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Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Ian Blair and the IPCC, 6 April 2006

... that an innocent man had been killed.’ (Among those witnesses was Deputy Assistant Commissioner Brian Paddick. Scotland Yard issued a statement saying that Paddick’s testimony was untrue. Paddick consulted his libel lawyers.) Given’s remarks, and the prominence afforded them by the Observer, can therefore be seen as a way of restoring the balance of ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: When is a planet not a planet?, 18 August 2005

... painstakingly observing for several months. On the morning of 29 July, Brown got in touch with Brian Marsden at the IAU’s Minor Planet Center, and learned that such an attempt was not only possible, but underway: ‘Someone’ – it’s not clear who – ‘had already used a web service of the MPC to use past observations of an object to predict ...

Breaking In

Nick Richardson, 30 June 2016

... to pinch a ladder from a shed, sneak up the back of the house and enter through a skylight? In Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible, Tom Cruise steals a computer disc from the CIA’s Langley HQ while suspended from a cable attached to the belt of a co-thief hidden in a ventilation shaft in the ceiling. The scene that didn’t make it into the movie, but ...

Introversion Has Its Limits

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘Essayism’, 8 March 2018

Essayism 
by Brian Dillon.
Fitzcarraldo, 138 pp., £10.99, June 2017, 978 1 910695 41 8
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Sound: Stories of Hearing Lost and Found 
by Bella Bathurst.
Wellcome, 224 pp., £8.99, February 2018, 978 1 78125 776 0
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Proxies: A Memoir in Twenty-Four Attempts 
by Brian Blanchfield.
Picador, 181 pp., £9.99, August 2017, 978 1 5098 4785 3
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... feats of intellectual scampering; both give the sense of a live mind being decanted onto the page. Brian Dillon’s Essayism, both a book of essays and a meditation on the form, doesn’t include Davenport in his pantheon of practitioners, but Dillon’s responsiveness is wide, to Virginia Woolf, to William Gass, to Susan Sontag, to Lester Bangs and to Roland ...

No One Left to Kill

Thomas Jones: Achilles, 24 May 2001

Achilles 
by Elizabeth Cook.
Methuen, 116 pp., £12.99, March 2001, 0 413 75740 4
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... cuttlefish – at which point she starts to enjoy it. This has a touch of Monty Python’s Life of Brian about it (‘You mean you were raped?’ Brian asks his mother; ‘Well, at first,’ she replies) but, unpalatable as this mode of ‘seduction’ is to modern sensibility, it’s how it’s done in classical myth, the ...

The Right Kind of Pain

Mark Greif: The Velvet Underground, 22 March 2007

The Velvet Underground 
by Richard Witts.
Equinox, 171 pp., £10.99, September 2006, 9781904768272
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... in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, and following useful love affairs with Alain Delon, Bob Dylan and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, was determined to get into music one way or another. The Velvet Underground managed to sneak away from Warhol without utterly alienating him, and became a real rock band, albeit an unusual one, with ever-changing ...

True Stories

Michael Irwin, 30 March 1989

Have the men had enough? 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 251 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 7011 3400 3
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Aurora’s Motive 
by Erich Hackl, translated by Edna McCown.
Cape, 117 pp., £10.95, March 1989, 0 224 02584 8
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The Open Door 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Grafton, 358 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 246 13422 4
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... be described as a novel. The Open Door is entangled with reality in a different way. Its hero, Brian Seaton, returns to his native Nottingham in 1949, after serving with the RAF in Malaya. Increasingly absorbed in reading and writing, he is directionless, reluctant to resume the pub-and-factory life he used to know. Before his demobilisation is ...

Who will stop them?

Owen Hatherley: The Neo-Elite, 23 October 2014

The Establishment and How They Get Away with It 
by Owen Jones.
Allen Lane, 335 pp., £16.99, September 2014, 978 1 84614 719 7
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... Part​ of what makes Owen Jones such a phenomenally successful figure by left-of-Labour standards is his ability to be several things at once. He is both insider, reporting back to ‘us’ about what ‘they’ think, and outsider, as shocked and angry about it as ‘we’ might be. He was brought up in Sheffield, Falkirk and Stockport and speaks in a sharp Mancunian accent, but he is also an Oxford graduate, with all the connections that can entail ...

Fundamentally Goyish

James Wood: Zadie Smith, 3 October 2002

The Autograph Man 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 420 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 241 13998 8
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... a tendency to elongate into lists whenever possible (of the ‘there were ten things that Brian really disliked’ kind); kooky epigraphs, mixing high and low authorities; long, feverish run-on sentences, desperately semaphoring their gross mimetic appetite, their need to capture as much of ‘the madness of the times’ as possible, as much of ‘the ...

