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5 February 1981
Green Avenue: The Life and Writings of Forrest Reid 1875-1947 
by Brian Taylor.
Cambridge, 218 pp., £12.50, October 1980, 0 521 22801 8
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... Russell Burlingham – found this subject difficult to discuss in 1953. So, even now, does Brian Taylor, but he has treated it with delicacy and understanding. If Forrest Reid was ‘a case’, Taylor shows that ‘a case’ is in itself a crude simplification of a life. All ‘cases’ are different: Reid was ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Living with Prime Ministers

2 December 1982
... I wearied of board games. Monopoly has always seemed to me a social catastrophe. A year ago Brian Taylor, my first cousin once removed, invented a game called Kensington which was beyond me, though I hope it rewarded him. Now I am offered a book of Sandhurst Wargames,* which extends from the Middle Ages to the Second World War. These are games I ...

Diary

Karl Miller: Ten Years of the LRB

26 October 1989
... to be ‘judgmental’. Reviewers are paid to be judgmental, and few are more judgmental than D.J. Taylor. Writing in the Independent during the present run-up to the Booker Prize award, he asks: ‘Where, in any international literary framework, is the British writer who matters?’ Not one, he suggests, can stand comparison with Marquez, Kundera, Tom ...

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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... Malcolm Bradbury is a self-conscious progressive, but he writes the old kind of history. D.J. Taylor is a self-conscious reactionary whose book is a rather strange example of the new kind. Taylor’s belief, set out bluntly in his introduction, is that no modern English writer can ‘hold a candle’ to Dickens or ...

Generations

John Sutherland

4 March 1982
The Survivors 
by Elaine Feinstein.
Hutchinson, 316 pp., £7.95, February 1982, 0 09 145850 1
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Helliconia Spring 
by Brian Aldiss.
Cape, 361 pp., £6.95, February 1982, 0 224 01843 4
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The Great Fire of London 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 169 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 241 10704 0
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A Loss of Heart 
by Robert McCrum.
Hamish Hamilton, 282 pp., £7.95, February 1982, 0 241 10705 9
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... virtue is gilded. Benjy, Diana’s father, is idealised to the point of cloyingness. Since 1980, Brian Aldiss has been thrashing around somewhat. We have had a rewrite of Wells’s Island of Dr Moreau, a text which, together with Frankenstein (which he also rewrote), Aldiss conceives as central to SF’s evolution. In the same year he published the very ...
13 May 1993
Changing Faces: The History of the ‘Guardian’, 1956-88 
by Geoffrey Taylor.
Fourth Estate, 352 pp., £20, March 1993, 1 85702 100 2
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... would have been quite so ebullient about it if I had known what I know now, after reading Geoffrey Taylor’s riveting book, is another matter entirely. To be sure, I knew that the dear old Grauniad was not exactly flush – my new salary would have told me that even if I hadn’t noticed that one of my future colleagues pinned his bus-tickets to his expenses ...

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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... I’m a monster.’ The biography he authorised and checked – Hitch by his friend John Russell Taylor – appeared two years before his death on 29 April 1980 to contradict this idea, and, for all its blandness and sparseness of reference, brought much information to light. Its blurb called it ‘the only serious biography of the man himself’. Now Donald ...

Britishmen

Tom Paulin

5 November 1981
Too Long a Sacrifice: Life and Death in Northern Ireland since 1969 
by Jack Holland.
Columbus, 217 pp., £7.95, July 1981, 0 396 07934 2
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A History of Northern Ireland 
by Patrick Buckland.
Gill and Macmillan, 195 pp., £3.95, April 1981, 0 7171 1069 9
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... the Government of Northern Ireland and the RUC by arguing that the Minister of Home Affairs (Brian Faulkner) ‘had no idea’ that the techniques were illegal. The fact that someone of Gardiner’s legal eminence should employ such an obviously invalid argument demonstrates ‘the extent to which Northern Ireland was clouding British thinking’. This ...
3 June 1982
End of the Affair: The Collapse of the Anglo-French Alliance 1939-40 
by Eleanor Gates.
Allen and Unwin, 630 pp., £15, February 1982, 0 04 940063 0
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The Strategy of Phoney War: Britain, Sweden and the Iron Ore Question 1939-1940 
by Thomas Munch-Petersen.
Militärhistoriska Forlaget, 296 pp., £8, October 1981, 91 85266 17 5
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... occupation, have come from transatlantic scholars such as John C. Cairns, Philip Bankwitz, Telford Taylor and Robert O. Paxton. Eleanor M. Gates might modestly disclaim inclusion in such distinguished company. But she has produced a splendid book which is both instructive and moving. She is not much interested in the military operations per se, but excels in ...

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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... Revolution sets out to tell the little-known story of Official republicanism for the first time. Brian Hanley and Scott Millar start with the appointment of Cathal Goulding as IRA chief of staff in 1962. A childhood friend of Brendan Behan, Goulding was about to turn 40 and had spent much of his adult life in Irish and British jails. He was to pick up the ...

Diary

Inigo Thomas: Michael Wolff’s Book Party

8 February 2018
... what more could you wish for? ‘It was gold,’ as Joan Didion would say. The historian Taylor Branch visited Bill Clinton secretly at the White House once a month in the 1990s. On his first visit, in the spring of 1993, maxims and epigrams were flying about the place. Bill was quoting Suetonius, Hillary quoted Oscar Wilde, or so she ...

Someone else’s shoes

Geoffrey Hawthorn

23 November 1989
A Treatise on Social Justice. Vol. I: Theories of Justice 
by Brian Barry.
Harvester, 428 pp., £30, May 1989, 0 7450 0641 8
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Innocence and Experience 
by Stuart Hampshire.
Allen Lane, 195 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 7139 9027 9
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... As Brian Barry suggests, the question of justice arises when custom loses its grip; when the prevailing social myth and what Stuart Hampshire calls its ‘fallacy of false fixity’ – that relations cannot be other than they are – is exposed. This is not to say that new fixed entities are never then proposed to replace the myth ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: Theatre of Violence

7 October 1982
... the rewards that came his way from England’s Eliza and her ministers. Six or seven years ago, Brian Phelan wrote a television play called Article Five, which was founded on data collected by Amnesty concerning the trade in instruments of torture and their use by governments pretty well everywhere. The BBC filmed the play but suppressed it at the last ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: The Wyatt Continuum

20 November 2014
... since then, but he began appearing everywhere, live or guesting on recordings – with Carla Bley, Brian Eno, Fred Frith and his colleagues in Henry Cow. He was also learning a new bag of tricks: a sort of oral percussion based on breathing, all manner of hands-only drumming, including on a tea tray, fiddling around with keyboards, and returning to the ...

Family History

Miles Taylor: Tony Benn

25 September 2003
Free at Last: Diaries 1991-2001 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 738 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 09 179352 1
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Free Radical: New Century Essays 
by Tony Benn.
Continuum, 246 pp., £9.95, May 2003, 9780826465962
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... and creative professions to unite in technological progress. Following a chance conversation with Brian Walden in 1973, Benn created ‘The Twenty-Five Club’, attempting to commit the Labour manifesto to renationalisation of the 25 leading companies in the UK. In 1980, a throwaway remark by a Tribune supporter on the difficulties of Lords reform led Benn to ...

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