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‘No view on it’

Paul Foot, 22 October 1992

Nuclear Ambiguity: The Vanunu Affair 
by Yoel Cohen.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 297 pp., £10.99, July 1992, 1 85619 150 8
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... in Israel, regard as a traitor. Yet in recent months more and more journalists, joined recently by Bernard Levin of the Times, have been demanding Vanunu’s immediate release. If this courageous and gentle man is allowed to go crazy in prison, then that will be as sure a sign as ever that the authorities which imprisoned him are crazier than ...

Journos de nos jours

Anthony Howard, 8 March 1990

Alan Moorehead 
by Tom Pocock.
Bodley Head, 311 pp., £16.95, February 1990, 0 370 31261 9
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Loyalties: A Son’s Memoir 
by Carl Bernstein.
Macmillan, 254 pp., £15.95, January 1990, 0 333 52135 8
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by Brian Inglis.
Chatto, 298 pp., £15.95, January 1990, 0 7011 3390 2
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... of the bright new talent that was assembled – a formidable roll-call including such names as Bernard Levin, Katharine Whitehorn, Alan Brien and Cyril Ray. Certainly, by the late Fifties the Spectator had already put the wind up the New Statesman – and may even have been partly responsible for the departure of its long-serving editor, Kingsley ...


Ian Hamilton: Poets Laureate, 7 January 1999

... promoted as part of that paper’s ‘I’m Backing Britain’ campaign. Of ‘Now and Then’, Bernard Levin rather tastelessly observed, years later, that it ‘made many regret their impulsive rejoicing at the death of his predecessor’. Even Day Lewis’s admiring editor and close friend, Ian Parsons, when he was putting together a Collected ...

Great Tradition

Robert Barnard, 18 December 1980

Plaster Sinners 
by Colin Watson.
Eyre Methuen, 160 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 413 39040 3
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by Ngaio Marsh.
Collins, 262 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 00 231857 1
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The Predator 
by Russell Braddon.
Joseph, 192 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 7181 1958 4
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... enough, has never found her at her best. Then again, though its principal export (as we know from Bernard Levin) is Kiri Te Kanawa, it has been through most of its history a land without opera. Nor is it easy to see New Zealand as a millionaire’s playground or the resort of the cultural jet-set, unless things have changed radically since my time in the ...

Mischief Wrought

Stephen Sedley: The Compensation Culture Myth, 4 March 2021

Fake Law: The Truth about Justice in an Age of Lies 
by the Secret Barrister.
Picador, 400 pp., £20, September 2020, 978 1 5290 0994 1
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... compensation culture has arisen …’The term seems to have originated in 1993 in an article by Bernard Levin in the Times. Subsequent research found that instances of its use by the press had by 2004 risen from almost zero to more than 450 a year. In 2004 the Better Regulation Task Force, reporting on routes to redress, subheaded its report ...

Labour Pains

Phillip Whitehead, 8 November 1979

Arguments for Socialism 
by Tony Benn.
Cape, 206 pp., £5.95
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Socialism without the State 
by Evan Luard.
Macmillan, 184 pp., £3.95
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Can Labour Win Again? 
by Austin Mitchell.
Fabian Society, 30 pp., £75
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Enemies of Democracy 
by Paul McCormick.
Temple Smith, 228 pp., £7.50
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... is first and foremost a democrat, not the pop-eyed would-be commissar, Mr Zigzag Loon, created by Bernard Levin and other commentators. He argues that ‘the discipline of the marketplace and the discipline imposed by the top people are both equally unattractive. We believe that the self-discipline of full democratic control offers our best hope for the ...

Further Left

R.W. Johnson, 16 August 1990

Prepared for the worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Hogarth, 357 pp., £9.99, July 1990, 0 7012 0903 8
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Blood, Class and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Chatto, 398 pp., £18, July 1990, 0 7011 3361 9
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... It’s all too much. One can’t easily imagine anyone wasting so much ink and anger over, say, Bernard Levin – Britain’s answer to Podhoretz, roughly speaking. What it boils down to is that Hitchens is only really at home when attacking from the left and that he tends to go for easy targets. The Reagan Administration, awash with ...

