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You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... Street, Bethnal Green. Ron and Reg were inside, keeping company with a known associate, Dickie Morgan. Reg was nicely cased in a blue three-piece by Woods of Kingsland Road. Dickie matched him. (The Twins were very influential that way. All the faces were expected to dress to a middle-management standard.) Reg was, as Tony acknowledges, ‘one of the ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Orders of Service, 18 April 2019

... Catherine was feeling unwell. On the phone, she’d asked me to bring her some soup from Melrose & Morgan, along with the orders of service, maybe a cake, and a good new novel. Catherine reads with conviction, quotes Shakespeare by the yard, and behaves as if only forgetfulness could explain one’s deepest stupidities. She was a producer on Panorama in the ...

Little Mania

Ian Gilmour: The disgraceful Lady Caroline Lamb, 19 May 2005

Lady Caroline Lamb 
by Paul Douglass.
Palgrave, 354 pp., £16.99, December 2004, 1 4039 6605 2
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... and was in gradual decline thereafter. Not so on Caroline’s side. She had, as her friend Lady Morgan wrote, ‘a restless craving after excitement’, and public display excited her. She had won the greatest lion of the day and wanted everyone to know it. And know it they soon did. Even then, Caroline was as brazen as ever. The fashionable world was not ...

The Superhuman Upgrade

Steven Shapin: The Book That Explains It All, 13 July 2017

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow 
by Yuval Noah Harari.
Vintage, 528 pp., £9.99, March 2017, 978 1 78470 393 6
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... it was an international bestseller, endorsed by Barack Obama and tagged as essential reading by Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. There were TED talks, public lectures, a dedicated YouTube channel, a hugely popular online course, speeches to the futurologists at Google and the Singularity University in Silicon Valley. There’s a new and expanding readership ...

Let’s consider Kate

John Lanchester: Can we tame the banks?, 18 July 2013

... on banking, known as the Vickers Commission, and then to incorporate its findings into the banking bill that is currently making its way through Parliament. At the same time Parliament was conducting its own inquiry into banking standards. This led to an interim report on HBOS, published in April, and a final report, which came out in June. It would be hard to ...

The End

James Buchan, 28 April 1994

The City of London. Vol. I: A World of Its Own, 1815-1890 
by David Kynaston.
Chatto, 497 pp., £25, February 1994, 0 7011 6094 2
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... the greatest figure ever to adorn the international capital markets, greater even than J.P. Morgan and Michael Milken in their primes. At a dinner in 1834, someone expressed the hope that the Rothschild children were not too attached to money and business: the rentier cast of mind had already set by this period. Nathan answered: I wish them to give ...

Sinking by Inches

Anne Enright: Ireland’s Recession, 7 January 2010

... should be held off until the middle of 2010. The big guys, too, know all about holding tight. A bill establishing the National Asset Management Agency, which will take over the toxic debts of the six major banks, is not passed until November, by which time their debts are considerably more toxic than they were when the percentage price was first ...

But Stoney was Bold

Deborah Friedell: How Not to Marry if You’re a Millionaire, 26 February 2009

by Wendy Moore.
Weidenfeld, 359 pp., £18.99, January 2009, 978 0 297 85331 2
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... in power, Bowes rarely attended the Commons and is recorded as having voted only once, to oppose a bill ‘to reduce election bribery on the grounds that existing laws were already too severe’. The wife-beatings had continued all along, but after failing to be re-elected four years later, Bowes developed a new habit. He would force Mary to appear deranged in ...

On Laura Kasischke

Stephanie Burt: Laura Kasischke, 2 August 2018

... for – or mourned – their children, all the time. Like the best of those poets, such as Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, Kasischke keeps referring to the practicalities that parents (usually mothers) have to consider, while children (or fathers) can imagine beautiful things: ‘somehow I became/a high brick wall fully expecting/the little blue flowers to thrive ...

Empty Cookie Jar

Donald MacKenzie: Ethnoaccountancy, 22 May 2003

Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego and the Death of Enron 
by Robert Bryce.
PublicAffairs, 394 pp., £9.99, November 2002, 1 903985 54 4
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Enron: The Rise and Fall 
by Loren Fox.
Wiley, 384 pp., £18.50, October 2002, 0 471 23760 4
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... that gives a flavour of what may lie ahead was between one of America’s most august banks, J.P. Morgan Chase, and 11 insurance companies. The latter provided the bank with ‘surety bonds’ totalling $1 billion against Enron defaulting on ‘forward’ contracts with the bank. (A ‘forward’ is a customised future, and unlike a future isn’t traded on ...

Always on Top

Edward Said: From Birmingham to Jamaica, 20 March 2003

Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830-67 
by Catherine Hall.
Polity, 556 pp., £60, April 2002, 0 7456 1820 0
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... its course. There are abolitionists, missionaries, political leaders (Eyre, Joseph Sturge, William Morgan and John Angell James); major cultural figures such as Anthony Trollope, Thomas Carlyle and John Stuart Mill, all of whom took part in the public debate about the events in Jamaica; as well as officers, scribes, landowners, creolised whites, metropolitan ...


Christian Lorentzen: At the Conventions, 27 September 2012

... signs until just before I got to the hotel. The walk had taken nine hours. On CNN Piers Morgan was interviewing the five sons of Mitt Romney, who all have the strange quality of laughing at things that have no potential to be funny. I suppose otherwise they’d never laugh at all. In their biography The Real Romney, Michael Kranish and Scott Helman ...


Jonathan Parry, 21 September 1995

The City of London. Vol. II: Golden Years, 1890-1914 
by David Kynaston.
Chatto, 678 pp., £25, June 1995, 0 7011 3385 6
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... and the Midland. Foreign banks, from Kleinwort Benson and Schröders to Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan, also set up in London, seeking to invest their clients’ money profitably. From the 1880s through to 1914, this pattern of constant expansion and migration consolidated London’s premier position in the organisation of flows of trade and capital. This ...


Michael Davie, 1 November 1984

Public Scandal, Odium and Contempt: An Investigation of Recent Libel Cases 
by David Hooper.
Secker, 230 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 436 20093 7
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... famous libel action brought against the Spectator by Aneurin Bevan, then Shadow Foreign Secretary, Morgan Phillips, Secretary of the Labour Party, and Richard Crossman, a member of the Party’s National Executive. They had gone as official delegates to a congress of the Italian Socialist Party in Venice, and the Spectator had said that they ‘puzzled the ...


Tobias Jones: The Politics of Football, 7 May 1998

... football-mad cabinet ministers from taking up freebies at the Finals, the merchant bank Deutsch Morgan Grenfell has admitted to having 1600 seats already booked. (At England’s Euro 96 semi-final against Germany, an astonishing 14,000 people in the stadium were on corporate entertaining packages.) Of the ten venues, now commemorated on postage stamps, the ...

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