Lawful Resistance

Blair Worden, 24 November 1988

Algernon Sidney and the English Republic 1623-1677 
by Jonathan Scott.
Cambridge, 258 pp., £27.50, August 1988, 0 521 35290 8
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Seeds of Liberty: 1688 and the Shaping of Modern Britain 
by John Miller.
Souvenir, 128 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 285 62839 9
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Reluctant Revolutionaries: Englishmen and the Revolution of 1688 
by W.A. Speck.
Oxford, 267 pp., £17.50, July 1988, 9780198227687
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War and Economy in the Age of William III and Marlborough 
by D.W. Jones.
Blackwell, 351 pp., £35, September 1988, 0 631 16069 8
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Robert Harley: Speaker, Secretary of State and Premier Minister 
by Brian Hill.
Yale, 259 pp., £25, June 1988, 0 300 04284 1
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A Kingdom without a King: The Journal of the Provisional Government in the Revolution of 1688 
by Robert Beddard.
Phaidon, 192 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 9780714825007
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... cause against France. We know, too, that for a long time the Revolution was far from secure. D.W. Jones, whose War and Economy in the Age of William III belongs to that dying breed of works on economic history which non-specialists have a chance of understanding and enjoying, brings out the freak economic good fortune which enabled England, and thus its new ...

So Ordinary, So Glamorous

Thomas Jones: Eternal Bowie, 5 April 2012

Starman: David Bowie, the Definitive Biography 
by Paul Trynka.
Sphere, 440 pp., £9.99, March 2012, 978 0 7515 4293 6
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The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s 
by Peter Doggett.
Bodley Head, 424 pp., £20, September 2011, 978 1 84792 144 4
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... failed all his O-levels except art because he was too busy playing his sax. Born plain old David Jones in Brixton in January 1947, he grew up in Bromley, and spent his first years of struggling would-be stardom in Beckenham. He’d been in half a dozen bands as a saxophonist, a singer and a mime artist; he’d styled himself as a Mod, a hippy and a ...

Ruthless and Truthless

Ferdinand Mount: Rotten Government, 6 May 2021

The Assault on Truth: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Emergence of a New Moral Barbarism 
by Peter Oborne.
Simon and Schuster, 192 pp., £12.99, February 2021, 978 1 3985 0100 3
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Political Advice: Past, Present and Future 
edited by Colin Kidd and Jacqueline Rose.
I.B. Tauris, 240 pp., £21.99, February 2021, 978 1 83860 120 1
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... of criticism are silenced or sidelined: for example, the sceptical advice on WMD proffered by Dr Brian Jones, head of the nuclear, biological, chemical, technical intelligence branch of the Defence Intelligence Staff, and totally ignored.During​ the Brexit negotiations, Johnson didn’t have a problem with telling outright lies. Starting in Parliament ...

Hazlitteering

John Bayley, 22 March 1990

Hazlitt: A Life. From Winterslow to Frith Street 
by Stanley Jones.
Oxford, 397 pp., £35, October 1989, 0 19 812840 1
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Shakespearean Constitutions: Politics, Theatre, Criticism 1730-1830 
by Jonathan Bate.
Oxford, 234 pp., £27, September 1989, 0 19 811749 3
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... back an imaginary past, an epoch of freedom and justice. The phrase is not Hazlitt’s but Stanley Jones’s, and gives an idea of the crispness of Jones’s style, as the instance does of the erudition with which he has reached into every cranny of Hazlitt’s distracted polemical existence. His book is a monument of ...

Not Enjoying Herself

Jenny Diski: Princess Margaret, 16 August 2007

Princess Margaret: A Life Unravelled 
by Tim Heald.
Weidenfeld, 346 pp., £20, July 2007, 978 0 297 84820 2
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... according to Tim Heald, her latest biographer, who has previously committed to paper the lives of Brian Johnston,2 Denis Compton,3 Barbara Cartland4 and Prince Philip,5like the other four biographical subjects she was also a household word in her day. This had nothing to do with hard work and natural ability – as, I would argue, it did in the other four ...

Votes for Women, Chastity for Men

Brian Harrison, 21 January 1988

Troublesome People: Enemies of War, 1916-1986 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Hamish Hamilton, 344 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 241 12105 1
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Sex and Suffrage in Britain, 1860-1914 
by Susan Kingsley Kent.
Princeton, 295 pp., £22, June 1987, 0 691 05497 5
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Women, Marriage and Politics, 1860-1914 
by Pat Jalland.
Oxford, 366 pp., £19.50, November 1986, 0 19 822668 3
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An Edwardian Mixed Doubles: The Bosanquets versus the Webbs. A Study in British Social Policy, 1890-1929 
by A.M. McBriar.
Oxford, 407 pp., £35, July 1987, 0 19 820111 7
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... few. Yet almost at once there came rumblings from Cambridge. Maurice Cowling, John Vincent, Andrew Jones and others rightly emphasised the Victorian politician’s relative autonomy from popular pressure, and cleverly unveiled the feebleness of provincial and popular reformers when they tried to operate at Westminster or Whitehall. Since 1979 Thatcherite ...

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