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Sans Sunflowers

David Solkin, 7 July 1994

Nineteenth-Century Art: A Critical History 
by Stephen Eisenman, Thomas Crow, Brian Lukacher, Linda Nochlin and Frances Pohl.
Thames and Hudson, 376 pp., £35, March 1994, 0 500 23675 5
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... dedicated to preserving the authority of the canon, and to parading a spectacular array of great masters and great masterpieces in a ‘pure’ space, cocooned from the gross, corrupt world of politics, ideology and social strife. Monographs and surveys are still published today in great numbers, of course; and there remain large parts of the discipline ...

Educating the Blimps

Geoffrey Best: Military history, 10 June 1999

Alchemist of War: The Life of Basil Liddell Hart 
by Alex Danchev.
Weidenfeld, 369 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 297 81621 7
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Studies in British Military Thought: Debates with Fuller and Liddell Hart 
by Brian Holden Reid.
Nebraska, 287 pp., £30, October 1998, 0 8032 3927 0
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... apart in the later Thirties. The relationship of these two ‘revolutionaries’ is explored by Brian Holden Reid, a senior member of the famous Department of War Studies at King’s College, London, and the author of a standard work on Fuller’s military thinking. He describes the likenesses between the two men very well: Fundamentally Fuller and Liddell ...

Out of the Gothic

Tom Shippey, 5 February 1987

Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction 
by Brian Aldiss and David Wingrove.
Gollancz, 511 pp., £15, October 1986, 0 575 03942 6
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Eon 
by Greg Bear.
Gollancz, 504 pp., £10.95, October 1986, 0 575 03861 6
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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Four Parts 
by Douglas Adams.
Heinemann, 590 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 434 00920 2
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Humpty Dumpty in Oakland 
by Philip K. Dick.
Gollancz, 199 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 575 03875 6
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The Watcher 
by Jane Palmer.
Women’s Press, 177 pp., £2.50, September 1986, 0 7043 4038 0
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I, Vampire 
by Jody Scott.
Women’s Press, 206 pp., £2.50, September 1986, 0 7043 4036 4
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... Brian Aldiss gives his definition of Science Fiction on page one of Chapter One of a five-hundred-page volume. This is admirably bold of him – more timorous scholars tuck their definitions away inconspicuously, or else develop complex excuses for not giving any – as well as being admirably genial. After all, says Aldiss, the definition may be wrong, but it doesn’t matter: ‘we can modify it as we go along ...

Never Mainline

Jenny Diski: Keith Richards, 16 December 2010

Life 
by Keith Richards, with James Fox.
Weidenfeld, 564 pp., £20, October 2010, 978 0 297 85439 5
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... rather desirable white frock and all those hypocritical butterflies for the newly dead unlamented Brian), Richards’s reiterative narrative of Stones songs, gigs and internal warfare in Life was all news to me, and not all of it riveting. I see that this makes me an unlikely reviewer of Keith Richards’s autobiography. Perhaps I should have recused ...

On the Pitch

Ben Walker, 18 June 2020

... on 17 June, with all games to be played without spectators. What the Premier League CEO, Richard Masters, has called ‘the behind closed doors product’ will be a very different viewing experience from the one we’re used to. Computer-generated fans have been mooted. Work is reportedly underway on an app that will make it possible for fans to record ...

There is no alternative to becoming Leadbeater

Nick Cohen: Charles Leadbeater, 28 October 1999

Living on Thin Air: The New Economy 
by Charles Leadbeater.
Viking, 244 pp., £17.99, July 1999, 0 670 87669 0
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... ruin on a newspaper. To make matters worse for the leftish reporters on the Independent, our new masters’ ideas, in so far as they could be understood, appeared to be as reactionary as those of the right-wing press. Yet however hard we tried to oppose, our hostility was muted and unsatisfactory. The Demos crowd didn’t talk like Tories. They appeared to ...

Gloriosus

E.S. Turner, 4 September 1986

Monty: The Field-Marshal 1944-1976 
by Nigel Hamilton.
Hamish Hamilton, 996 pp., £15, June 1986, 0 241 11838 7
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... the Russians. After the Rhine crossing Eisenhower, without the permission of his political masters, cabled his plans for the final advance to Stalin, infuriating the British Chiefs of Staff – ‘it is not very satisfactory when Ike has to appeal to Stalin to help him control Monty’ (Alan Brooke). Monty, as we know, got as far as Lüneburg ...

Particularly Anodyne

Richard Norton-Taylor: One bomb in London, 15 July 2021

The Intelligence War against the IRA 
by Thomas Leahy.
Cambridge, 356 pp., £18.99, March 2020, 978 1 108 72040 3
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... as such by senior military figures, who nonetheless went along with the demands of their political masters. When the army was deployed to Northern Ireland in 1969, it was, as Leahy puts it, ‘blind in intelligence terms’, having to rely on the RUC Special Branch. And the RUC, not welcome in working-class nationalist areas of Belfast and Derry, was starved ...

