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The First Hundred Years

James Buchan, 24 August 1995

John Buchan: The Presbyterian Cavalier 
by Andrew Lownie.
Constable, 365 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 09 472500 4
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... of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life. Of the great and extensive interests of the country he is altogether incapable of judging.’ Anyone who has dined recently with ...

Esprit de Corps

Roy Porter, 21 January 1988

Granville Sharp Pattison: Anatomist and Antagonist 1791-1851 
by F.L.M. Pattison.
Canongate, 284 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 86241 077 0
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Death, Dissection and the Destitute 
by Ruth Richardson.
Routledge, 426 pp., £19.95, January 1988, 0 7102 0919 3
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... Can any profession be more altruistic and noble than medicine? It comes as rather a scandalous suggestion that doctors may themselves be sick. Not just overworked and exhausted, and statistically liable to alcoholism, drug-dependence and suicide: but actually deficient in their psychological make-up. This shocking possibility has recently been floated by Glin Bennet, who argues that medicine holds special attractions for those suffering from flawed personalities ...

Truly Terrifying Things

Walter Nash, 10 January 1991

51 Soko: To the Islands on the Other Side of the World 
by Michael Westlake.
Polygon, 258 pp., £8.95, September 1990, 0 7486 6085 2
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Behind the Waterfall 
by Chinatsy Nakayama.
Virago, 213 pp., £12.99, November 1990, 1 85381 269 2
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Dirty Faxes, and Other Stories 
by Andrew Davies.
Methuen, 243 pp., £13.99, October 1990, 0 413 63270 9
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... our British heroines was saying just that, and her henchfolk were proving her right, while I read Andrew Davies’s Dirty Faxes, a collection of short stories. This conjunction of blue politics and black fiction made such an impression on me as to bring frequently to mind the King of Brobdingnag’s strictures on the character of the British: ‘I cannot but ...

Diary

Ian Aitken: Party Fairy-Tales, 22 March 1990

... came to mind some weeks ago when most of the newspapers were full of the libel action between Andrew Neil of the Sunday Times and Peregrine Worsthorne of the Sunday Telegraph. It came to be widely accepted that this trial represented a clash between an Old Britain personified by Mr Worsthorne and a New Britain exemplified by the man Private Eye calls ...

Triumph of the Termites

Tom Nairn: Gordon Brown, 8 April 2010

The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Viking, 802 pp., £25, March 2010, 978 0 670 91851 5
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What Went Wrong, Gordon Brown?: How the Dream Job Turned Sour 
edited by Colin Hughes.
Guardian, 294 pp., £8.99, January 2010, 978 0 85265 219 0
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Broonland: The Last Days of Gordon Brown 
by Christopher Harvie.
Verso, 206 pp., £8.99, February 2010, 978 1 84467 439 8
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... and Alistair Darling flee London as Parliament quakes against the background of a setting sun. Andrew Rawnsley’s The End of the Party is less dramatic: we see Brown, Mandelson and Blair in a morning-after sprawl; Brown’s big toe sticks out of his sock. The Guardian compilation reminds readers how high expectations were when Brown took ...

A Kind of Gnawing Offness

David Haglund: Tao Lin, 21 October 2010

Richard Yates 
by Tao Lin.
Melville House, 206 pp., £10.99, October 2010, 978 1 935554 15 8
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... story begins. A similar atmosphere hangs over Eeeee Eee Eeee. It’s the story, such as it is, of Andrew, recently graduated from college in New York and living again with his parents in Florida, delivering pizzas for Domino’s. He hangs out with his friends, thinking about his time in New York and his ex-girlfriend there. Occasionally a dolphin or a bear or ...

Private Thomas

Andrew Motion, 19 December 1985

Edward Thomas: A Portrait 
by R. George Thomas.
Oxford, 331 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 19 818527 8
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... he had fallen in love with Helen, the daughter of his mentor the journalist James Ashcroft Noble. Thomas’s devotion to Helen was fuelled by his wish for independence from his family, and by his hopes of cutting a dash with his contemporaries, but it rapidly brought him responsibilities of a more constricting kind. Although he and Helen campaigned for ...

Data Guy

Andrew Berry: Almost like a Whale by Steve Jones, 3 February 2000

Almost like a Whale: ‘The Origin of Species’ Updated 
by Steve Jones.
Doubleday, 402 pp., £20, September 1999, 0 385 40985 0
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... example of the heights to which his’ – Jones’s – ‘style can rise’. Jones did the noble thing and wrote in sheepishly to point out that part of the quoted paragraph was Darwin. Its awkward Jones-cum-Darwin aspects notwithstanding, Almost like a Whale provides a fine overview of modern evolutionary biology. Even so, I wish that Jones had ...

