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Andrew​ O’Hagan: Ageing Crims

3 June 2015
... If so, and it’s difficult to know for sure, they must have adored him at a slight distance, as he spent an inordinate amount of time in Barlinnie Prison, along with his three brothers, Willie Andrew, Charles and James. (His sister Nellie was the head of the Sinn Fein collective in Glasgow.) ‘Sheriff Malcolm, at Dundee yesterday,’ the Scotsman of 6 January 1934 reports, ‘imposed sentences ...
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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... planned haphazard, the melding of literal and figurative, the brilliant subversion of all notions of category and order. Genji, as one might expect, writes exclusively to women (including Mandy Rice-Davies, the Andrews Sisters and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Ramsay), and displays an endearing capacity for romantic aberration, as when he assumes from her name that Barbara Windsor must be one of our royal ...

At the Carlton Club

Andrew​ O’Hagan: Maggie, Denis and Mandy

22 December 2019
... off for Buckingham Palace). But hidden in the biography, and too little remarked on in the reviews, is news of a friendship that sprang up at that time between Denis and Mrs Foreman, alias Mandy Rice-Davies. My neighbour at dinner, the gentle and shy Baron Profumo, had reason of course to regret Mandy’s existence, along with Christine Keeler’s, and could only have been perplexed by Denis’s taking ...

Riots, Terrorism etc

John Lanchester: The Great British Press Disaster

6 March 2008
Flat Earth News 
by Nick Davies.
Chatto, 408 pp., £17.99, February 2008, 978 0 7011 8145 1
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... read it so I’m giving a quote instead.’ Very occasionally it might be stretched to mean ‘a book likely to be referred to in the future by other people who write about the same subject’. Nick Davies’s Flat Earth News, however, is a genuinely important book, one which is likely to change, permanently, the way anyone who reads it looks at the British newspaper industry. Davies’s book explains ...

What are we telling the nation?

David Edgar: Thoughts about the BBC

7 July 2005
Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC 
by Georgina Born.
Vintage, 352 pp., £10.99, August 2005, 0 09 942893 8
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Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for a Digital World 
BBC, 135 pp.Show More
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... ingenious changes on the only two procedures for which police surgeons are legally required). Then there was an increasing homogeneity of casting (the ‘anything with Tara Fitzgerald’ syndrome). AndrewDavies withdrew his adaptation of Angela Lambert’s A Rather English Marriage from the BBC when Alan Yentob insisted that an aristocratic ex-Battle of Britain pilot be played by David Jason; ITV ...

Light Entertainment

Andrew​ O’Hagan: Our Paedophile Culture

8 November 2012
... BBC dressing-room. ‘Did Duncroft, a well-equipped approved school for “intelligent emotionally disturbed girls” in leafy Surrey, really require the patronage of “Uncle” Jimmy Savile?’ Dan Davies asks in his unpublished book about Savile: Many of the 25 or so girls in its care at any one time came from comfortable backgrounds and included the daughters of ambassadors and BBC producers. As a ...

I-need-to-work!

Lizzy Davies: ‘The Night Cleaner’

3 November 2011
The Night Cleaner 
by Florence Aubenas, translated by Andrew​ Brown.
Polity, 184 pp., £14.99, 0 7456 5199 2
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... In February 2009, Florence Aubenas – a French journalist well known for her dispatches from Rwanda, Kosovo and Afghanistan – disappeared from the pages of Le Nouvel Observateur. Was she taking a break or was she in Morocco writing a novel? A year later it emerged that she had gone to the northern city of Caen as a jobseeker. For almost six months Aubenas witnessed the recession from the frontline ...

Ghosting

Andrew​ O’Hagan: Julian Assange

6 March 2014
... secrets and the abuse of military power, left me thinking that if anyone was weird enough for this story it was me. At 5.30 the next day Jamie arrived at my flat with his editorial colleague Nick Davies. (Mental health warning: there are two Nick Davies in this story. This one worked for Canongate; the second is a well-known reporter for the Guardian.) They had just come back on the train from ...