Bogey Man

Richard Mayne, 15 July 1982

Camus: A Critical Study of his Life and Work 
by Patrick McCarthy.
Hamish Hamilton, 259 pp., £12.50, April 1982, 0 241 10603 6
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Albert Camus: A Biography 
by Herbert Lottman.
Picador, 753 pp., £3.95, February 1981, 0 330 26262 9
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The Narcissistic Text: A Reading of Camus’s Fiction 
by Brian Fitch.
Toronto, 128 pp., £12.25, April 1982, 0 8020 2426 2
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The Outsider 
by Albert Camus, translated by Joseph Laredo.
Hamish Hamilton, 96 pp., £5.95, April 1982, 0 241 10778 4
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... the People contend for their Liberty, they seldom get anything by their Victory but new Masters.’ This, naturally, drew down thunderbolts of Sartrean abuse, which made permanent the breach between Camus and their author. Even now, Patrick McCarthy regards L’Homme Révolté as not merely Camus’s ‘worst book but one that did him great ...

People’s War

John Ellis, 19 February 1981

Tomorrow at Dawn 
by J.G. de Beus.
Norton, 191 pp., £5.75, April 1980, 0 393 01263 8
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The Crucible of War 
by Barrie Pitt.
Cape, 506 pp., £8.95, June 1980, 0 224 01771 3
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Chindit 
by Richard Rhodes James.
Murray, 214 pp., £10.50, August 1980, 0 7195 3746 0
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The Chief 
by Ronald Lewin.
Hutchinson, 282 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780091425005
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Special Operations Europe: Scenes from the Anti-Nazi War 
by Basil Davidson.
Gollancz, 288 pp., £8.50, July 1980, 0 575 02820 3
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... of the ordinary soldier’s memoir and covers a lot of the ground already traversed by John Masters, Bernard Fergusson and Michael Calvert. Yet it is none the less welcome for that. Despite the profusion of fighting soldiers’ memoirs, from all fronts, the appalling severity of their ordeal is still not properly appreciated. This is one genre that ...

Blood Boiling

Paul Foot: Corporate takeover, 22 February 2001

Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain 
by George Monbiot.
Macmillan, 430 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 333 90164 9
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No Logo 
by Naomi Klein.
Flamingo, 501 pp., £8.99, January 2001, 0 00 653040 0
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... past my eyes, I found myself remembering each of them in their days as radical reformers: Brian Wilson, once abrasive editor of the West Highland Free Press and socialist champion of the Scottish Highlands, now defending the Government’s policies on the bridge to Skye; Nick Raynsford, whom I recall coming to see me at the Daily Mirror to seek more ...

Get out

Julian Bell: Francis Bacon, 19 October 2000

Looking back at Francis Bacon 
by David Sylvester.
Thames and Hudson, 272 pp., £29.95, June 2000, 0 500 01994 0
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... of talking about him had seemingly been exhausted. In his new book, Sylvester records the artist Brian Clarke’s suggestion that Bacon’s ‘paintings … begin in words, not in pictures. He was really a poet.’ If so, it’s fitting that his canvases brought out the poet in so many others. Abidingly Eurocentric, he was vastly gratified to have captured ...

Cuddlesome

Jenny Diski: Germaine Greer, 8 January 2004

The Boy 
by Germaine Greer.
Thames and Hudson, 256 pp., £29.95, October 2003, 9780500238097
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... the 24-year old Jim Morrison (‘Bands like The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Tyrannosaurus Rex were all masters of male display, and in every case the result was not manly but boyish. As trousers were tight and chests were bared, hair could be released in a flowing cloud, eyes darkened and lips reddened, because maleness was beyond doubt.’) It’s not at all ...

Overdoing the Synge-song

Terry Eagleton: Sebastian Barry, 22 September 2011

On Canaan’s Side 
by Sebastian Barry.
Faber, 256 pp., £16.99, August 2011, 978 0 571 22653 5
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... him by the militantly modern, urban Irish literati, as it is sometimes held against authors like Brian Friel and Seamus Deane. This is because in their case, but not in his, the backward glance to rural Ireland is associated with a currently unfashionable republicanism. On Canaan’s Side is a less impressive piece of fiction than A Long Long Way and The ...

Double Act

Adam Smyth: ‘A Humument’, 11 October 2012

A Humument: A Treated Victorian Novel 
by Tom Phillips.
Thames and Hudson, 392 pp., £14.95, May 2012, 978 0 500 29043 9
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... a thousand is in every street.’ Phillips is a lover of games and chance and rules. With Brian Eno – his pupil at Ipswich Art School in the early 1960s – he invented ‘sound tennis’, striking a ball against five pianos with their workings exposed, and scoring according to the sounds produced. In A Humument, Phillips deploys what he calls ...

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