eliza, brought up as a member of the family and sent to the University of Virginia, he responded by running up gambling debts and drinking, so that he left after a year. Abandonment ...

Persons outside the Law

Catherine Hall: The Atlantic Family, 19 July 2018

Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833 
by Daniel Livesay.
North Carolina, 448 pp., £45, January 2018, 978 1 4696 3443 2
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... Indies. The family had been Jacobites and urgently needed to repair their finances. His father, Allan, had failed to make a fortune in the East Indies and William knew he had to make good. They had kin on his mother’s side, Frasers, living in Berbice in Dutch Guyana, and so the West Indies seemed the next best possibility. He was appointed as an overseer ...

Walking backward

Robert Taubman, 21 August 1980

Selected Works of Djuna Barnes 
Faber, 366 pp., £5.50, July 1980, 0 571 11579 9Show More
Black Venus’s Tale 
by Angela Carter.
Next Editions/Faber, 35 pp., £1.95, June 1980, 9780907147022
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The Last Peacock 
by Allan Massie.
Bodley Head, 185 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 370 30261 3
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The Birds of the Air 
by Alice Thomas Ellis.
Duckworth, 152 pp., £6.95, July 1980, 0 7156 1491 6
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... all the view happens to include. What matters is the truthfulness of what it does show, and Allan Massie is strikingly detached and truthful, leaving it to the reader to observe and judge. Not that this means that in a literal sense he tells the truth about the Scottish landed classes. His subject is a way of life with very ...

Thom Gunn in New York

Michael Nott, 22 October 2020

... It took its cue from Shaw’s, also on 3rd, which according to one former patron, was ‘a narrow little bar that gave you the feeling you were inside a bus … You would come in the front door and the bar was full of filthy, dirty, scuzzy paraphernalia hanging from the ceilings.’ On that 1956 trip, while his partner Mike Kitay visited his parents in New ...

Two Ships

Andrew O’Hagan, 6 March 1997

... crossing could be rough. But the Montrose gained the reputation of being a worthy and serviceable little vessel: well run, trusty and as comfortable and quick as you’d get for the money. The passengers could pace the decks without fear of assault or disease (not as new a feature of the crossing as you might expect). Not long after it was bought over by ...

Happily ever after

M.F. Burnyeat, 23 July 1992

The End of History and the Last Man 
by Francis Fukuyama.
Hamish Hamilton, 418 pp., £20, March 1992, 0 241 13013 1
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... for a satisfied philosopher, once the quest for a full understanding of human nature is finished, little remains (apart from the odd bit of reviewing) but to present the true understanding in as clear and agreeable a form as possible. This is what Fukuyama has done. He quite properly makes no claim to originality. Besides Plato and Nietzsche, he draws on ...

Royal Anxiety

Gabriele Annan, 9 June 1994

The Queen 
by Kenneth Harris.
Weidenfeld, 341 pp., £20, April 1994, 0 297 81211 4
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Divine Right: The Inglorious Survival of British Royalty 
by Richard Tomlinson.
Little, Brown, 357 pp., £17.50, June 1994, 0 316 91119 4
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... My favourite recent book about the Queen is called The Queen’s Knickers by Nicholas Allan. It is a picture book for small children. The centre spread presents several rows of knickers for every royal occasion: Union Jack knickers for state visits, black knickers for state funerals, tartan for Balmoral, knickers printed all over with corgis for home, and appliquéd with real holly for Christmas, ‘which is why she keeps her Christmas message very short ...

Meg, Jo, Beth and Me

Elaine Showalter, 23 March 1995

Little Women 
directed by Gillian Armstrong.
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... Who would have thought it? Little Women is on the American bestseller list again, with the name ‘Winona Ryder’ over the title instead of Louisa May Alcott, as if she had written the book. But maybe Ryder deserves top billing, for pulling people into the movies to see Alcott’s March sisters updated for the Nineties ...

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