Everything is good news

Seamus Perry: Dylan Thomas’s Moment

20 November 2014
The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas: The New Centenary Edition 
edited by John Goodby.
Weidenfeld, 416 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 297 86569 8
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Under Milk Wood: The Definitive Edition 
edited by Walford Davies and Ralph Maud.
Phoenix, 208 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 724 5
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Collected Stories 
by Dylan Thomas.
Phoenix, 384 pp., £8.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 730 6
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A Dylan Thomas Treasury: Poems, Stories and Broadcasts 
Phoenix, 186 pp., £7.99, May 2014, 978 1 78022 726 9Show More
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... off poisonous bugs in the rainforest; and, certainly, the position lends itself readily enough to cheerful philistine parody: ‘I am the batsman and the bat,/I am the bowler and the ball,’ as Andrew Lang put it, sending up Emerson. Thomas once told Treece that ‘I think a squirrel stumbling at least of equal importance as Hitler’s invasions, murders in Spain, the Garbo-Stokowski romance ...

Sisterhoods

Brian Harrison

6 December 1984
Significant Sisters: The Grassroots of Active Feminism 1839-1939 
by Margaret Forster.
Secker, 353 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 436 16113 3
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Stepping Stones to Women’s Liberty: Feminist Ideas in the Women’s Movement 1900-1918 
by Les Garner.
Gower, 142 pp., £15, July 1984, 0 435 32357 1
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Women First: The Female Tradition in English Physical Education 1880-1980 
by Sheila Fletcher.
Athlone, 194 pp., £18, July 1984, 0 485 11248 5
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A Woman’s Place: An Oral History of Working-Class Women 1890-1940 
by Elizabeth Roberts.
Blackwell, 246 pp., £14.95, September 1984, 0 631 13572 3
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... dimensions between 1839 and 1939. She outlines and evaluates the contribution of Caroline Norton to law reform, Elizabeth Blackwell to the medical profession, Florence Nightingale to nursing, Emily Davies to education, Josephine Butler to the attack on the double standard of morality, Margaret Sanger to birth control, and Emma Goldman to causes that anticipate the feminism of the 1970s. Forster offers ...
7 November 2019
... the successful parties would be rewarded with greater funding. The influence of the HMO model and of the Kaiser consultant Alain Enthoven was acknowledged in Parliament by the then Tory MP Quentin Davies. ‘The fund-holding practice concept owes something to the system of HMOs in the United States … Elements of the Bill reflect some of the thinking of Professor Enthoven in his famous report and ...
22 May 1986
The Lamberts: George, Constant and Kit 
by Andrew​ Motion.
Chatto, 388 pp., £13.95, April 1986, 0 7011 2731 7
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... Andrew Motion’s book is intended to portray a family’s rich self-destructiveness. He begins with Larkin’s famous quatrain: Man hands on misery to man.   It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as ...

People and Martians

Sheila Fitzpatrick

24 January 2019
The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties 
by Robert Conquest.
Bodley Head, 576 pp., £20, November 2018, 978 1 84792 568 8
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The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivisation and the Terror-Famine 
by Robert Conquest.
Bodley Head, 412 pp., £20, November 2018, 978 1 84792 567 1
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... and Philip Larkin, and the three of them shared both a cheeky undergraduate misogyny, manifest in Conquest and Amis’s spoof, The Egyptologists, and a liking for pornography memorably documented in Andrew Motion’s 1994 biography of Larkin. Satire and light verse were among Conquest’s strengths as a poet. He also wrote science fiction, co-operating with Amis on five anthologies of new sci-fi ...

Dual Loyalty

Victor Mallet

5 December 1991
The Samson Option: Israel, America and the Bomb 
by Seymour Hersh.
Faber, 256 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 571 16619 9
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Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the US-Israeli Covert Relationship 
by Andrew​ Cockburn and Leslie Cockburn.
Bodley Head, 423 pp., £17.99, January 1991, 0 370 31405 0
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... which in turn is said to have passed some of the information to Moscow in sanitised form in order to ingratiate itself with the Soviet Union). The late Robert Maxwell, the publisher, and Nicholas Davies, the former foreign editor of the Daily Mirror, have inconsequential British bit parts in the saga as told by Hersh. But Maxwell’s Jewish origins, his escape from the holocaust, his identification ...
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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... devil a Puritan that he is, or anything constantly, but a time-pleaser, an affectioned ass.’ She insists 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 ...

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