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Jack and Leo

John Sutherland, 27 July 1989

The Letters of Jack London 
edited by Earle Labor, Robert Leitz and Milo Shepard.
Stanford, 1657 pp., $139.50, October 1988, 0 8047 1227 1
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Tolstoy 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 572 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 241 12190 6
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... in 1975. Just before his death, he had given encouragement to a British would-be biographer, Andrew Sinclair. On Irving’s death, Sinclair found himself dealing with Milo Shepard, whose policy with scholars, though notably less restrictive than his father’s and Charmian’s, has not been entirely open-handed – two recent biographers of ...

The Strange Case of Peter Vansittart

Martin Seymour-Smith, 6 March 1986

Aspects of Feeling 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 251 pp., £10.95, January 1986, 0 7206 0637 3
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... has been singled out for praise by critics as diverse as Philip Toynbee, Francis King, Angus Wilson and Andrew Sinclair. All feel that he lacks the large audience he deserves. Yet the curious reader, anxious to gain more information about this somewhat enigmatic writer, of undoubted power (and above all vision), may ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The ARRSE Guide’, 1 December 2011

... second, you should possibly grow a moustache and pretend you once had friends called ‘Tug’ Wilson, ‘Strangely’ Brown, ‘Spud’ Murphy and ‘Spider’ Webb. Lovely blokes, the lot of them. Diamond geezers. Never backwards at coming forwards. Credit to their ...

Raven’s Odyssey

D.A.N. Jones, 19 July 1984

Swallow 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 312 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 575 03446 7
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First Among Equals 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 446 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 340 35266 3
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Morning Star 
by Simon Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 264 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 9780856341380
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... author: the real people he describes may seem too predictable for credibility. For instance, Mary Wilson is welcoming guests at 10 Downing Street and immediately begins talking about the difficulty of getting poetry published. Well, she would, wouldn’t she? No, actually. An anecdote may help me here. When I was preparing in 1982 to review Simon Raven’s ...

In Memory of Eustache-Hyacinthe Langlois

Rosemary Hill: Where is Bohemia?, 6 March 2003

Bohemians: The Glamorous Outcasts 
by Elizabeth Wilson.
Tauris, 288 pp., £11.99, October 2002, 1 86064 782 0
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Quentin & Philip 
by Andrew Barrow.
Macmillan, 559 pp., £18.99, November 2002, 0 333 78051 5
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... There are maps both in Elizabeth Wilson’s book, which deals with bohemians in general, and in Andrew Barrow’s, which is a study of two in particular, but the street plans of Soho, Paris or Munich are not much use as a guide to the subject. Bohemia is a country of the mind, a flying island that may land anywhere and take off again just as quickly ...

Dummy and Biffy

Noël Annan, 17 October 1985

Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community 
by Christopher Andrew.
Heinemann, 616 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 02110 5
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The Secret Generation 
by John Gardner.
Heinemann, 453 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 434 28250 2
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Two Thyrds 
by Bertie Denham.
Ross Anderson Publications, 292 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 86360 006 9
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The Ultimate Enemy: British Intelligence and Nazi Germany 1933-1939 
by Wesley Wark.
Tauris, 304 pp., £19.50, October 1985, 1 85043 014 4
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... art being Guy Liddell. The development of this intelligence community is the theme of Christopher Andrew’s book, which contains the first reliable narrative history of the secret services from Victorian days to the present. Needless to say, he has received no encouragement from Whitehall, and former members of MI5 have been warned not to talk to him. As he ...

Mohocks

Liam McIlvanney: The House of Blackwood, 5 June 2003

The House of Blackwood: Author-Publisher Relations in the Victorian Era 
by David Finkelstein.
Pennsylvania State, 199 pp., £44.95, April 2002, 0 271 02179 9
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... to edit the Quarterly. But for the magazine’s first twenty-five years, its mainstay was John Wilson. As Christopher North, he wrote mountains of copy. Reviews, feature articles, verses, sentimental tales of peasant life, unsentimental tales of gothic horror: he churned the stuff out in heroic bouts of scribbling that tested his physical strength as much ...