Lamb’s Tails

Christopher Driver, 19 June 1986

All Manners of Food: Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present 
by Stephen Mennell.
Blackwell, 380 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 631 13244 9
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Curye on Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the 14th Century including ‘The Forme of Cury’ 
edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.
Oxford, for the Early English Text Society, 224 pp., £6.50, April 1985, 0 19 722409 1
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The English Cookbook 
by Victor Gordon.
Cape, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1985, 0 224 02300 4
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... welcome, for it has to contend with so many crass assumptions made wherever writers – Bernard Levin, Philippa Pullar – put their hand to food, or food pundits – Michael Smith, Egon Ronay – venture upon writing. The caricaturists of Puritanism did their work early, for the Restoration Court exercised a Reagan-like hold on the media. At ...

The Hooks of her Gipsy Dresses

Nicholas Penny, 1 September 1988

Picasso: Creator and Destroyer 
by Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington.
Weidenfeld, 559 pp., £16, June 1988, 0 02 977935 9
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... it was in a very real sense, the 20th century’s own autobiography.’ Couldn’t her editors (or Bernard Levin who helped her and whose ‘passion for the English language’ she cites) have improved on the ‘mysterious quality of inexhaustibility bursting forth’, or were they seduced by Huffington’s glamour (it bursts forth from the dust ...

Well done, you forgers

John Sutherland, 7 January 1993

The Two Forgers: A Biography of Harry Buxton Forman and Thomas James Wise 
by John Collins.
Scolar, 317 pp., £27.50, May 1992, 0 85967 754 0
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Forgers and Critics: Creativity and Duplicity in Western Scholarship 
by Anthony Grafton.
Princeton, 157 pp., £10.75, May 1990, 0 691 05544 0
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... 19th-Century Pamphlets (1934) is often described as an exemplary piece of crime-busting, or as Bernard Levin puts it, ‘a classic of bibliographical detection, a thousandfold more exciting than anything Agatha Christie and her kind ever penned’. It’s a generous compliment, but inexact. In the first place, as I have said, it is not clear what ...


Jenny Diski: The Friendly Spider Programme, 30 November 2006

... desperate to deal with spiders from a great height. Arachnophobia was the only sympathy I had with Bernard Levin, who devised a fine solution to the ancient problem of disposing of spiders in the washbasin: an old-fashioned soda-siphon. Taps are too close and you have to touch them to turn them on. There has to be a critical distance between your being ...


Conrad Russell, 5 September 1985

The Restoration: A Political and Religious History of England and Wales 1658-1667 
by Ronald Hutton.
Oxford, 379 pp., £17.50, June 1985, 0 19 822698 5
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... which must be asked is how far anti-Quakerism was a form of displacement aggression. Was it, like Bernard Levin belabouring Communism, a convenient way of tarring many less radical movements with guilt by association? The defence of maypoles shows a real hostility to what had become identified as ‘Puritanism’, yet belabouring ‘Puritans’ was a ...


Alan Brien, 5 December 1985

Orson Welles 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 562 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 297 78476 5
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The Making of ‘Citizen Kane’ 
by Robert Carringer.
Murray, 180 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 7195 4248 0
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Spike Milligan 
by Pauline Scudamore.
Granada, 318 pp., £8.95, October 1985, 0 246 12275 7
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Nancy Mitford 
by Selina Hastings.
Hamish Hamilton, 274 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 241 11684 8
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Rebel: The Short Life of Esmond Romilly 
by Kevin Ingram.
Weidenfeld, 252 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 297 78707 1
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The Mitford Family Album 
by Sophia Murphy.
Sidgwick, 160 pp., £12.95, November 1985, 0 283 99115 1
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... each grant him precedence inside the show as innovator, inspirer, author and performer. Bernard Levin decrees that Milligan has done for television what Gluck did for opera – whatever that was. I am not much wiser when further on told this was to have ‘added a new dimension’, but apparently it is a Good Thing. Who would deny such a man ...

Like a row of books by Faber

Peter Porter, 22 January 1987

Other Passports: Poems 1958-1985 
by Clive James.
Cape, 221 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 224 02422 1
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... unpleasantly and James the Cold Warrior puts in an appearance. I am sorry to see him joining Bernard Levin in offering a thanksgiving for the bomb which has guaranteed four decades of peace in Europe. It’s true that any talented man’s career must be pursued in the here and now but the price demanded by Après moi le déluge can be too ...

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