Me First

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 March 1996

Peter York’s Eighties 
by Peter York and Charles Jennings.
BBC, 192 pp., £12.99, January 1996, 0 563 37191 9
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... vigour that I made my way to the Jobcentre a few days on, where they hired me themselves, in the noble position of clerical assistant. I was to sit at the front desk, giving out information to ex-miners and steel-workers, to people looking for any sort of job. They were men in their forties and fifties, girls and boys like me just out of school, women ...

A Hell of a Spot

Andrew Bacevich: Eisenhower and Suez, 16 June 2011

Eisenhower 1956: The President’s Year of Crisis: Suez and the Brink of War 
by David Nichols.
Simon and Schuster, 346 pp., £21, March 2011, 978 1 4391 3933 2
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... another law for the strong; one law for those opposing us, another for those allied with us’ – noble sentiments that had not stayed Eisenhower’s hand when dealing with matters in Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam and elsewhere. With the Kremlin blustering about rocket attacks – ‘the Arabs will not stand alone,’ Khrushchev vowed – the world seemed to be ...

I want my wings

Andrew O’Hagan: The Last Tycoons, 3 March 2016

West of Eden: An American Place 
by Jean Stein.
Cape, 334 pp., £20, February 2016, 978 0 224 10246 9
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... supposed to have the life she has had. Her mother and father wanted her to marry somebody from a noble family. ‘It was like a Henry James novel set in Hollywood,’ Stein writes. But the 1950s showed a lot of people, Stein included, how to ask questions that had never been asked before. And that became something of a programme in that next decade, when a ...

Flossing

Andrew O’Hagan: Pukey poetry anthologies, 4 November 2004

Poems to Last a Lifetime 
edited by Daisy Goodwin.
HarperCollins, 308 pp., £18.99, October 2004, 0 00 717707 0
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All the Poems You Need to Say I Do 
edited by Peter Forbes.
Picador, 197 pp., £10, October 2004, 0 330 43388 1
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... to people who would never ordinarily read a poem’. Naturally, one can see the point of this noble effort, and I hereby propose three cheers for the non-elitists. Goodwin’s new book, Poems to Last a Lifetime, has chapter headings like ‘Journey of Life’, ‘Missing You’, ‘Commitment Problems’, ‘Getting Older’ and ...

Brute Nature

Rosemary Dinnage, 6 March 1997

Masters of Bedlam: The Transformation of the Mad-Doctoring Trade 
by Andrew Scull, Charlotte Mackenzie and Nicholas Hervey.
Princeton, 363 pp., £23, February 1997, 0 691 03411 7
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... at something he finds hard to bear. The brief biographies of 19th-century alienists through which Andrew Scull, Charlotte MacKenzie and Nicholas Hervey tell the story of the century’s dealings with the mad make it clear that Morison’s haunted expression could have been that of any of the seven ‘mad-doctors’ described here. The first of them was born ...

Hinsley’s History

Noël Annan, 1 August 1985

Diplomacy and Intelligence during the Second World War: Essays in Honour of F.H. Hinsley 
edited by Richard Langhorne.
Cambridge, 329 pp., £27.50, May 1985, 0 521 26840 0
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British Intelligence and the Second World War. Vol. I: 1939-Summer 1941, Vol. II: Mid-1941-Mid-1943, Vol. III, Part I: June 1943-June 1944 
by F.H. Hinsley, E.E. Thomas, C.F.G. Ransom and R.C. Knight.
HMSO, 616 pp., £12.95, September 1979, 0 11 630933 4
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... Secret Service: Sir Francis Walsingham ran it for Elizabeth I.) Today the hounds are in pursuit of Andrew Gow, the Classical scholar and art collector who was Blunt’s mentor at Trinity. Gow, who had taught at Eton, devoted part of his life to editing Nicander, a didactic Greek poet who wrote poems on snake-bites, poisons and their remedies – there is ...

Plays for Puritans

Anne Barton, 18 December 1980

Puritanism and Theatre 
by Margot Heinemann.
Cambridge, 300 pp., £12.50, March 1980, 0 521 22602 3
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John Webster: Citizen and Dramatist 
by M.C. Bradbrook.
Weidenfeld, 205 pp., £10, October 1980, 0 297 77813 7
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... that Malvolio’s defects spring from his own hypocrisy and self-love. They are not, as Sir Andrew Aguecheek wants to believe, associated with a particular religious and political alignment in Elizabethan England. Maria’s scrupulousness here about an easy misuse of the term ‘Puritan’ would seem to be Shakespeare’s own. Although critics often ...

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