The Thief and the Trousers

Owen Bennett-Jones: John Stonehouse disappears, 21 April 2022

Stonehouse: Cabinet Minister, Fraudster, Spy 
by Julian Hayes.
Robinson, 384 pp., £25, July 2021, 978 1 4721 4654 0
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John Stonehouse, My Father: The True Story of the Runaway MP 
by Julia Stonehouse.
Icon, 384 pp., £10.99, May, 978 1 78578 819 2
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... by a homosexual honeytrap on a trip to Prague. Instead of having Stonehouse prosecuted, Harold Wilson asked him to the Number Ten sitting room for a chat. The prime minister wasn’t inclined to believe the accusations. It turned out that Frolik had never actually met Stonehouse, and there was no evidence that Stonehouse was homosexual. In his ...

At the Design Museum

Andrew O’Hagan: Peter Saville, 19 June 2003

... of punk, the most interesting spot on the planet for anyone interested in rock music. Tony Wilson, a rock show host and frenetic gadabout who ran club nights in the city for unsigned bands, established Factory Records, which then released the work of Joy Division, New Order, A Certain Ratio, The Durutti Column and other new-wave upstarts with big ...

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 ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: A Shameful Year, 8 January 2004

... doesn’t seem very long since I did the same for Roy Jenkins. At Bodley I’m overtaken by A.N. Wilson, who’s brought his gown in a Sainsbury’s bag, though it’s part of Roy Jenkins’s legacy that gowns are no longer required on such occasions. This doesn’t stop many of the voters swishing about in them for the benefit of their families, who are ...

The Lie that Empire Tells Itself

Eric Foner: America’s bad wars, 19 May 2005

The Dominion of War: Empire and conflict in North America 1500-2000 
by Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton.
Atlantic, 520 pp., £19.99, July 2005, 1 903809 73 8
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... and the Philippines ought not to be compared to the despotic actions of European powers. Woodrow Wilson insisted that only the US possessed the combination of military power and moral righteousness to make the world safe for democracy. Like Ferguson, Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton begin with the premise that the US has ...

They like it there

Ian Aitken, 5 August 1993

Making Aristocracy Work: The Peerage and the Political System in Britain 1884-1914 
by Andrew Adonis.
Oxford, 311 pp., £35, May 1993, 0 19 820389 6
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The House of Lords at Work: A Study Based on the 1988-89 Session 
edited by Donald Shell and David Beamish.
Oxford, 420 pp., £45, March 1993, 0 19 827762 8
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... itself. All these intriguing details, and many more of a similar nature, are squirrelled away in Andrew Adonis’s extraordinary lumber-room of a book. My first visit to the Other Place, some thirty years ago, remains a vivid memory because the conditions were so similar to those described by Adonis. After recovering from the vertigo induced by stepping out ...

Resentment

John Sutherland, 21 March 1991

Francesca 
by Roger Scruton.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 236 pp., £13.95, February 1991, 9781856190480
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Slave of the Passions 
by Deirdre Wilson.
Picador, 251 pp., £14.99, February 1991, 0 330 31788 1
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The Invisible Worm 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 182 pp., £12.95, February 1991, 1 85619 041 2
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The Secret Pilgrim 
by John le Carré.
Hodder, 335 pp., £14.95, January 1991, 0 340 54381 7
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... reader stimulated, mildly infuriated, and seriously baffled. ‘Final exams were over.’ Deirdre Wilson’s first sentence snaps at the reader. Anyone who doesn’t know from personal experience what finals are should probably go no further. This novel is not for the unlettered. Slave of the Passions ponders the great question whether there is life after ...

Dashing for Freedom

Paul Foot, 12 December 1996

Full Disclosure 
by Andrew Neil.
Macmillan, 481 pp., £20, October 1996, 0 333 64682 7
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... journalist of his generation.’ ‘Oh yeah,’ Murdoch said, ‘and who would that be?’ ‘Andrew Neil of the Economist’ was Burnet’s reply. What is our source for this extraordinary conversation? The aforesaid Andrew Neil, on page 25 of this book. Though he immediately describes Burnet’s assessment as ...

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