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Lukashenko’s Way

Jonathan Steele

27 September 2012
Belarus: The Last European Dictatorship 
by Andrew Wilson.
Yale, 304 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 300 13435 3
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The Last Dictatorship in Europe: Belarus under Lukashenko 
by Brian Bennett.
Hurst, 358 pp., £30, January 2012, 978 1 84904 167 6
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... to cautious engagement: neither strategy made an impact. Andrew Wilson is more dispassionate than Brian Bennett, who was the UK ambassador in Minsk between 2003 and 2007 and remains angry at what he saw. Wilson devotes the first half of his book to an analysis of Belarusian history since the Middle Ages, charting its course along the winding road to ...

Hmmmm, Stylish

Brian Dillon: Claire-Louise Bennett

19 October 2016
Pond 
by Claire-Louise Bennett.
Fitzcarraldo, 177 pp., £10.99, October 2015, 978 1 910695 09 8
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... There are​ many ‘nice’ things in Claire-Louise Bennett’s fiction. The narrator – she seems to be the same person in all twenty stories – is hardly up in the morning before the nice things press on her: ‘Sometimes a banana with coffee is nice,’ she says in ‘Morning, Noon & Night’. ‘It ought not to be too ripe – in fact there should be a definite remainder of green along the stalk, and if there isn’t, forget about it ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Postscript

19 February 2004
... Hutton named to head the inquiry, correctly predicted the outcome. I looked up the judge, then Sir Brian Hutton, in Kennedy’s Thirty-Six Murders, where he pinpoints one of Hutton’s shortcomings back in 1995 as a failure to notice non sequiturs. There was going to be a lot more of that. Hutton has a look of the actor Bernard Archard, who specialised in ...

In the dark

Philip Horne

1 December 1983
The Life of Alfred Hitchcock: The Dark Side of Genius 
by Donald Spoto.
Collins, 594 pp., £12.95, May 1983, 0 00 216352 7
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Howard Hawks, Storyteller 
by Gerald Mast.
Oxford, 406 pp., £16.50, June 1983, 0 19 503091 5
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... to screenplays were subject to his approval and subjected to his transmutations. Charles Bennett, for instance, wrote scripts for Hitchcock in England till they both moved to Holly wood just before the War; after a film set in Europe, Foreign Correspondent (1940), he never again worked for Hitchcock, who was turning his attention to American ...

Diary

Ronan Bennett: The IRA Ceasefire

22 September 1994
... instead of shaking hands with Albert Reynolds in Dublin. A lot of them would have preferred, as Brian Hitchen put it in the Sunday Express, that the prisoners had been transferred back to the North in coffins. They like it even less that the breakthrough has come, not from the British, the side that always claimed for itself the distinction of being ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2012

3 January 2013
... done so unselfconsciously and without a smile R. feels that for this alone they deserve to win. Brian, Stewie, David Mamet, Alan Bennett and Yasmina Reza in Family Guy. 25 April. At five a car comes to take me down to Silk studios on Berwick Street to record a voiceover (of my own voice) for an episode of Family ...

Ahead of the Game

Daniel Finn: The Official IRA

7 October 2010
The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers’ Party 
by Brian Hanley and Scott Millar.
Penguin, 658 pp., £9.99, April 2010, 978 0 14 102845 3
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... unionists; the historian Paul (now Lord) Bew; and many writers and journalists, including Ronan Bennett and sometime Ireland correspondents of the Guardian and the Sunday Times. It would be hard to spend even a day in Ireland reading the papers, listening to the radio and watching television without coming across a former Official. The Officials are also ...

Disaster

Ronan Bennett

16 December 1993
De Valera: Long Fellow, Long Shadow 
by Tim Pat Coogan.
Hutchinson, 772 pp., £20, October 1993, 9780091750305
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... high explosive. This time British intelligence intercepted the freight. But what about last time? Brian Nelson, a Loyalist terrorist and army double agent, was jailed last year for his part in the murder of several Catholics. In January 1988, while acting as a British intelligence agent – and with the full knowledge of his army and MI5 handlers – Nelson ...

Diary

Ronan Bennett: Being Irish in New York

6 April 1995
... forensic evidence in the Maguire, Ward and Birmingham Six cases with a homicide detective named Brian McCabe (he acts as one of Gerry Adams’s unofficial bodyguards when Adams is in New York). McCabe can tell you, without reference to notes, about the results of the Thin Layer Chromatography test carried on samples taken from Billy Power, and discuss the ...
21 March 1996
... of Sinn Fein councillor Bobby Lavery – within twelve months they had also killed his son; Brian Nelson, a British military intelligence agent, described in court by a Colonel J as a ‘hero’, conspired to murder, among others, Belfast city councillor Alex Maskey – that Brian Nelson escaped multiple life ...
18 April 1996
Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation 
by Declan Kiberd.
Cape, 719 pp., £20, November 1995, 0 224 04197 5
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... play his game with them. It is tempting to think that Shaw wrote John Bull’s Other Island and Brian Friel wrote Translations with Kiberd watching over them, egging them on. Both plays are full of the paradoxes proposed by England in Ireland and Ireland in England. The drama comes from the identity games which colonised and coloniser will play, the masks ...

Marching Orders

Ronan Bennett: The new future of Northern Ireland

30 July 1998
... of the DUP and VUPP, formed in 1974, to bring down the Sunningdale Agreement according to which Brian Faulkner, the then-UUP leader, agreed to share power with moderate Nationalists. Faulkner’s compromise was too much for the UUC – the governing body of the UUP. When Faulkner was ditched by the UUC, he took his followers in the UUP and went off to found ...

Lost Jokes

Alan Bennett

2 August 1984
... it as a great opportunity, and so the production went ahead, with Mona Washbourne, Gemma Jones and Brian Cox in the other parts. I didn’t attend many of the rehearsals. I still wasn’t certain that one should. The question had not arisen in Forty Years On since I was there anyway as a member of the cast. Practices differ. Some playwrights attend the first ...

Diary

Julian Evans: What might Larbaud have thought?

31 July 1997
... divides his fate from that of his picnicking, small-town loved ones and ‘removes him’, in Brian Boyd’s words, ‘from life into a special and triumphant kind of death’. Never as transparent as he seems, Nabokov does not elucidate Art’s ‘something’: it stays as unvouchsafed as the secret that V. is waiting for from his dying brother at the ...

Flying the flag

Patrick Parrinder

18 November 1993
The Modern British Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 512 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 436 20132 1
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After the War: The Novel and English Society since 1945 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 310 pp., £17.99, September 1993, 9780701137694
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... are its boundaries? Look up the checklist and you will find a large number of genre writers, from Brian Aldiss to P.G. Wodehouse, whose names are virtually absent from the main narrative. Bradbury’s book is based on an entirely conventional notion of the fictional mainstream. One can imagine a very different history of fiction in our century. The notion of ...

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